Last week I spotted that nearby RHS Hyde Hall had been showing off their giant pumpkin.
The 240kg whopper was grown by staff member Matt Oliver from seed and planted out in May. Now it’s been harvested, the Atlantic Giant is going to be the star attraction in a seasonal display of pumpkins and squash at the gardens.
Living 20 minutes from Hyde Hall, I’m tempted to pop over and take a look at the pumpkin, even though I find mahusive vegetables a little bit scary. They’re almost like monsters!
Real Men Sow ‘Giant’ Veg
The only time I’ve ever purposely grown a big vegetable was when me and mum tried our hand at a pumpkin for Halloween last year. I didn’t weigh it, but I needed the car and an extra pair of hands to deliver the fruit to my doorstep.
I’ve nurtured a few thick shanked leeks using the large growing Hannibal variety, a couple of my squashes have topped 2kg plus, and of course, I’ve had the accidental marrow like everyone else, but apart from that things have always been purely for the kitchen and therefore grown to a sensible size.
Giant Veg at the Allotments
There are plotholders at the allotments who do grow big veg, mainly for show. There is a chap who is famous for growing mega long parsnips using lengths of guttering dug into the ground, but oddly he composts them all down after picking up his awards at the allotment show.
I’m not sure how a giant veg tastes – maybe he composts the parsnips as they become woody. I find some veg, such as beets and radish, get woody when they grow too big. Parsnips could be the same, although I’m tempted to suggest that they could make a vast vat of soup.
Caring for Giant Veg
I’d be intrigued to know how many times a day the Hyde Hall pumpkin was watered and fed. Pumpkins are made up of a lot of water, so the more you water, the bigger they’ll get. The same goes for courgettes, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
A good, rich base is important too. When I visited Hyde Hall last summer, I noticed the squashes and pumpkins growing on big, thick compost heaps. The fruits were all really healthy and big and I reckon a similar method must have been used for this year’s giant pumpkin.
Although I don’t grow my squashes on compost heaps, I use a method where I plant the seedling in a hole filled with well-rotted manure, so I guess the principle is similar.
What I’ve Learnt from Giant Veg
I don’t think I’ll be growing myself giant veg any time soon, but I’m must confess to being impressed and inspired by the dedication taken to produce such a specimen. It has also made me realise that I can be lazy with caring for my plants and that if I took a leaf out of the giant veg book, my harvests would improve.
Some more watering, richer soil, and the odd feed here, and there would certainly give me better crops. I draw the line at 240kg pumpkins, but a bigger, juicer legumes are certainly an exciting prospect.