IT WASN’T beginner’s luck as he’s won at Hawkesbury Show before, but from what Paul Simmons said about his win in the giant pumpkin class at Sydney Royal, it was a case of ‘doing a Bradbury’.
The pumpkin was a respectable 130kg but the South Windsor resident said that’s not that big as giant pumpkins go and it was more a case of the unfavourable weather knocking out much of the competition.
“I was lucky to win this year,” he said of his first try at the Royal. “A lot didn’t come in this year because of the wet. We had 48-degree days and then a month of rain. The vine has since died. I had another on a vine for the Hawkesbury Show but it’s starting to get holes in it.”
The weather meant Mr Simmons had to give the grand vegetable extra mothering, which meant daily drives out to Pitt Town Bottoms where it was grown, to water and protect it.
“On the really hot days I put a little marquee over it, but you have to take it off when you can as it needs the sun.”
So how do you grow a giant pumpkin? “You need the Giant Atlantic seeds – I got mine online. And you need good soil with a mix of compost. I use an organic garden mix and cow manure.
“Once the vine grows and you start getting pumpkins on it, you see which is the biggest and remove the others. You have just one pumpkin per vine.
“Then each week you give them a liquid fertiliser. I use a liquid potash and put it over the leaves. You water it when you need to but don’t overwater it.” He also used a spray to stop powdery mildew.
So how do you get a pumpkin of that size to the Easter Show?
“You have to get several blokes to lift it on to a pallet and then carry the pallet to the trailer.” His dad made a ‘pumpkin harness’ out of webbing, ensuring it was safe its own seatbelt for the journey.
It wasn’t just the glory of a blue ribbon that made the effort all worthwhile – first prize came with a cheque for $1000.
His baby doesn’t come home with him after the show however. Stewards remove them with a forklift and give them to zoo animals as feed, he said.