VEGETABLE growers up and down the country would have been watching over their crops like hawks during the recent bad weather, but no more than the Cwmbran giant vegetable growers.

Kevin Fortey, 36, and his brother, Gareth, have enjoyed much success with their giant vegetables and were not taking any chances with the recent bad weather.

The pair are lucky that most of their prized crops were sheltered in their greenhouse, but they took some measures to protect their giant runner beans, sun flowers and marrows.

Mr Fortey said: “The weather has a huge effect on the vegetables and we were flooded back in June and again at the weekend.

“I put up a fishing umbrella over the marrows to protect them from excessive rain and put up wind proof netting around the runner beans and then it was just a case of hoping for the best.”

Another measure was to tie up the giant sunflowers to prevent the wind from snapping them.

Mr Fortey explained that the problem with excessive surface water is that is can cause vegetables to rot.

He added: “The weather over the last three years has not been good for vegetable growers as it has been a mix of heavy rain and soaring temperatures, when the vegetables need consistency.”

He said that the rain can wash away the goodness in the soil that can also hamper vegetable growth.

Unfortunately some of their runner beans were snapped, but Mr Fortey’s son, Jamie, found that the 25” runner bean had survived.

Jamie, aged 8, was also please that his sunflower's remained intact as he currently holds the UK record for the biggest sunflower head of 67” circumference, which he hopes to beat.

A marrow that is expected to top their entry in 2010, which achieved the UK record for the Heaviest Marrow weighing a colossal 12stone 3 pounds / 171lb in 2010, also survived.

In April, the green fingered pair installed laser and infer-red alarms in their poly-tunnel and greenhouse to protect from sabotage.

Speaking at the time, 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.”

If an intruder enters the greenhouse or poly-tunnel then the alarms will sound in their home.

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.

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