CAN ALASKANS GROW
A 125-POUND CABBAGE?
We'll know on September 4 (September 3 in U.S.) whether an American has
succeeded in growing the world's heaviest cabbage. That's when the Alaskan
State Fair at Palmer will hold a public weigh-off to decide the winner of
this year's Great Cabbage Contest.
Cold-climate vegetables often attain a
gigantic size in Alaska, because in mid-summer they enjoy up to 21 hours'
sunshine a day.
Barb Everingham won the Alaskan championship in 2000, with a monster
cabbage weighing 105.6 pounds (47.9 kg.) That's still the heaviest cabbage
ever grown in North America's largest state, and probably anywhere else
apart from Wales, where, in 1989, Dr. Bernard Lavery, in his garden at
Llanharry, grew a colossal cabbage weighing 124 pounds (56.24 kg.), which is
still the world record.
Alaska first held a giant cabbage contest at the State Fair in Palmer, in
the fertile Matanuska-Susitna Valley, an hour by road north from Anchorage,
in 1941. Colonel Ohlson, manager of the Alaska Railroad, offered $25 for the
winner. Max Sherrod of the Valley collected the money for having grown what
spectators thought then was a huge cabbage, weighing all of 23 pounds.
Year by year, the Great Cabbage Contest has attracted more entries,
larger cabbages, and greater crowds. In 2000, Barb Everingham, from Wasilla,
grew a colossal cabbage weighing 105.6 pounds, which remains the Alaskan
(and probably American) record. Still, that was 18.5 pounds below Bernard
Lavery's world record.
Barb said she had decided to grow cabbages after working at the gardening
centre at Wal-Mart. She had disregarded advice to douse her cabbages with
sugar water or inject various solutions into the stalks. She last competed
in 2001, then ''retired'' to build a cabin in Talkeetna.
To call one's beloved a cabbage is not always a good pickup line
around here, but it seems "chou" [French for cabbage] is a term of
rich endearment among the French. Similarly unchallenged by vegetable
references, the Spanish see nothing odd in praising one as "un tipo
zanahorio" calling a respectful person a "carrot guy".
- Denis Horgan, The Hartford Courant, Connecticut.
Members of the Dinkel family have been called "the crowned heads of Alaska
cabbagedom." Eleven-year-old Seth Dinkel, tenderly nurturing a fast-growing
cabbage which at last report was five feet across, has high hopes that it
will soon exceed his own weight, to win this year's contest. He took out
first prize two years ago with a cabbage weighing 89.9 pounds. Third prize
went to Brenna Dinkel, for a fine 74.3- pounder.
They had both been
greatly helped by their grandfather, Don Dinkel, a professor emeritus of
horticulture, who knows more than most of us about growing massive
Scott Robb is another Alaskan hoping to win this year's contest. He already
holds world records for giant kale, celery and rutabaga (called
swedes or turnips elsewhere).
"My love affair however is with the giant cabbages," he told us by email
last week. "My personal best was an 85.6 pounder grown a couple of years ago
that took second place at the weigh-off.
"Barb Everingham's 105.6 pound Northern Giant would have easily broken
the world record if it had only had a head. That's right - it had no head!!
All leaf. So when I read of Bernard Lavery's cabbage's dimensions I wonder
was it all leaf ? Not that it matters - I'm just curious.
"Anyhow I have several very nice cabbages growing along, some 5 feet
across and some approaching 6 feet across. Just starting to head up, and who
knows, with a little luck 100 pounds is possible."
ENGLISH CABBAGE LORE
An old English Halloween tradition found young, blindfolded women
raiding the cabbage patch and picking the first cabbage they came upon.
Legend had it that the cabbage's appearance foretold the woman's future
husband. If the cabbage leaves were slightly open, the husband would be
sociable. If they were closed tightly, he'd be the quiet type. If lots
of soil clung to the root, it was a sign of the husband's future wealth.
If the cabbage stalk was smooth, the man would have good character. If
it was riddled with pocks and irregularities, the couple would be likely
to argue a great deal.
Texas Monthly. (Texas is the nation's second largest cabbage
As we reported last month, the present world record holder, Bernard Lavery,
formerly of Wales and now retired and living in England, says he won't try
to get any of his records back if they are broken. "I've been there, worn
the tee-shirt and enjoyed every minute of it," he told us. "I'm growing a
few pumpkins and sunflowers for the children, and these are about my
limitations for this year."
HOW THE ALASKA STATE FAIR BEGAN
In 1935 a farming colony was established in the Mat-Su Valley,
with the intent of opening up Alaska, providing food to the military
in case of war, and to give families on relief a new start. Two
hundred and three families were selected from Minnesota, Michigan,
Wisconsin and Oklahoma. They arrived in the Valley in May 1935. Four
years later, 40 percent of the original colonists still remained.
Throughout the next year the colonists constructed their homes,
cleared fields and built a community. By July 1936, they were ready
for a celebration. The Matanuska Valley Fair Association was formed
and they decided to hold a four-day Fair.
- From Alaska State
To find out whether an Alaskan grower establishes a new world record,
we suggest you visit the Anchorage Daily
News website on September 4.
Story first posted
Copyright © 2004