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Kitchen Gardening

How to Grow a Giant Tomato

The world record for giant tomatoes was set in the 1980s and hasn’t been topped since.

If you want to make your vegetable gardening more challenging this season, try to grow a giant tomato.
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

 

Giant pumpkins aren’t the only fruit gardeners like to grow big, jumbo tomatoes are a challenge, too. It was a ‘Delicious’ tomato grown by Gordon Graham in Edmund, Okla., that set a world record for giant tomatoes. Can you imagine growing a 7 pound, 12 ounce tomato in your garden?

The biggest tomato I’ve ever grown was a ‘Giant Belgium’ that weighed almost 2 pounds. When I picked and weighed it I thought it was huge, but it’s just a baby considering some tomato varieties can top 5 pounds.

If you think you’re up to the challenge of growing a giant, you need to start now.

First, select a variety that’s known to grow big. Look through the seed catalogs or search for descriptions that give a hint to their growing ability. Look for descriptors like big, giant or colossus.

Start seeds early and then get planting. Use black plastic to warm the soil and plant protectors so you can start planting a bit sooner to get a head start. Plant in well-amended soil and allow for plenty of space for each plant. 

Plan a support system. Plants may get big, but the tomatoes will get huge and will need a heavy-duty support. 

Look for extra-big tomato blossoms. Check the plants for what tomato experts call mega-blooms. These are two or more flowers that have grown together to form one big flower. Tomato flowers like these will grow fruits that are joined together to create a monster tomato. If you can’t find a mega-bloom, thin out the blossoms so just a few remain.

Help with pollination. Take one tomato flower and brush it against another to speed pollination. You could also use your finger or a small brush to help spread the pollen. 

Clip the plant and some fruit. Some gardeners prune their plants to leave just a single vine and others allow for one stem and a secondary branch. At about the mid-point of summer, harvest all but the biggest tomatoes from the plant..

Support each tomato separately. Old socks or nylon stockings can be repurposed to support the big tomatoes and keep them from breaking off the vine. 

Wait for tomatoes to ripen slightly, then harvest quickly and get them to a jumbo tomato contest. You just might win a prize and bragging rights for growing the biggest tomato in your town.

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