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Suffolk Business Awards 2018 Tickets

How do you show a pumpkin like Maria? On a very large scale

Maria Brenchley's enourmous pumpkin and marrow both took trophies at the Orford Flower Show.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Maria Brenchley's enourmous pumpkin and marrow both took trophies at the Orford Flower Show. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

When asked the secret behind growing freakishly large vegetables, capable of overshadowing rivals at the local village show, Maria Brenchley jokes: “I feed them cheese sandwiches.”

Maria Brenchley with her some of her huge vegetables in Orford.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Maria Brenchley with her some of her huge vegetables in Orford. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Her prize-winning pumpkin weighed in at a whopping 546 pounds for the annual contest in Orford, near Woodbridge, securing her the trophy named after her nearest competitor.

In total, she scooped eight titles at this year’s show – including one for her 107-pound mega marrow.

“It’s partly down to luck and partly down to the weather,” said the 51-year-old. “So many people asked for my secret recipe that I started saying it was cheese sandwiches.”

Mrs Brenchley discovered her incredible knack for growing enormous vegetables two years ago, after jokingly suggesting to repeat winner Neil Macro that, with enough effort, anyone could wrest his trophy away.

Maria Brenchley's enourmous 516 lb pumpkin and 107 lb marrow both took trophies at the Orford Flower Show.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Maria Brenchley's enourmous 516 lb pumpkin and 107 lb marrow both took trophies at the Orford Flower Show. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Despite never having grown a pumpkin, she proved it was possible to win that year.

The title then returned to Mr Macro, whose 400-pound effort came second to Mrs Brenchley’s show-stopping effort for 2017.

“I’m hooked,” she admitted. “I tried really hard to win this year.

“The first plants were taken out by frost, so I was behind everyone else. Mine were football-sized while others were already giant – but then I uncovered them in August and thought ‘wow’.

The largest of vegetables grown on her allotment eventually get gobbled up by hungry hogs at The Crown Inn, Snape, where Mrs Brenchley’s works alongside her sister, Teresa Cook, who runs the pub with husband Garry and breeds pedigree pigs.

Some of the pumpkins are also placed in the pub for Halloween.

The world of competitive growing comes with friendly badgering from opponents, according to Mrs Brenchley, who was told in her debut year that she couldn’t possibly have grown such large vegetables without the help of her husband, Derick.

“I’m the one watering them twice a day,” she said. “It’s all me!

“My grandmother used to enter the show in a big way, as well as my mother, and we used to win cups as children.”

Mrs Brenchley grows vegetables and flowers all year round on the allotment she has kept for the last 20 years.

Her tips for growing super vegetables include lots of time – and plenty of space.

A man is in hospital with a possibly life-changing injury after the motorcycle he was riding collided with a car last night.

A much-loved family fun day that has been going for almost two decades will be returning to Ipswich this weekend.

Early plans to develop the Martlesham police headquarters into 250 homes went on display for the first time yesterday.

An academy trust has defended its record in Suffolk and Essex after poor results outside the region saw it labelled the worst performer of all secondary school providers in England.

Four engines were sent to tackle a fire covering a huge area of undergrowth in Ipswich this evening.

A man has been taken to hospital following a serious crash in Ipswich.

A care home in Ipswich is helping residents recover their mojo by dancing the night away at a specially designed nightclub.

A school which claims it will lose hundreds of pupils if contentious plans for school transport cuts go ahead has made a final plea for councillors to “listen to the people of Suffolk”.

A courageous Second World War veteran has been remembered as a “real Ipswich hero” following his death at 101.

Motorists experienced serious delays out of Ipswich after a double decker bus broke down coming off the Orwell Bridge.

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