THE POTTING SHED UK Jan/Feb Issue 2014 - Page 53

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 entry.

Mark’s 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 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!

UK Giant Pumpkin Record Beaten

Photo by Sarah Hynes