GROW GIANT VEGETABLES
Extreme sports meet 4H.
By Carl Malamud
At the Half Moon Bay Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off last
year, Thad Starr took first place with his 1,524-
pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin.
The 40-year-old Oregonian, who took home
$9, 144 in prize money, had been growing giant
pumpkins for just two years, proving that dedication, passion, and lots of chicken manure are more
important than experience in the exciting hobby
of competitive vegetable growing.
Would you like to grow a pumpkin to beat Starr
next year? You’ll need some land, money, and
While pumpkins are the fruit of choice in many
growing competitions, they’re not the only mutants
on the planet. In England, growing giant marrows
(zucchini) is a ruthlessly competitive sport, with
specimens topping more than 100 pounds.
In the South Pacific islands and parts of West
Africa, growing giant yams has a long tradition.
In the United States, you’ll find 30-pound carrots in
Alaska and 100-pound watermelons in Arkansas
(Bill Clinton has been known to go on endlessly
about his home state’s huge fruits).
People go to extreme lengths for extreme vegetables, but perhaps none are more extreme than
the Chinese Commission of Science, Technology,
and Industry for National Defense, which recently
sent seeds of 2,020 plants up into space to expose
them to low gravity and high radiation, which they
claim changes the seeds’ genetic makeup.
These seeds are now showing up in Chinese
markets, where sellers tell customers they’ll be
able to grow peppers, tomatoes, and other plants
30% larger than normal.
Photograph by Sam Murphy
154 Make: Volume 13