2014 - Volume #38, Issue #6, Page #32[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
World’s Biggest Tomato
“I think the biggest thing I did different was pruning the plant,” says Dan MacCoy, the backyard gardener who grew the tomato. “I followed pretty much the same nutrient mix as other growers. However, most try to grow a vine at least 6 or 7 ft. tall. I pruned mine at 30 in.”
MacCoy of Ely, Minn., was careful about what he pruned and when. With an average last frost near the end of May, the plant was started in the house on April 15. He moved it to his homemade greenhouse in early May.
“I kept it to a single vine by pruning any suckers and then looked for a good looking mega-blossom as low on the vine as possible,” says MacCoy. “Big Zacs are known for mega-blossoms that produce a fruit that looks like a bunch of tomatoes fused together.”
After his best-looking mega-blossom set fruit, he removed any others and trimmed the plant off at 2 1/2 ft. with the blossom about a foot off the ground. MacCoy says he fed the plant dehydrated chicken manure, kelp meal, humic acid, 10-10-10 fertilizer and, as he says, “other stuff.”
As the plant grew, he staked it and provided support for the single, large fruit. By September 8 it had reached what he estimated to be its full size.
A representative of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth conducted the weigh in at a local Ely grocery. The Commonwealth is a non-profit dedicated to promoting and recording the growing of giant pumpkins, watermelons, gourds and tomatoes.
Originally, MacCoy set out to grow giant pumpkins, but he didn’t have the space in his back yard, much less his 300-sq. ft. greenhouse. He switched his attention to tomatoes and, in particular, the Big Zac.
Big Zac was created by a cross of 2 heirloom beefsteak tomatoes by a New Jersey gardener, Minnie Zaccaria. The Big Zac is known to regularly produce 4 to 6-lb. tomatoes.
Although Big Zacs are reported to be a “good tasting” tomato, MacCoy says he didn’t even taste his big one. The seeds are too valuable. He estimates having saved around 500 seeds. Most will be given away to vegetable growing clubs around the country. Seeds will also be auctioned off on the website www.bigpumpkins.com.
“They should sell for at least $100 for a packet of 3 seeds,” says MacCoy, adding that the seeds will be sold for charitable purposes. He is also giving away packets to people who send him an email request.
MacCoy is already planning for his next record tomato. He has composted the non-seed remains of the record tomato on the ground where he will plant next year. He has also planted a cover crop of rye.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dan MacCoy (email@example.com).
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