Pumpkin Gourd Grief!

updated 10/24/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/24/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

LUCY VAN PELT OF PEANUTS fame always scoffed at her brother Linus's belief in the Great Pumpkin. But then Lucy never met California vegetable farmer Tom Borchard. Every October for he past 13 years, Borchard, 47, has produced pumpkins that make the usual Halloween jack-o'-lanterns look as puny as kumquats. Last year his largest weighed 544 pounds, was nearly four feet high and measured 12 feet around. Such success, he says, requires a certain amount of eccentricity. "I was always out for anything that was odd or unusual," he says. "I kinda go that way."

Borchard sells both pumpkins and pumpkin seeds from his Salinas farm. But his real joy is entering—and winning—various state and national pumpkin contests, which he does regularly. Total winnings so far: $15,000. Someday soon, he predicts, he may grow a 1,000-pounder. "If the weather is perfect," he says, "it's possible."

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