Gardening: Paton brothers smashing records with their pumpkins

Brothers Stuart and Ian Paton with their winning pumpkin. Picture by Thompson & Morgan
Brothers Stuart and Ian Paton with their winning pumpkin. Picture by Thompson & Morgan

Everyone loves monster veg and last weekend four British records were broken, including the biggest pumpkin ever grown in the UK.

Gardeners from all over the country converge at The Jubilee Sailing Trust Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Southampton, which is well-known for its mammoth veg.

The event, sponsored by Thompson & Morgan, ended in triumph again for the superstars of the monster pumpkin growers, twins Stuart and Ian Paton, also from Southampton.

They broke the record that they set last year for the heaviest pumpkin to be grown in the UK.

Their entry weighed in at a massive 2269lbs or 162 stone – this in itself beating the 2016 entry by a clear 15lb.

Ian said that producing a giant pumpkin is no mean feat – he and his brother Stuart spend on average three hours a day tending to their pumpkin patch, often using 100 gallons of water to keep the pumpkins irrigated.

For the first time, the pumpkins were kept at a constant 18°C, even during the night.

Matthew Oliver, of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hyde Hall garden, in Chelmsford, beat the record for the heaviest outdoor-grown pumpkin with a 1498.4lbs whopper.

Last year, he famously hollowed out his giant pumpkin – which had weighed in at 1333.8lb – and then rowed it across the lake at the RHS garden!

Other UK record breakers at the weigh-in were Steve Bridges, who took the prize for the heaviest UK-grown squash (457.3lb) and David Maund with his 176.5lb field pumpkin.

Paul Hansord, of event sponsors Thompson & Morgan, said: “We’ve been sponsoring the Autumn Pumpkin Festival event in Southampton for many years and it’s always exciting when a record is beaten, so this year we’re thrilled to see four records broken.”

Fore more information, visit www.facebook.com/JSTPumpkinfest/ or for seeds, www.thompson-morgan.com

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JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

Sow winter lettuces under cloches and sweet peas, broad beans and peas under glass, then move them to a cold frame when they have germinated.

Pick up and burn any diseased rose leaves, such as those with blackspot.

Tie in climbers to prevent potential autumn gale damage.

Harvest squashes and pumpkins and ripen in the sun or undercover for 10 days before storing.

Plant spring bulbs if soil isn’t too wet - if your garden has had tulip fire (related to grey mould), wait until next month.

Sow green manure on bare ground in the veg garden.

Plant lilies in pots now to flower in May and June inside or July and August outside.

Plant wallflowers in their final positions.

Spread last year’s leaf mould where you plan to plant carrots and other root vegetables next year.

Harvest courgettes, beetroot and sweetcorn and clear the plants away.

Lift summer bedding plants now, if there’s any still in. Cosmos and Nicotiana are usually the last to go.

Plant spring cabbages, autumn onion sets and garlic.

Plant strawberry plants and runners in final positions.

Prune fruited raspberry canes to just above ground level. Tie new canes to the support wires.

Plant bareroot fruit trees before the ground gets too hard, such as cherries, apples, plums and pears.