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Tuesday, March 21, 2000

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Standing atop a six-foot ladder, Reggie Kirkman inspects
his 11-foot-high and still growing collard green
in the backyard at his home.

Standing tall in Waianae

A hobbyist gardener has the
world's biggest collard green:
11 feet and growing

By Treena Shapiro


WAIANAE is now home to the world's biggest collard green.

Reggie Kirkman's collard green stalk has grown to a record height.

When Kirkman sent live footage of the plant measurement to Guinness Book of World Records last fall, the stalk stood 9 feet 2 inches tall.

By the time he received a letter from Guinness last week, the plant had already grown to 11 feet.

"I never dreamed of this happening," Kirkman said. "It just happened."

Kirkman, a supervisor for Marisco Ltd. and a youth basketball and football coach, describes his gardening as "just a small hobby I picked up four years ago for stress relief."

Two years ago, he began growing collard greens from seeds his father sent him from Norfolk, Va. In the South, collard greens generally grow to about 2 feet tall, then die in the winter.

In Waianae, when the leaves are plucked, the stalks just keep on growing. Kirkman credits tender loving care and poles with keeping the plants growing upright.

"I take a 6-foot ladder, I stand right on top, and I'm still not as tall as my plant," Kirkman said.

He harvests the leaves from his plant every three weeks. "The plants grow fast, so basically, all of my neighbors eat greens now," Kirkman said. "I don't sell them, otherwise they won't prosper."

Kirkman keeps a freezer full for himself and gives some to Mom's, a Southern-style restaurant in Waipahu. "That way I get to eat free there," he joked.

Now Kirkman is planning to measure the plant again, to make sure its new height gets into the record book before it dies.

"I have to get longer poles," he said. "The tradewinds come through in April and I don't want it to blow over."

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