According to the Guinness Book of Records John Evans created the World Record heaviest carrot, a whopping 18.985 pounds (8.61 kg) in 1998, a world record for a single root mass.
John V. R. Evans, a mechanical designer who lives 40 miles north of Anchorage in Palmer, Alaska holds seven world records for Giant Vegetables.
John was born in Dungarvan, Ireland was raised in Brecon, South Wales coming from a line of expert horticulturists
In the 40 years of gardening experience, he has accumulated a great wealth of knowledge from different climactic and soil conditions in 6 countries and 4 U.S. states. He also does extensive research in the chemical, physical and biological properties of his garden and experiments on different plants of the 60 to 70 vegetables seed varieties he grows each year.
In the seven years of competition at the Alaska State Fair he and his wife Mary have accumulated over 180 first places in both quality and giant vegetable categories, with 18 State and 7 World Records.
Can you imagine what it would be like to dig up a carrot from your garden and not knowing how big it is until the last minute, and then finding out that it's 19 lbs. Now that's exciting!
John says "Over the years, I have developed my own fertilizers, bio-catalysts, and growing techniques and it would take a whole book to explain." His advice is that Carrots require a long growing season and should be started in February. Transplant in a high raised bed that has been dug very deeply and enriched with compost and sand. It is really that simple!
But there have been missteps along the way, he notes. First, there are the battles with moose. He and his wife have had to bang on pots and cans in the middle of the night to distract the hungry garden predators.
Even Mother Nature can even be an enemy. In his early days, Evans was walking the cabbage rows at sunrise. All around, there was a strange sound of rubbery stretching as cabbage leaves creaked open. Suddenly, with the sun nestled just above the horizon, the cabbages started exploding. "There was coleslaw everywhere," he says, laughing. "They had warmed up too quickly on the outside and were still cold on the inside and they just popped open." Now he knows to stretch wet sacks across the heads to insulate them at night and let them wake up slowly and well-hydrated.
For a world record holder seven times over, John Evans is really a humble sort of chap. In fact, as he tells it in his cheery Welsh accent, he really just sort of fell into the sport. "I came up with the idea to grow large vegetables to promote organic gardening. I don't use chemicals, fertilizers or any such things. And the plants, they simply love it."
John doles out a what he calls a "compost tea with nutrients," a treat that feeds soil bacteria and fungi, which in turn feeds the worms, which in turn fertilize and aerate the soil, which in turn delights the veggies. If it sounds pretty simple, it is at least in theory.
But then there are the man-hours to account for. Though John only gives his crop of cabbages, Swiss chard, carrots, potatoes and zucchini a serving of "tea" once a week, the rest of the time he tends to daily garden duties like any good green fingered gardener.
John's extra care
The garden covers only a half-acre, and he is up and out there by 4 a.m. every morning, pinching and adjusting and watering the plants. And since he's in Palmer, Alaska, sitting in the Mantanuska Valley, overlooking a nearby glacier, there are some special measures he has to take. For instance, since the ground might not thaw by the time his growing season rolls around, Evans uses raised beds, which warm up faster. And too, since his well water is often just 38 degrees F, even at the height of summer, he heats it so as not to put the plants into shock.
John's attention to detail has made him one of the most successful giant gardeners in the field. He says that because he feeds the soil, not the individual plant, his practices tend to yield a giant cornucopia rather than a single specialty. His Guinness World Records suggest that there may be some truth to that. His prize-winners include: a 35-pound broccoli; a 19-pound carrot; a 39.5-pound kohlrabi; a 45-pound red cabbage; a 42.8-pound garden beet; a 28-pound kale; and a 49.1-pound celery. John very modestly says "I just manipulate plants, growing great plants from ordinary seeds. And really, I don't want to come off like a huge environmentalist. I just am saddened by how few people garden in this country. I learned from my grandmother and my 88-year-old father still acts like a 10-year-old in a candy store when he gets a batch of my soil amendments. It's really fun, and it's so good for us to try and be self-sustaining."
To finish off John is not out to be the World Record holder for ever. He just want to show what can be done with a little effort and no chemicals. "Any layperson in any climate can grow giant vegetables with my methods. And that's OK. I've already made my point."
According to the Guinness Book of Records Joe Atherton created the World Record longest record, a gigantic 19 feet and 1.96 inches (5.841 metres), in 2007.
Joe Atherton from Mansfield Woodhouse in Nottinghamshire, has been growing prize vegetables for over 15 years and World Record success finally came in 2007 for the longest carrot in the world, a staggering length of over 19 feet!.
Joe uses 21 feet long plastic tubes to grow his giant carrots. These are in effect pieces of guttering tied together to make a tube. The tubes are filled with normal commercially available compost – Levingtons F2S – a free draining compost with a medium nutrient which is riddled before filling. No extra fertilisation is added throughout the process. The world record carrot was grown from the St Valery variety and took a total of 14 months to grow.
Joe grows other vegetables too, so from the 8 tubes he plants up, 4 are planted with carrots.
The story commences very early in 2006 when the Great British Village Show in the UK contacted him to see if he could produce some giant vegetables for the programme. Planted in February, all went well but they were slow to germinate and three of the carrots ran to seed in June. So Joe was forced to take his sole remaining carrot to the competition heats in August. Sadly he was beaten in the heat as his prized carrot (over 17 feet) was damaged when two feet snapped from the long root. So a mistake actually helped Joe get to his World Record. He planted some more seeds in his tubes which were allowed to over winter in his tubes housed poly-tunnels in his garden.
The tubes which Joe has devised for this purpose of growing long vegetables are located at 45 degree angles to assist drainage, and have 10 inch slots (watering holes) made on the top at regular intervals. The plants are then watered from the top of the tube and the angle and water holes help the water to travel the full length.
After the Spring of 2007 Joe examined his specimens and found they had, once again turned to seed! This time he persevered and spent his time productively nipping off the seed heads as soon as they appeared. And the prize carrot continued its journey down the tube and into the record books.
Joe examines his winter duvets, covering his tubes containing the prize long specimens.
When Joe considers it is time to extract the carrot to examine the results of his efforts the tubes are split open and the root laid out on a board. Clearly there has to be a continuous root with no breaks. The next challenge is transporting the root from home to show. In this case The National amateur Gardening Show at Shepton Mallet, Somerset, some 175 miles from Joe’s garden.
The carrot was carefully cleaned by Joe’s wife, Carmel, and then coiled up and placed on a trailer for the long journey. The cleaning took 2 hours and that is always her responsibility!
The giant carrot took a whole 14 months to grow to its record length of over 19 feet. The judges only consider the length from the shoulder of the carrot to the tip of the very spindly root. The judge on this occasion was Ray Davies, who has to be able to follow the single root from one end to the other and double check for breakages. Guinness World Records are accredited at the show, so finally Joe was the new Record holder.
Joe knew deep down that he had a record breaker to his name and spent a couple of nerve wracking hours waiting for the judge’s decision.
Joe’s ambition now is to capture the other carrot record, that of the heaviest carrot. His best effort so far is a mere 13 ½ pounds!
One significant component in the success of giant vegetables is to have a good long variety and then strong fresh seed. He enters a total of 21 classes at the annual vegetables show, and has certificates for carrots, parsnips and beets. He currently considers the Flakee variety as his best chance for the heaviest carrot.
Of course like most people with a strong passion for something, Joe’s family think he is a little crazy, even going out of Christmas day to check on the plantings. As Joe says “It’s all in the preparation and attention to detail……… and a very understanding and helpful wife!!”
Carmel and Joe carefully bring in a long vegetable for measurement.
He has won countless rosettes, cups and certificates for his record vegetables and featured in the Channel 4 show “Half Ton Vegetables” which reported on the record attempts made every year at the Shepton Mallet Show.