Ben Dodge is Ludlow’s pumpkin king

Posted Oct. 21, 2010, at 1:49 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:49 a.m.

In the winter of 2008, Ben Dodge of Ludlow was looking through a seed catalog that had photos of some huge pumpkins, and the seed company sold the very seeds necessary to grow one of the behemoth fruits.

After extensive Internet research, Dodge soon realized it wasn’t nearly as easy as planting one of the seeds in the ground and just letting it grow.

“A special fertilizer program had to be followed, as well as pruning the vines once the pumpkin is ‘set’ on the vine,” he said. “I started to like the sound of growing a huge pumpkin because it seemed that not just anybody could do it. I had found my summer challenge.”

Considering Dodge had never grown anything, he set his initial goal at 200 pounds.

“Needless to say I surpassed that goal within the first month of growing my first pumpkin,” he said. “You can literally watch them grow — a healthy pumpkin will grow as much as 25 pounds per day.”

Dodge’s plant was a cross between seeds from a 1,505-pound pumpkin and a 1,462-pound one. His pumpkin ended up being 720 pounds.

After learning so much in the first year, Dodge has set his 2011 goal at 1,400 plus pounds.

“It’s a very addicting hobby and there is a network of growers who are usually willing to help with growing tips,” he said.

He saved seeds from his pumpkin and says that each seed has the genetics to grow to 1,000-plus pounds. Dodge’s seeds are available for $1 each and will even include complete growing tips for anyone who wants one.

“It is a very addicting hobby,” he added.

When not growing pumpkins, Dodge works at Houlton Regional Hospital.