There were many consequences of the Chelsea Flower Show 2021 being hosted in September for the first time ever. However, one we never saw coming was an 800lb giant pumpkin.
The giant pumpkin at Chelsea, showcased in the Great Pavillion, stole the show as the first-ever giant pumpkin to be showcased at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. However, rather than a one-off marvel, the pumpkin marks a growing trend, as many gardeners are starting to embrace giant vegetables in their garden ideas.
Now October is almost upon it is unsurprising that pumpkins are going to be a big part of our Halloween decorating ideas – but this year we expect them to be supersized.
In the last year, Gerald Stratford became a social media sensation after showing off the big vegetables he was growing on Twitter. His account proved so popular it has recently been turned into a book ‘Big Veg’ currently available on Amazon.
‘There are definitely more and more people growing Giant Veg,’ explains Ben White, who grew the giant pumpkin at Chelsea. ‘There are some fantastic weigh-offs and events around the UK and online growing communities on Facebook, in one of them – ‘Giant Vegetable Community’ – there are over 5K members.’
‘There’s lots of information and everyone is willing to help new and old growers. It’s a place we all come together and share our grow. It’s run by friend and WR holder Kevin Fortey.’
Ben has been growing giant pumpkins for the last four years, documenting them on his Facebook and Instagram account @bwhitesveg. He had originally planned to take the pumpkin, affectionately nicknamed Greta, to a weigh-off in October, a competition where the pumpkin would be judged on its weight.
However, after getting asked if he had a pumpkin he could showcase at the Chelsea Flower Show, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to grow the first giant pumpkin shown at the flower show.
‘I cut the pumpkin two weeks early, myself and friend Matthew Oliver from The Global Growth Vegetable Garden ( RHS Hyde Hall) transported the pumpkin from Essex to Chelsea in the early hours of Sunday,’ says Ben.
‘To be included at the show has been a great privilege and I’m glad it’s brought lots of smiles and memories to visitors, also Royals & Celebs.’
The massive pumpkin took just 80 days to grow, after being planted in early April with a seed Ben obtained from a grower in America. ‘The parent plant produced a pumpkin weighing 2152lbs,’ reveals Ben.
If you’re tempted to have a go at trying out the giant vegetable trend, Ben recommends starting by investing in good seeds and avoiding this if you’re brainstorming small garden ideas.
‘Definitely start by getting good seed from reputable sellers,’ he explains. ‘You need a lot of space for pumpkins 600sqft for one plant.’
‘Water and feed regularly, using drip irrigation system or overhead watering. Have patience and hopefully the weather is on your side. Importantly enjoy the grow!’