By Kira Hamman
Check out this picture my brother sent me of a tomato he grew in his garden in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
How do you grow whopping tomatoes like this?
To be honest, I don’t usually even try, because I don’t have the patience. I’d rather eat a delicious normal-sized tomato, or ten, than wait for a whopper that I can brag to my friends about. Still, there’s something compelling about tomatoes the size of small dogs. They’re so county fair, so… summer.
If you want to try it, the first thing is to choose the right variety. Certain types of tomatoes are bred to be huge, and those would be the ones to grow if you’re going for size. Most of the varieties that get really big have names that indicate as much, like ‘Big Beef,’ ‘Giant Belgium,’ and ‘Dinner Plate.’
After you’ve chosen an appropriate variety, the requirements are pretty much the same as for regular tomatoes, but more. Water more. Fertilize more. Stake more. Start earlier than usual, give the plants more space than usual, prune more carefully than usual. And so on.
Of course, my brother claims that he grew this tomato from a volunteer plant of unknown parentage with a program of benign neglect. So.
The current world record holder for growing the largest tomato, Gordon Graham, grew a 7 pound, 12 ounce tomato in Oklahoma in 1986. Think you can beat him? Go ahead and try.
And be sure to send us your photos!