Life Offbeat

By Aliki Kraterou


A schoolboy who learned how to grow super-size crops is jetting to America to be a guest judge at an international gardening competition – aged just 13.

Jamie Fortey, holds a Guinness World Record for growing the world’s biggest sunflower – and has helped dad Kevin, 40, nurture all kinds of giant veg that has seen them enter the record books dozens of times.



The green-fingered father and son have produced a marrow the weight of a fully-grown man, a radish that measured over 7ft long and a beetroot that weighed the same as a newborn hippo.

The pair, from Cwmbran, South Wales, are going to National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, California, and are guest speakers – explaining their secrets behind their monster gardening to the world.

Jamie, who has had to have special permission to take time off school for his judging role, said: “My dad taught me how to do everything, I like growing the vegetables, I find it quite relaxing.

“I am very excited for the contest.”

Kevin said: “ It definitely runs in the family, Jamie enjoys gardening as much as I do.

“There is a lot of science behind it and transferable skills that can be converted into education; maths, science, geography.

“I think it will be a good chance to get more people interested in giant vegetable growing.”

The Year-9- schoolboy has been helping his dad since he could walk and was just four when he grew the widest sunflower head in the UK measuring 26.2 inches in diameter – a record which he still holds today.

The father and son team uses the traditional art of seed production combined with hydroponic growing – they also use Coconut fibre and a system called GoGro, which is a self-watering pot system.

Kevin has been interested in gardening since his late father, Mike taught him and his brother Gareth, after starting a giant veg movement at his local pub back in the early 1980s.



Mike first came up with the idea of a giant onion competition after chatting to his friends over a pint at the Mill Tavern pub- and eventually founded the British National Pumpkin Championships.

Kevin and Gareth were keen to continue their father’s legacy and won numerous awards including the UK’s Heaviest Marrow, weighing a colossal 12 stone 3lbs, in 2010 and the the world’s longest radish, measuring just over 88 inches, in 2015.

Kevin added: “Back when we were children my dad had an allotment and me and my brother would compete to see who could grow the biggest of everything.

“He would tutor us and passed all of his considerable knowledge down to us-he taught us how to grow and maintain a variety of flowers and vegetables and we loved helping him.

“I am really proud of him and his achievements both in academia and his personal life.

“My dad passed down the skills to us but he never managed a world record, Jamie is inheriting world record holder tips that hopefully he can pass on to the next generation of ‘Forteys'”.