Godfather Tomato Plants


I watched The Godfather for the first time this last week.

As a gardener, this was what impressed me the most:


Look at the height of those tomatoes!

When I used to live in Tennessee one of my neighbors had a permanent location for tomatoes. They sunk tall posts into the ground in a grid, then planted tomatoes in the same spot every year. They would grow taller and taller until they were higher than me by the end of the year.

With “indeterminate” tomatoes, the plants tend to keep growing and producing so long as the bugs don’t get them.

And they can get much taller than you might think:

According to the article:

“That’s George Mustakas and his Belgium Giants growing in containers behind his store, East Fishkill Provisions in Hopewell Junction. His son, Gus, said his father, who has been the owner of the store for some 21 years, has been growing this variety of tomatoes for about four years. He loves the taste of them and uses the tomatoes, some of which are 3 pounds or more, in the store’s deli to make sandwiches. Customers really seem to appreciate them, according to his son. George starts the seeds each year and also gives seedlings to friends and family to grow their own. He uses apple barrels to grow the plants in and fertilizes them with a seaweed product, according to his son.”



(Also, don’t miss the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD and seeds giveaway my friend Jason is doing this month.)

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  • Isn’t plant growth essentially a zero-sum game? Meaning, if a plant puts a lot of energy into stem and leaf growth, it has less to go into fruit production? There are only so many growing days in a season, and I’d rather get more tomatoes than future compost material.

    I have started limiting the height of my tomato plants to ensure more production under this theory, but I’ve only one season of data so far. I did get quite a lot of tomatoes last year, so I’m leaning that way….

    • It’s more complicated than that, as each leaf is also an energy generator via photosynthesis. Limiting growth may have the effect of forcing fruiting, however. Experiment and see what happens.

  • Giant tomatoe plants are all the rage in my food forest. Wherever I have enough sun penetration, I use everglade tomatoes as a ground cover.
    They are massive plants that are super producive and will spred 10 feet or more in any direction. As long as some of the plant is getting sun, other parts of the plant will grow and fruit in full shade. The best part about this plant is that it’s self-seeding and just pops up everywhere year after year. “More food less work”

    • Yes! I love those Everglades tomatoes. They’re fantastic. I haven’t tried growing them on trellises. I’ll bet they reach for the sky.

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