At the end of September, our very own legend Gerjan Puttenstein will do an attempt to set a new personal record - and perhaps Dutch record - by growing a giant pumpkin. His goal is to grow a pumpkin of 700 kg. Of course, we will be there to support him on his way to becoming (even more) LEGENDARY. Guess how heavy his pumpkin will be on record day and win one of our legendary prizes!
How legends are made
The (only) 21 years old Gerjan from Weezep grows pumpkins. “Pumpkins?” I hear you say. But we’re not talking about just any pumpkins here. Gerjan’s speciality is growing big pumpkins. Giant pumpkins! Pumpkins so large they can only be transported with a shovel. They can weigh up to 600 kg. Gerjan has been a fan of growing since he was very young. That’s why he studied Plant Sciences in Wageningen. His hobby has grown into a real business over the last years, resulting in the birth of his website: GiantPumpkins.nl. This is the place to be if you want to grow giant pumpkins yourself. The species that Gerjan grows are called the Atlantic Giant. These seeds can also be found in regular shops, but they are a lot smaller there. Gerjan's are maybe five times as heavy and twice as big. For the Dutch Championship Growing Pumpkin of 2022 he aims to grow a pumpkin of 700 kg!
“I keep pushing my goal every year. It has to remain a challenge every time!”
Gerjan has been occupied with a vegetable garden since high school. When he had some spare square meters five years ago, he decided to grow a few pumpkins. Via via he heard of the Dutch Championships in Utrecht. Sounded just like the thing for him! Bart Jan van Raalte (winner 2010 and 2012) turned out to own some special crossbred seeds. He donated a couple to Gerjan to try. That's how the pumpkin started rolling! A year later, at the same event, Gerjan got to know the organizer of the championship. He invited Gerjan to his home, to give him some other seeds. The following year Gerjan became Dutch champion.
It started with a small vegetable garden that soon burst its banks. Gerjan's parents have already had to sacrifice their car parking space, their shed and their bushes for their son's hobby that has got a little out of hand. When Gerjan won the NK for the first time, he used the prize money to invest in a 100 m² greenhouse. He also has a piece of land of about 160 m² in a nearby forest, where he grows two pumpkin plants "and a few sunflowers for fun". So far, he has achieved the best results on that piece of land. "That was because the land had never been used before. Also the space available there was the largest and we had extremely good weather until September that year."
“Every year again I am begging my father for more garden.”
His very first pumpkin was about 40 kg and would still fit in a wheel barrow. “Pumpkin plants can grow up to half a metre a day. Once a pumpkin is actually sprouted, it can grow by 15 kg per day.” Of course, with growing at such a level, you can also expect setbacks. Gerjan has experienced years in which his pumpkins had already cracked and rotted before they were fully grown.
In 2021, Gerjan had a lot going on with his pumpkins in the run-up to the Dutch Championship. He started with eight plants, of which he eventually put three in the ground. Two were placed outside in open ground and one in his greenhouse. The pumpkins outside grew in crazy shapes and didn’t even weigh 100 kg. He had more success with the pumpkin in the greenhouse, as it eventually reached 635.5 kg with an area of 80 square metres! However, it was a tough road getting there. During the growing process, Gerjan discovered mildew, mice and spider mites on his pumpkin. The mice also caused the pumpkin to rot. With the right coaching from Plagron's Grow Experts, he was able to overcome these setbacks and save his pumpkin. He got to participate in the championship after all! He won the prize for the most beautiful pumpkin of the country, and the jury judged that his pumpkin had the best colour and least damage of all participating pumpkins. Gerjan also won the prize for the largest tomato of the competition (1843 grams) AND the third prize for the largest sunflower head. That's how legends are made!
“Of course, you push your plant to the limit. Also if something goes wrong, it goes REALLY wrong.”
Tip from Gerjan: Preventive spraying with milk against mildew. Milk contains certain acids that are released when touched by sunlight. These acids are precisely the acids on which mildew cannot grow. Use it to your advantage!
Last year Gerjan set his personal record at 635.6 kg. Will he reach his goal of 700 kg this year?
Guess how many kilograms you think the pumpkin will become and win legendary prizes!
Gerjan's pumpkin weighed 526 kg!
Unfortunately, Gerjan did not manage to set a new personal record this year. Due to inbreeding problems, his pumpkin did not really start growing until pretty late in the season. This made his set goal for the competition on 24 September basically unachievable. However, 526 kg is still a great result! And a giant it is ;-)
Although Gerjan did not break any records, a new Dutch record was set: 897.7 kg by Iwan Horde.
The big overall winner was Belgian Luc Vanheuckelom with a pumpkin of 919.5 kg!