BOUNTIFUL — Near his home, Dr. Mohamed Sadiq has a garden plot covered in giant leaves and vines. The mass of greenery is made up of two pumpkin plants surrounding two giant pumpkins — each an island of light orange in a sea of green.
One pumpkin is larger, with an estimated weight of over 1,300 pounds. Sadiq says he thinks this will be his biggest pumpkin yet.
He arrives at the estimation by measuring the circumference of the pumpkin as well as the top from one side to the other, and using a special pumpkin weight estimation chart that looks similar to a chart students use for times tables.
At this point, the pumpkin’s walls are probably about 10 inches thick, Sadiq said.
The giant pumpkin began as a female flower, which Sadiq pollinated with a male flower on June 28. (The same plant produces both male and female flowers.)
In only 89 days, the flower has grown to a pumpkin weighing more than 1,300 pounds.
In mid August, when the pumpkin was at the peak of its growth, it grew anywhere between 30 to 50 pounds per day for about a week, Sadiq said.
“I’ve heard that if you put a stethoscope on it, you could actually hear it grow — the flow of water,” Sadiq said, though he said he hasn’t tried this.
The plant surrounding the larger of the two pumpkins covers 1,200 square feet.
Its vines originate from one central stump, but they aren’t just spread out across the ground — each vine also sends down its own roots.
“This entire plant is feeding this guy right here,” Sadiq said, tapping his pumpkin. “There’s roots going down under every leaf ... roots eeeeeverywhere.”
Not all pumpkin plants grow this way. This is a special species that produces giant pumpkins, called the Atlantic Giant.
Sadiq’s pumpkin will go up against other giant pumpkins around the state on Saturday at the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers’ annual giant pumpkin weigh-off at Thanksgiving Point — and again on Oct. 12 at a weigh-off at Hee Haw Farms in Pleasant Grove.
After the weigh-off, the giant pumpkins will meet their end in a variety of ways.
At Hee Haw Farms, there’s a giant pumpkin drop, where the pumpkins are dropped on different objects — “whatever you can think of,” Sadiq said.
Sadiq’s largest pumpkin to date weighed 1,386 pounds.
It was dropped using a crane from almost 200 feet onto an old SUV, which bounced about 2 feet in the air after being hit by the full weight of the pumpkin.
On Oct. 19, the Daybreak Community will hold a “Ginormous Pumpkin Regatta” on the community lake, where people will race in pumpkin boats.
Sadiq says his pumpkins are too big to make good boats — you want a pumpkin that’s 600 to 700 pounds for that. The smaller pumpkins are better for speed, he said.
“Whatever’s leftover after these two events goes to the Hogle Zoo for a giant pumpkin feast for the elephants,” Sadiq said.
A neurologist at the Tanner Clinic in Layton, Sadiq grows these giant pumpkins in his free time, but it’s not a hobby or an interest, he said.
“You have to say this is a sport,” he said. “It is super intense.”
He spends an hour a day per plant pruning vines and caring for the plants during their growing peak.
“His wife says she’s a pumpkin widow,” said Nabila Khan, Sadiq’s cousin from Bangalore, India, who was visiting him during the week prior to the first weigh-off.
Sadiq said he’s always enjoyed gardening, especially growing vegetables.
“I love gardening anything. I grow a tomato in a pot in the wintertime with grow lights on it — very relaxing,” Sadiq said. “I think more people with stress should do it. And that’s a quote from a doctor.”
In addition to growing giant pumpkins, Sadiq also grows long gourds that are 10 to 12 feet long, but he said he hasn’t had good luck with gourds this year.
He got started growing giant pumpkins 10 years ago after growing a large pumpkin as part of his vegetable garden. It grew to be 100 pounds.
“I was ... just amazed by it,” Sadiq said. “I said ‘That must be like the biggest in the world — I’ve grown a 100-pound pumpkin.’”
Then he started researching and came across the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, a global organization of giant pumpkin growers. Sadiq reached out to them, and someone sent him a seed.
“The first time I ever grew one of those special ... Atlantic Giant seeds, I grew about 590 pounds, I believe,” Sadiq said. “And that was it. I was hooked.”