LITTLE Harry Hornsey and Libby Havelock are enjoying the sweet smell of success – all thanks to horse muck.
Pongy piles of poo are the secret ingredient when it comes to growing record-breaking pumpkins according to the pair.
Seven-year-old Harry scooped first place in the Fulwell allotments annual pumpkin growing contest, with Libby, six, in second place.
Harry is in no doubt about the secret of his success: “Horse muck and lots of water,” he says.
And Libby had a similar explanation: “We stuck it on the muck heap,” she said.
This is the fourth year the Wearside Small Holders’ Association has run the competition and the event proves more popular every year, with 22 super-size squashes entered this time.
Every one of the 300-plus allotment holders on the Sea Road site was invited to take part.
The final results were a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colours, despite all having come from the same source.
To make sure the competition was fair, everyone was given a pumpkin plant from one batch.
“Earlier this year we won ‘best allotment site in Sunderland and were given a £25 voucher by the city council,” said Libby’s grandad Michael Havelock, the association’s rent collector.
“So we went down to Clay’s Garden Centre and bought £25 worth of pumpkin seeds.
“We set them away and then we gave them out to everybody on the site to encourage them to take part.
“When they came to pay their rent, they were also given a pumpkin plant and urged to grow it for the competition.”
The aim of the competition is to encourage a sense of community among the allotment holders.
“It is not really about winning, it is about taking part,” said Michael.
“It is all done as a bit of fun but people do take it quite seriously. There is no financial gain for the winners, it is about getting all the members together and generating some community spirit.
“All the youngsters were given a ‘pumpkin pail’ of sweets as a thank you for taking part.”