MEDFORD, Ore. — Matt Sekreta has been blessed with the gift of a great big gourd.
“It was growing ten inches a day," Sekreta said. "I pollinated the gourd July 15th and it stopped growing August 26th, so we’re looking at 35, 40 days growth to get this big.”
Sekreta is a member of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, an organization that thrives on the growing of perilously plump pumpkins, gigantic gourds, whopping watermelons and substantial squash. Now, after entering his particularly impressive gourd in a competition at Bauman Farms between Salem and Portland, Sekreta has won some serious bragging rights.
Over the weekend, Sekreta won the "Long Gourd" competition, with his tremendous vegetable measuring 142.5 inches — shattering the previous state record.
While Sekreta makes his living at Superior Carpet in Phoenix, he says that he and his co-workers like to spend their spare time growing these glorious gourds. The hobby isn't exclusive to gourds, either — Sekreta said that he grew a pumpkin last year weighing 556 pounds.
With his gourd, Sekreta is nearly up there with the titans. The standing world record for a long gourd is 149.5 inches (according to the Great Pumpkin Collective), set by Alan Eaton in 2015.
“It takes a lot of determination and time and luck — and a lot of water. This gourd here was drinking 250 to 300 gallons of water a day, so it takes a lot of effort, a lot of time, but it’s well worth the effort,” Sekreta said.
Sekreta said that he'll be taking his record-breaking gourd to the Phoenix High School Homecoming Parade on Wednesday. Then, on Friday, he'll take it over to his dad's retirement community in order to share the victory.
“It’s something that my dad and I connect on . . . we don’t talk about much other than 'how’s your gourd, how’s your family, how’s work,'" Sekreta said. "And so, it’s really something we have in common, that he enjoys. He’s proud of me, and I’m very excited because it connects me with many people, especially his friends at Fountain Plaza.”
Sekreta will also bring with him some smaller gourds and pumpkins to help the retirement community decorate for the Fall season.