NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - In the spirit of kicking off the fall season, Mayor Al Morgan approves the Pilley pumpkin as the community's BIGGEST pumpkin ever!
New Providence resident Doug Pilley, along with his brother John and son Knevin, grew a “giant pumpkin” in their backyard, estimated to be around 850 pounds, to enter into a multi-state annual weighted competition in Ridgefield, CT.
This year's pumpkin was the family's largest, it was not their first time attempting to grow a ‘giant pumpkin.’ Pilley said, “Two years ago we had one around 195 pounds, took it to a weigh-in, and we saw pumpkins, 1800 pounds, 1500 pounds, huge. -- Last year we tried to do it, we had two seeds. The pumpkin started to grow about the size of a softball then they died right away.”
Taking special care this year, before planting the seed in the ground in the latter half of May, the Pilley family started to grow the pumpkin in a pot in their basement. Once the pumpkin was too big to maintain in the pot, the Pilley family transferred it to an outdoor protected enclosure to ensure the pumpkin could slowly adapt to the outside.
While some families may grow small pumpkins in their backyards, Pilley noted the sheer effort and maintenance required to keep the pumpkin alive. Pilley said, “It's constant. Once it starts growing that's when the work really goes in. -- My brother was down here every day spraying everything, even spraying the leaves because it used to be all leaves and everything down here.” Though it may be a family project, Pilley said, “My brother does about 90 percent of the work, my son does 8 percent, and I do two percent.”
The family additionally had their share of hardships that came along with growing the pumpkin. Originally having two giant pumpkins, the family had to make the decision which to cut early so the remaining pumpkin could receive adequate nutrients. During the growing process, the pumpkin was also threatened by a mealworm living in it. Pilley said, “If he [his brother John] didn’t catch it, it would have killed it.”
Once the stem of the pumpkin was cut, the massive pumpkin was loaded into the bed of a pick-up truck, along with the help of Redwood Tree Experts, with its destination set to Connecticut to compete against other entrees from New Jersey. In a Facebook post from New Providence Mayor Al Morgan, he said the pumpkin is the “biggest pumpkin ever within our community.”
After the weigh-in, the family intends to make a jack-o-lantern for the community to see, and will certainly have plenty of pumpkin for pumpkin pie.