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The bigger, the better

Farmington gardener Emil Boostrom has a knack for growing really, really large vegetables in his Second Street garden.1 / 2
Everything seems to grow large in Emil Boostrom's garden.2 / 2

Stroll through the Horticulture building at the Dakota County Fair this week, and there's one thing you won't see: any of the large, ripe vegetables from a Second Street garden here in Farmington.

Gardener Emil Boostrom has no real urge to enter any of his humongous kohlrabi or crazy-long cucumbers in the county fair. He's content to let his zucchini grow huge along with the rest of the squash in his garden.

"I don't monkey around with all that," he said. "I just go out and share it."

And that, he does. Because honestly, you can only can so many vegetables, and you can only eat so much at a time. Sometimes, you just have to share the wealth.

Particularly, when the wealth comes in the form of the large vegetables in your garden.

A big hobby

Boostrom started his garden behind his home about seven years ago. It was a small plot in his back yard when he and his wife moved in, but he's worked to make it a little bigger every year.

The garden looks like any other garden. There's the usual variety of veggies -- tomatoes, radishes, corn, squash, peppers, and so on -- and some of them are starting to die off as the season progresses. That's typical.

What's not typical, though, is the huge produce he seems to pull out. He's been sharing his giant kohlrabi lately -- each one usually ranges four to six pounds, but the largest he's grown was eight and a half pounds. He's also passed along some pretty large cucumbers. One that was brought to the Independent office was at least 15 inches long.

He's got squash growing right alongside his pumpkins, and frankly, a few of the squash are larger than the pumpkins that are already turning orange. The zucchini in his garden would easily make four loaves of bread, but Boostrom suspects it has gotten too seedy to make a decent batter.

Secret to success

Boostrom doesn't really have any golden gardening secrets to share. He doesn't mess around with fancy composts or chemicals.

His only secret, perhaps, is in the types of seeds he buys. Boostrom likes to try the hybrid seeds, to see if he really can get the vegetables to grow as large as the packages claim.

"I like to monkey around with all that odds and ends stuff all the time," he said.

But really, he doesn't do anything out of the ordinary. He plants seeds, fertilizes them once at the beginning of the season, then keeps the garden watered. And somehow, he winds up with more vegetables than he knows what to do with.

"I just like to go out and share with people," he said. "If I made any money at it, it might be fun, but I like sharing it with people instead."

He knows he could enter his large veggies in the county fair, or even the state fair for that matter, but Boostrom figures he's just in the gardening business for the fun of it. It's not about getting any big recognition. It's just something to keep him occupied and to bring smiles to the faces of people in his life. That's probably his biggest secret to success.

"I have fun monkeying around. I could probably buy this cheaper, but it's kind of fun doing it," he said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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