Riverside Man Determined to Grow Prize-Winning Pumpkin

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

RIVERSIDE, Iowa - It's Halloween night, the night Jack-o'-Lanterns burn bright and pumpkins litter neighborhoods as children trick-or-treat.

For some people, however, there's a little bit more to the story of the familiar orange symbol of October

Just outside of Riverside, there's a patch of land and one dedicated pumpkin farmer.

"It gets in your blood," said David Miller.

So much so, that even eating pumpkin just feels wrong.

"It's kind of like you spend so much time with them. It's kind of family. So, it just seems kind of not right to be eating pumpkins," Miller said.

For ten years, David Miller, has been growing great big pumpkins. His biggest weighed in at 933 pounds, winning him top prize at the state fair last year.

"The thing is: You just have to commit yourself," Miller said.

"If you wanted to spend time with him, you needed to go out there too," David's Wife Peggy Miller said.

Peggy said David has his growing techniques down to a science. Some people around Washington County call him the Pumpkin King or Pumpkin Dave. He can talk about his love for big pumpkins for hours.

"There's main vines, secondary vines, tertiary vines," Miller said.

"They don't like to get watered on top, they like to be watered underneath," Miller said.

The Pumpkin King wasn't too thrilled with this year's crop or lack of one. The dry conditions zapped his chances of raising a prize-winning pumpkin.

"I was really disappointed. It's just the fun of having one and growing one," Miller said.

He has one large pumpkin in his yard, it grew from a seed out of his 933 pound pumpkin but was grown by a friend. Other than that, Mother Nature left him empty handed. Now, Pumpkin Dave is on a mission.

"I'm bound and determined I'm going to have the big pumpkin this year," Miller said.

His goal: a 1,600 pound pumpkin and to make it happen he's already planting the seeds of success.

"He's up a lot of times in the middle of the night writing down some ideas. It keeps him awake," Peggy Miller said.

He's decided to build a greenhouse for the next crop to keep Mother Nature out of the picture all together.

"I'm going to actually run PVC pipe underground the ground about this far down. That way the ground will be 70 degrees all year round," Miller said.

So David is ready for his great pumpkin to appear, and he's more than ready to win top prize with the biggest pumpkin he's ever grown.
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