The Thick End of the Veg
20 Top Giant Vegetable Facts for Top Harvest Show
Billed as the ultimate harvest festival, Malvern Autumn Show, sponsored by Westons Cider Visitors Centre, returns this September with a feast of family entertainment, artisan produce, and food and gardening royalty.
Along with top TV chef Tom Kerridge and Strictly Come Dancing Star Anton Du Beke, The UK National Giant Vegetables Championship, sponsored by CANNA, will be headlining the harvest show of the season. Bigger and better than ever before, crowds will flock to wonder at the broad variety of oversized vegetables on display in this record-breaking area of the show.
1. Malvern Autumn Show regular, Peter Glazebrook is famed for growing a colossal cauliflower weighing in at 60lb, measuring 6ft wide. That’s an unbe-leaf-able 20 times heavier than your average supermarket staple.
2. Snoop Dog, the infamous American rapper, once scooped up some growing advice from Malvern Autumn Shows’ very own Record Breaking veg grower, Ian Neale. Snoop congratulated Ian on his record-breaking Swede, giving him VIP tickets to his tour.
3. The world’s heaviest Marrow weighed in at over 14st, that’s equivalent to the weight of sporting Rugby legend, Jonny Wilkinson. Current world record holder, Brad Wursten from the Netherlands smashed this record in 2009.
4. A humongous fungus in Oregon is the world’s biggest living organism. The monster mushroom, popularly known as the honey fungus, can be found in The Blue Mountains in Oregan. The giant fungus stretches 3.5 miles, covering an area as big as 1,665 football fields.
5. The world’s largest White Truffle, a 1.5kg beast, sold for £160,000 ($61,250) at Sotheby’s New York in 2014.
6. Roald Dahl’s nostalgic childhood classic James and The Giant Peach, was originally going to be a giant cherry, but became a peach because Roald considered a peach “prettier, bigger and squishier than a cherry”.
7. Some vegetables are better suited to growing to enormous sizes. These include the Mammoth Zeppelin Cucumber, Super Heavyweight Hybrid Pepper, Atlantic Giant Pumpkin, Old Colossus Heirloom Tomato and the Carolina Cross Watermelon to name but a few.
8. Most giant vegetables are grown for bragging rights alone and are not usually eaten. Many growers are known to donate their veg to people with rabbit or horses, and the swede and beetroots go to livestock.
9. Vegetable grower star Peter Glazebrook is famed for his giant onion, an eye watering 8.16kg crier, weighing the equivalent of a Canada Goose.
10. Giant vegetables are not just enormous in size, but also often unrecognisable to their namesake variety – these are not just any vegetables, these are GIANT vegetables! Anyone can grow their own giant veg, with seeds from the UK’s largest ever marrow being sold for as little as £10.
11. The world’s largest tomato, owned by Antonio Martone and measuring a giant 15 inches, began life as a simple seed sent to him by his family in Naples.
12. Giant vegetables aren’t grown, they’re nurtured. Brought to size in specially designed greenhouses and polytunnels complete with thermometers, automated irrigation systems and infrared cameras.
13. Giant Vegetable Championships are a thing of fact and fiction and feature in the Wallace and Gromit movie The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. In the blockbuster movie, the fictional village of Tottington Hall’s annual Giant Vegetable Competition comes under threat from the bunny beast and the citizens take it very seriously.
14. With the process of growing giant vegetables, growers are effectively trying to burst the vegetable. Bringing it to almost breaking point, before carefully transporting the monster produce to shows across the country.
15. The top growers also more closely guard the skills of growing giant veg than the crown jewels. Giant vegetable growers are constantly fine-tuning their individual techniques, but for the most part, they spend three months of the year preparing their land for giant things to come, and the other nine coaxing seeds into big guns.
16. Pharmacy staple Aspirin is just what the doctor ordered for curing the grower’s nemesis of stem rot in marrows.
17. Grower of the world’s largest swede, Ian Neale, spends a staggering 70 hours a week nurturing his bumper crop of giant vegetables.
18. The World’s Heaviest Pumpkin is over 950kgs, that’s enough to make almost 700 pumpkin pies.
19. The UK National Giant Vegetables Championship moved to Malvern Autumn Show in 2013, and has now been running for almost 20 years as a highlight of the season. Last year’s championship saw a record number of entries with over 300 giant vegetables competing to win the highly coveted accolades.
20. Each year the UK Giant Vegetables Championship is held at the Malvern Autumn Show, separating the men from the boys in the oversized vegetable world. This area of the show smashed three world records in 2015. These included the world’s longest beetroot grown by Joe Atherton and measuring a lengthy 7.21 metres – that’s the equivalent to almost two Mini Coopers. The world’s heaviest cucumber grown by David Thomas, weighing in at 12.9 kilos, and the world’s heaviest leek, weighing 10.6 kilos and grown by Paul Rochester. All three gentlemen return to Malvern Autumn Show with their sights set on smashing more top titles.
A mountain of monster veg can be seen at the Malvern Autumn Show, which takes place on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September at the Three Counties Showground. Tickets are now on sale. Advanced tickets are priced at £16 for adults and £5 for children. Tickets are available on the gate at £19 for adults and £7 for children. Family and group tickets are available. For information on ticket prices, please visit www.malvernautumnshow.co.uk or call 01684 584924.