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Alaska’s Giant Vegetables

We’re used to seeing giant pumpkins, but look at the size of that cabbage! It look like Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors. Alaska is known for its giant vegetables. You’d think that it would be hard to grow giant crops in such a northerly latitude, but the latitude is exactly what causes the growth.

Alaska typically has a very short growing season, only 105 days, on average. For comparison, California’s growing season lasts nearly 300 days. However, the Alaskan growing season does not have long dark nights. The state is located close to the north pole where it enjoys up to 19 hours of sunshine each day, during summer and at the peak of the growing season. The extra hours of sunlight allows Alaskan crops to just keep growing and growing. Even through the growing season is months shorter than the rest of the country, Alaska’s gardeners grow some of the largest vegetables in the world.

The photosynthetic boost also makes the produce sweeter. Alaskan carrots, for instance, spend nearly 3/4th of the day while the sun is available making sugar, and only the remaining 1/4th of its time is spent turning that sugar into starch. Plants like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, radishes, turnips, potatoes, beets, carrots, spinach, and lettuce all grow very well here.

A friend of mine moved to Alaska for a few years and told us how the sun came up at 3AM and went down at midnight at the height of the summer. Then in winter, they only had a few hours of daylight. Either would be hard to adjust to, but gardeners who live in Alaska take advantage of the summer sun to go for award-winning giant vegetables. Read about them and see more pictures at Amusing Planet. Incidentally, the cabbage pictured here only won second place. -via the Presurfer

(Image credit: Flickr user Travis)

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