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                    2015: Worlds Longest Radish (88" or 2.2 Meters) (Record Broken)    
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www.giantveg.co.uk 

                                     Introduction To The Website Video                                                                                 Top 5 Tips Of Growing Giant Veg                 

    

How to Grow Giant Tomatoes

 Below is a picture of Dan McCoy from USA who on the 22nd August 2014 grew the worlds largest tomato weighing 8.41lbs 

 

 

 

 

Ian Neale with his UK record Tomato weighing 2.60kg 5lb 11.5ozs

 

 

Select a type of seed that produces giant tomatoes, we have our own stock available to purchase and these have grown the UK's largest tomato pictured above

Information below on how we grow ours.....

 

 

Soil Preparation

 



Ideally the plants should be grown under cover.  The soil has to be dug in the autumn with well-rotted manure. During mid February to early march, the soil should be dug and then rotovated mix compost, manure and peat moss. The moss is acidic and will help prevent fungus growth, since you are going to be watering more than usual. I also use 10-52-10 fertilizer to help promote good root growth once the plant is placed into its site.  It should be left for a couple of weeks to settle. Towards the end of march, the soil should be treated with a base fertilizer such as vitax gr124 and chicken manure pellets.  Tomatoes should be grown on a large mound.

 


Germination


If you start your seeds too early, the fruit will be ready too early.  Most tomatoes only take 80 days or so to mature.  So count back from your show date 80 days or so and add a couple days for the cool September weather.  If your show date is the first week in October you should start them around the first of May. The tomatoes you plant for eating will be started around April 1.  I start the seeds on the 1st, 15th, and the 30th of May.  I stagger the dates to hopefully have my tomatoes ripe for the show.  A ripe tomato only has a shelf life of two to three days so it's the real guessing game.

The tomato seed should be started off in pots in a mixture of compost and vermiculite with a 6 month feed added for essential feeding for the young plant (miracle grow slow release / osmocote)  to aid germination, ensure that the seeds are kept under a temperature of 60 - 65 degrees.  The seeds are to be planted close to the surface with a dusting of compost.

The plants are to be planted out at the start of June when the soil has warmed and the nights are longer.  Usually when the weeds start to grow, the soil is right for planting / germination of seeds.  As with all seedlings ensure that they are given adequate frost protection and guarded from those deadly slugs!  Apply a handful of slug pellets to the area.


Growth and Feeding



You must keep the plant evenly moist, not wet.  If you water too much the skin of the fruit cracks.  Care should be taken to ensure that the tomatoes are not allowed to dry out as differences in the moisture of the soil may cause the tomatoes to have blossom end rot. Three times a week I mix a small amount of water soluble fertilizer (20-20-20) in with the water every time I water the plants. This keeps the plant fed at an even pace


Once the plant begins to flower, I pinch off the first couple of clusters to keep the tomatoes off the ground. Examine the new clusters that come up after that for misshaped and double blossoms.  Sometimes you find 2 flowers on one stem, these ones have good potential. Thin the remaining clusters of tomatoes to 2 or 3 and watch their progress. Eventually you will pinch off all the smaller tomatoes, and keep one tomato per cluster.  You now have five or six tomatoes per plant. As time progresses you can cut them back until there is only one or two tomatoes per plant. These are the ones you hope will be the winning tomatoes.  Pinch off the top of the plant.  During this time of fruit selection, make sure you have been trimming the plant of excessive growth and spraying for insects and fungus. You should make sure that you leave enough foliage to shade your prize-winning tomato and provide a place for excessive water to go incase of accidental over watering.  Keep your water and fertilising program going right up to the vegetable show.


Support


The tomatoes should be suported when they are growing. We use a sponge to act as support for the fruit and this is tied to poles running directly above the plant.  This is a must as the weight of the tomato will make the truss bend and restrict its growth.



I also put in a 2"x 2" post where each plant is to be set into the soil to help support the plant.  Most if not all tomatoes are indeterminate and you will have to control them by pinching off excessive growth.  Try to allow only two main vines to grow up along the post.  I pinch off the lower leaves so nothing touches the soil.  I also use an old 1 gal. coffee can with a hole in the bottom, set 1/2" inch into the ground at the base of the plant. Bugs than have a hard time accessing the plant with this around the base of the plant.

The ideal location for the setting of a tomato is at around 3 to 4 trusses high.

 



Measurement

There is alot of trial and error involved in growing giant tomatoes.  Hopefully following these instructions will help you show up with a prize-winning tomato.  Keep a record of your tomatoes circumference.  Each year you can compare previous years growth. Try to select a tomato that is perfectly round as these tend to be the heaviest.



Seed Saving

In order to save seed from the tomato, at the end of the shows, the tomato should be kept in a cool environment to aid the development of the seeds.  Keep it in a garage for a couple of weeks and then harvest the seeds.  To do this you have to peel back the outer layer (skin) of the tomato and look into the channels of the tomato.  You should see lots of seeds.

After the seeds have been selected,  the seeds then need to be dried in newspaper for two weeks, this will ensure that they are sound for next season.  Take out the seeds that are showing signs of dampness / mildew.

 

If you are interested in purchasing seeds please visit the shop

Here's Some Helpful Tips

 

Seed saving

The secret of growing Giant Veg is careful re-selection. It is not only important to save seeds from the best stock, but important to look after the seeds for the next season. On fruits, the best seeds are obtained from the flower end, where they will generally be more plentiful as well.

 

Once you have taken the seeds out, dependant on the vegetable where the seeds are derived, you will have to wash the seeds to remove the membrane around them. This can take some time, especially with cucumbers, but be careful not to damage the seeds when washing them. Then pat them dry and place on tissue paper or some other absorbent material. Leave the seeds to dry in a cool part of the house, the airing cupboard is often a good place for the seeds to dry and harden off.

 


Once the seeds have dried off, place them in an airtight container, we generally use a pectin dish. If you can't get hold of pectin dishes, place the seeds in a small envelope and then place them in an airtight container such as an ice-cream container. The seeds will then have to be stored in a cool, dark area.

Hand pollination

It is always better to hand-pollinate Giant Veg. This ensures that there is no cross-pollination and ensures the female flower has the best pollen source. Poor pollination is often a source for growth defects.

Of course it is very difficult to prevent natures pollinators from doing the job for you. The majority of our Giant Veg is grown in a Polytunnel and thus it is easier to achieve this, but regardless of whether you grow outdoors or under glass or a Polytunnel, there are certain things you need to do to ensure the best pollination.

In order to beat the bees, ensure you pollinate your plants first thing in the morning. You should nip the male flower off the stem and peel away the petals, exposing the stamen and fresh pollen. a and gently swab the stigma (internal parts) of the female flower with the pollen-laden stamen. 

 

 

Now gently rub the stigma (internal parts) of a newly opened female flower with the stamen, ensuring that as much pollen gets on to the female flower as possible. You should repeat this once more with another male flower. Then to ensure that no other insects can pollinate the vegetable, and to maximise pollination, leave the male flower in the female flower. This can often be difficult depending on the type of vegetable you are trying to pollinate, the smaller the female flower, the more likely it is that the male flower will fall out.

 


Soil Test

At the start of each season, about February, have a soil test carried out. This will give you an indication of what needs to be done to the soil before you plant out in April. A soil test will generally measure the pH, the salts in the soil, and the three main nutrients Potash, Phosphates and Potassium. If there are too many salts in the soil you may have to flood the ground to remove the excess salt. You may also have to adjust your pH. A good pH level would be anywhere between 6.5 and 6.8. If you need to lower the pH add sulphur, and if you need to raise it add lime. A soil test will also provide you with advice on what fertilisers to use to maintain the nutrient levels or to improve them.

 



Watering - Irrigation pipes and dilutor

Setting up an efficient and labour saving watering system is an important part of growing Giant Veg. In the height of summer, even in the inclement climate of the UK, the Vegetables will need watering every other day. When we used to water by hand it took over an hour to water all our plants.

 


We invested in a drip feed irrigation system several years ago. Every couple of inches there is a small incision in the pipe and the water will drip out. This drip feed irrigation system is connected to a dilutor. We put our feed in the dilutor and this ensures that all the plants receive the same levels of feed.

The benefit of the drip feed and dilutor system is that the constant dripping ensures that the deep roots are watered and the feed gets to the roots. The problem with purely hand watering is that you compact the soil and the deep roots do not get sufficient water and feed to maximise their potential.

Preparing the Soil

At the end of the season

After all the hard work you put in to growing your giant specimens, after everything has been dug up and shown, you have to turn your attention to next year. Your soil requires fresh organic matter at least every 3 years, but it is preferable to add organic matter every year.

Make sure the tunnel or your growing area outside is clear. You then need to find yourself some well rotted farmyard manure. If the manure is too fresh it can actually be counter-productive. It will take out nitrogen from the soil whilst decomposing and means the ground will not be at its best when it comes time to planting.

 

Once you have located your farmyard manure you need to dig a trench about a spade deep, and place about 4-6 inches of manure into the trench and backfill the trench. This will ensure that the manure will be well composted by the time it comes to planting.

Every 3rd year it would be wise to double dig the growing area. This basically means that when you dig the trench, before you add the compost you turn over the soil in the trench. Then you incorporate the manure into the freshly dug trench, before backfilling the trench.

In addition to or alternatively to adding manure plant a cover crop of winter rye in November and turn it over in early spring. This has the added benefit of drawing any excess salts away from the soil

Before planting

A month or so before you are ready to plant; you need to dig the soil over with a spade to aerate the soil. A week or so before you are ready to plant you will need to rotovate the soil, or if you do not possess a Rotovator, use a fork. You will need to incorporate a base fertiliser to the soil before using the Rotovator or fork. We tend to use Vitax GR124, which provides a good balance, and some chicken pelleted manure. If you want to grown giants you need to feed them like giants, but it is all about balance and finding what works for you, but be generous with your base fertiliser.

 

 

Once you have added the base fertiliser you are ready to rotovate/fork the soil. What you are aiming for is a relatively lump free and loose mixture. This will ensure that the soil drains better, which in turns helps the soil warm up quicker, and provides an excellent growing medium for good root development, which is essential for growing Giant Veg.

Our advice would be to purchase a Rotovator. It not only makes your life easier, but you will not be able to get the soil to such a fine consistency without it.

Measurements

We have kept a record of the measurements of each Giant Veg we grow since we started. If you keep an accurate record it well enable you to measure your progress from one year to the next and enable you to predict with relative accuracy the weight of any vegetable at any given time.

 

 

You should maintain a consistent regime of measurement to ensure accuracy. Ensure you use the same method each time you take a measurement. The main measurement you will take is obviously the circumference. For example, if a Swede measures 40 inches, I would know that it would weigh between 40-45lb, dependant on the relative height. Through our record keeping it has become apparent that every inch = a pound in weight. The other measurements you would take are from stem to blossom end in a straight line or around the actual vegetable. Whatever method you use remain consistent.

 

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