Covington man grows giant pumpkins


By Eamon Baird

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COVINGTON — Harley Weldy grows giant pumpkins.

Weldy, who lives with his wife Kathie in Covington, got the idea 15 years ago while watching a show about giant pumpkins and thought it would be fun to try.

This year, Weldy grew two pumpkins over 1,600 pounds each. He explained the process of growing giant pumpkins.

“You probably start to seed inside about the third week in April, and it gets large enough to put out in the garden. I usually like to put them out about May 3, and then I cover it with a small hut because it gets so cold and windy that early in the year,” Weldy said.

Changes in the weather will often affect the size of a pumpkin, he said.

“They like the warm, so I think the warmer it is, the better they tend to do,” Weldy said.

Weldy said that pumpkins usually pollinate at the end of June and can grow up to 45 pounds in a single day, adding that these giant pumpkins need 1,000-square =-feet each to grow.

This year, Weldy is entering his largest pumpkin in the Operation Pumpkin Art and Festival, which takes place in Hamilton, and runs from Oct. 13 to 15. The festival is giving away $35,000 in total prize money, with a first-place prize of $7,000.

Weldy said he gets some stares and honks from cars when he loads his trailer to transport pumpkins to the competitions he enters.

Last year, the largest pumpkin at the Operation Pumpkin Festival weighed 2,350 pounds and was grown by Frank Morse from Clarkston, Michigan. Weldy’s Pumpkin finished in fourth place, weighing in at 1,652 pounds.

Although Weldy didn’t win the competition, he enjoys the community, the pumpkin growers and the camaraderie they share.

The “smaller” pumpkin Weldy grew is displayed at the Bradford Pumpkin show and weighed in at 1,635 pounds.

Weldy tries to find good uses for his pumpkins when things don’t go according to plan.

“Last year, I had a pumpkin that was doing really good, but it was growing too fast and cracked. So, I let a couple of others grow on it. Both ended up being about 760 pounds, and the church in Greenville wanted one for a donation. So, I gave it to them, and a Jcrane lifted it up 100 feet and dropped it into a swimming pool up at the church, and they based her sermon around something about, you know, things dropping,” Weldy said.

While Weldy is happy to donate his giant pumpkins, he always tries to save the seeds to plant for next year’s crop.

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