João Santos from Paderne and his winning pumpkin “Isidora”

Portugal’s largest pumpkin “Isidora” is Algarve-grown

A barman from the Algarve who spends most of his free time farming has produced a massive 696-kilo pumpkin which has been hailed the “biggest in Portugal” at a giant vegetable contest in Paredes last weekend – an achievement he had already celebrated last year with a 405-kilo pumpkin.

But that wasn’t the only accolade that José Santos brought home from the II Concurso de Hortícolas Gigantes. He also produced the largest watermelon (53.5kgs) and melon (11kgs).

As his wife explains, producing giant veggies is his “second love”.

“He hardly sleeps. He goes to bed at 2.30am and is up at 6am,” Cláudia Fernandes told national tabloid Correio da Manhã.

Indeed, José Santos from Paderne already has his sights set on next year’s contest.

After this year’s success thanks to “Pumpkin Isidora”, he is aiming to produce a 900-kilo pumpkin next year. “There are a lot of things that can be improved upon, because we always learn from our mistakes. But the climate plays a large role in the results we can achieve,” he told CM.

The seeds he uses to grow his giant vegetables, he says, come from producers in the UK, the USA and other countries “which have a history for this kind of achievements”.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com