By BRODIE THOMAS
MACDOUGALL’S — Some men fish. Some men build model trains.
Jim Osmond grows giant pumpkins.
Drive to his cabin in MacDougall’s this time of year and you’ll see one or two giant pumpkins wrapped in blankets, snug in their beds.
The blankets keep the sun off their skin. Sun is great for the pumpkin vines, but not the gourd itself.
“It hardens the flesh,” explained Mr. Osmond. “They’ll split.”
This year there are two monsters in the patch, but if Mr. Osmond had his way there would be only one there.
“This year I should’ve had about a thousand pounder,” he said. “What happened was, I had a stem split. So I was nursing the other one over on the side.”
A stem split requires a bit of surgery. Mr. Osmond washes the wound with bleach and then collects tree sap and spreads it on the split.
“That sets just like rock.”
By the time he got his stem split cured, he couldn’t bear to kill his backup.
Of the two, the biggest is over 500 pounds by his calculation. While he can’t officially weigh it until he takes it out of the garden, there is a formula for calculating estimated weight based on measurements.
The two pumpkins he has this year are much bigger than any pumpkin 99.9 per cent of farmers will ever grow, but for Mr. Osmond that’s not good enough. He wants to top his unofficial Newfoundland record from 2009 of 733 pounds.
The record is unofficial because there’s no official giant pumpkin association for the province.
In other parts of Eastern Canada and into the New England states, giant pumpkin growers take their sport very seriously. To get in the record books, a farmer needs to bring his pumpkin to an official weigh in.
It’s something Mr. Osmond will likely never be able to do because taking plant matter off the island is illegal.
That’s why the Canadian Food Inspection Agency checks for potatoes in vehicles arriving at the ferry in Port aux Basques.
Sneaking a giant pumpkin past the CFIA agents in Port aux Basques just isn’t an option. So for now, Mr. Osmond takes his pumpkins up to the fish plant at Codroy for a weigh-in.