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4-H clover Youth from Lincoln and Lyon Counties take on a pumpkin challenge this summer

Growing pumpkins is fun...super-sizing them is even better! Youth from Lincoln and Lyon counties are engaged in a friendly competition to see who can grow the biggest pumpkin this season.  

Participants planted their pumpkin seeds in May, and throughout the summer will receive instructions from local 4-H and ag educators to care for and maximize pumpkin growth.  They're also encouraged to “take it further” by exploring alternative watering and fertilization strategies, learning about how pollinators affect pumpkin growth or by saving seeds in the fall.

Meet the youth pumpkin growers

48 youth signed up for this 4-H learning experience. Not only will there be prizes for the largest pumpkin, but also for learning, commitment and creativity.  

During this journey we will follow three youth in their pumpkin growing adventure! Matthew and Laurel Ryks from Lyon County are excited to take on the challenge of growing something larger than life. “We’ve grown tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, squash, zucchini, and small pumpkins, but never anything on this scale, '' said Matthew. “Challenge accepted!” Evan Jensen from Lincoln County thinks this challenge is “a great chance to learn about how things grow, where our food comes from, and the hard work that goes into maintaining a food source.” 

Laurel and-Matthew Ryks planting pumpkin seeds.
Laurel and Matthew Ryks planting pumpkin seeds.
Matthew Ryks, age 10, planting pumpkin seeds.
Matthew Ryks, age 10

What’s the value of growing pumpkins?

Pumpkins are a popular garden crop. Many people don't realize that there are two distinct families of pumpkins. Extra-large pumpkins, also known as Cucurbita maxima, are the ones being grown in this 4-H learning experience. Jack-o-lanterns and pie pumpkins are part of the Cucurbita pepo species, which we commonly see during the fall months.

Gardening is a great way to get youth outdoors and learning about where their food comes from. It’s a hands-on way to build responsibility and respect for nature, self-discipline and decision-making.  Additionally, gardening can become a hobby that promotes healthy stress management and disease prevention.

Make sure to follow Minnesota 4-H on Facebook for updates from Laurel, Matthew and Evan. They’ll be sharing photos and videos of their growing pumpkins. 

For more information about the contest please contact our 4-H educators, Michele VanDyke or Sam Jens.

Related topics: YD News Youth 4-H Featured news
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