British Columbia·Video

No competition, no problem. Giant gourd grower brings pumpkin spectacle to his front yard

Since the pandemic has squashed the annual competition and weigh-in, Jeff Pelletier dragged his giant pumpkin out to his front yard so that his neighbours could enjoy the spectacle. 

Jeff Pelletier’s pumpkin, named Muriel, clocks in at 418 kg

Jeff Pelletier with his giant pumpkin, Muriel, which has been carved to resemble the head of the monster from the movie Alien. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Jeff Pelletier is affectionately known in his North Vancouver neighbourhood as the "pumpkin guy" — and for good reason. 

For the past six years, he's been growing gargantuan gourds in his south-facing backyard. 

These aren't your everyday pumpkins — Pelletier's weigh hundreds of kilograms. 

This year, the competitive giant pumpkin grower produced Muriel, named after his grandmother, and which weighs in at 418 kilograms (923 pounds).

Since the pandemic has squashed the annual competition and weigh-in,  Pelletier dragged his giant pumpkin out to his front yard so that his neighbours could enjoy the spectacle. 

"We thought, let's just do it in the front yard, be great for the neighbourhood and they'll get to see them," he said. 

Even making that short distance, however, took a crane and giant flat-bed truck.

Watch time lapse of crew moving giant pumpkin to Pelletier's front yard:

This is how you move a 418 kilogram pumpkin

3 years ago
Duration 1:06
Jeff Pelletier brought in a whole crew to move his giant pumpkin from his back garden to his front yard.

Inspired by Peanuts

Inspired by the Charles Schultz comic Peanuts Halloween special, Pelletier said his first year of growing a giant pumpkin happened by chance.

"The first year that I grew, I threw a seed in the ground and I didn't know any techniques or anything like that," he said. 

"I remember looking out the kitchen window in mid-September and thinking 'what the heck is that?' and it was a 300-pound pumpkin in my backyard."

Muriel, named after Jeff Pelletier's grandmother, weighs 923 pounds (418 kilograms). (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Since then, Pelletier has been part of the giant vegetable growers community — a group that  has grown more popular during the pandemic. 

"We're all trading secrets and trading seeds. COVID has actually caused a huge interest in this because people are home and gardening is what they've chosen to take up," he said. 

There's gold in those gourds

Pelletier says all you really need to get started is 55 square metres of good dirt.

And if you've got the touch, there's cash to be made. 

When a pumpkin grower in Belgium grew a then-record breaking 1,180-kilogram (2,600-pound) specimen in 2016, he didn't just win prize money at a competition. 

"He pulled about a thousand seeds out of the pumpkin and was charging $700 each, and he sold out of seeds," said Pelletier.

He says it's fairly normal for giant pumpkin seeds to be sold for $50 to $100 each. 

Neighbours in North Vancouver come to admire Jeff Pelletier's giant pumpkin. (Doug Kerr/CBC )

But behind the competition is a passionate group of growers delighting in a common hobby.

"I often say to people, 'I've never seen anyone go by a giant pumpkin without smiling.' "

With files from Deb Goble