WATCH: Suffolk farmer grows enormous pumpkin on 40 FOOT vine
PUBLISHED: 15:44 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 19:15 14 September 2018
Some say that size doesn’t matter, but one Suffolk farmer was over the moon to find he had grown a pumpkin as big as a tractor wheel.
Luke Salisbury, who works on Mill Green Farm and Hog and Hen Farm Shop in Stonham Aspal, was delighted to discover he had grown a plant “two, maybe three times the size of an exercise ball,” after four months of careful cultivation.
The idea was seeded in Mr Salisbury’s mind when he challenged his friend to a pumpkin growing competiton a few years ago, which has morphed into an annual experiment involving ‘special’ seeds and bespoke growing conditions.
Since opening a farm shop in March, the father-of-two has been seeking a way to help the business stand out.
Keen to cultivate something a little whacky, he decided to order a special pumpkin seed on the internet which promised extraordinary results.
The Atlantic Giant variety, which originated in South America, has been known to produce monsters weighing over 300kg.
The result, after four months of cultivation in a polytunnel, is a truly enormous pumpkin grown on a 40 foot vine – which Mr Salisbury says is as big as his four-year-old son, Eddie, and has to be moved using a forklift.
“It all came about a few years ago. I’ve got a friend of mine – we used to have competitions to grow the biggest pumpkin,” he said.
“It is something I have been doing every year. Next year we will try and beat it if it’s possible – every year we’ll be planting a pumpkin patch.”
Asked what it takes to grow such a huge pumpkin, Mr Salisbury said: “You buy a seed from a parent plant which has grown a big pumpkin before – I bought the seed online. I put this pumpkin seed in and basically it is about four months old.
“We have to move it with a forklift. I reckon you’re looking at two, maybe three times the size of an exercise ball. It’s pretty impressive.”
He added that the lack of rainfall over the summer months may also have contributed to the pumpkin’s size.
“Everything’s ripened a lot quicker because of the dry summer we have had,” he said.
The extraordinary plant will stand pride of place outside the family’s farm shop, Hog and Hen.
Mr Salisbury added that he will be “keeping the exact weight under wraps” so visitors can try their hand at guessing the size of the plant. The person with the closest guess will win a tasty treat in the form of a £30 voucher for the farm shop.
“Part of the farm shop is you grow your own veg,” Mr Salisbury said. “We try and sell as much local produce as possible.
“We are having an open day at the farm shop on October 13 where you can come in and children can buy a squash or pumpkin and decorate it however they like.
“The main attraction will be the giant pumpkin. – we are going to use it for promoting the shop. We’ll take the top of it, hollow it out and carve Hog and Hen [into it].”
When asked whether the pumpkin may be kept for Halloween, Mr Salisbury said it would depend how long it lasted.
“We are just going to make the most of it while we have got it,” he said. “Some people used to turn pumpkins into boats... We might try that as well!”
Mr Salisbury added that his children, Hollie, 7, and Eddie, 4, were very much “part of the growing process”.
“They came down and checked on it every week or so,” he said.
The Hog & Hen open day, marketed as ‘Pimp a Pumpkin’, will be taking place from 9am on October 13. Guests can chose a pumpkin or squash to personalise using a variety of craft materials including googly eyes.
The event is free to attend for both children and adults, with a range of activities including a mud kitchen and bale house.
The Guiness World Record for the heaviest pumpkin currently stands at 1,190kg – set by the Belgian champion pumpkin grower Mathias Willemijns in 2016.