In 2012, the largest pumpkin shattered the world record, weighing in at more than a ton at 2,009 pounds. Other 2012 world-record holders include an 18-pound onion, a 19-foot carrot and a 268-pound watermelon. Want to test your green thumb abilities by raising a giant of your own? Find out what you need to know to succeed.
Size Starts With Seed
Genetics play the biggest role in growing a giant. Obtain seed known to yield oversize results. A variety name often hints at what a seed is capable of producing – for instance, Old Colossus Tomato (2-plus-pound fruit) or Show King Giant Green Squash (400-plus pounds).
Look for seed at garden centers, seed companies or online through giant seed exchanges, where gardeners who raise giant vegetables sell seed from their own harvest.
Giants You Can Grow
Count on these classic favorites to yield oversize results.
- Northern Giant Cabbage (also called Alaska Cabbage): Mature heads frequently weigh over 100 pounds. For modestly oversize heads, plant Premium Late Flat Dutch Cabbage, which produces 10-15-pound heads.
- Japanese Imperial Long Carrot: Slender, flavorful roots typically reach 10-24 inches long.
- Mammoth Zeppelin Cucumber: Mature fruits weigh over 16 pounds but are inedible. For larger-than-life edible cukes, try Armenian Yard Long Cucumbers. Fruits reach 2-3 feet long but taste best at 12-18 inches. Trellis vines for straightest fruits.
- Giant Silo Corn: Stalks soar 12-15 feet tall and ripen oversize ears of corn. This corn is the kind used for livestock or wildlife feeding, not for corn-on-the-cob. Grow in an area protected from strong winds.
- Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkin: These gargantuan orbs frequently reach 500 pounds. Bright-orange flesh makes great pies.
- Marina Di Chioggia Squash: Turban-shaped, blue-green squash that contains sweet, yellow-orange flesh. Fruits typically reach 10 pounds and store well, almost 12 months. For a heftier harvest, grow Giant Pink Banana Squash, which tips the scales at 50-70 pounds.
- Big Zac Tomato: A home gardener, Minnie Zaccaria, created this beefy tomato, which yields 4-6-pound fruits on disease-resistant plants.
- Black Diamond Red Flesh Watermelon: Sweet red flesh fills whopper fruits averaging 35-50 pounds. With ideal conditions, melons can reach 75-80 pounds.
- Grey Stripe Giant Sunflower: This sunny bloomer has flowers that are 2 feet across. Russian Mammoth Sunflower soars to 17-plus feet tall.
Basic Care Tips
Give oversize plants great soil, adequate water and proper fertilizer. Research the type of soil and fertilizer your crop needs. Get a soil test and amend soil as needed. Most ribbon-winning gardeners use drip irrigation and extend the growing season by starting plants indoors.
Big plants need elbow room. Don't underestimate how much space your giant requires. For fruit-bearing plants, fewer fruits mean bigger fruits, because plants direct resources to ripening fruits. Thinning fruits is key to creating giants.
Climate plays a role. Some of the largest vegetables come from areas where summer days are seemingly endless, like in Alaska. All that excess sunlight spurs plants to keep on growing.
Get Advice From Experts
Growing giant produce is a competitive sport – and many record-holding gardeners approach it like an Olympic event. Some experienced Goliath-raisers guard their secrets; others share their wisdom and expertise. Meet growers at county or state fairs. Also search online for giant vegetable grower organizations.
What You Can Do With a Giant
- Compete in a local fair.
- Post pictures on your favorite social media sites, and submit some to your local newspaper.
- Dig out recipes. With the price of fresh produce, it's worth growing an edible giant you can preserve in some way. Learn more about food preservation.
Share the harvest with friends, or donate to a local food pantry. Visit AmpleHarvest.org to find a pantry near you.