Record-breaking squash makes beautiful pumpkin orange boat
- Credit: Andy Palmer
Hollowed-out giant pumpkins – including a record-breaking squash – grown from seeds supplied by an Ipswich merchant were raced across choppy waters in Essex.
Matthew Oliver, a horticulturist at RHS Hyde Hall, near Chelmsford, recently broke the UK record for the largest pumpkin after cultivating his specimen to 1,333lbs (95 stone or 605kg).
But not content with the honour, he then scooped out the giant vegetable in an attempt to make a boat and row across a lake at the RHS site.
To make events more exciting, he convinced three others to board other giant pumpkins to embark on a 150 metre race over the water.
Steve Usher, of Motorboat & Yachting magazine, dressed as a pirate to take part while and Hyde Hall employees Cath Fairhall-Lewis and Sam Everiss also daringly volunteered to crew ‘boats’.
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While one of the pumpkins struggled to make the start line, the remaining three proved surprisingly buoyant and made it safely to the finish line.
Matthew, 29, said: “It went better than I expected. I was confident they were going to float, but a lot of people weren’t.
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“There was no dry run or testing it the day before, and I was nervous about tippy they were – when I irst got in they were quite wobbly, but once you got the hang of it, it was surprisingly straight-forward.
“I spent so much time over the summer making sure it didn’t come to harm from visitors or pests, so it was weird to then take a saw to it and hollow it out.
“But it was a great way to end the season.”
Matthew added he hoped to have time to grow more giant veg next year, finding it “strangely addictive”.
The seeds from Matthew’s pumpkin will be available for purchase next month from Ipswich-based plant and seed merchant Thompson & Morgan, who supplied the original seed for the record-breaker.
It was bought for £1,250 at auction by Paul Hansord, and came from the then-heaviest pumpkin in the world, which weighed 2,323 lb (166 stone) grown by Beni Meier from Switzerland in 2014.
Mr Hansord entrusted it to Matthew in April, who spent the next seven months nurturing it until the weigh-in held in Southampton on October 8.