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The Secret Lives of Giant Vegetable Growers

Harvest season is when the giant vegetables come out. This year, due to the lockdown, more people than ever are dipping their toes into the sport of growing oversized vegetables. That led to a growing community of gardeners who display seemingly contradictory traits: Experienced growers are willing to help newbies and friendships and camaraderie grow among the gardeners, while they diligently compete with each other for local and world records -and the best photographs.

What motivates someone to grow vegetables so enormous they would destroy the suspension in an average family car? “When I first saw giant vegetables, I thought the people who grew them must be absolutely nuts,” says Gerald Short, 52, a record-company owner from Watlington in Oxfordshire. “What are they doing growing these huge things? But then something got stuck in the nerdy side of me.” Short has done quite the about-turn: this year, he grew a 706kg pumpkin, setting an Oxfordshire record. The pumpkin was so heavy that Short had to use a tractor to get it out of his allotment and hire a lorry to transport it. “I’m probably the biggest amateur grower on the allotment scene,” he says.

The appeal of growing these beasts is not hard to understand. Only the truly joyless would struggle to summon a smile at the sight of a marrow as big as a lawn mower or a cabbage as wide as a double bed. Giant-vegetable-growing is as life-affirmingly ridiculous as it is gloriously escapist. Plus, it is a technical challenge. “You can grow them bigger every year, so you’re always improving,” says Short. Fortey sees it more like a sport than a hobby. “We’re like athletes, absolutely,” he says. “We’re all aiming to get the world record. Usain Bolt runs the world’s fastest 100 metres and we’re aspiring to get the longest vegetables.”

Read about the people who spend their summers nursing their giant vegetables for glory and a sense of accomplishment at the Guardian. -via Metafilter

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