Pampered pumpkin monsters the field

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 08:34 31/03/2014
Entries wait for their weigh in at the Great Pumpkin Carnival in Hamilton Gardens.
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ

GIANT PUMPKIN LAND: Entries wait for their weigh in at the Great Pumpkin Carnival in Hamilton Gardens.

The biggest pumpkin grown by Tim Harris weighed in at 690.5 kg at the Great Pumpkin Carnival in Hamilton Gardens.
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
THE WEIGH IN: The biggest pumpkin grown by Tim Harris weighed in at 690.5 kg at the Great Pumpkin Carnival in Hamilton Gardens.
Tim Harris sits on the 690.5 kg monster he grew to win the Great Pumpkin Carnival in Hamilton Gardens.
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
AND THE WINNER IS: Tim Harris sits on the 690.5 kg monster he grew to win the Great Pumpkin Carnival in Hamilton Gardens.

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Dairy farmer Tim Harris was not crazy enough to talk to his pumpkin.

Yet he was crazy enough to cover it in blankets on cool nights at his property near Morrinsville.

And he was mad enough to pay $1000 for a single proven seed to plant this spring.

Harris revealed a few of his trade secrets and dreams yesterday after taking out the heaviest pumpkin award during the Great Pumpkin Carnival at Hamilton Gardens.

Last year, his winning entry weighed in at 577 kilograms but Harris outdid himself this year by growing a 690.5kg behemoth.

The event, which has a myriad of categories, is now certified - which means any record-breakers will be officially recognised.

For that reason it was "a little bit" disappointing for Harris.

"Overall, I got it here in one piece and it's a respectful weight.

"I would have liked to see 721kg, or at least 721kg to beat the NZ record."

The United States is the epicentre of giant pumpkin growing - the heaviest ever was 921kg.

Harris reckons a Kiwi could knock that pumpkin off one day.

"I reckon we have a good chance to give the world record a crack too," he said.

"Because we don't put up with the weather extremes they get. We've got good soil to start with and, I guess, we're just a few years behind them.

"We'll get there. I think there'll be a big one come out of New Zealand one day."

Yesterday's big one put on 17kg per day for a period. The Giant Atlantic seed was planted in late October and the vegetable itself reached its gargantuan state in 95 days.

The past few weeks had Harris sweating.

Splitting is the biggest fear. As soon as the flesh is exposed to air it rots, quickly.

"When you're talking 17kg a day you're running a fine line. Obviously you want to push it, but it's easy to push it too far and cause it to split."

Every night for the past month Harris has covered his prize pumpkin with four blankets to keep the warmth in over cool nights.

The result, on show yesterday, was so impressive and bizarre that adults queued to have their photo taken beside it. Children marvelled.

"Everyone wants to touch it," Harris said, "because they don't believe it's real. They think I've made it, not grown it."

The giant will make a few stops at schools in Cambridge and Hamilton before it becomes stock food. Next year's pumpkin could be even larger, if everything goes to plan.

Harris revealed, before back tracking, that he paid $1000 for a prize seed from the same source that spawned the world's biggest pumpkin.

Perhaps he will utter an encouraging word or two next summer to spur it on.

HEAVIEST PUMPKINS

US: 921kg

NZ: 721kg

Waikato: 690.5kg

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