Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever

Susan May Warren, Author . Bloomsbury $24.95 (245p) ISBN 978-1-59691-278-6

The pursuit of the Great Pumpkin among Rhode Island gardeners becomes the passion of Texas-based Wall Street Journal bureau chief Warren in this gently ironic, thoroughly engaging work. Growing the world’s heaviest pumpkin (the record tops around 1,500 pounds) has become an international sport, requiring full-time planning and cultivation, and amply rewarded in prizes at fairs and in TV appearances. Warren focuses on a group of winners among the Rhode Island club of growers, led by father and son duo Dick and Ron Wallace, who live south of Providence. She follows their fastidious planning over the 2006 growing season, from early tilling of a new patch of land (they burned out the old patch by pouring in too many supplements and fertilizers) to careful selection of seeds from previous monster prizewinners via online auctions, then germinating seedlings in an incubation chamber; this is followed by a strict planting, culling, watering and fertilizing schedule. While wives feel neglected, the men obsessively care for their pumpkin patches, coaxing the behemoths to amass 30 pounds a day at peak growth, and fending off destroyers such as deer, foaming stump slime and cracks in the shell. Each of these growers shares tales of heartbreak, but Warren peaks the anticipation with the big fall weigh-ins, lending a humorous, poignant touch to this hearty gardener’s tale. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/09/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-59691-931-0
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