Land of the giants

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Fancy winning fame and fortune? Well, now’s your chance because following the success of their previous pumpkin-growing and pumpkin-carving competitions, seedsmen Thompson & Morgan are throwing down the gauntlet again.

Interested giant pumpkin growers can order free seeds from T&M and bid to grow a prize-winning specimen.

Ian Paton and his twin brother, Stuart, hold the record for the heaviest pumpkin grown in the UK with a fruit weighing in at an amazing 1,504lb.

So with these special seeds – Pumpkin ‘Paton Twins Giant’ – there’s a possibility of smashing the British, European or even the world record.

Weigh-off competitions for giant pumpkins are incredible. Back in 1981, the world record was a mere 460lb (208.7kg) but then Howard Dill, of Nova Scotia, broke the magical 500lb barrier.

Dill patented the seeds used to grow this giant pumpkin, deeming them Dill’s Atlantic Giant seeds, and he is credited for all of the giant pumpkins today, most of which are borne from crossing and re-crossing his patented seed with other varieties.

The present world record holder is Chris Stevens’s 1,810lb Atlantic Giant pumpkin, which in October 2010 surpassed Christy Harp’s previous 2009 record of 1,725lb.

Prize money in the T&M challenge ranges from £30 for 10th place to an amazing £10,000 for a pumpkin which beats the existing world record.

To be in with a chance of growing a winner, growers should think about sowing their pumpkin seeds in the next few weeks to give them the best possible start.

The free Pumpkin ‘Paton Twins Giant’ seeds (worth £9.99) can be ordered online at where keen giant pumpkin growers can also access specialist growing hints and tips.

Competition details as well as full terms and conditions can be found on the Thompson & Morgan website

For a free Thompson & Morgan catalogue or to place an order, call 0844 573 1818 or visit

Tips for growing pumpkins

Sow pumpkins inside – this month – to help germination.

Then, once they’re up and growing, give them space and position each plant on a six-inch-high mound of soil to aid drainage.

Pumpkins like a nitrogen-rich soil so feed with fertiliser a few weeks after planting, and keep plants well watered.

At peak growth, record-breaking giant pumpkins can grow around one inch in girth and 25 to 30lb in weight each day.

Good luck.