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GOURD OF THE KINGS ONE PUMPKIN TO RULE THEM ALL.

Byline: Angie Valencia Staff Writer

SIMI VALLEY - These are tense days for giant pumpkin competitor Glenn Bassett, whose hopes for setting a state record for largest pumpkin rest with the massive but delicate vegetable in his back yard.

At 800 pounds and growing, Bassett's orange monstrosity - aka Mr. Big Scar - appears on track for a title in next month's Elk Grove Community Harvest Festival weigh-in.

``I'm nervous,'' admitted the 43-year-old Santa Susana Knolls resident. ``We had a 30-pound growth in one day. If I could only get 150 pounds more ...''

Competition at the Oct. 2-3 festival could be fierce, said Zach Jones, recreation supervisor for the Elk Grove Parks and Recreation Department.

``We could have some fairly large pumpkins because we have had a mild summer. The biggest ones put on 40 pounds in a day. He's got a good chance of growing a large pumpkin by the end of the month.''

The state record for largest pumpkin is 1,105 pounds, Jones said. The Southern California record is 829 pounds. The world record is more than 1,300 pounds.

Bassett has not weighed his own pumpkin but said he can estimate its bulk by its diameter - Mr. Big Scar is now 12 feet around.

``I was hoping for 500 pounds,'' he said. ``Then again, 600 pounds would have been great, but 800 pounds is simply amazing.''

The pumpkin's diet has consisted of fertilizer, gypsum, gallons upon gallons of fish and seaweed, chicken manure and ash for potassium.

Mr. Big Scar slurps about 400 gallons of water per day.

Still, the weeks leading up to weigh-in of heaviest pumpkin are perilous ones.

The pumpkin growing cycle is 70 to 120 days - Mr. Big Scar is 64 days old today. And, while late summer heat contributes to rapid growth, too many such growth spurts from 90-degree plus days can split a pumpkin in half. A canopy shields Mr. Big Scar from the hottest of the summer sun.

A 24-hour security camera monitors the pumpkin from incursions by squirrels and gophers. Bassett also adds chili powder to keep pests at bay.

Still, Bassett remains at the pumpkin's side for four or five hours a day, nursing it, pampering it, so much so that some of his family members may have a case of the green-eyed monster.

``The next pumpkin will be named 'divorced pumpkin,''' said wife Eva Bassett jokingly. ``He spends too much time on that pumpkin.''

Bassett's biggest challenge may be getting the pumpkin from his hillside home to the contest intact.

He is building a 70-foot rail with his father, Richard, to bring the giant pumpkin down the hill - gently so to the pumpkin won't split.

It will likely take 10 men to load Mr. Big Scar onto a double-axle trailer for the commute.

Angie Valencia, (805) 583-7604

angie.valencia(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Glenn Bassett and his wife, Eva, along with their 6-week-old son, Adam, visit with Mr. Scar, the hefty pumpkin they hope will be a record-breaker at the Elk Grove Community Harvest Festival weigh-in.

(2) Growing large pumpkins is not uncommon for Glenn Bassett, as these other specimens in his garden will attest.

Joe Binoya/Special to the Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 5, 2004
Words:539
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