giant pumpkin

Billy Boerboom, centre, is the owner and operator of The Apple Barn and grew a 453 kg pumpkin. He’s joined by, from left to right, Kylie Usher, Annalease Martin, Cassidy Martin and Calle Martin, all of whom helped Boerboom in his orchard this year.

Billy Boerboom may need a chainsaw to carve his pumpkin this year.

The owner and operator of The Apple Barn in Summerland set a goal this spring to grow the largest pumpkin in the community.

“I said to my wife, ‘I really want to grow a giant pumpkin.’ And my son said, ‘How big?’ and I said, ‘I’m going to try to grow a 1,000-pound (453 kilograms) pumpkin,’ and he said, ‘Dad, you’re crazy!’” recalled Boerboom.

But Boerboom, who’s always up for a challenge, nearly did it, with his pumpkin tipping the scales at 340 kg on a 12-metre vine.

After purchasing the seeds and planting them in June, Boerboom moved the pumpkin onto a pallet when it had grown to approximately 7 kg.

“It just bloomed, bloomed, bloomed and bloomed,” he said. “I would say the leaves were three feet tall and beach-ball size. Just big and healthy.”

Boerboom sadly had to harvest the pumpkin on Oct. 8 after a bad overnight frost.

“Next year I’m going to grow one twice as big,” he promised.

Farming is in Boerboom’s blood. He grew up in Holland and immigrated with his family to Canada in 1976. His dad opened a tree nursery shortly after, and the trees the family grew and planted are in the orchard where The Apple Barn now stands.

But even after many years of seeing some of nature’s oddities, including an unusually shaped apple that snagged him third and fourth place last year at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Boerboom still couldn’t believe the size of the pumpkin he grew.

“I had a garden very young, but I’m just absolutely amazed. At the end, I was just laughing, saying, ‘Are you kidding me? This is crazy!’ You could watch, literally, from day to day, you could watch it grow.”

He’s unsure of whether or not he’ll be carving it for Halloween, but said he plans on giving away the seeds.