Whether you are doing it for fun or for serious competition, growing giant vegetables takes a sizeable amount of planning and effort. It’s not simply a matter of letter your tomatoes get bigger; you need the right seed, excellent nutrition, the perfect location, and diligent care. We’ll give you a few tips to get you started, but you’ll need to do more research because this is a huge topic!
But first, for a little perspective, here are the world records for giant vegetables:
Choose the Right Vegetable Seeds
Seeds for giant vegetables have been selected or bred for size. They can be pretty costly, but if size is what you’re looking for it makes sense to start with the best seeds. Seed catalogs offer giants like Big Zac and Old Colossus Heirloom tomatoes, Oxheart carrots, Giant Cobb Gem or Carolina Cross Watermelons, and Atlantic Giant Pumpkins. Pumpkins, squash, and watermelon grown REALLY big: 200 to over 1000 pounds! Once you grow a big vegetable you’re proud of, save the seeds for next year. (FYI-saving seeds won’t work with hybrids.)
Give Giant Vegetables a Good Start
Well-drained, nutrient-rich, balanced soil is the key to any gardening success. A slow-acting organic fertilizer will release food over time, which is what giant veggies need. The type of fertilizer or soil amendments you use depends on the type of plant you are growing.
Water Giant Vegetables Well
Giant vegetables are fussy about water. They need a constant supply of water, but don’t like sitting in wet soil. You can water by hand if you have only a few plants, but drip irrigation works well for bigger gardens.
Tend Giant Vegetables Lovingly
Remove all the vegetables from your plant except two or three of the healthiest. Eventually you will need to select one to grow on to full size. That’s because the giant needs all the plant’s nutrients in order to reach its potential.
Put a porous mat under the giant to protect it from rot and pests and to keep your prize clean. Check daily for pests. The healthier your soil, the fewer problems you will have, but plant pests slow growth so you need to nip them in the bud. Try to control problems by hand or with the least toxic methods because chemical pesticides can also disrupt the growth of the plant.
Be attentive but not overly protective. Try to restrain yourself from touching the vegetables unnecessarily. And be patient–these giants need time to grow.
Talk to the Experts
Your giant-size vegetables may not be giants in the taste department, but they sure are fun and exciting to grow. Amateur gardeners like you are the real pros when it comes to growing giant vegetables. Through trial and error they have discovered what works best in their garden, and most of them are proud to share what they know.
Want to learn more about growing giant vegetables?
Some experts share their experience on the web on sites like the following:
GardenWeb’s giant vegetables forum focuses on the exchange of information on plant selection, care, and harvesting of giant vegetables.
Grow Giant Vegetables with natural and organic methods.
Five Easy Steps for Growing Giant Sized Vegetables and Flowers.
Lynne Lamstein gardens in Maine and Florida and is currently working on a sustainable landscape. She has a degree in ornamental horticulture from Temple University.