Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Pair grow world’s heaviest vegetables

Pair grow world’s heaviest vegetables

TWO gardeners from the Henley area have claimed Guinness world records for their giant vegetables.

Tim Saint, from Playhatch, grew the heaviest red cabbage at 23.7kg while Gary Heeks, of Lawson Road, Henley, was crowned the celery king with a super-sized specimen weighing 42kg.

The records were set at the CANNA UK National Giant Vegetables Championship in Malvern, Worcestershire.

Mr Saint, who regularly exhibits his vegetables at the Henley Show, beat the previous record for a red cabbage of 23.3kg held by Cornishman David Thomas.

Mr Saint, 37, said: “I was quite shocked really. I certainly wasn’t expecting it. It’s like winning a gold medal I suppose, really special, the crème de la crème.

“The guy who had held the record was standing almost next to me and he was over the moon for me so that was nice.

“Growing big veg is quite a nervy sort of hobby and you never know what other people have got for the shows.”

Mr Saint sowed the cabbage seed in February before planting the seedling outside in mid-April.

He fed the plant with fertiliser and plenty of water — but not too much. He said: “If you give it too much water it’ll split. Luckily, this one didn’t.”

Mr Saint drove his prize veg on a trailer to Malvern.

“We wrapped it up in blankets to make sure it didn’t knock against a pumpkin or a marrow,” he said.

“You’ve got to take it steady — if you hit too many bumps some of the veg can split. You have to take it at about 50mph all the way.”

After the show Mr Saint’s five-year-old niece Jessica Dingle took the cabbage to her school, Sacred Heart primary in Henley, to show her friends.

It was then chopped up for compost.

Mr Heeks’s celery set the record only five minutes after his apprentice Sam Purvis had set it with his 38kg plant.

The pair work together at the Old Rectory, an estate in Ewelme, where Mr Heeks is the manager.

The previous record of 34kg was held by Ian Neale, from Newport

Mr Heeks, 56, said: “I was so happy to break the record, I was nearly crying.

“Last year I was one kilo short of the record at Malvern. I thought ‘my goal now is to try to do it’ so this year I grew seven and this one stood out and started to really put on some weight.

“I was getting extremely excited, thinking ‘this could do it, it’s bigger than last year’s and I’ve got to be in with a good shout’.

“I was disappointed for Sam but he knew it was something I’d been aiming for. He turned round and said he’s going to do me next year!”

Mr Heeks sowed the seed in January and once it was planted out it was regularly fed with a high nitrogen, water-soluble feed and watered.

He said: “If you get the right seed you’re halfway there and you have to keep it wet because it’s a member of the bog plant family.

“Always make sure the ground is wet and never water from the top otherwise you get celery rot.”

It took three men to lift his celery on to a trailer to transport it to Malvern and two to lift Mr Purvis’s vegetable. Both were wrapped in a fleece to protect them.

Mr Heeks said: “It was the slowest drive I’ve ever done to Malvern — it took nearly three hours.”

Mr Saint and Mr Heeks will each receive a certificate from Guinness World Records acknowledging their achievements.

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