LINACY – Tom Dudka and his dog Dora are back in the pumpkin patch, despite major setbacks this year.
Nothing keeps Tom Dudka and his dog Dora from the garden. His latest pumpkin weighs in over 800 pounds and it’s not done growing yet. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS
The Linacy pumpkin grower had a knee operation in January and hoped he’d be better in time to plant his seeds.
However, he had a relapse and was forced back into surgery in late spring. He wasn’t able to put his plants in until the last week of May.
Instead of recovering from his operations, Dudka went right back to harvesting his orange giants.
“It’s better to go out and do something than mope,” he says.
His knee problems weren’t the last of his bad luck.
Although greenhouses covered all of his plants, a bad frost in May wiped them out, forcing him to start again.
His pumpkins may not reach their goal weight this year, but his biggest is still over 800 pounds. He expects it will weigh in at over 900 pounds by October when he goes to the worldwide competition in Windsor.
He still has hopes of tipping the scales in the future.
“I’ll get into the 1,000-pound club,” he says.
His record is 991 pounds from two years ago.
While we may not like getting soaked, Dudka’s pumpkins love it. Over the last few days of rain, his biggest gained 63 pounds.
When the water isn’t falling from the sky, Dudka is feeding his plants 300 gallons of water a day.
He keeps the chemicals away and gives them lots of loving care.
“You gotta love it to do it,” he says, adding that it’s similar to raising a child for him.
His heavy baby stays covered by a blanket – when he’s not showing it off – in order to save the skin from toughening and cracking.
Dora also plays a part in his hobby. Dudka says the little dog has been around for the 10 years he’s been growing.
Dudka is also dipping into the squash market for his second year, with a 600-pounder.
Two of his pumpkins and a squash will be heading to different Sobeys locations in New Glasgow after the season is finished.
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How do you grow your pumpkins? Tips for the best plants around
If you prefer plants like Dudka’s, you have to keep it one pumpkin per plant. The pumpkins will stop growing if others are feeding off the same plant.
Plant the seeds in late spring to early summer to keep frost from killing them off.
Keep them well watered.
Use compost in or on your soil to nourish the seeds. Dudka’s secret is molasses, coffee grounds and old manure.