Colorado Gardener, 85, and the Biggest and Biggest Pumpkins in the World
MORRISON, Colorado – When you’ve been retired for 22 years like Jack Slade, you usually find a hobby.
“Gives you something to look forward to every day,” he explained.
The 85-year-old, who grew up on a Kansas farm, focused on gardening.
“I grew potatoes here and always tomatoes,” he said.
But his garden in Morrison quickly became home to something much, much bigger.
“Most people think it’s a big pumpkin,” he said, sitting on a 150-pound orange gourd.
For Jack, it’s not big at all.
“My first pumpkin I grew in 2011 weighed 500 pounds,” he laughed.
While an average pumpkin weighs around 15 to 20 pounds, Jack has steadily grown gourds 10 to 20 times more over the past decade.
“It gets really complicated,” he said.
Each year, Jack fertilizes the soil by hand, adding horse manure, compost, alfalfa and leaves. He also built a timed watering system to keep the massive plants hydrated, all with the goal of growing the biggest pumpkin possible.
“At first I kept trying to get the bigger one. So in 2013 I had a 992 pound pumpkin. It was so big I couldn’t have it in my (Ford) Ranger, ”he said.
But after hitting nearly 1,000 pounds and now approaching 90 himself, Jack decided he couldn’t exceed that number. He’s now growing giant pumpkins for the look.
“I’d rather bring home the prettiest than the biggest in dancing,” he said with a laugh.
Locally, he’s won the Howard Dill Award four times for the most beautiful giant pumpkin. As he’s going for five this year, he also has a backup plan for his giant veggies.
“I always sculpt it, put it in the aisle, put a light on it,” he said, explaining that it requires power tools and saws to do it.
Price or not, Jack knows he’ll always have the biggest pumpkin lanterns in town.