How to grow giant vegetables at home Q&A with Kevin Fortey (Giant Veg UK)

How long have you been growing giant vegetables and how did you get into it?
We've been growing giant vegetables from the age of 4, over 36 years. Our Dad started the UK Giant Vegetable Championships off in the early 80's and it grew and grew and grew and is now a worldwide phenomenon 

Why is growing food at home important?
Knowing where your food comes from is really important, it's far more sustainable too. Garden grown vegetables have more nutrition than shop bought as they can stay on the plants longer and in the ground to maximise nutrient uptake. Teaching the kids where food comes from is far better than a child thinking a potato comes from a fast food outlet. We'll show you some potatoes growing in containers... 

What is it about growing giant vegetables that you love most and what’s your favourite giant vegetable to grow?
I love being able to get into the great outdoors and develop seeds, engage with growers from all over the world, and grow Giant Veg even further 

I love growing giant marrows and hopefully one day we will get closer to the World Record

Tell us about your world records?
We've secured 3 guinness world records, for the worlds longest radish, worlds heaviest chilli pepper and the current record for the worlds heaviest beetroot. We have also grown britains largest marrow weighing 203lbs and my son holds the uk record with a sunflower head measuring 28 inches in diameter

What is
This is our developing website to provide hints and tips on growing as well as showcasing some of our achievements, others growers achievements as well as information on some of the large corporate organisations that we have partnered with including Facebook, Coca Cola amongst others.

Is it true that Giant Veg collaborated Snoop Dog re; his own ‘vegetable’ growing pursuits
Snoop dogg invited one of the growers back stage and we facilitated that journey. It was for a grower growing the World's largest Swede... He asked us about our growing and we gave him a cucumber to much on as he had the munchies ..

And you’ve also met Prince Charles and Camillia and met her Majesty the Queen?
We were fortunate to take part in a BBC TV programme that led to us going to Highgrove and meeting Prince Charles and Camilla. An incredible experience and one we will never forget. We even have a specially commissioned maple bowl, one of only 13 in the world. I think mine is number 7, the lucky one..

At Chelsea Flower Show last year, we were fortunate to meet the Queen. It was a great experience.

Do you have any recommendations, tips or tricks for anyone out there that’s interested in growing giant vegetables at home?
Invest in a back massager.
Join a social media group, talk to other growers
Start with the soil, perfect the soil 
Source good quality seeds
Learn how fruit and vegetables grow
Watch out for pests and diseases and preventatively spray with organic sprays. Mildew is a problem for us later in the season. SB plant invigorator, every 10 days helps to prevent mildew. 
Spray weekly with seaweed as this strengthens the cell walls of plants and makes them more resistant to pests and diseases. A healthy plant produces healthy fruits.
Learn from your successes and failures and keep records
Have fun in the process.

Do giant vegetables taste different?
Depends on the fruit or vegetable. Generally, they have more flavour as they are grown for longer. A typical giant cabbage is grown for 7 months, twice as long as an ordinary cabbage, but big enough to feed 100 people.

A giant onion is mild in flavour as it has a higher water content. They make incredible giant onion rings.

Carrots are only good for flossing

A tomato could feed a family in soup for lunch.

What happens to a giant vegetable once harvested? Do you share the produce, sell it, save the seeds, make a giant dish?
Alot of the veg are grown for seed production and genetically engineering the seeds through hand pollination. Some of the giant vegetables are used for corporate events and corporate launches. We have collaborated with major car manufacturers, theme parks as well as michelin star restuarants.

A giant cabbage once went to a high school where the cabbage was used in a cookery class, science and maths class and the canteen fed the school with it. It fed over 1000 kids

What are your top 3 favourite songs to listen to whilst gardening?
1. Bob Marley - No Women No Cry to help prevent disasters....
2. Guns N' Roses Welcome to the Jungle
3. UB 40 Red Red Wine

A favourite dish you like to make from your home grown produce?I've started to make vegan bolognaise with the tomatoes being used as a base. You cant beat growing and eating your own.

We are also collaborating on a chilli and giant beetroot sauce. It will be available over the winter months.

Where can people find you and learn more about Giant Veg ?
Join our Giant Vegetable Community on FAcebook and help to grow our worldwide community

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @giantveg