Lake Superior Zoo’s new display: Plumpest pumpkinIt’s a far cry from the 2,009-pounder grown in Rhode Island last year, but the Lake Superior Zoo has a giant pumpkin to call its own.
By: Tom Olsen, Duluth News Tribune
It’s a far cry from the 2,009-pounder grown in Rhode Island last year, but the Lake Superior Zoo has a giant pumpkin to call its own.
Danny Tanner, a retired ecologist and amateur gardener in Duluth Township, made his annual delivery to the zoo Thursday, offloading a 400-pound pumpkin that will be the centerpiece of the zoo’s pumpkin patch.
“The biggest pumpkin I grow always goes to the zoo,” said Tanner, who has been growing the massive pumpkins since the 1980s and has partnered with the zoo for the past six years.
The pumpkin will be displayed during the biggest fundraiser of the year: Boo at the Zoo, scheduled for the next two Saturdays, Oct. 12 and 19. You can also purchase normal-sized pumpkins from the patch.
Growing big pumpkins in northern Minnesota isn’t easy, Tanner said. The ideal daytime temperature for growth is in the 80s.
“Duluth isn’t the place to grow,” Tanner said. “You can grow some large pumpkins, but in Duluth you’ll never see the world record.”
But Tanner and zoo staff will take what they can get after a prolonged winter made for less-than-ideal growing conditions.
“We’re really thrilled that we have local resources that can do that for us,” said Kim Matteen, the zoo’s director of marketing. “We’re not importing from another state. It’s a guy down the road. It feels good for us to be supporting something local.”
Tanner said the pumpkins might not be as large as those found in the more ideal growing locations on the East Coast — his largest topped the scales at 615 pounds — but that’s OK with him. The larger pumpkins tend to lose their orange color and roundness.
“You’re not going to get big pumpkins, but you at least have the beauty of orange pumpkins,” he said. “You can certainly control the genetics of the plant.”
And while there are no plans to carve the giant, Tanner assured that it is edible and would make “a lot of pumpkin pies.”