Secret in her garden

Rema MacDonald holds the 2-pound, 6-ounce tomato she picked Tuesday morning from the garden of her Second Street North home. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

Tomato vine leaves hide big surprise for woman

Rema MacDonald has grown tomatoes at her home in the 1400 block of North Second Street in Stillwater for almost 60 years.

In that time, MacDonald has never grown a tomato the size of the 2-pound, 6-ounce crimson red globe she picked Tuesday morning.

“I’ve grown tomatoes every year since I’ve been married, but I’ve never had one that big,” she said looking at the tomato resting in a small white cardboard box.

MacDonald said the large tomato grew on the one tomato plant she planted in her front yard garden. She planted three other tomato plants in pots because most of her gardens get very little sunlight.

In fact, the large tomato was the first ripe fruit MacDonald picked from her tomato plants and she almost missed it.

“It was hidden by leaves. I didn’t know it was there until it was over-ripe,” she said. “I got a couple other big ones on the vine, but they’re not this big.”

So what was MacDonald’s secret to growing a big tomato? There really was no secret, just water and sunlight, she said, adding that she fertilized the plant one time and stopped when the plant grew.

“It does (get a lot of sun),” she said. “It’s in front of our house. It gets sun around noon and the rest of the afternoon.”

Not only did the garden tomato vine produce a large fruit, the plant itself is large, MacDonald said.

“The plant has grown quite a bit. It’s causing my flowers some problems because it’s overtaking them,” she said.

One thing the plant is not doing is producing more ripe tomatoes, MacDonald said.

“This is the first one I’ve picked off the vine. It’s taking its time to ripen,” she said.

But MacDonald is confident she will be picking many ripe tomatoes off the vine in the coming weeks. Tomatoes she does not eat, cook or freeze she gives away, she said.

“I’m giving them away to relatives and other people,” she said.

As MacDonald waits for more tomatoes to ripen, she is dealing with pocket gophers in her yard.

“I thought they were going to bother the roots of my plants, but they haven’t,” she said.

If anyone is looking for tips from MacDonald on growing large tomatoes, she quickly set the record straight on her gardening skills.

“I’m not a big gardener,” she said. “I like flowers, so I have a big flower garden in front of my house.”

Contact Erik Sandin at [email protected]