Tuesday 22 August 2017

Gardener plans voyage in pumpkin

Medwyn Williams plans to sail along the Menai Strait, North Wales, in a giant pumpkin
Medwyn Williams plans to sail along the Menai Strait, North Wales, in a giant pumpkin

A top gardener, famous for his "big veg", is planning to set sail in a giant pumpkin to raise money for injured soldiers.

Medwyn Williams, chairman of the Fruit, Vegetable and Herb committee of the Royal Horticultural Society, hopes the 1,600lb pumpkin will help him raise funds for the Help for Heroes campaign.

Medwyn, 67, and son Alwyn, 42, a former soldier, will sail along the Menai Strait which separates the Isle of Anglesey from the mainland coast in North Wales.

The gardener, from Llanfairpwll, said: "It might sound crazy but we are confident this can be done. We know all about growing giant vegetables and we have already grown several 600lb pumpkins."

Alwyn, who was an infantryman with the Welsh Guards for 22 years and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Iraq, said: "I want to raise money for Help for Heroes because I was lucky and escaped injury but a lot of my friends were a lot less fortunate."

The seeds for the pumpkin vessel will be planted in pots at the end of next month then, in May, placed inside a huge polytunnel where they will be fed with a "secret ingredient".

Medwyn, who is also chairman of the National Vegetable Society, said the seeds have already arrived from America - supplied by the world record pumpkin grower Don Lavingdon who regularly cultivates pumpkins over 1,600lb weight.

Once fully grown, the giant pumpkin, with walls about six inches thick, will be hollowed out for a seat and equipped with an outboard motor for their sponsored sail.

He added: "The soil on Anglesey is perfect - a medium loam, and because we are close to the Gulf Stream we always get a mild climate. It's perfect here for growing the big stuff.

"The pumpkin will definitely float and you never know, if its going well, we might just set sail to the Isle of Man."

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