Making it big in the vegetable world

PUBLISHED: 12:06 12 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:00 06 May 2010

Fred West shows youngsters from Shillington lower school some of the giants on his allotment

Fred West shows youngsters from Shillington lower school some of the giants on his allotment

AT around 6pm on Saturday evening Fred West will almost certainly be crowned Pirton s Pumpkin King once again. Ever since Pirton Pumpkin Club was formed 41 years ago, Mr West has rarely been toppled from his throne as the grower of giant pumpkins. His rec

AT around 6pm on Saturday evening Fred West will almost certainly be crowned Pirton's Pumpkin King once again.

Ever since Pirton Pumpkin Club was formed 41 years ago, Mr West has rarely been toppled from his throne as the grower of giant pumpkins.

His record stands at over 360lbs and deep in his back garden in Shillington his offering for this year's show is still growing and likely to tip the scales at over 300lbs.

On Saturday morning the giant orange vegetable will be cut and four men will carry it very carefully to a waiting vehicle to be transported to Pirton.

It will squat alongside many other pumpkins, the owners of which have spent the summer nourishing and nurturing their charges hoping they can depose Pumpkin King Fred.

The likelihood, though, of Fred losing his regal title looks remote. The scorching summer was not good pumpkin growing weather and watering was essential as without water a pumpkin stops growing and revival is impossible.

Fred, 73, and a retired builder, takes great care and satisfaction in producing fruit and vegetables one might say fit for a king, or king size table.

It doesn't matter whether it is marrows, carrots, onions or tomatoes they are all larger than we normally see in supermarkets.

A marrow that won a recent competition sits in his garden, a splendid specimen that tipped the scales at 60lbs. But it will never end up in the cooking pot. Its seeds will be used by Fred and probably some of his gardening friends, to try and reproduce another mighty marrow again next year.

"My pumpkins are small compared to a lot of others. I went to a show recently in Gloucestershire and I saw one that weighed 900lbs," said Fred.

"I suppose the one I have grown this year is a reasonable size. I love village shows and it was the Pirton Pumpkin Club that started me growing pumpkins. I'm not bothered about being Pumpkin King, I just love the day and the event.

"I have no secrets about how I grow large pumpkins. I make sure they have a lot of nitrogen and potash and keep them well watered."

This year there is a rumour that a number of large pumpkins are heading for the show.

"I am sure we will have some good pumpkins on show," said Pirton Pumpkin Club chairman Jonty Wild.

The show at Pirton Village Hall starts at 10.30am for those taking part and is open to the public from 3pm with prize-giving at 6pm.


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