Patch of giant pumpkins a gourd time for Dodge City man

Judd Weil
Dodge City Daily Globe
85-year old Kenneth Austin with one of the giant pumpkins he has grown in his backyard, that weighs in at around 156 pounds. PHOTO BY JUDD WEIL/DODGE CITY DAILY GLOBE

Kenneth Austin, an 85-year-old Dodge City resident, is certainly in the spirit of fall with his backyard pumpkin patch, growing pumpkins that have easily exceeded 150 pounds.

“I just do this for the heck of it,” said Austin. “Last year I only grew five of them, so this year I did a better job with bigger and more pumpkins, and I believe I’ll have a mess of them.”

Austin’s largest pumpkin last year weighed in at 81 pounds, while many of his pumpkins this year have grown to scales up to a whopping 200 pounds. He refers to an already impressive 156-pound pumpkin as “a baby.”

After receiving the seeds from South Carolina, Austin started growing the larger pumpkins at his longtime family business Austin Pools and Spas back in the beginning of March, before moving them to his backyard around May 20 and planting them in his own concoction of potting soil.

“They were growing a long time before I could put them out,” said Austin.

The pumpkin patch consists of 11 small hills surrounded by an irrigation system of Austin’s design that is rigged to a timer that, along with his backyard sprinkler system, waters his pumpkins once a day.

Austin has a few pumpkins that are recently growing, with some only up to a week and two weeks old and some just starting to sprout.

Pumpkins tend to grow at rapid rate and most typically reach maturity and can be picked after three months. They can continue to grow if they are left on the vine and regularly nourished, such is the case with Austin’s rotund gourds that weigh in at over 150 pounds.

Austin will be selling his pumpkins between $20 and $50, depending on the size of the individual pumpkin. He also expresses interest in starting a “pumpkin club.”

“I’m only 85 and I got to do something with my life,” said Austin.

To inquire Austin about his pumpkins’ prices and his proposed pumpkin club, or even receive brochure information on how to grow giant pumpkins, call 620-338-7385.

A soccer ball used for scale on the enormity of Kenneth Austin's pumpkins, one reaching 175 pounds. PHOTO BY JUDD WEIL/DODGE CITY DAILY GLOBE