Hampshire brothers smash the British record and set their sights on the world record in 2017.
Ian and Stuart Paton have broken the British record for a giant pumpkin for an incredible 7th time at the annual Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Southampton. The event draws pumpkin growers from across the UK, all hoping to take home the prize for the UK’s largest pumpkin. This year, the Paton’s gargantuan pumpkin measured more than 19ft in circumference and during its peak period of growth, it piled on a staggering 57lb each day for 2 weeks. To match its rate of growth, the vigilant horticultural siblings, who run Pinetops Nursery in Hants, lovingly supplied over 100 gallons of water a day, plus a nutrient-rich fertiliser. As the all-important weigh-in date approached, Ian and Stuart were spending 5 hours a day nurturing the 3 giant pumpkins that they entered into the competition. The final weight of the winning entry is just 71lb off the world record.
Each time a record is broken at the annual Jubilee Sailing Trust Autumn Pumpkin Festival, show sponsor – seed and plant mail order specialist Thompson & Morgan – takes the winning specimen back to its Ipswich HQ. The seeds are harvested, tested for viability and prepared for sale, so for any budding giant pumpkin growers inspired by this weekend’s jumbo entries, Thompson & Morgan sell the seeds under the aptly named variety, Pumpkin ‘Paton Twins Giant’. It’s a popular line with amateur growers at just £9.99 for two huge seeds with the genetics to become a record breaker with the right care. It’s the seed of choice for serious competitors too – the majority of entries to this year’s official weigh-in at the Southampton pumpkin event were grown from seeds supplied by the Patons.
The brothers will be using seeds from this year’s crop next year – which they say will bear the best seeds in the country thanks to careful hand pollination of their plants to cross two of their best ever performing plants. And with the world record now held closer to home (Swiss gardener, Ben Meier, took the title in 2014 with a 2,323lb monster) they say they are even more set on achieving the accolade themselves.
Stuart said: “We’ve always been confident of winning the world title eventually, and our new greenhouse has made a big difference with its better soil and light levels, an improved watering system and a larger growing area with a more consistent temperature. We’re well prepared to take on not only the Swiss, but the Americans too.”
T&M 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, so can we. 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 world 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 British world beater, he could be regretting that confidence in coming years!
To order your own ‘Paton Twins Giant’ Seed and grow a giant yourself next year, visit www.thompson-morgan.com/giant-pumpkin