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Swanton Novers pumpkin grower Richard Whitehurst dreams of yet bigger things after this year’s 157lb giant

PUBLISHED: 07:58 27 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:23 27 September 2017

Richard Whitehurst measuring the large pumpkin that is growing at the bottom of his garden in Melton Constable. Picture: Ian Burt

Richard Whitehurst measuring the large pumpkin that is growing at the bottom of his garden in Melton Constable. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

Get your seeds in early, prune carefully and add plenty of plant food, manure, love and attention.

Richard Whitehurst has a massive pumpkin growing in his garden at Melton Constable. Picture: Ian Burt Richard Whitehurst has a massive pumpkin growing in his garden at Melton Constable. Picture: Ian Burt

That, according to 31-year-old Richard Whitehurst, is how you grow a giant pumpkin just in time for Halloween.

And the man from Swanton Novers in north Norfolk should know - he is currently tending to a 157lb (63.5kg) behemoth in his back garden.

Mr Whitehurst, who works in the poultry trade, said: “I’ve been doing pumpkins for about four years and they seem to get bigger and bigger every year.

“Hopefully next year we’ll have a right monster.”

Richard Whitehurst has a massive pumpkin growing in his garden at Melton Constable. Picture: Ian Burt Richard Whitehurst has a massive pumpkin growing in his garden at Melton Constable. Picture: Ian Burt

Mr Whitehurst said he was lucky to get a pumpkin of that size this year as he did not have a pumpkin growing on the vine until the start of August.

He said: “You plant the seeds in February - you want to have them in the ground as early as possible in the year. And normally you want to have a pumpkin growing by mid-July if you want to get a really big one.

“Helping it grown is a combination on pruning the vine, plenty of plant feed and manure, a few secrets and away you go.”

Mr Whitehurst said he would harvest the pumpkin in early or mid-October, by which time it would probably weigh more than 150lbs.

Richard Whitehurst has a massive pumpkin growing in his garden at Melton Constable. Picture: Ian Burt Richard Whitehurst has a massive pumpkin growing in his garden at Melton Constable. Picture: Ian Burt

He said the giant vegetable could look forward to a bright future as a jack o’lantern.

He said: “It will most likely be carved into something for Halloween.”

Mr Whitehurst said growing giant produce was a rewarding - if slightly unusual - hobby.

He said: “It’s something a bit different, and it’s a bit of fun.

Along with a massive pumpkin, Richard Whitehurst has some large runner beans growing at his cottage Melton Constable. Picture: Ian Burt Along with a massive pumpkin, Richard Whitehurst has some large runner beans growing at his cottage Melton Constable. Picture: Ian Burt

“We grow all different sorts of fruit and vegetables.

“I want to have a go at long runner beans as well.”

And as far as pumpkins are concerned he has his mind firmly set on bigger things.

Mr Whitehurst said: “It’s quite common to find big 600-pounders.

“That’s what I’m aiming for.

“I will keep the seeds and use them for next year.”

Mr Whitehurst said he determined the pumpkin’s weight by making three measurements - the vegetable’s circumference, its length and its girth, added them together and looked up the result on a chart.

Record fruit and veg

Mr Whitehurst is rightly proud of his colossal creation, but the pumpkin is something of a small fry compared to some others.

Pumpkin growing is serious business, and there is an even a worldwide authority called the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth which monitors and promotes exploits in ‘extreme gardening’.

The current crown for heaviest pumpkin is held by Belgian Mathias Willemijns, whose 2,624b 9oz (1,190.49kg) mammoth was authenticated by the commonwealth in October 2016.

Peter Glazebrook grew the world’s largest potato, weighing 8lb 4oz, in his back garden in Hallam, Nottinghamshire in 2010.

And Norfolk is also home to record-breaking fruit and veg, including the world’s largest marrow weighing 143lb (65kg), grown by Ken Dade from Terrington St Clement in 2008. And Rackheath’s Patricia ‘Paddy’ Fauke found a 33.8oz (959g) Bramley on her apple tree in 2014.

n Have you grown a giant piece of fruit and/or vegetable? Email stuart.anderson@archant.co.uk

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