Mario’s top two pumpkins take up the majority of his son’s pick-up bed. (Special to THE NEWS)

Mario’s top two pumpkins take up the majority of his son’s pick-up bed. (Special to THE NEWS)

88-year-old Pitt Meadows farmer grows 161-pound pumpkin

Granddaughter goaded Mario Palcich into growing giant gourds

In Mario Palcich’s 47 years of tending to his Pitt Meadows farm, he has put the land to excellent use.

The 88-year-old Italian farmer has reared sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, and rabbits; in addition to growing grapes, apples, cherries, and plums on a beautiful plot of land off Old Dewdney Trunk Road.

It was not until last year that he grew his first pumpkin.

His daughter in-law, April Ferguson, said Palcich’s granddaughter – who loves pumpkins – asked him why he had never grown the popular fall fruit.

“So, he said, ‘let me try!”’ Ferguson said.

READ MORE: Giant pumpkin growing new tradition in Whonnock

Palcich said he asked his friends in the Okanagan for some seeds, and got to work.

Last year he tried them in the east end of his garden, under a Queen apple tree, but the soil ended up having too much clay, so they did not turn out as well as he would have liked.

This year he placed them someplace with better soil, added some good compost, and gave them some special attention.

The results were a couple hefty pumpkins that his granddaughter was delighted with. The largest was 161 pounds.

Although he was remiss to give all his secrets, Palcich said growing them is fairly straightforward.

“You have to look after them, pull the weeds, and water them regularly,” he said.

He made sure he removed the fruits which were not growing as quickly, so all of the plants’ energy went towards the best pumpkins.

Unfortunately due to COVID, Palcich did not feel comfortable taking part in any harvest contests this year, but he said he is considering showing off next year’s crop, and promises they will be even bigger.

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