Huge cabbage and 17-pound onion winners at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show

Ian Neale from Newport with the largest cabbage in the giant vegetable competition  weighing 30.2kg  at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show.
Ian Neale from Newport with the largest cabbage in the giant vegetable competition weighing 30.2kg at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show.
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When it comes to matters of horticulture, Yorkshire knows its onions.

But those weighing more than 17 pounds are rarely seen outside special displays such as the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show, which began today.

Between 35,000 to 40,000 people are expected at the Great Yorkshire Showground over the weekend to see the “spectacular” showcase of vegetables, fruits and thousands of plants.

And champion vegetable grower Ian Neale says there is no secret to growing cabbages the size of a washing machine, but it does need time, patience and a little bit of cash.

Mr Neale, 75, was celebrating after winning the classes for the heaviest carrot, beetroot and cabbage in the giant vegetable competition.

The pensioner from Newport, South Wales, showcased a 66.6lb cabbage, a 42.5lb beetroot and a 9.5lb carrot. He said: “There really is no secret.

“It’s just about having the right seed and the right growing conditions and you have to put in plenty of time.

“You do need a little bit of money – for compost and fertiliser – but that’s it.”

Graham Barrat, from Gloucester, took the prize for largest pumpkin, weighing 319.8kg.

But Nick Smith, who has been show director for the last five years, said the onion contest is often one of the most popular.

“There is this anticipation when you just don’t know what they’re going to weigh, so it’s really nail-biting when they’re going to the scales.”

In his first major competition, Nick Brake, from Chard in Somerset, won with an onion weighing 7.755kg.

Around 5,000 specialist autumn blooms can be viewed by ticketholders until Sunday afternoon, when there will be a big sell-off.

Mr Smith added: “Even for people who aren’t into horticulture, what’s amazing is the spectacle when you see thousands of flowers in rows and rows as far as the eye can see in a marquee – that’s amazing.”