Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Monster Zucchini Highlights Fairbanks' Downtown Market
Among hundreds of fresh tomatoes and 40-inch green beens, one crowning masterpiece dominated Dave Iles’ tent at Monday’s Downtown Market.
FAIRBANKS — Among hundreds of fresh tomatoes and 40-inch green beens, one crowning masterpiece dominated Dave Iles’ tent at Monday’s Downtown Market.
It was a 70-pound zucchini — as large as a small child, dark green with bulbous wrinkles.
“Is that thing real?” people would ask Iles in awe.
He explained that, indeed, it was real, and it would taste good, too. Last year he sold 400 pounds of sweet, nutty zucchinis, he said.
“It’s actually excellent flavored,” he said. Using a combination of hydroponics — growing in a nutrient solution without soil — and aeroponics — growing in a nutrient-filled mist — Iles said his zucchinis have a high sugar content.
The 70-pounder isn’t the largest zucchini he has grown. His personal best is a 90.05-pounder, the national record holder, grown in 2005.
“No one outside Europe has been able to beat my (90.05) pounds,” he said Monday.
He plans to cut up the 70-pounder Saturday at the Farmer’s Market and sell it by the pound.
The squash was pollinated eight weeks ago at Dave’s Greenhouse, his business.
He didn’t intend to grow such a large specimen. He wanted a small one for seeds. But this one grew quickly and impressively.
“It’s hard to predict with these things just how long they’ll continue growing,” he explained. He knew it needed a long period so its seeds would mature.
Some of his 50- and 60-pound zucchinis from last year failed to produce mature seeds, which was something he didn’t find out until this spring. He planted his current monster with the last remaining “good” seed and carefully coaxed it along.
Iles doesn’t plan to enter the squash in the state competition this year because he has another. It’s still on the the stem back in the greenhouse, and it’s bigger.