For his latest giant pumpkin, Ross Osborn built a greenhouse and had to add 12 feet of additional room for one pumpkin’s growing vine. Locals will be able to see his giant pumpkins at JACE Real Estate and guess their weight. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

For his latest giant pumpkin, Ross Osborn built a greenhouse and had to add 12 feet of additional room for one pumpkin’s growing vine. Locals will be able to see his giant pumpkins at JACE Real Estate and guess their weight. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Giant pumpkin grower looks to squash his previous record

Locals encouraged to guess weight Oct. 28-Nov. 10 at JACE Real Estate

For 40-plus years, Ross Osborn’s work centered on the mechanical world as a machinist. In recent years, the 86-year-old Sequim retiree turned his thumbs green — thanks to pumpkins, or rather, giant pumpkins.

His skills and efforts earned him the moniker “Pumpkin Whisper” from neighbors and friends, and this year he more than doubled his efforts building a greenhouse with a friend for one pumpkin and dedicating an outside space for another.

“It takes a lot of time each day to prune, and crawl through the vines to check joints,” he said.

At one point, Osborn trimmed a large pumpkin, more than 100 pounds, off the vine to ensure his other pumpkin kept amassing the pounds.

“We gave it to the buffalo at the (Olympic Game Farm),” he said.

“It was like a stampede.”

He did the same last year with his 410-pound pumpkin that was on display at JACE Real Estate. How much these latest pumpkins weigh is unknown, but Osborn hopes people get as excited about guessing their weight as much as he is about growing them.

Guesses, prizes

Eileen Schmitz, president and designated broker for Jace Real Estate Company, plans to host a weight-guessing contest for Osborn’s giant pumpkins along with a drive-through special event at her business, 761 N. Sequim Ave.

“Eileen does a good job of showing it off,” Osborn said. “It’s gonna be a fun Halloween.”

Visitors can drive through and make a guess in person or online of the pumpkins’ weight from Oct. 28-Nov. 11 with winners of local gift cards announced at facebook.com/alwayscalljace on Nov. 12.

Schmitz and staff also will hold a Halloween drive-thru with candy and other treats from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, and noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31.

To allow for social distancing, one group will be allowed at a time for photos with the pumpkins with parking available. For more information, contact JACE Real Estate Company at 360-681-7979 or visit jacerealestate.com. For more contest information, call (360) 565-2028.

“Last year people were so happy and joyful,” Schmitz said. “This year I wanted to do more.

“Everyone who helped last year, our faces ached from smiling so much.”

Pumpkin spiced up

Osborn spent the winter learning how to optimize conditions for his plump pumpkins. He built a 24-foot-by-11-foot greenhouse for one pumpkin in March. The pumpkin grew so large, however, that he added a 12-foot extension in August so the vines could branch out.

He kept his routine of covering the pumpkins in blankets at night and continued to give them ample amounts of water. Last year, he estimated giving his pumpkin about 10 gallons a day, but upped his daily total to about 133 gallons per pumpkin, each day.

“It was growing 16 pounds a day,” Osborn said of the greenhouse pumpkin.

He said the pumpkins were on a roll — growing-wise — until he found a powdery mildew on their leaves in early September.

“I’m not sure how it got in,” Osborn said. “It hit the neighbors too, just overnight. I tried home remedies ,but it was too late. I tried everything in the book.

“They probably would’ve grown another 400 pounds if it didn’t happen.”

Recent frost also killed the leaves around his outside pumpkin as well.

Looking at the bright side of the garden, Osborn said he plans to open up his greenhouse on Oct. 27 and carry it and the other with a tractor to a truck and bring them to JACE for the guessing contest.

Pumpkin divas

For fun, Osborn and Schmitz nicknamed each pumpkin. The greenhouse orange pumpkin is “Maria” after the song “They call the wind Maria” from “Paint your Wagon” because of the fans and humidifier blowing inside to control the temperature.

While the outside pumpkin was named Whitney, after the late singer Whitney Houston.

Schmitz said the pumpkin that was cut and given to the Game Farm was named “Carey,” after the singer Mariah Carey.

“They just seemed like divas and are so beautiful and high maintenance, so I suggested Whitney,” she said.

With the high level of care required, Osborn said he isn’t 100 percent sure he’ll grow more again. But for those interested in your own giant pumpkins, he leaves a few tips:

• Use quality seeds; Osborn uses Dill’s Atlantic pumpkins from Steve Daletas of Pleasant Hill, Ore.

• Beds should be fertilized heavily and deeply in the soil and not just on the surface

• Water and fertilize correctly so as not to burn the pumpkin

• Growing them is “fun and challenging” and “a labor of love”

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

This giant pumpkin, nicknamed “Maria” after the song “They call the wind Maria,” grew inside Ross Osborn’s Sequim greenhouse. He said the high winds this year led him to name it after the song, one of his favorites. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

This giant pumpkin, nicknamed “Maria” after the song “They call the wind Maria,” grew inside Ross Osborn’s Sequim greenhouse. He said the high winds this year led him to name it after the song, one of his favorites. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

“Whitney” the pumpkin grew to a giant proportion in Ross Osborn’s garden. People will be able to guess its weight for prizes at JACE Real Estate starting Oct. 28. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

“Whitney” the pumpkin grew to a giant proportion in Ross Osborn’s garden. People will be able to guess its weight for prizes at JACE Real Estate starting Oct. 28. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

To make room for his giant pumpkin’s growing vine, Ross Osborne extended his greenhouse 12 feet this summer. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

To make room for his giant pumpkin’s growing vine, Ross Osborne extended his greenhouse 12 feet this summer. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Ross Osborn encourages those interested in growing giant pumpkins to find the right seeds, fertilizer and be ready to spend a lot of time caring for them. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Ross Osborn encourages those interested in growing giant pumpkins to find the right seeds, fertilizer and be ready to spend a lot of time caring for them. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

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