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Top Tomato Tips: Growing Big Red Tomatoes

Updated on July 5, 2015
Patsybell profile image

I inherited my love of gardening from mother and grandmother. I am a garden blogger, freelance writer, and Master Gardener emeritus.

Grow one and two pound tomatoes

Big heirloom Brandywine tomatoes consistently win "Best Tasting Tomato" contests.
Big heirloom Brandywine tomatoes consistently win "Best Tasting Tomato" contests. | Source

Big Plants, Big Tomatoes, Big Stakes

The first consideration is the soil. You must start with rich healthy soil with plenty of organic matter. If you have added compost to your soil and keep the soil well mulched, you are steps ahead of your competition. Good soil will have plenty of nutrients, can hold moisture and help regulate soil temperature.

The demand for fertilizer and water is greatly reduced when high quality garden soil is your first consideration. The second consideration is the tomato variety. To grow the really big tomatoes, start with plants or seeds that are known for producing big tomatoes.

For example, Celebrity tomatoes are attractive and tasty. But they will never break a world's record for size. These beauties are drought and disease tolerant, but Celebrity produces loads of 8 ounce, tomatoes. If you direct all your energies toward growing a really big Celebrity tomato, you may end up with a 10 ounce tomato.

Big tomatoes are some of the latest to ripen, often misshapen, sometimes with catfacing (scaring on the blossom end.) But if your goal is winning the biggest tomato contest, they are usually judged only by weight.

Choose the biggies

Some of the hybrids known for producing large fruit are Supersteak, Beefmaster and Delicious. All three known for producing fruit over one pound. Also, they have some disease resistance that heirlooms do not.

I like browsing the heirloom seed catalogs. Most of my heirloom seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Beefsteak is a classic, Omar's Lebanese is another beefsteak type and this is more pink than red. One of my favorites is Granny Cantrell German Red Tomatoes also more pink than red.

Staking or caging heavy producers is important, If loaded vines are not supported, chances are the hefty tomato will break the branch off the tomato plant. Place stakes or cages when you plant. Though your heavy stakes dwarf the new transplant, waiting till later to stake will risk damaging the roots of your tomato plant.

Big tomatoes take time

Smaller tomatoes ripen first. These big 12 ounce  slicers take several days longer to sun ripen.
Smaller tomatoes ripen first. These big 12 ounce slicers take several days longer to sun ripen. | Source

Limit Tomato Production

Keep the plant pruned, limit plant to one main stem. Pinch off all suckers. Limit the number of fruit that develops. Leave just one tomato per cluster and remove all the rest of the fruits and flowers when they are very small.

The purpose is for the plant to devote it's energy to producing a few giant tomatoes instead of many medium fruit.

As you keep snipping off branches, consider rooting those pinched off stems. Those pinched stems will quite easily root in moist soil, producing more Identical tomato plants. Read more about cloning tomatoes at Cloning Garden Tomato Plants.

To grow the big red tomatoes, make sure you plant gets at least 6 hours of sun every day. Have access to water when rain does not provide an inch (at first) of water per week. As the tomato vine grows and produces tomatoes, you may need up to 2 inches of water per week, especially in hot climates. Big plants with big fruit require plenty of water because tomatoes are mostly water.

Choose plants known to produce hefty fruit

Big, flavorful tomatoes require AT LEAST six hours of sunlight a day.
Big, flavorful tomatoes require AT LEAST six hours of sunlight a day. | Source

"Delicious" Holds The Record

Gordon Graham holds the Guinness World Record for the heaviest tomato. His 'Delicious' tomato weighed 7-pound 12-ounce. Graham's world record still stands from 1986.

Big red tomatoes that resist cracking. Even if you are not going for the record, expect heavy yields of big tomatoes, often 1 pound tomatoes.

I found 'Delicious' tomato seed for sale at

Water is key

The ideal watering situation is drip irrigation or using leaky hose. The benefit is you water the soil and not the plant. Ground irrigation, plus mulch with keep water from splashing up on the tomatoes, reducing the risk of soil born diseases.

Steadily supply fertilizer with a light hand. You risk blossom end rot with constant wet conditions. Too much food will encourage vigorous vine and leaf growth at the expense of the tomato.

Your goal is big tomatoes, so give that plant plenty of room to grow. Space plants at least 2 feet apart and 3 feet is even better. Avoid crowding to increase air circulation and decrease the risk of spreading disease.

Tomato Speak

To decode this standard tomato information please read Decoding Tomato Plant Lables.

  • Celebrity (70 days to harvest; 10 ounces; large, productive; determinate; resistant to VFFNT)
  • Delicious (77 days to harvest; over 1 lb.; world record (7 lb. 12 oz) indeterminate)
  • Supersteak (80 days; 1 to 2 lb.; extra meaty; indeterminate; resistant to VFN)
  • Beefmaster (81 days; 1 to 2 lb.; large Beefsteak type; indeterminate; reistant to VFN)
  • Granny Cantrell (80 days; 1-2 lb; meaty beefsteak type; indeterminate; heirloom
  • Omar's Lebanese (80 days; 2+ lb; beefsteak; indetermnate, heirloom)


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