Big Pumpkins from an urban Garden: Johannes Offermann cultivates record-breaking Vegetable

His latest big pumpkin comes in at 337,5 kilogramms. Too heavy to be lifted without a chain block.

In Johannes Offermann’s garden in the city of Cologne everything is a little taller, bigger or heavier. From tomatoes, to kohlrabies, to chili. All that requires a lot of time (constantly checking the needs of the plants), water (sometimes more than 300 liters) and less fertilizer. Too much of the latter makes the plants vulnerable, Offermann explains.

And there are a few dangers for his record breakers: Heavy wind or storms, hail and, even too much sun. But Offermann, a former electrician, knows what to do then. Sometimes it is covering the plants with a special net or blanket. Sometimes it is a heat shield.

But what makes a pumpkin a record pumpkin? “You need to pollinate the plants yourself. We don’t let the bees do that. And you need a special seed,” Offermann explains. Sometimes imported from the United States, Canada or Mexico. A grain of luck is also helpful. 25 years ago Offermann started to cultivate special plants. Winning first competitions with 25 kilogramm pumpkins. “Today I rather cut those off,” Offermann says with a smile.

Today it is a Cologne or a European record he aims for. He still holds the record for the biggest cucumber. 83 centimeters long, with a weight of 6.6 kilogramms.

While his kohlrabies are still delicious in record dimensions, others, like the pumkpins, are not. “They are just compressed water,” Offermann explains. Other pumpkins he reworks to bird houses or rattles. Worldwide pumpkins are used for swimming aid, or even suspensors.

With all the records, in the end, for Johannes Offermann, the most precious moments are the little talks at his Cologne garden fence – where people stop and talk with the grower. The moments that give back a lot of energy, he says.