Little Valley’s Andy Wolf, “The Pumpkin King,” celebrates his last macabre gourd just before Halloween.
Wolf recently won the North American Championship title at Parks Garden Center in Canfield, Ohio, with a giant pumpkin weighing 2,365 pounds.
Wolf spends his work day in the Cattaraugus County Health Department, but in his spare time he is an avid grower of giant pumpkins.
Wolf said his interest started when he was a child. His parents took him to see a giant pumpkin contest in North Collins.
In his senior year in high school, Wolf got giant pumpkin seeds from a buddy. He later contacted other pumpkin growers on the Internet and his hobby developed from there.
Wolf said he first entered a giant pumpkin contest in 2000. His first entry pumpkin weighed 291 pounds.
“It’s one of those things that you get addicted to,” he says. “You find yourself wanting to beat your weight every year.”
Wolf secures his big yields with a year’s labor, starting in April by planting seeds. He said he uses mini greenhouses and heating elements to keep his plants safe.
Regarding the soil, Wolf said he sends a soil sample from his growing areas to see if there are any nutrient deficiencies. He adds chicken or cow manure to keep the soil fertile.
“Basically I tell people that if you can grow a good garden, you can grow a good pumpkin,” he says.
For those looking to get started with giant pumpkin cultivation, Wolf suggests using the internet to get started.
“Most of us hang out on bigpumpkins.com,” he suggests. “There is a lot of information out there.”
For the locals, Wolf says he always has seeds to distribute. In fact, you can buy giant pumpkin plants from local greenhouses that have sprouted from Wolf’s pumpkin seeds.
Wolf’s giant gourd will return to Cattaraugus County after Halloween. It is currently on display at the New York Botanical Gardens in New York.