In vegetable growing circles, Morton, Illinois, is the undisputed pumpkin growing capital of the world.
Yet this weekend, in the heart of the British countryside, monster specimens of this fascinating fruit, will be on display at the Malvern Autumn Show (28th & 29th September).
Amateur growers across the country have been busily growing prize pumpkins for the last few months and ten of the best will be among the bumper crop of 270 giant vegetables, ranging from parsnips, onions and marrows, to leeks, carrots and runner beans – all of them entered into the prestigious UK National Giant Vegetables Championship.
The competition makes its debut at the Three Counties Showground in Worcestershire this year, following its move from Somerset’s Royal Bath & West Showground, where it has been staged since 1997.
Pumpkins were completely unknown in Europe before the time of Columbus, although they have been grown in America for over 5,000 years! Like gourds and other varieties of squash, they belong to the Cucurbitacae family, which also includes cucumbers and gherkins, and in the peak growing season, a giant pumpkin can gain 50lbs in weight per day.
It’s easy to grow pumpkins in a home vegetable plot, though they do have a tendency to spread out a bit, so they need a bit of space to grow into. We’ve been growing them down on the plot for years now. There’s nothing more rewarding that sowing a few seeds in spring that lead to a crop of tasty winter squashes in late Autumn – this year we’re giving Waltham Butternut and Sweet Dumpling squashes a try and they’ve been coming on very nicely.
The show sounds like a great way to get a bit of inspiration for next year’s vegetable plot – there will be a Good Life Pavilion with edible gardens and Britain’s favourite baker, Mary Berry is a headline guest on Saturday.