GREENFORD Tips for growing giant pumpkins

The 1995 seminar helped one eventual world-record holder beef up his pumpkins.
GREENFORD -- How do those pumpkins grow so large?
The Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers will answer questions and offer tips at a seminar for beginning growers from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Green Township Community Building.
Tim Parks of Parks Garden Center will cover seed selection, soils, fertility, pests, pollination, pruning and irrigation.
"It's an A to Z seminar," said Parks. "We'll cover the whole process, from preparing the soil to harvesting."
Seeds from last year's giant pumpkins will be available at the seminar, Parks said.
He said several first-year growers have produced giant pumpkins weighing 400 to 700 pounds.
Success story: Dave Steltz of Leetonia attended the first seminar in 1995 and grew a 400-pound pumpkin that year. By 2000, he was the world-record holder with a 1,140-pound pumpkin.
Steltz said the seminar will teach growers "all the things they don't tell you on the seed packages."
"I'd been growing pumpkins for years, but could never get anything bigger than about 160 pounds," Steltz said. "The seminar is very, very helpful."
Steltz said he will attend this year's seminar to "offer my words of wisdom to whoever wants to listen."
Parks said Ohio-grown seeds produced 25 of the 99 largest pumpkins in the world in 2001, including several over 1,000 pounds.
He said Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers receive newsletters and attend seminars and pumpkin patch tours throughout the growing season. The growing season culminates with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth Weigh-off in October.
Parks said this year's weigh-off will be Oct. 5 with $5,500 in prize money available. Divisions include heaviest tomato, watermelon, muskmelon, hard-stemmed pumpkin and squash.

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