Giant Pumpkin, But Forget About Pie

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Some pumpkins just aren't meant for the pie pan. Robert Sabin has been growing "Atlantic giant" pumpkins for ten years and says they are more like children than fruit to him. He raises his pumpkins for competition—the heavier, the better.

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Here with me now is Flora Lichtman with our video pick of the week. Hi, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN: Hi, Ira.

FLATOW: What have we got this special holiday week?

LICHTMAN: This is a moldy oldy that we're digging out of the archives.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LICHTMAN: But it's actually a really good one, and it's perfectly appropriate for the day after Thanksgiving because if you, like I am feeling like a large pumpkin right now after my meal.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

FLATOW: As big as a large pumpkin, you know.

LICHTMAN: And this video is for you. This is a large pumpkin grower, these Atlantic giants. They're these pumpkins that get to be 1,000 pounds. And we go visit Robert Sabin, who lives out in Long Island, and is entering his giant pumpkin into the Hicksville Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off.

FLATOW: Wow, and it's a big competition, isn't it? People come from around the country.

LICHTMAN: People from around Long Island for sure.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LICHTMAN: With their giant pumpkins. But there's a parade of giant pumpkins, and we hear how they grow the pumpkins. Robert Sabin has amazing stories about what he's done to protect his pumpkins.

So first of all, he has this whole pumpkin patch in his backyard. And he eventually settles on the pumpkin that he's going to put all of his care into. And then he does things like he puts a blanket on it at night.

FLATOW: Aw, really?

LICHTMAN: Really, I couldn't make this up.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

LICHTMAN: To keep it warm at night. And you can't over-water it. This is a big problem people have, because the skin will crack. You have to be, you know, a considerate parent. But you can't eat them. I was - my first question was, like, oh, pumpkin pie forever. And was like no, that's not what these are for.

FLATOW: And it weighs almost 1,000 pounds. You have to get it out of the backyard.

LICHTMAN: A crane, yeah, you've got to - this is actually a really tense moment for these pumpkin growers is getting it out of the patch, into the truck and then loading it back onto the scale at the weigh-off. So you see them coming through with cranes. It's really - it shouldn't be missed. It's really a feel-good hero story.

FLATOW: And it's our video pick of the week. It's up there on our website at sciencefriday.com, a feel-good pumpkin story, a success, something like if you...

LICHTMAN: All pumpkin stories are feel-good, but...

FLATOW: That's...

LICHTMAN: It is uplifting.

FLATOW: It's uplifting, and he's uplifting the pumpkin. And you'll see that right there on the video, on our video pick of the week. Thank you, Flora.

LICHTMAN: Thanks, Ira.

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