Giant Pumpkin ‘Ms. Chloe’ to be Officially Weighed this Sunday


By Tasmin McGill

Justin “The Pumpkin King” Boshnack with “Ms. Chloe,” a large pumpkin he will officially weigh this Sunday, Sept. 17. Photo courtesy of Justin Boshnack

Laguna Beach locals and interested pumpkin enthusiasts are invited to the weigh-in on Sunday, at 11 a.m., of the largest pumpkin grown yet by Laguna Beach’s very own “Pumpkin King.”

Over the last five months, cars and pedestrians traveling along the narrow road of West Street in South Laguna, have slowed down to admire the two giant pumpkins that sit in front of Justin “The Pumpkin King” Boshnack’s home. While some believe the pair to be fake, others are in awe that produce is growing that large in Laguna Beach. Due to the soil composition in Laguna, it is difficult to grow produce of the size of his pumpkins.

“The whole soil makeup of most of Laguna Beach is really not conducive to growing big, so we had to solve that problem,” Boshnack said.

Taking samples from what would become the Boshnack’s personal pumpkin patch, and driving them to a lab in Los Angeles, the results showed that the soil was too acidic and would prevent the gourds from growing to their fullest potential.

With “growing big” in mind, Boshnack redid the soil composition to make it a smoother growing season for Ms. Chloe, aptly named in memory of a neighbor’s beloved dog, and Bonnie, named by Boshnack’s son Tyler.

Other contributing factors to the anticipated 300-pound weight of Ms. Chloe are having the right irrigation system, fertilizers for different times of the season, soil, space, and light.

“We have the best exposure here because it is southern exposure,” Boshnack said. “We get full sun from morning till night.”

Protecting the leaves of the pumpkin is also important since that is how the pumpkin receives its nutrients. Boshnack acknowledges that one limitation to his 2,500-square-foot patch is the lack of space it has for the pumpkin leaves to grow and expand.

“Every leaf is like a solar panel and it harnesses the energy of the sun all day and then at night is when the pumpkin grows,” Boshnack explained. “The more leaves you have taking in the most sun and the most energy, will push those water, the sugars and the carbohydrates into the pumpkin and make it blow up.”

Having the right genetic makeup in the planted seed is another important factor in growing giant pumpkins. According to Boshnack, the seed that grew into Ms. Chloe came from a 2,400-pound pumpkin grown in Massachusetts.

After Sunday’s weigh-in, Boshnack will host an additional event and has partnered with MMA UFC fighter Blake Bilder to spar with Ms. Chloe. Boshnack is also currently holding a contest on Instagram and the person who guesses the correct weight on Ms. Chloe will receive 10 seeds from the large pumpkin.

Finally, Boshnack is partnering with a local chef to create 100 pumpkin pies for donation to homeless shelters.

“We’re going to try to have as much fun from these pumpkins as possible,” Boshnack said.

The ultimate goal for Boshnack is to continue to perfect the growing process in order to grow larger pumpkins each year and keep bringing joy to the community.

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