Menai Mick's great pumpkin challenge

Atlantic giant: Mick Michaels with his Royal Easter Show entrant and a common size Jap pumpkin. Picture: John Veage
Atlantic giant: Mick Michaels with his Royal Easter Show entrant and a common size Jap pumpkin. Picture: John Veage

A second place in the 2016 Royal Easter Show “Giant Backyard Pumpkin Challenge” has Menai’s Mick Michaels trying to go one step further and be the big banana at this year’s celebration of all things agricultural.

Backyard gardeners are now at the end of their giant pumpkin quest, with some nervous times to be had after the event closing date of March 6 and delivery date of April 9.

For a lucky few glory awaits.

A keen veggie gardener, Mick said entering the Royal Easter Show was definitely something different to do.

“I don’t know anyone else who has a second place ribbon for a giant pumpkin from the Royal Easter Show,” he jokes.

There are three categories in the Great Backyard Pumpkin Challenge - up to 50 kilos, 50 to 100 kilos and 100 kilos plus. 

“It takes lots of love and affection and plenty of water bringing up a giant pumpkin and my family sometimes think I have abandoned them,” Mick says.

Bragging rights over his mates who have moved to the country to become farmers is also a contributing factor in Mick’s mad quest.

Mick Michaels and his pet pooch Buddy are keeping a close eye on their Royal Easter Show entry. Picture: John Veage

Mick Michaels and his pet pooch Buddy are keeping a close eye on their Royal Easter Show entry. Picture: John Veage

“I’ve also encouraged other people to become gardeners with my exploits, like 10-year-old Harrison Wagner from San Souci who grew his giant pumpkin last year but it blew up at the last hurdle,” Mick said.

“He is having another go at it this year.”

Everyone has his or her own way of coaxing the most weight out of these Atlantic giant pumpkins. But there is a thread of consistency that runs through all good sized veggies - you need good seed, good soil and good luck.

Mick is one of a rare breed – a grower of the heavyweights. For them, pumpkin growing is a competitive sport, in fact there is a world championship.

The current world record for an Atlantic Giant pumpkin is held by Beni Meier from Switzerland, with a 1054kg Pumpkin. The current Australian record is held by Dale Oliver, with an impressive 743kg Pumpkin.

What happens to these giant orange obstacles after the Easter Show you might ask?

Well they aren’t wasted because although they don’t taste particularly nice to humans these record breaking pumpkins are straight on the menu for the Elephants at Taronga Zoo who just love recycling the prize-winning pumpkins.