Bigger is better. Well, it is if you're Stuart Paton who won the top prize of £1000 at the RHS's London Harvest Festival Show, which took place this month.
The giant cucurbit weighed 327kg (721.4lb). Now, Stuart is no stranger to squashy success and I can only think his competitors' hearts sink when they realise they're up against him. Last year, he and his twin, Ian, grew a monster and explained that the secret was in feeding the pumpkin a good, balanced diet. He must be right; when the lists were available on the website of The European Giant Vegetable Growers' their name featured heavily in the annual lists of heaviest pumpkins (all 1100lb+), a class that they won in 2010 and 2008.
If you feel yours have proved rather puny, then their Pumpkin Growing Instructions and, at Gardeners Net, Top Ten Secrets for Growing Record-Breaking Giant Pumpkins will give you a head start. Mycorrhizae might prove helpful too. You have a way to go, though to break the new world record of 2009lbs, achieved by Ron Wallace in Rhode Island.
For those who want to give their pumpkin an extra spurt, without all that extra work, (or cheat, as the rest of us might say) here's an aged tip from The Garden Magazine, 1918, found on the delightful Earthly Pursuits website.
Secure some pieces of round lamp wick. Holes are made in the stalk of the fruit and, into these, one end of the wick is inserted. The other end of the wick rests in a jar of water which is kept well supplied.
This, it says, will ensure that pumpkins grow at twice their normal rate. Or will it risk injury to the vine and offer an entry point for plant diseases, as Pumpkin Nook says of the alternative option of feeding them milk.
It's a method used, I discover from the Milk Fed Pumpkin blog, in Laura Ingalls Wilder's book Farmer Boy, by Almanzo (yes, her future husband). The blog describes a modern-day attempt at the same feat. Sadly, until its early demise, their non-milk fed pumpkin did the best. So perhaps it doesn't work.
But you really want it to, don't you?
If by any chance you've succeeded with pumping up a pumpkin, then do let us know. In the meantime, don't assume yours won't take on a growth spurt (as happened to the person who's pumpkin is pictured above) and here are a few ideas for Halloween, gruesome and cute.