On the vine is the best place for tomatoes to ripen! Before moving to West Virginia we had never been very successful at growing tomatoes. But in 2004 everything fell into place, and tomato growing has never been the same since. It started with some seeds my grandfather gave me, whose friend had been growing them in the area for a long time. This friend had obtained them from his uncle David who had been growing them in the area for a VERY long time. Secondly I was given some pointers for soil improvement that I had never heard before. Lastly I remembered some advice a great uncle had given us years ago. Materials and methods came together and some extra effort went into our tomato bed.

Strong, healthy tomato plants out-growing our 7-ft trellis As our new plants grew I became more and more amazed at their size and strength. I had never seen such thick stalks that grew so tall (over 8 feet) with such big healthy leaves that resisted the early blight for so long. As the tomatoes began to form and grow, so did Tomatoes getting big! my excitement. They were actually getting big! Our largest tomato that year was just short of three pounds (by three ounces – 2 lb. 13 oz.) and the average yield per plant was almost 25 lb. What’s more, the harvest lasted until October 22. Ever since then I have wanted to grow a tomato that exceeded three pounds.

Some nice ones, 2009 This goal was finally achieved in 2009 when we harvested three tomatoes that weighed over three pounds each (assuming our scales are accurate). 🙂 This year our harvest started earlier than usual and is also ending earlier than usual, partly due to an unusually bad case of late blight (Phytophthora infestans) and what is probably a case of southern bacterial wilt (Pseudomonas solanacearum). The most productive plant yielded a little over 30 pounds – down considerably from previous years. On the positive side, during the first 12 days of harvest (Aug. 1-12 and 30 tomatoes) the average individual tomato weight was up to 1 ¾ lb! As usual, I  The jar lid is there so you don't get the idea they're bigger than they really are. :)have a few ideas to make next year the best yet. But thanks will always go to those who have freely shared their wisdom and resources with me. Growing tomatoes is a lot more fun when you can see the plants respond to your efforts.


  1. Matthew September 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    Over 3 pounds – that is incredible. I wonder if your begining to compete with tomatoe sizes before Noah’s flood. Watermelon and Pumpkins better watch out or they might lose their presigous position as heavy weighters.

  2. Crystal September 25, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    Sounds like one of those tomotoes could feed a 3rd World Country! 🙂

  3. Donald September 26, 2009 at 6:25 am #

    Congratulations Michael! It’s exactly like you said and I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest that now that the three-pound mark is passed we can anticipate them growing even larger. We look forward to sharing in the toil and fruits of your labor in the future. “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself” (Proverbs 14:14).

  4. Tony September 26, 2009 at 8:35 pm #

    Tomatoes are very good.

  5. Mom October 2, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    There are still a few fresh ones left and I was able to cold pack and freeze more than in past years so we will be enjoying the good fresh tomato flavor all year. We have certainly enjoyed them this summer. Thank you for all your efforts!

  6. Neil Smith November 12, 2009 at 5:03 pm #

    Michael congratulations on the applying the “publish or perish” directive. Now where is the download of the great soil preparation advice and other bits you can tell a hungry bunch of ATI families around the world?

    Keep it up!


  7. Michael June 3, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    I’ll be putting up a post showing how we plant our tomatoes as soon as I can, maybe next winter. One of the most important things they need is a nice dose of good old “Mountain Goo” 🙂


  1. » Blog Archive » Big McHenry Tomato 6-year Report - December 20, 2010

    […] grown with this variety that was already well adapted to my climate in north central West Virginia. Finally in 2009 I grew three tomatoes that broke the 3 […]

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