With Hallowe'en hysteria building, it's time for a brief ode to the pumpkin. First stop is the legendary Pumpkin Cottage in West Sussex where 87 year old Ralph Upton has been growing pumpkins, squashes and gourds in his six-acre plot for more than 40 years. He plants 15,000 to 20,000 seeds each spring to produce an organic harvest of more than 50 varieties including those with names like Atlantic Giant, Munchkin, Jack-be-Little, Hungarian Mammoth and Turk's Turban.
To add to the fun, every year he and fellow villagers create a giant pumpkin mural on the roof of his shed. As he says "I can't paint pictures, but I can paint with pumpkins." In the past themes have included the Universe, the Pyramids and the Rialto Bridge in Venice. This year it is the Loch Ness monster, complete with crabs and seahorses bobbing around in the lake.
His favourite pumpkin variety is Crown Prince, which he said made beautiful soup.
If you are wondering why the pumpkins aren't particularly big this year but are colourful, it is because "there hasn't been enough sun." Upton's pumpkins are all compost grown - he doesn't use any artificial sprays. When it comes to growing them at home, he says that they like warmth. If they are planted in peat compost or peat and mushroom compost this holds the moisture nicely. The Telegraph
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