TWO growers of giant vegetables are protecting their prize crops by installing laser and infra-red alarms.
Cwmbran brothers Kevin and Gareth Fortey have enjoyed much success with their giant vegetables, including the UK’s heaviest marrow in 2010 and a giant 6.4kg leek in 2011 – then the largest ever in Wales.
But the green-fingered pair have now installed laser and infra-red alarms in their poly-tunnel and greenhouse to protect from sabotage.
Mr Fortey said: “Vegetable growing is quite a competitive hobby and you hear stories of people chopping vegetables, slashing tunnels and pouring weed killer on plants so we thought we would be prepared.
“The vegetables are valuable to use as we put a lot of effort in and there is a potential for UK and world records so we don’t want to take any chances.”
The seeds that were planted towards the end of last year, are now being transplanted to the greenhouse to be nurtured for competition at the end of the summer.
If an intruder enters the greenhouse or poly-tunnel then the alarms will sound in their home.
The pair have just planted carrots, parsnips and swede, and are starting to plant cabbage.
Last year was the first time that they had grown giant cabbage, but stole the show at Aberglasney’s Giant Vegetable competition with their 31.01kg entry and took first prize.
They have appeared on a number of TV programmes including Gardeners World and Celebrity Cooking the Books.
Mr Fortey said their greatest achievement was winning the Great British Village Show in 2007 for the UK’s Heaviest Marrow, and the final of the TV programme was hosted by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at their home at Highgrove.
Mr Fortey’s son, Jamie, has also taken up the hobby and continues to hold the UK record for the largest sunflower head, measuring 170cm in circumference, awarded at the Malvern Autumn Show in 2011.
Growing giant vegetables is a family tradition with Mr Fortey’s father, Mike, being the founder of the British National Pumpkin Championships in the 1980's.
For more information visit www.giantveg.co.uk In 2011, they grew a giant 6.4kg leek – the largest ever in Wales – which they exhibited at the Shepton Mallet Giant Vegetable Show, and they broke the UK record for the Heaviest Marrow weighing a colossal 12stone 3 pounds / 171lb in 2010.