The big seed: How to grow a giant pumpkin

It’s pumpkin smashing season, but no vigilante has ever launched one of Eddy Zaychkowsky’s gourds off the ground.

‘I’ve had 40 pound per night weight gains,’ says Airdrie grower

Eddy Zaychkowsky says growing giant pumpkins started as a hobby, but has become an obsession. (Jennifer Zaychkowsky)

It's pumpkin smashing season, but no vigilante has ever launched one of Eddy Zaychkowsky's gourds off the ground.

Especially not the 513-kilogram whopper (1,132 pounds) he grew this year in Airdrie, Alta.

"It's more than just care, it's an obsession. It started as a hobby now it's kind of taken over," Zaychkowsky told the Calgary Eyeopener.

He's actually the man who donated the 474-kilogram pumpkin that was dropped on a car over Thanksgiving to raise money for the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.

Pumpkin drop

7 years ago
Duration 0:52
A 1,046 pound pumpkin was dropped from 40 metres onto a car in support of the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.

And that's not even super-duper big. The fattest pumpkin in the world — to date — was grown in Belgium and weighed 2,624.60 kilograms.

Weather, weather, weather

In and around Calgary, you can grow 'em big — but not world record-setting big, says Zaychkowsky.

It's just not warm enough.

"A big thing is weather. Weather, weather, weather."

Eddy Zaychkowsky stands next to his giant gourd at the 2016 Smoky Lake Great White North Pumpkin Fair. (Jennifer Zaychkowsky)

Giant pumpkins stop growing when the mercury drops below 13 C.

"In an ideal scenario, like Napa Valley, southern Ontario — they're grown outside. We have to grow inside ... in greenhouses. They like warmth."

Also, you're not going to grow a giant from the spawn of your grocery store jack-o'-lantern.  Genetics play a big role and the big ones come from the Atlantic Giant seeds.

Jennifer Zaychkowsky of Airdrie, Alta., poses with her father's giant pumpkin. (Submitted)

Zaychkowsky has been at it for 15 years and says he's used "every fertilizer out there," but recently discovered that "organic is the way to go."

These days he's focused on providing good soil for the root system to plump his pumpkins up.

"I've had forty pound per night weight gains and there are people out there that gain 60 to 70 pounds."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener