Monster crop enthusiasts treat veg ‘like kids’ to out-grow Americans on TikTok

Monster veg is getting bigger – after TikTokers started doing it to attract more followers.

Video clips of bumper broccoli, titanic tomatoes and super-sized suede quickly go viral prompting a new generation of gardeners to give it a grow.

Nine Guinness World Records were smashed for giant vegetables at the recent Malvern Autumn Show, Worcs.

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Earlier this month a pumpkin dubbed 'Michael Jordan' was named the world's heaviest at 1.25 tonnes after its owner watered it 12-times-a-day and blew £12,000 on its upkeep.

Brit Gerald Stratford, 74, was invited to model for fashion brands Gucci, Alexander McQueen and White Stuff after an online video of his enormous spuds went viral.

The green-fingered gardener from Milton-Under-Wychwood, Oxon, boasts 300,000 Twitter followers.

"I don't do holidays. I don't do days off,'' he said. "This is us, the plants and the animals. I love these plants like my kids. And when I dig them up they've proved they love me back.''

Experts say giant veg records are tumbling thanks to advances in genetics as more growers around the world share seeds and breeding programmes are developed.

Longer, milder seasons in the UK also help. This summer's rainfall has produced enormous pumpkins in time for Halloween.

But a major factor has been the trendiness of turning out monster marrows. Two of The Great British Bake Off's younger contestants Abbi and Josh, both 27, are vegetable-growing enthusiasts.

Amy Chapman, 26, who boasts green hair and tattoos, runs hit social media account @inthecottagegarden from her home in Wales.

"From what I saw of people growing vegetables on TV I thought gardening was something that's more for older middle class people,'' she said.

But she added: "It lends itself so well to TikTok. It's so visual.''

The seeds were sown for the boom in the 80s when Welsh farmer Mike Fortey started the giant vegetable championships over a pint in his local pub after accepting a challenge to see who could grow the biggest onion.

His son Kevin took up the mantle and has won nine world records, including one this year for the tallest tomatillo plant at 11ft 6in.

Kevin, 45, now runs the TikTok account 'giantveg' and admitted: "There's a lot more competition. Americans are trying to catch up with us in the UK.''

Fortey, an NHS project manager, said giant veg growing is a 'sport' equal to marathon running.

"We're all looking to achieve the biggest heaviest, longest, tallest, widest,'' he said. "Our marathon is growing a marrow over nine months to become the biggest and best from around the world.''

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