How One Gardener Broke His Own Guinness World Record

If you're like many home cooks who love produce, you may have tried your hand at gardening in order to bring the very freshest items into your kitchen. At the very least, most of us have tried an indoor kitchen herb garden with some easy-to-grow thyme and parsley or perhaps a more ambitious garden plot. According to The Guardian, more people are gardening at home than ever — having picked up the habit during the pandemic along with bread baking and Zoom happy hours — with the outlet citing that some seed sellers shipped at least six times more seeds than usual in the spring of 2021, a year after the initial pandemic seed boom.

But cultivating is hardly a new hobby for British gardener Douglas Smith, who has tended to his passion in his garden in Hertfordshire for more than a decade — and his style is to go big. According to The Washington Post, Smith has previously grown an almost 7-pound tomato, a 624-pound pumpkin, and a 20-foot-tall sunflower. And now, the gardener has shattered his own Guinness World Record for growing the most tomatoes on a single stem. In the fall of 2021, Smith was awarded that honor for growing 839 cherry tomatoes on just one stem. A few months later, he discovered another stem with a whopping 1,269 cherry tomatoes on it, achieving another world record once he reported the finding (via Guinness World Records).

Smith obsessively applies data to his vegetable-growing

So what's gardener Douglas Smith's secret to growing an almost unbelievable amount of tomatoes on just one stem? The project manager told The Washington Post that his approach was to get his hands on as much data as he could before setting out to break the previous world record of 488 tomatoes, spending time reading research papers, sending samples of his garden soil to be analyzed by labs, and testing different seed types.

Smith told the outlet, "It all starts with the variety selection. The second step is the environment. You can manipulate the temperature of things like the air and the soil. You're using all these little bits of knowledge just to kind of make them grow bigger, better, and more of them."

Now that Smith has broken this tomato record twice, he's turning his attention back to mega-flora, telling The Washington Post that he's currently focusing his efforts on growing the world's heaviest potato and eggplant. "We'll be having another crack at a couple of records later this year," he said. "Fingers crossed."