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WHEATON, Ill. – Before school, 11-year-old Carena Adkins has just a few minutes to prune her pumpkin patch. That little bit of TLC, every day since April, helped one of the gourds grow, and grow, and grow into a monster. Now it weighs over half a ton.

“I like to watch it get bigger and bigger each day,” Carena said. The Wheaton sixth grader said she plans on entering the pumpkin in a weigh off contest this weekend.

It’s only the second big pumpkin she’s ever grown, beating her previous entry by about 700 pounds.  A special tent blocks some sun and keeps the critters away.

“There’s a lot of babying that goes into it,” said Carena’s dad, Joe. “Carena does a little bit more loving with hers, and I do a little bit more the hard work.”

Carena’s 900-pound monster isn’t even the biggest on the property; another is estimated to be about 1,500 pounds. A huge fan of carving, Joe started dabbling in the super squash six years ago so he could test his skills on bigger subjects.

“They grow so fast the vines grow up to 12 inches a day, although you feel like it’s little shop of horrors out here, where it might actually reach into the windows and crawl in at times,” he said.

“Fast” is an understatement. Think 30 pounds a day for three weeks straight during peak growing season. Joe credits hot weather and a wet August for their pumpkin prosperity.

On Friday, Carena and her dad will harvest the pumpkins and get them on a truck for the Monsters of the Midway weigh-in, with thousands of dollars in prize money on the line. Although Joe says his giant Jack-o’-latern is prize enough.

“This is my personal best, and there’s nothing better than smashing that record,” he said. “I’ve probably beat it by 500 pounds already so even if I don’t take home a ribbon which is one-tenth place, I’m still going to be really excited about it.”

More info:

Monsters of the Midway Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off

Siegels Cottonwood Farms

Sat. Sept. 24th – Noon

17250 Weber Rd.

Lockport IL