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Castilleja’s Pumpkin Family

Laurie P., mother of Mabelle P. ’20 and Eveliena P. ’22, was kind enough to write us an article about the pumpkins you may have noticed in the admin building and the library, and the process of growing and competing with pumpkins!

It is hard to miss the bright orange pumpkin greeting visitors at the Castilleja Library. Weighing approximately 75 pounds, this pumpkin has the Castilleja Five C’s permanently etched in its skin. Eleven-year-old Violet, the younger sister of  Eveliena ’22 and Mabelle ’20, grew this pumpkin from seeds she saved from her pumpkin she named “Vivacious” and grew two years ago.




It is the third year thatimage1 (2) the sisters together scarred the Castilleja 5 Cs on their pumpkins to bring to Castilleja. The pumpkins are scarred in early July, and the scar will harden and grow with the pumpkin until it is ready to be picked.




image2Pumpkin growing is an important tradition for our family. This October marks the 6th year that the sisters have competed in the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Weigh Off. Together their three entries (“Hamilton”, “Peach,” and “Ghost”) this season weighed over 350 pounds. The family record currently stands at 288 pounds for a single pumpkin. While that is significantly smaller than this year’s 1,900 pound winning pumpkin, we feel like champions just being able to compete each year.

image1 (1)There is nothing like watching the growers from all along the coast bringing in their pumpkins in flat beds and pickup trucks in the early misty morning hours to be weighed the day of the Weigh Off. Most of the giant pumpkins are still being fed with large pails of water or some secret formula right up until they are lifted on the scale.



The Half Moon Bay Weigh-Off was extra special  this year as a woman won the contest for the first time in 19 years. The champion, third grader teacher Cindy Tobeck from Washington State, traveled with her pumpkin by pickup to compete in the Half Moon Bay Weigh Off. It was her dream to win this competition. An interview of the Pasmooij sisters as well as Cindy Tobeck by ABC7 News can be found by clicking here.

We will begin preparing for next year’s Weigh Off almost immediately after Halloween by planting a cover crop of mustard. The mustard plants cut and tilled into the soil will help prevent disease for their future pumpkins. In April the sisters will select seeds and plant them in pots. Their seedlings will grow indoors for a couple of weeks and then will be transferred to the soil in May.

By late June pumpkins will be growing on the vines. Much effort and time will be spent trying to protect the flowers, vines and pumpkins from squirrels. In August or September, the pumpkins will have completed most of their growing. The sisters will be off to the Half Moon Bay hopefully again by next early October with three beauties and have additional pumpkins for Castilleja. Mabelle and Eveliena are happy to share seeds with anyone who wants to try growing!

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