‘We’re like athletes’: the secret lives of giant-vegetable growers
October 21, 2020 8:04 AM   Subscribe

From onions as big as babies to pumpkins that weigh more than a car, it has been a record-breaking year for oversize veg. But what motivates someone to grow an 8-metre beetroot – and is skulduggery involved? [SL Guardian]
posted by ellieBOA (21 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
On a sunny August day, a giant pumpkin might put on 23kg a day in weight; if it is cold, this might be only 9kg.
That is amazing.
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 8:19 AM on October 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

As many photos as there are in the article, I want to see way more!
posted by turtlebackriding at 8:37 AM on October 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

it has been a record-breaking year for oversize veg

Yep, that would be 2020...
posted by jim in austin at 9:04 AM on October 21, 2020

Our 10 year old Knock Out rose hedge tripled in size this season. It also never stopped profusely blooming from late May through, well, just now is it stopping. Phenomenal and weird.
posted by bz at 9:11 AM on October 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Not now, oversized vegetables.
posted by bondcliff at 9:24 AM on October 21, 2020 [5 favorites]

posted by Cash4Lead at 10:21 AM on October 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

As many photos as there are in the article, I want to see way more!

So the four-time Pumpkin King of Illinois lives in my neighborhood, he regularly puts his winning pumpkins out on the front lawn for everyone to admire, then begins to carve them closer to Halloween (2018 example here). The Chicago Tribune just ran a story about him. He missed the title this year by...14 pounds. I'll have to go over and get a picture of this year's carvings.
posted by mookoz at 10:23 AM on October 21, 2020 [5 favorites]

In 2019, a seed descended from the crop of beetroot Mike planted broke the record for the world’s heaviest beetroot.

“Our vegetables are far bigger than his ever were,” Fortey says, wistfully. “Dad never achieved a world record. Sometimes I wish he was around to give me help with them.”

A living inheritance, passed from father to son, unfurling annually from the earth.
I'm sorry, I came here for giant vegetables and now I have all of these Feelings.
posted by fight or flight at 11:01 AM on October 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

Giant vegetables? Uh oh...

On his Facebook group, Fortey troubleshoots the common mistakes that first-time growers make, such as overfeeding their crop

They may offer you fortune and fame
love and money and instant acclaim
but whatever they offer you
don't feed the plants!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:05 AM on October 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

This year, Glazebrook lost his world record for the heaviest tomato to Douglas Smith, 42, who grew a 3.1kg tomato by suspending the fruit in a pair of tights. “I met him last year,” says Glazebrook of his adversary. “I realised he was going to be a problem."

Indeed. These sentences maintain a perfect balance of delightful and ominous.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:44 AM on October 21, 2020 [5 favorites]

And for those of us in the US a swede is a rutabaga and a marrow is a summer squash like a pattypan.
posted by misterpatrick at 11:49 AM on October 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

"You're not pleased with His frequency of appearance," frowns Johnson. "Sir, be wary,— for the next step in such Petulance, is to define Him as some all-pervading Fairy-Dust, and style it Deism."

"D'ye think I wasn’t looking, all that long arse-breaking American time? Mounds, Caverns, things that went across the Sky?— had you seen one of those, 'twould've made ye think twice— Even giant Vegetables,— if it had to be,— seeking Salvation in the Oversiz'd, how pitiable,— what of it, I've little Pride, some great Squash upon the Trail-side? I'll take it, won't I."

posted by aws17576 at 12:04 PM on October 21, 2020

See that "Sirin Kale" byline, languishing on the table? Now I'm worried about all of you.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:20 PM on October 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

re: The byline, I regret to inform you (but it's a good story anyway):
Because I've been tweeted a lot about this since writing about giant veg yesterday - my surname is pronounced 'Ka-leh.' It means 'castle' in Turkish. A fun fact: no one in Cyprus had formal surnames in the 50s so my grandad took his football nickname as his surname.

Because he was such a good defender in the goal - hence, 'castle.' All his siblings took their nicknames, so they have different surnames! Please stop tweeting me / leaving comments on the Guardian saying it's 'nominative determinism' that I wrote about veg. God bless!
posted by ambrosen at 1:34 PM on October 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

I was completely unaware of this trend and very much enjoyed reading about it (and started thinking about trying it out next growing season!) until I saw this:

You can’t even eat giant vegetables – they taste rotten. “Who the hell wants to eat a 30ft carrot?” Williams asks. “It would be as tough as old boots.” (Most of the time, the vegetables are given to local farmers, for animal feed, or made into chutney.)

Very cool vegetables nonetheless, but kind of disappointing they're basically inedible for human consumption. I don't know if they buried that detail on purpose but it definitely illustrates there's no practical reason for growing these, just fun and/or competition.
posted by andruwjones26 at 1:52 PM on October 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

There is also the tiny, highly ritualised growing of giant gooseberries in some parts of the North of England. The fruits are weighed in jeweller's scales.
posted by Fuchsoid at 2:33 PM on October 21, 2020 [6 favorites]

“The Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show” sounds like a Monty Python sketch.
posted by TedW at 4:19 PM on October 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

You don’t have to worry yet; at least, not until the EU issues standards for Evil Giant Plant Vehicles.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:18 PM on October 21, 2020

As many photos as there are in the article, I want to see way more!

What you might not realize about those photos is that the pictured vegetables are actually normal size. The gardeners are all freakishly small. It's the only explanation that makes sense.
posted by flabdablet at 6:30 PM on October 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

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