BONUS: Joe Adkins: Once Upon a Time it Grew Into The Big One: A Modern Fairytale

Joe Adkins is a massage therapist based in Wheaton Illinois.  For the past 15 years or so Joe has been growing large vegetables – very large vegetables – in his garden in Wheaton, and in 2016 grew a pumpkin which weighed over 1860 lbs, winning the coveted title of “heaviest in Illinois” in that year.
Since then his passion – and harvest – has grown and this year the total “harvest” from the 3 largest pumpkins grown on their property topped 4520 lbs, earning him a Pumpkin Growers Jacket.  He has also grown a giant Gourd weighing over 100 lbs and a squash weighing over 900 lbs.
Having followed Joe’s rise with interest through Facebook, I wanted to sit down with him to talk not only about the growing but also the carving of these giants and find out a little about the giant vegetable growing scene. What follows is a surprisingly delightful fairytale.

Like all fairytales, we start once upon a time. We start with Joe’s first interest in growing giant vegetables, and the magic seeds that make it possible.  We talk about the magic potions – the soil chemistry, the fertilizer and the copious amounts of water that make these giants take off, and then about the villains – the fungi, the critters, the forces of nature, that can get in the way.

Having successfully fought off these villains year after year, Joe has seen his “dream come true” of growing the heaviest pumpkin in Illinois in 2016.  We hear about the large pumpkin/vegetable growing scene. . the carriages that such giants need to be transported, and how loving care is needed at every stage of the journey.

This is a joyous journey that transports us to the world of make believe, yet you can witness these real life giants outside Joe’s house in Wheaton.  Check out the following coverage:

Thank you Joe for putting us in the mood for Fall, and good luck with getting to the 2000 pounder.

Photo Credit: Brian Hill | Staff Photographer of the Daily Herald