Dale Toten grows ginormous veggies

"The use of grow lights definitely had an impact on this year’s results"

He's not a regular grower, Dale Toten from Somerset, United Kingdom. He specializes in growing giant vegetables. At the annual Malvern Autumn Show, he presented a carrot, weighing 4 kilos, a bell pepper of 603 grams, and a cantaloupe of 13.05 kilos. The bell pepper was the world’s largest this year, and the cantaloupe smashed the national UK record that had been set eighteen years ago. 

The Malvern Autumn Show is the biggest show for giant vegetables. Every year they host the CANNA UK National Giant Vegetables Championships, Dale had been entering the Malvern Autumn Show for five years. “I grow vegetables for the restaurant of a hotel called Ston Easton Park. To interest our guests walking around in the garden, we decided to grow some giant types of vegetables. When we managed to do that quite well, we decided to enter the big show at Malvern.”

Big impact from lighting
Then there’s other tricks helping him to grow his ginormous veggies. Dale grows all his vegetables in a 70 m2 greenhouse where this year he installed the 630CDM lighting by Dimlux, a brand by AirSupplies. This is a full spectrum 630W fixture including an Alpha Optics reflector to help increase the output and the efficiency. “The use of grow lights definitely had an impact on this year’s results. The best growers of the world go to Malvern, so to win there says a lot about the way we grow. The nutrients from Mills Nutrients that I’ve been using the last couple of years have also made a big difference.”

Small acts for a big impact
Growing giant vegetables is not very different from growing regular vegetables, according to Dale. However, there are a few key points, with the quality of the seeds as the most important. “Growers source their seeds from all over the world. Every year we keep the seeds of our best fruits and vegetables to continue the search for the biggest ones. And secondly, you have to make sure there is enough space: about five times more space than you usually have.”

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