- Paton twins grow UK’s largest pumpkin but fail to beat record they set in 2014
- Winning 1,861lb pumpkin to be carved for World Vision’s ‘Carve a Heart’ campaign to raise awareness of children living in the world’s hardest places
- Seeds from the Paton Giant to go on sale at www.thompson-morgan.com for the 2016 growing season.
Hampshire brothers Ian and Stuart Paton picked up another giant cheque from Thompson & Morgan at the Autumn Pumpkin Festival, Netley, Southampton, on Saturday 10th October.
The annual event draws pumpkin growers from across the country, all aiming to take home the prize for the UK’s largest pumpkin. The Paton twins, who run Pine Tops Nursery in Hants, have broken the UK record for a giant pumpkin at the event an impressive nine times.
Having entered a 1,884lb beast in 2014 (their heaviest yet) and invested in a new glass house set up for their 2015 attempt, they had hopes of smashing the world record this season. Their dreams were sadly dashed when the three largest pumpkins in their greenhouse split as they piled on 35lb per day at their peak.
Show rules state that all entries must be in tact with no splits or breaks. This left the Paton’s with one last shot, and while it didn’t break any records, the 1861lb giant was still the biggest entered on the day. Their ‘small fruit’ weighed in 543lb heavier than the next best entry; a 1319lb beauty grown by Dorset dairy farmer Mark Baggs.
Giant pumpkins aren’t the nicest looking specimens so a separate award for prettiest fruit was awarded to Welsh grower Mark Josey for his 878.9lb entry. Other highlights at the show included a 59.4lb water melon, 196lb squash and 82.5lb marrow.
Show sponsor, Thompson & Morgan horticultural director Paul Hansord, hauls the winning fruit home to the seed and plant specialists Ipswich HQ every October in order to harvest the seeds for sale. He said: “The interest these giant pumpkins generate is incredible. I lost count of the photos being taken of the truck as I drove back to Suffolk with the winner on board. At every stop on my journey I was swarmed by onlookers keen to get a photo and ask a question or two – are they real, can you eat them, what will you do with them?”
Sadly pumpkins of this size lose their flavour and texture so are no good for cooking, but they do generate other opportunities. This year Thompson & Morgan is donating the giant pumpkin to charity World Vision, the world’s largest international children’s aid charity. It plans to use the pumpkin as part of its annual Carve a Heart campaign. Now in its third year, the event uses Halloween as a hook to highlight children living in fear across the world.
The campaign calls on consumers to turn a night of fear into a night of hope by carving hearts into their pumpkins in place of a scary face, offering a lantern of hope for vulnerable Children who live in fear every night of the year.
This Halloween you can turn a night of fear into a night of hope.
Carve a heart. Be there for children living in fear. Text HEART to 70060 to donate £5 to World Vision.
Ian and Stuart Paton have broken the UK record for a giant pumpkin for the 9th time! They reclaim throne with their 1,884 lbs beauty after it was stolen from them last year.
The gargantuan gourd measured more than 17ft in circumference and during its peak period of growth piled on a staggering 35lb a day. To match its rate of growth the vigilant horticultural siblings, who run Pine Tops Nursery in Hants, lovingly supplied close to 100 gallons of water a day, plus a nutrient-rich fertiliser. Its final weight was just 218lb off the world record. With the right care you can grow your very own giant pumpkin, with seeds from this very pumpkin. The seeds are known as Pumpkin ‘Paton Twins Giant’, so why not give it a go and see if you can grow a giant.
Stuart said: “We’ve always been confident of getting the world title eventually and it’s brilliant to installing a new greenhouse for 2015 on better soil with better drainage and twice the amount of growing space. We should be all set to take on the Americans and the Swiss.”
Our Horticultural Director, Paul Hansord said: “It used to be said that the world record would never leave the US, but if the Swiss can do it, we can do it. Our seed quality just keeps getting better thanks to the Patons’ selective pollination, and UK growers are upping the game every year. I’ve every confidence the Paton boys can bring the title to UK shores in the near future.”
Having just handed over the £1,000 prize cheque and with a promise to pay £10,000 for a UK world beater, he could be regretting that confidence in coming years!
Before collecting the seed, we have invited the very talented Janie Pirie to carve the giant for display and Jimmy’s Farm Halloween Half Term and then the Spooky-themed Ipswich Firework Display at Christchurch Park on the 1st November.
Click here to buy your Giant Pumpkin seeds.
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.
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
This giant pumpkin recently broke the UK record for the heaviest specimen at the Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Southampton. The ‘monster’ is now outside Thompson & Morgan’s offices in Ipswich, waiting to be smashed open for its seeds to be counted.
Enter our competition and win £250 in Thompson & Morgan vouchers
One lucky winner will receive £250 worth of Thompson & Morgan vouchers AND 5 seeds from the record-breaking pumpkin!
All you have to do is go to our pumpkin competition page and enter your details and your guess for a chance to win this great prize.
The competition ends at midnight on Friday 15th November 2013 and the winner will be notified by 10am on Monday 2nd December.
1,520lb whopper wins £1,000 for Dorset farmer
Mark receiving his £1,000 cheque from T&M’s Sarah Curtis
Thompson & Morgan handed over a cheque for £1,000 to Dorset dairy farmer, Mark Baggs, at the annual Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Southampton last Saturday for his 1,520lb winning giant pumpkin.
Mark’s giant pumpkin beats by 16lbs the previous UK heaviest pumpkin record of 1,504lbs held by pumpkin-growing experts, Stuart and Ian Paton. Thompson & Morgan has sponsored the Autumn Pumpkin Festival since 2009, but this is the first time that a weight record has been broken.
Mark actually won the competition in 2011 with a pumpkin weighing a substantial 1,334lbs. He says that his interest in growing pumpkins began when he was at school, but it wasn’t until a visit to the UK National Giant Vegetables Championship in 2004 in Shepton Mallet that Mark became focused on the idea of growing a really large pumpkin.
The prize-winning 1520lb pumpkin grown by Mark Baggs of Wareham in Dorset.
The prize-winning specimen that Mark entered into this year’s festival in Southampton was grown from the seed of a German giant pumpkin weighing 1,391lbs. When asked the secret to transforming this seed into such an enormous pumpkin, Mark spoke about the help and support that he has had from the giant vegetable growing community.
‘I’ve had almost daily contact with growers in the US and elsewhere’, he says. ‘People were getting in touch via message boards and email with tips and advice. And since the weigh-in at the weekend, they’re sending congratulations’! Paul Hansord, Thompson & Morgan’s horticultural director said, ‘We’ve always enjoyed being involved in the Autumn Pumpkin Festival, so as you can imagine we’re absolutely thrilled to have found a record-breaker this year’.
Mark thanked Thompson & Morgan for its continued support of the event. Maybe he’ll be back next year with an even bigger pumpkin for his son, Jack, to sit on!
Jack, now 4½ sits on top of this year’s 1,520lb prize-winning pumpkin.
Mark’s son, Jack, then 2½ with Mark’s 2011 winning entry which weighed 1,334lbs.