By MIKE CORN
NICODEMUS -- Gary Alexander remains determined to grow a massive pumpkin, never mind the 332 pounder he pulled from his garden last week.
"It didn't weigh as high as we were hoping," Alexander said Wednesday as he aired up a tire on a scraper, preparing to move some soil in his garden just west of Nicodemus.
He knows it could have been bigger, and he was hoping for just that.
"It grew over and laid on its vine," Alexander said. "It got bigger and bigger and laid over on its vine."
Other pumpkins -- smaller indeed -- were more perfectly formed, sitting upright and not falling over onto its lifeblood of nutrients and water.
"That's the biggest one we've ever raised," Alexander said.
Two other pumpkins weighed 160 and 80 pounds each.
Alexander is in a partnership with his brother, Robert, who was charged with finding the seeds to grow a massive pumpkin.
He ended up purchasing several online from a grower, paying a whopping $20 for each seed.
"They weren't even world champion seeds," he said.
Speaking of grand champions, Alexander talked about the grand champion pumpkin at the Kansas State Fair, an orange blob that weighed a paltry 366.5 pounds.
Alexander's pumpkin would not have bested it, but it would have given the champion a run for its money.
To be sure, he's disappointed in the size of the pumpkin, but not discouraged.
Using 4-by-4 inch posts, he created a tripod of sorts to lift up the pumpkin so it could be weighed at the Nicodemus Annual Pioneer Day last weekend.
There was one guess -- only 2 pounds off -- on the pumpkin's weight. The woman making the guess, won a pumpkin pie.
The pumpkin remains in front of the Nicodemus Township Hall, and its seeds ultimately will be harvested by Alexander.
"I'm thinking about putting some grow lights on them next year," he said, boosting the amount of sunlight the pumpkins receive. "It will be cheaper than moving to the land of the midnight sun."
Of course, he has to figure out a way to get electricity to the site to power the lights.
Growing a 332-pounder has been a learning experience.
When the pumpkin fell on its vine, Alexander worried about moving it, afraid it would rip out auxiliary roots.
"I know better now," he said. "I shouldn't have let it grow on its vines.
"If I never would have let it grown on the vine, I bet it would be 500 pounds."