Giants I’ve Known and Grown

Amy Goldman discusses some of her favorite monster tomatoes.

By Amy Goldman

|||||

Big Zac OPOne of the biggest breeds of all is ‘Big Zac Hybrid’ (F1), developed by Minnie Zaccaria of Long Branch, New Jersey, by crossing two heirloom beefsteaks (one red and one pink). Meisner describes Zaccaria as “truly a giant among giant tomato growers.” Her big red beefsteaks are known to produce 6-pounders, and are more delicious than ‘Delicious’. ‘Big Zac OP’ (shown here) is an open-pollinated version that goes a step further: Nick Harp of Massillon, Ohio, grew a 7.18-pounder in 2009.

 

 

Photo: Matthew Benson

 

Dr. Lyle‘Dr. Lyle’ is one of my favorite pink daddies. Plants are lush and loaded with trusses that must be thinned to produce 3-pounders. The flesh is pink-on-pink and melt-in-your-mouth. This treasure originated with George Korbel of West Virginia, and was first brought to notice by tomato expert Carolyn Male.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Matthew Benson

 

Polish Giant‘Polish Giant’ could be a contender. I’ve grown 4-pounders without trying. The original source was a donor in Denver who passed it on to Seed Savers Exchange with a handwritten note relating its already substantial 40-year history. The fruit pictured here was so gargantuan and tightly held that I had to destroy the plant to extract it intact.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Victor Schrager

 

Deiner Giant tomato‘Diener’ is a well-kept secret. In my garden, the first red fruits to form weigh 4 pounds plus. Flavor is poor, but in this case size matters. A cross between ‘San Jose Canner’ and ‘Trophy’, the tomato was developed and introduced by Richard Diener of California in 1917.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Victor Schrager

 

Monster tomato tidwell germanI place ‘Tidwell German’ in the same heavyweight class as ‘Polish Giant’ and ‘Delicious’. Three- and four-pound giants are routine. ‘Tidwell German’ plants are the tallest in my tomato garden. They make good fresh eating and tomato sauce. Preserved for good reason by the Tidwell family of Tennessee for a hundred years.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Victor Schrager

 

Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter‘Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter’ is beloved and has a storied past. Marshall Cletis Byles, a.k.a. Radiator Charlie, bred this jumbo in West Virginia during the 1930s by crossing four heirloom pink beefsteaks, and later sold seedlings at the tidy sum of $1 each to help pay off—or “lift”—his home mortgage. Plants produce 31/2-pounders in my garden, and their flavor is tomato heaven.
 

Keep Reading: More Tips for Giant Tomatoes.

 

 

Photo: Victor Schrager

 

 

ADVERTISMENT