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.
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 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.
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 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.