Giant gourds grow in Queens

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Squash whatever is on the menu.

Some lucky vegetable lovers will be gorging on gourds for the next few weeks.

Green-thumbed gardener Linda Wrublewski and her husband, Butch, grow a small patch of produce each year in their quiet, corner home in Whitestone. Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers usually flourish, Linda said, except for this year.

“This year was a very bad year for the garden. Nothing did well,” she said, “except this.”

She pointed to a 16-pound butternut squash, which stands 17.5 inches tall and is 26 inches wide. The gargantuan gourd is more than five times the average size, experts said, and the horticultural duo has 10 of them.

Linda, 65, said she worked in the produce department of a supermarket for 30 years and has never seen such an anomaly.

The couple planted the small plant in May, when they received it as a gift, but said they did not know what they were growing at the time.

“I thought it was zucchini, and the next thing I know, it started branching out like 30 feet in all directions,” Linda said. “It took over. We couldn’t even cut the grass. You could see day to day how big they were getting.”

The full-grown products weigh in on average at about 15 pounds each, the Wrublewskis said. But since they are not big squash fanatics, the pair will give some away to neighbors and friends and donate the rest to a local food bank.

According to the Queens County Farm Museum, an average butternut squash weighs approximately three pounds and grows to about eight inches. The world’s largest squash tips the scale at 1,486 pounds and is held by record-breaker Joel Jarvis in Canada, according to Guinness World Records.

Though far from shattering any world records, the Wrublewskis said the jumbo squash in their own backyard is jaw-dropping enough.

“It’s amazing for anything to grow that big in New York City,” Butch said.

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