It’s the Great Pumpkin, Santa Barbara

A giant pumpkin has been grown by rookie squash-grower and Santa Ynez resident Steve Encell and his nine-year-old son, Pace. The pumpkin shattered the record for the heaviest pumpkin at the 3rd Annual San Luis Obispo Great Pumpkin Contest in San Luis Obispo on October 16.

Pace and Steve Encell claimed first place with their 790-pound pumpkin, as well as third place with their 589-pound pumpkin. When initially grown, the winning pumpkin had weighed 825 pounds, yet actually lost about 35 pounds from the time it was harvested to its weighing at the contest.

This is the first year Encell and Pace have grown pumpkins. Initially, the inspiration to grow a gigantic pumpkin was simply a hobby for the father and son. “Our goal at first was to grow a pumpkin big enough for my son to hide inside,” Steve explained. However, the pumpkins continued to grow far past their goal. “It’s really fascinating,” he said. “The pumpkins at certain points grew 23 pounds a day. It’s amazing to watch them grow.”

Now that the contest has passed, Encell and Pace are left with two enormous pumpkins. Encell said he and Pace plan to remove all the seeds, and make the pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern. They plan to sell some seeds on the Internet, keep some for future planting, and donate some to Farm Supply Company so that others can grow equally massive pumpkins.

It was really fun. Participating in the contest next year is definitely a possibility,” Encell said. Encell and Pace plan to plant their remaining seeds and possibly experiment with hydroponics, which involves placing the roots in water rather than soil and may produce even more astounding results. The pumpkins have been quite a success for these first-time pumpkin-growers.

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