PUMPKIN APLENTY: Growers survey the sea of pumpkins on display at the Alstonville Plaze on Saturday.
PUMPKIN APLENTY: Growers survey the sea of pumpkins on display at the Alstonville Plaze on Saturday.

Pumpkin ?pro? pips top spot

By DARREN COYNE

EARL 'Tidge' Knight, of Bangalow, sure knows his pumpkins.

Mates reckon Tidge, 69, could talk pumpkins all day, a claim he agrees ? with a chuckle ? is correct.

Not only can Tidge talk about them, he can also grow them; so well in fact that he came first and second in this year's Alstonville Plaza Giant Pumpkin Competition.

"You need a lot of cow manure ... no artificial fertiliser, that's the secret," Tidge said.

"Pig poo will do too. Pig poo, cow manure, horse manure ... whatever you can get to rot down. It's good stuff."

Following that recipe, Tidge won the top two placings with pumpkins weighing 267 kilos and 265 kilos. Alstonville's Dick Campbell managed third place with a pumpkin weighing 236 kilos, and Lawrence Leadbeatter won the gourd section with a whopper measuring more than two metres long.

"I've been growing them for about 17 years," Tidge said of his Atlantic Giants.

"Disease is the killer. Once the rot sets in they're no good," he explained.

"I had one which at 40 days old was four foot seven across him. It had the potential to be a massive, massive pumpkin but he split and once the air gets in they just go off ... but he was a good'un," Tidge said.

"I generally grow four here at the house and another seven up at Friday Hut Road. A bloke lets me grow a few there and that's where this year's winner come from."

Without missing a beat, Tidge said his biggest ever pumpkin was 330 kilos but adds that the Australian record is held by a Port Lincoln fellow named Ken Holden, who grew one weighing 440 kilos.

"Do you want to know what the world record is? 1425 pounds, which is 626 kilos. Big as a bull. Well not as big but bloody heavy!" he said.

Tidge then explained how to use the male flower on one vine to pollinate the female flower on another vine in order to continue the hybridisation of the giant pumpkins.

Apparently Tidge also grows 'big tomatoes weighing three and a half pound each' ? but that's a story for another day.



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