“With the right seed, you can grow the right pumpkin,” says Cindy Tobeck, who won a highly celebrated pumpkin-growing competition in California with her 1,910-pound gourd.
With a nearly 1-ton gourd, an Olympia woman won the “Super Bowl” of pumpkin- growing competitions Monday in California.
Cindy Tobeck, an elementary-school teacher, beat roughly 30 competitors at Half Moon Bay’s annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off with a massive 1,910-pound pumpkin. She said she’s been a serious pumpkin grower for the past seven years.
“Half Moon Bay is every pumpkin grower’s dream to win,” she said while driving home Monday night. The massive pumpkin, meanwhile, was positioned in the back of her truck, she said. It “barely fit.”
Tobeck described her pumpkin-growing protocol, which she said all starts with the perfect seed.
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She began tending to a group of seeds indoors in mid-April. Shortly after that, she started acclimating the plants to the outside a bit at a time, and eventually built greenhouses with soil and heating cables for the pumpkin vines.
“We had kind of a hot April, so a few of the days were a little tricky,” Tobeck said. “I had to get some fans in there.”
Then, the eventual winning plant, about the “size of a grape,” pollinated at the end of June. After that, its rapid growing spurt took off.
“This particular seed of mine was always steady,” Tobeck said. “In August, it just wasn’t slowing down … It grew 40 pounds a day for a stretch there.”
Swiss grower Beni Meier set the world record for largest pumpkin — 2,323 pounds — at a 2014 weigh-off in Germany.
Monday’s win for Tobeck comes with an $11,460 prize — $6 per pound — and fame within the pumpkin-growing community.
Next weekend, Tobeck and the giant squash will head back to Half Moon Bay, in San Mateo County, to lead a local parade.
Tobeck, who teaches third grade at East Olympia Elementary School, said she knew since childhood she wanted to grow pumpkins. And sometimes, she said, she incorporates pumpkin growing at work with a school garden.
“Every once in a while the kids want to grow a big pumpkin with me,” she said. “With the right seed, you can grow the right pumpkin.”