September 28, 2013
Layton's pumpkin weighed in at 639.7 lbs. at the Virginia State Fair. He did not win this year's heaviest pumpkin category. First place went to 754.7 lb. pumpkin.
Layton said he will be back at growing pumpkins for next year's fair.
September 27, 2013
A man in Nelson county is entering his giant pumpkin in the Virginia State Fair.
William Layton, his family, and some friends used a tractor to help load a pumpkin onto a trailer on Friday afternoon. He estimates the pumpkin weighs more than 1,000 pounds.
He planted the seeds on May 1. He pollinated them on July 1 and says the pumpkin grew to its current size and weight in a little more than two and a half months.
He credits his new way to grow pumpkins using compost for his pumpkin, which he hopes will set a new record for Virginia's heaviest pumpkin.
Layton sells the compost, called Blue Ridge Organics Super Compost. He has gotten Southern States and other businesses to carry it.
"I'm just so happy to be able to get back to the state fair with some pumpkins," said Layton. "In 2007, I broke the state record and I have not been back to the fair since. So, I am tickled to be going down to the fair with something."
"We've watched them grow all summer. My kids are up here all the time. My middle daughter loves to jump on them and takes pictures of them with William[, Jr.]," said Lori Lambert, a family friend. "My kids want to carve them and make a ton of pumpkin pies with them."
"I like growing pumpkins with my dad," said Layton's son, William Layton, Jr., who said he helped shovel manure into socks and turn on the sprinkler to make sure the pumpkins didn't overheat and wilt during the summer.
"He did a really good job helping me," said Layton.
"It's really cool because usually our pumpkins end up rotting, but this year, through all the storms and everything they actually didn't rot," said William, Jr.
"Yeah, we had 40-some inches of rain up here," said Layton.
Layton and his family will leave early Saturday to drive to the fair. The weighing of the pumpkins happens near Richmond, in Caroline County, at noon on Saturday.
Also traveling to the fair is the Virginia Giant Vegetable Growers Association, an about 20-person club, of which Layton is a member.
"We've formed this club where we all can work on growing monster pumpkins like they do up north," said Layton. He explained that in the south, pumpkins are more prone to diseases due to factors such as rain and hurricanes.
"One day, we're gonna be growing the world records here."