In 2007, Scott Armstrong grew the heaviest pumpkin ever grown on Long Island, weighing in at 1,249 pounds.
And this year, he beat his record by growing a pumpkin that weighed 1,279 pounds.
The Commack man’s feat garnered him first place honors -- for the third consecutive year -- in the annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off at Hicks Nurseries in Westbury.
“I've been to 15 weigh offs,” said the 40-year-old Armstrong. “I've won a few times in the past and set a few records. Not every year is a success, but sticking to it is what makes you a success in the long haul.”
Armstrong started growing pumpkins in 1998 and attributes his success to the determination he’s had since he started his hobby.
“In all honesty, the key to doing this is not giving up and working hard,” he said.
There’s no special fertilizers and no chemicals that Armstrong uses. Hard work and luck are what he relies on to grow over a period of months, often starting in the early summer.
“Honestly, I don't fertilize at all,” said Armstrong. “I add a lot of compost in the fall, but it’s just basic gardening and being on top of it. It’s every single day for five months, everybody thinks about pumpkins in the fall, but we are starting in May.”
But Armstrong still has a couple hundred pounds to go to make the Guinness Book of World Records. According to the Guinness Book website, the heaviest pumpkin weighed 1,810 pounds and 8 ounces. It was presented by Chris Stevens at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minn. on Oct. 9, 2010.
Karen Musgrave, 36, of Bethpage, who works at Hicks Nurseries, admits that Armstrong is quite the expert in his field.
“He has a very broad gardening sense,” said Musgrave, “all the guys that come here come to him for advice and gardening instruction.”
Armstrong has dreamed of growing an enormous pumpkin since he was a child. Today, he brings that dream to fruition in his 1500-square-foot backyard in Commack. Throughout the year, Armstrong also grows sunflowers, tomatoes and peanuts.
But, his main focus still remains his mega pumpkins.
“I leave the pumpkin sitting on my front lawn, people love to come by and take pictures of,” Armstrong said. “They're always asking if it’s real.”