Giant pumpkin grower sees fruits of his labor
ELMWOOD--Pumpkins have captured Elmwood resident Matthew Marose's heart pretty much since he was old enough to write his own name.
On a school field trip to a local area pumpkin patch, his first grade teacher challenged the class to pick out any pumpkin, as long as they could carry it onto the bus when they left.
"I strapped my arms around a bright, big orange pumpkin about 30 pounds, and waddled as fast as I could all the way to the school bus, and plopped it down on the first step," he said.
Marose doesn't limit himself to just field pumpkins anymore. For the last 15 years, he has taken on growing giants.
He recently set a new personal best, when judges weighed his two Atlantic Giant pumpkins last month at an official Midwest G.P.C. (Great Pumpkin Commonwealth) sanctioned competition. The largest one tipped the scale at 916 pounds and the other came in at 897 pounds. This was three days after he severed the duo from the vine in his pumpkin patch.
According to Marose, it is commonly known amongst giant pumpkin growers the gourds can lose up to four pounds a day, once taken out of the field. So in essence, Marose stresses his pumpkins originally weighed 926 pounds and 907 pounds.
"To keep them as heavy as possible before the competition, I put wet rugs over them, and wrap them in shrink wrap," he said.
A few other tips Marose lists to be successful at raising giant pumpkins include: 1). Start your seeds inside early--ideally in a sun porch of some kind. Around mid-May, after the threat of frost is not high, put them outside in the ground, their resting place for the season. 2) Do soil tests and maintain the organic content of it to promote maximum growth. 3) Find a garden location that has full sun, but yet offers protection from the wind. 4) Use pre-genetically enhanced seed like Atlantic Giant and put in a solid time commitment of at least 12 to 15 hours a week in your garden.
"My wife tells me that she doesn't have to look very far to find me because I'm usually in my garden," he said.
Marose knows he didn't grow a world record like the recent 1,810 pound pumpkin weighed at the Stillwater, Minn. "Harvestfest" competition. However, he is happy in knowing his dedicated efforts to start the event gave that Western Wisconsin grower a place to register it.
"I'm also quite pleased with my pumpkins this year, especially because of the severe storms and flooding," he said. "I was just grateful at times that I didn't lose all my plants. I attribute it all to the good Lord above."
Considering Marose doesn't have a water faucet and electricity, the type of gardening he does is labeled as "old school," so every pound attained on his pumpkins is hard earned. Therefore, he appreciates the regular assistance he gets from his good friend Doug Carlson of Durand. Additionally, he says thanks to Elmwood resident Larry Feiler and the Elmwood Feiler families for use of their land to garden on; Tony Baier and Gary Kassera of Elmwood for the use of their machinery, and to Elmwood farmer Greg Nelson for being accommodating.
Since Marose will have his pumpkins on display until Thanksgiving, families are welcome to stop by and take pictures.
"I think it would be fair to say now I've finally grown pumpkins that I can't carry onto the bus like I did as a kid," he said.
For more information, please email Matt at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Matt at 715-639-6124.