Nfld. & Labrador

Don't get squashed: Clarenville man grows monster Gourdzilla

A Clarenville man's giant pumpkin has reached scary proportions — and it will likely be even bigger by Halloween.

Gourdzilla is 650 pounds and growing

A person with short hair crouches, smiling, in a pumpkin patch next to a giant, round, yellow gourd. Only the top of the gourd can be seen, the rest is behind green pumpkin leaves and vines.
Leslee Lake, a Clarenville gardener, has grown a 650-pound pumpkin — and it's still getting bigger. (Krista Lake/Facebook)

A Clarenville man's giant pumpkin has reached scary proportions — and it will likely be even bigger by Halloween.

In an interview with CBC News, Leslee Lake said his pumpkin, dubbed "Gourdzilla," is 650 pounds, 3.5 feet high, and has a circumference of 10 feet, eight inches.

"I grew up on a farm, so I've been growing things most of my life," Lake said this week. "This is definitely the biggest."

Lake said the plant takes up 400 to 500 square feet in his yard.

Growing the pumpkin has been a massive challenge — no pun intended. Lake said he relied on the internet — including some gardening Facebook groups — for help.

"There's a lot to it. I'm at it every day," he said.

Giant pumpkins need plenty of food and water and good soil, Lake explained.

"They're heavy, really fast growers," he said. "Some of the leaves on that plant are more than 24 inches across."

A person with long blonde hair crouches over a giant, pale yellow pumpkin.
Leslee Lake's wife, Krista, shared photos of Gourdzilla on Facebook. Lake said the pumpkin takes up 400 to 500 square feet of their yard. (Krista Lake/Facebook)

Lake replaced the soil in his pumpkin patch with his own mix, which included more compost and worm castings. He had to watch out for slugs, grubs, caterpillars, birds and other creatures that could damage Gourdzilla. 

"You're fighting everything," he said.

He said the climate in Newfoundland is surprisingly good for growing pumpkins, but the torrential rainfall last weekend caused a four-inch split.

"You got 550 square feet of roots taking all that water pumping it into the pumpkin, the fruit, and it'll explode," he said.

Lake said the damage isn't permanent; he can fix the split with peroxide and he'll cover it with plastic to keep the rain off.

He hopes Gourdzilla will be even bigger by Halloween.

"I think by the time he's finished in October he'll, I'm really hoping, [be] 800 pounds," he said.

Lake's plan for the pumpkin?

"Most likely we're going to carve it and put it on the front step somehow," he said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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