Greg Shaw planted his first pumpkin seed 50 years ago in Magnolia.

On a Magnolia street like many others, the 72-year-old man has spent years planting, cultivating and decorating for pumpkins that can grow up to be as much as 500 pounds.

“The way I got started is I got back from Vietnam and was living in Magnolia, being on my own for the first time in a rental house…” Shaw said. “I’ve always liked growing things.”

As it happens, green thumbs are in the Shaw family tree.

“My parents, you know, grew a lot of flowers and enjoyed growing all kinds of vegetables,” he said, adding he enjoyed working with them in the garden as a youth.

In order to continue the family tradition, Shaw set out to find a project that would set him apart from his folks.

“So I went down to the Pike Place Market, and was looking for something unusual to grow, and I found some seeds that said, ‘Big Mac’s pumpkins grow to be 100 pounds,’ and I thought that sounded fun.”

As a fan of Halloween, Shaw purchased the seeds and put them in large pots. The produce grew into 100-pound pumpkins that first year, which became the catalyst for all Shaw has accomplished since.

After that first harvest, Shaw went back to school and didn’t have the time or space to grow until six years later. By his second harvest, the pumpkins had grown to a couple hundred pounds each, and subsequent harvests have seen incremental increases in size.

Last year yielded Shaw’s largest pumpkin to date, weighing in at about 600 pounds. Shaw said he has some that have grown to 500 pounds this year.

In those early days, Shaw was living in a small home, and he grew his pumpkins on top of the hill leading down to it. The arrangement was deemed so dangerous, the U.S. Postal Service refused to deliver anything to the mailbox near the house, so he moved it near the sidewalk.

“I have had some issues with people rolling pumpkins down the hill, so I put a baby monitor inside the mailbox, and I could hear people say things like, ‘Holy crap,’ ‘Way cool,’ and, ‘A little old man must live here.’

Shaw said he has harvested his pumpkins 36 times in the last 50 years, admitting that he did take several breaks from the practice.

Ultimately, Shaw hopes to reach newer and greater heights, sourcing his seeds from world-record holders.

“The world record is over 2,600 pounds,” he said. “They had a weigh-in at Central Market in Shoreline a week ago last Saturday. I haven’t heard the current sizes, but usually the biggest weigh-in is out of Half Moon Bay.”

Shaw said he purchases his seeds from a Half-Moon Bay area resident named Joe Holland, who has won the world record for North American pumpkins multiple times.

“He had one two years ago, the North American world record for over 2,300 pounds…” Shaw said. “I bought my seeds from him four years ago. One seed was $35 and another was $25, from 1,700-pound pumpkins. And so I’ve been just taking the seeds from the pumpkins I’ve grown since then.”

Since some of Shaw’s pumpkins turn out white, he said he cultivates his own seeds from his orange pumpkins.

Shaw said more and more people have taken an interest in his pumpkins over the years.

“One thing people ask is what I’m going to do with the pumpkins after Halloween,” he said. “People are almost offended that I don’t make pumpkin pies out of them, or give them to a homeless shelter or do something with them, but they are bred for size and speed of growth, and not for eating.”

Shaw said he did try eating one once.

“I cooked some up like squash, boiled them, ate them, and my face turned red,” he said. “I just started streaming sweat… It was almost scary, and I never ate them again.”

Shaw has about 19 pumpkins for people to look at, down from 24 last year. Those interested in taking a gander are welcome to drop by the patch any time of the day until Halloween, or until the pumpkins rot.

The Magnolia Pumpkin Patch is located at 3707 29th Ave. W.