Pumpkin champs take home first place with 1,721-pounder

·2 min read
Maureen and Daryl Tingley won first place at the Giant Pumpkin Festival in Neguac. (Camille Breau - image credit)
Maureen and Daryl Tingley won first place at the Giant Pumpkin Festival in Neguac. (Camille Breau - image credit)

The Tingleys spent the summer growing a giant pumpkin — big enough to win them the provincial title at the Giant Pumpkin Festival in Neguac.

The Fredericton couple's goal was a pumpkin of more than 1,600 pounds, and as this one grew, they grew more confident.

"We both started thinking, 'This is a heavy pumpkin,'" Maureen Tingley told CBC's Shift.

The pumpkin weighing 1,721 pounds — about 780.6 kilograms — that they took to the festival last weekend delivered the couple's third win in the world of competitive pumpkin growing.

But it wasn't their biggest. Their record pumpkin came in at a whopping 1,808 lb. three years ago.

"What makes the difference, we're really not sure," said Daryl Tingley. "Just some years we seem to do better than others."

Camille Breau
Camille Breau

Although the pumpkin size is an impressive feat, Maureen said they consider themselves juniors compared to the world record-holder.

The world record was achieved just last weekend in Italy by Stefano Cutrupi, who took the crown from Belgium with a pumpkin weighing in at 2,702 lb.

On top of the weeding, watering, fertilizing and bug chasing, the Tingleys put in a lot of effort to protect their pumpkins.

"Early in the season we have it in a cold frame that has to be open and closed, morning and night," said Daryl.

"Then we keep the actual pumpkin covered, usually with just a bed sheet all summer, so it doesn't get too much sun on it. That tends to dry out the skin, which makes it crack. Then later in the summer, we [put] three or four sleeping bags on it each night."

The couple's other, smaller pumpkins are still subject to a lot of friendly neighbour attention, Maureen said.

"We have a pallet out there right now, and we have a tiny little pumpkin that probably weighs less than two pounds," she said. "I noticed a group of kids walking to school the other morning, and they just stood there, pointing and talking like they know a bigger pumpkin's coming."

Although a lot of love and care goes into their prize pumpkins, the Tingleys said it's common for competitive gardeners to share their tips and tricks out of love for the hobby.

"We are all talking to each other, helping each other, trying to find out what works and doesn't work," said Daryl.

"We tell most of our secrets," said Maureen.

The Tingleys have harvested the seeds from this year's pumpkin in hopes of growing an even bigger one next year.

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