pumpkinThis giant pumpkin, grown by Tidge Knight (pictured), of Bangalow, weighs in at 456kg and Tidge is hoping it will make him $2000 richer by winning the giant pumpkin competition at this year’s Royal Easter Show in Sydney.

Tidge, a 73-year-old pensioner, has been growing giant pumpkins for 20 years, and this is his biggest yet, beating his previous best of 320kg.

Last weekend it dwarfed its opponents to win the giant pumpkin competition held by Alstonville Plaza shopping centre. Tidge also picked up second prize with a 268kg pumpkin.

After eight big men carried it into the weigh-in, Tidge’s entry topped the scales and it won him $300.

Now Tidge is quietly confident that the pumpkin will be announced the winner at the Royal Easter on April 7  — especially now that the Australian record-holder, Ben Boynton, of Bligh Park, who once grew a 512kg giant, has lost his entry this year due to unfavourable climatic conditions.

Tidge says the secret to growing giant pumpkins is good seed, lots of luck and plenty of horse, cow and pig manure.

“They’re very prone to disease,” he said. Last year wet and humid conditions affected local growers to such an extent that the Alstonville Plaza cancelled its competition because all the big pumpkins had rotted on their vines.

Oddly enough, Tidge’s most recent giant pumpkin is in fact bigger, but not heavier, than Ben’s record-holder.

Tidge says his 465kg pumpkin is bigger in girth — it’s 13 feet (about 4m) around it, he says — but Ben’s record-holder obviously was denser.

Tidge bought the seed for his giant pumpkin from Canada, and he says there’s big money to be won in the United States and Canada for giant pumkpins.

There’s also big money to be made from selling seeds — Tidge says one high-quality seed can sell for as much as $400.

The pumpkin will be transported to Sydney by semi-trailer, along with all the other produce from the local region which will be exhibited at the Royal Easter.

And if you’re wondering, no, you can’t make thousands of pumpkin scones from this giant — they are inedible.

But Tidge does grow another giant variety which he says is the tastiest of its kind: tomatoes.

His biggest giant tomato weighed in at about 1.58kg (3 1/2 pounds).

“Bloody oath you can eat them,” he says when asked. “They’re all meat, and when you eat one of these, you’ll never go back to the others (standard varieties).”

One senses that if Tidge’s pumpkin does win in Sydney, it won’t be the $2000 that will make him happiest.

“I’m not interested in money. I just love growing ’em,” he said.

Tidge pollinated the flower for his giant pumpkin on December 23 last year.

If you’re wondering about the phenomenal growth in such a short time, you’re right: Tidge says they can increase by 14kg (30 pound) a night.

So how does Tidge’s giant, and Ben Boynton’s Australian record-holder, stack up against the rest of the world?

Unfortunately, they’re just babies! Joe Jutras, from North Scituate, Rhode Island, brought a 1689 pound pumpkin (about 765kg) to the Topsfield Fair weigh-off in the US on September 29, 2007.

His new world record beat the previous world record by 187 pounds (about 85kg).