In their quest for the world’s heavyweight champion, some pumpkin growers will do almost anything.
Don Black lives a four-room house in upstate New York, only a few miles from the Canadian border. To say his House is a bachelor pad is to be polite. Don’s walls are bare – except for a few world-champion pumpkin plaques. Don used to have many more, but he burned them in outrage last year. Don’s laundry is heaped in piles all over the floor. He has two dressers, but all the drawers are filled with 300 baby food jars containing pumpkin seeds. These drawers are the home of what Don claims is the world’s only pumpkin seed museum. Why doesn’t he keep his clothes in the drawers?
“Then where would I put my seeds?” he asks.
To earn a living, Don laces bedroom slippers together in a factory about 21 miles away. On a good day, when Led Zeppelin pumps through his headphones, he can lace 108 pairs in eight hours. He gets paid by the piece, and Don says he makes “$16,000 a year if I’m lucky.”
Don leaves for work at 5:30 a.m., but before he goes, as well as two or three times every night he trudges out behind his house to the pumpkin patch – a patch so neat, so loved, its hard to believe it is tended by the same man. The earth is as dark and moist as devil’s food cake. Don comes out to check for intruders – woodchucks, deer, teenagers or, the most insidious, saboteurs.
Don, 38, is not paranoid. He is practical. Could he afford it, he might try what Norm Craven, his nemesis across the Canadian border, has installed in his patch – sensors and cameras.
“People don’t want anyone to grow a bigger pumpkin,” Craven said. “No matter what.”
Don Black and Norm Craven, along with about 5,000 competitive growers, have been trying to grow what was onceRead more on backyardgardener.com