Ready for the digital age, Erik’s Giant Vegetables Contest is back. We have seeds for sunflowers reaching 12 feet, corn to 16 feet.

Share story

Erik’s Giant Vegetables Contest is back, all ready for the digital age.

Some of you might remember when I held the contest years ago, when you were kids. Maybe now you’ve got some of your own.

You grew Giant Sunflowers, Giant Corn, Giant Pumpkins.

By giant I mean, GIANT. Sunflowers that can reach 12 feet with heads 2 feet across. Corn going to 16 feet with ears more than a foot long.

The concept is simple: I send you the seeds, you plant them, we run the photos of the results.

Webcams, too, are welcome. There’s nothing more relaxing than going online and watching a sunflower grow … very … slowly.

No gardening skill required. There are no prizes other than bragging rights and — of course — enjoying whatever you grow.

This is a contest for those who don’t spend hundreds of hours so your beautiful yard can be part of a garden tour.

This is for you people happy enough to pick up plants at Rite Aid because the price is right.

There is just something about growing a giant vegetable that sets the world right.

John Evans is a mechanical designer who lives in Palmer, Alaska.

He was kind of a spiritual guide for the contest.

Evans holds numerous world records for giant vegetables. Up there in Alaska, summers are short, but the sun shines for 20 hours a day.

He has grown a 19.99-pound carrot, a 59-pound zucchini, a 76-pound red cabbage.

August is his favorite time of year.

“They go into warp drive, and you can quote me on that! Warp drive!” he told me. “Imagine a Swiss chard growing three or four inches in a day! I’m just like a kid in a candy store.”

For this contest, I’ll send seeds of the Mammoth Grey Stripe sunflowers and Mexican June Corn. The latter is a plant grown in Mexico to make tortillas.

This is how simple it is to grow them:

Dig a hole in a sunny area, mix in compost, plant seed, water. (Although in past years, I’ve had contestants grow plants on balconies, even in their offices.)

But I have only so many seeds, and it’s first-come, first-served.

Send me an email at with your name, address and phone number (not for publication).

Do it soon, as the seeds need to be planted pretty quick.

For maybe 20 of you, postage will be free.

The rest, you’ll have to send me five first-class stamps. Yes, five of them.

Sorry, that’s how much the Postal Service wants these days.

(You also can buy the Mammoth Grey Stripe seeds at any garden center. The Giant Corn seeds are not so easily available; email me and I’ll give you the information.)

Really, I gotta tell you, there’s nothing like a summer night, sitting in front of your corn patch.