The Great One

Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever

Susan Warren

Bloomsbury, 2007

Hardcover, 245 pgs

They call themselves the Rhode Island mafia.

In fairness, I’m not sure what I would call a group of giant pumpkin growers myself, if I was left the task of naming them.

There are some hobbies that seem destined for the spotlight. There are activities where the appeal seems obvious, and where people are often deeply interested in the act just because of the nature of it. And then there is giant pumpkin growing.

Warren’s book follows the 2006 giant pumpkin growing season. A hobby/sport dedicated to the growing of the largest pumpkin in the world, these are no the round orange jack o lantern style pumpkins that many people are going to think of.  These are giants-often growing well above 1,000 pounds. As with all gardening these pumpkins are often a labor of love, as well as a hobby full of disappointment and no small amount of stress. This is a hobby where the hobbyist can only do so much; the weather and the plant itself is as important as anything that man is capable of doing.

It was an interesting and often entertaining read even if I spent a large portion of the time wondering why a person would repeatedly put themselves through this level of disappointment. And then, as well, wondering what you would do with a pumpkin that size once you actually grew it-it seems that it would be a little too large for eating.

The answer, it seems, is the same as it is with a great many odd hobbies.

You blow it up.


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