Get Going on Giant Cabbage Growing

Want to join the ranks of the giant cabbage-growing greats at the Alaska State Fair? Then it’s time to get those greens in the ground – and get your application submitted for the 15th annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off at the 2010 Fair! The registration deadline is Friday, August 20 at 4:30 p.m.

This year’s contest…

The 2010 contest, presented by the Division of Agriculture and the Fair, takes place Friday, September 3 at 6 p.m. in Farm Exhibits. The winners take home bragging rights – and their share of more than $4,000 in cash prizes. There’s even a competition for young gardeners – the Max Sherrod Junior Cabbage Grower’s Award.

The competition will be fierce…

…as growers go up against the likes of Gene Dinkel, who won the contest in 1999 with a 91.6-pounder; Seth Dinkel, who took the 2001 title with his 92.5-pound entry; and Barb Everingham, who broke the 100-pound mark with her 105.6-pound cabbage in 2000. And then, of course, there’s Steve Hubacek. At last year’s weigh-off, Steve not only won the contest – his 127-pound cabbage set a new world record!

To help growers get off to a good start

…We asked long-time Mat-Su Valley farmer Bob Thom to share some tips for growing giant cabbage:

  • Build a fence to keep the moose out. “The moose don’t like the cabbage until they get big. They usually wait until about three days before the contest,” says Bob, who has been entering the Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off since it began 15 years ago, but has been growing giant veggies for the Fair for much longer.
  • Keep them well-watered – especially in weather like we’ve been having so far this season.
  • Avoid too much sunlight. Cabbages thrive in daylight, but too much direct sunlight is bad. Bob says some people build shades for their cabbage, although he never has.
  • Watch the weather. “Mother Nature is a big factor in it,” Bob says, adding that it’s looking good so far this year, especially for other crops like zucchini and sweet corn.
  • Get a mentor. Bob’s advice for first-time growers: “Watch how someone else does it, so you don’t make so many mistakes.”

So what’s the difference between growing a regular cabbage – and a giant cabbage? According to Bob, it comes down to the variety.

Giant cabbages come from longer season varieties, like you’d see growing in places like Oregon. But when you grow them up here, they get bigger. That’s because down there, they sleep at night. Up here, they don’t. They grow 24 hours a day,” he says.

More tips…

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service has some great general tips on growing vegetables, including cabbage, in Alaska. Check out their Web site for info on finding a good garden site, picking your tools, preparing to plant, and after-planting care. And then get growing for the 15th annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off!

Imagine if…you were entering the giant cabbage weigh-off. What growing tricks would you use to get the biggest cabbage? Comment here or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.