By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – A novice grower’s first attempt at giant vegetables is leaving seasoned gardeners in an envious colour.
Homegrown Success: Cornwall-resident Mark Fox grew the 12th largest tomato in the world this season and recently won first place in the giant tomato division at the Huglis Blueberry Ranch Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Pembroke.
Mark Fox recently took home first place in the giant tomato-growing category at the Huglis Blueberry Ranch Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Pembroke. His award-winning tomato came in at 4.90 pounds and 23 ¾ inches. The event took place Sept. 28.
“I did pretty good,” said Fox, in a modest manner.
On an international scale, the Cornwall resident is getting a green thumbs up from gardeners. According to the Giant Pumpkin Commonwealth, a website dedicated to establishing standards and regulations for all sanctioned giant vegetable growing and weigh-offs, Fox is 12th in world rankings.
All 11 winners before him, from France, Canada and the United States have one commonality – they never made it to the weigh-off. Therefore, Fox, has the largest giant tomato in the world showcased at a weigh-off. The rankings are subject to change since weigh-offs continue internationally.
“It gives me more momentum to grow next year, knowing I have one of the largest tomatoes in the world this year,” said Fox.
His gardening odyssey began when his sister, Terri Reid, and brother-in-law Jim Reid, from Martintown, introduced him to their giant pumpkins. The enormous veggies held Fox’s attention. He even started going to giant vegetable events with Jim. That prompted the Reids to give Fox a membership to the Giant Vegetables Growers of Ontario for Christmas last year. The rest is produce history.
“I'm very glad they got me into this, I really enjoy it,” said Fox. “It's rewarding. I learned a lot this summer on how to grow these plants.”
Fox’s homegrown success wasn’t without some trials. He tried to grow cabbage in his modest-sized backyard with poor results.
“I tried cabbage and ended up getting a fungus. I never could get it under control. It looked really good up to July,” he said.
Fox was open about his secret to growing award-winning vegetables.
“It was a lot of reading up on them and time in the garden paying attention to the plants,” said Fox. “Before work and after, I would rush to the garden.”
Fox is currently preparing for another weigh-off. Since his award-winner is already rotten, he’s bringing a new contestant. Fortunately, even if giant vegetable growers can’t make it to a weigh-off, there are procedures in place to submit the weight and measurements online.
Fox is also proud of his 12 ft. Sunflower. He hopes to grow an even bigger one next season.
“Being a new grower, I missed a few things and next year I’ll be on top of them,” he said. “It's been a great experience so far.”