Giant pumpkin boats brave high winds to cross RHS lake in Essex

Matthew Oliver, of RHS Hyde Hall, rows hollowed-out UK record-breaking pumpkin in daring stunt

Had aliens landed in East Anglia this morning, they might have been forgiven for thinking that they’d stumbled upon some very strange goings on. Windy weather had caused traffic chaos on the A12 and A14 in the Ipswich area and grown men and women were rowing hollowed out pumpkins on a lake in Essex.

Matthew Oliver, horticulturist at RHS Hyde Hall, Chelmsford, not content with having successfully grown the heaviest outdoor-grown pumpkin in the UK, decided to turn his record-breaker into a boat and to attempt to row it across the lake at the RHS Essex site today.

 

Matt Oliver and his Giant Pumpkin Boat!

Matt Oliver and his Giant Pumpkin Boat!

Not only did Matthew launch his 1,333.8lb (95 stone or 605kg) pumpkin, he also managed to persuade 3 others to get aboard other giant pumpkins which were huge, but hadn’t grown quite big enough to break any records. Taking part were Steve Usher of Motorboat & Yachting magazine, dressed as a pirate, and 2 intrepid ladies who work at RHS Hyde Hall and who had daringly volunteered to (wo)man two of the potentially un-lake-worthy ‘boats’.

 

Matt Oliver scooping the pumpkin out & Matt and Paul Hansord scooping the bottom!

Matt Oliver scooping the pumpkin out & Matt and Paul Hansord scooping the bottom!

Having hollowed out the giant pumpkins, the valiant sailors set off, using oars to propel the cumbersome craft across the designated course. Prior to the event, Matthew had voiced some concerns about the ‘floatability’ of the giant pumpkins and how he might extract the waterlogged pumpkin hulls from the lake should they sink.

Matt and Paul Hansord from Thomspon & Morgan scooping out the bottom

Matt and Paul Hansord from Thomspon & Morgan scooping out the bottom

However, his fears were unfounded and, whilst one pumpkin foundered at the start of the course, the other 3 made it safely over the finishing line.

 

Sailing on the lake in a pumpkin boat!

Sailing on the lake in a pumpkin boat!

The seeds from Matthew’s record-breaking pumpkin will be available for purchase from Thompson & Morgan ready for next year’s growing season.

Anyone who would like to try their hand at growing a record-breaking giant pumpkin, can find Thompson & Morgan’s top tips at www.thompson-morgan.com/giantpumpkins

 

Matt Oliver wins again!

Matt Oliver wins again!

 

Pumpkin Facts & Figures

The pumpkin seed was bought for £1,250 at auction by Paul Hansord from Ipswich-based plant and seed merchant, Thompson & Morgan. The seed came from the then heaviest pumpkin in the world, which weighed 2,323 lb (166 stone) grown by Beni Meier from Switzerland in 2014.

The seed was entrusted to RHS horticulturist, Matthew Oliver back in April. Matthew then spent seven months nurturing the world’s most expensive pumpkin seed in the hope of breaking a new world record.

At the official weigh-in at Southampton on 8 October, the Pumpkin Commonwealth confirmed that Matthew’s pumpkin was the heaviest outdoor-grown pumpkin in the UK at 1,333.8 lbs
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After the official weigh-in the pumpkin returned to Hyde Hall and took centre stage in a Halloween-themed pumpkin display.

The seeds will be harvested from the UK giant pumpkin with the intention that they will be available to purchase from Thompson & Morgan in time for next year’s growing season.

Sonia Mermagen
Sonia has recently returned to Thompson & Morgan in the role of marketing copy writer. She is a self-proclaimed ‘reluctant’ gardener and is generally amazed if anything flourishes in her garden. A big fan of plants marked ‘easy to grow’, ‘drought tolerant’ and ‘no pruning necessary’, Sonia has had some success over the years with Buddleja ‘Buzz’, Lily ‘Defender’ and Lavender ‘Munstead’, and enjoys a small, but very tasty annual crop of blueberries from her single blueberry plant.

Pumpkin Pressure- another record breaker?

The pressure is on as we are set for another world record breaker! Each year we have the pleasure of sponsoring Autumn Pumpkin Festival taking place in Southampton on 11th October 2014. If the UK world record is broken, we offer the winning grower a £1,000 award! But, if they break a World record, they are awarded with a grand prize of £10,000! Who wouldn’t want to give it a go?

Event organisers, Ian and Stuart Paton, hold numerous records for the biggest pumpkin. Unfortunately their reign was stolen last year by Mark Baggs with a winning pumpkin weighing an astonishing 1,520lbs.

UK giant pumpkin record beaten

2013, 1,520lb prize-winning pumpkin.

However, not to be beaten Ian and Stuart have put all their efforts into growing another mammoth pumpkin. At its peak this pumpkin is growing 39lb each day! With only one week to go the pressure is on, will they break the world record? You will have to wait and

Terri Overett
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.

Giant pumpkin competition winner announced

The giant pumpkin, which in October broke the UK record for the heaviest pumpkin, has today been cut open so that the seeds inside can be counted. The pumpkin was transported to Thompson & Morgan’s Suffolk headquarters after it tipped the scales at an impressive 1,520lbs at the annual Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Southampton.

The monster pumpkin has been gracing the entrance to our reception area for most of November while it was decided what to do with it. Various ideas were put forward. Should we make a giant pumpkin pie? Should we carve it into a ghoulish face for Halloween? Sadly the pie idea was discounted – our canteen oven wasn’t big enough by far! In the end, we announced an online competition to guess the number of seeds inside this behemoth of a squash.

As the date of the seed count approached, our hard-working groundsmen, Dave Rich and Eddie Margetson were dispatched with appropriate tools to break open the pumpkin (what do you use to crack open a 1,520lb pumpkin?) and extract the seeds. It was a tough job, but they managed to open it up to reveal the cavernous interior and a large number of seeds.

The seeds have now been counted and the giant pumpkin contained 539 seeds! The lucky winner from the 337 competition entrants is Mrs Sophie Dave, who guessed 541 seeds. Mrs Dave will receive £250 worth of Thompson & Morgan vouchers and 5 of the seeds from this record-breaking pumpkin so that she can try her hand at growing a huge exhibit for next year’s competition!

Did you know? Pumpkins get a bit confused as to whether they are a fruit or a vegetable, but like the cucumber and the tomato, they are actually fruit. The pumpkin is a squash, also related to gourds, and is in the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae.

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

Not just any pumpkin seed – this is world record-breaking pumpkin seed

Not just any pumpkin seed - this is world record-breaking pumpkin seed

Thompson & Morgan’s giant pumpkin seed compared to a regular-sized pumpkin seed

Not just any pumpkin seed – this is world record-breaking pumpkin seed!

Update – February 19th, 2013

Michael Perry, new product development manager, was interviewed on Anglia News last night about the record-breaking pumpkin seed. He said:

“Growing a record breaker is a challenge, but we have the very best seed to begin with. Growing giant, record-breaking pumpkins needs almost 650 square feet of space and good warm conditions, such as a polytunnel or greenhouse. We also need a good, reliably warm summer with consistently good light levels. Growing pumpkins need almost 100 gallons of water every day and a nutrient-rich fertilizer.

We’re aiming for the top. The current UK record is 1504lbs, whilst the world record is 2009lbs.

We are still looking for a grower to help us with this project, so please get in touch!

Growing giant pumpkins is no longer a hobby- to many it has become a competitive sport! So if you want to grow the biggest and the best, you need to start off with the very best genetics.

At 9pm on Saturday 19th January, the European Giant Vegetable Growers Association held a live auction of pumpkin seed varieties as part of www.bigpumpkins.com chat room. A total of 23 lots were included in the sale.

Poised by their computers, 67 enthusiasts logged on to take part in the bidding which went on for almost 4 hours. However, lot 23 was the one everyone was waiting for; it was seed from last year’s world record-breaking pumpkin – a hybrid raised by Ron Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island, which weighed in at 2009lbs at Topsfield Fair in the USA. Ron’s was the first ever pumpkin to weigh more than 2000lbs. After a frenzied bidding war, a single seed from Ron Wallace’s prize-winner was sold to Thompson & Morgan for €200.00 / £170.

Managing director, Paul Hansord said, “When compared to the usual giant pumpkin seed price of around 46p, this seems extortionate. But we’re paying for the pedigree. If you want to grow a really huge pumpkin, you need to start with record-breaking, genetically proven, premium seed.”

Auctions of pumpkin seed have been running since 1997. Trading encourages growers and enthusiasts to raise stronger and more competitive hybrids. The highest price paid for a single pumpkin seed was in 2011 from a previous record-breaker which weighed 1810lbs. The price was $1600; an exceptionally high price due to the fact that the fruit had only produced 5 seeds.

Thompson & Morgan is now searching for a ‘growing partner’ with specialist knowledge of growing giant vegetables to help raise this precious seed in an attempt to break the record for the world’s heaviest pumpkin.

Competition

Do you think you can grow a record-breaking pumpkin? You’ll be in with a chance of winning £10,000 if you break the world record! The current world record is a phenomenal 2009lbs.

To enter into the competition, you will need to present your giant pumpkin at the Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Southampton on Saturday 12th October 2013.

Even if you don’t manage to beat the world record, there are still other prizes up for grabs.

Please click here for further details and to read the competition terms and conditions.

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

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