From a tiny seed, Hagerstown man grows tower of tomatoes

September 09, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN |

HAGERSTOWN — Richard Lamaster planted the seed that grew into a 10-foot tomato plant back in January.

“I am amazed at how big it is,” said Lamaster, 74. “It’s grown 18 inches in just the past two weeks.”

Lamaster, of 122 E. North Ave., said he planted the seed in January and grew it at his home in Tennessee until April. When Corinne Mackley took the plant to their house in Hagerstown and planted it in the back yard at 122 E. North Ave., it was more than 3 feet tall, Lamaster said. It has been producing tomatoes since June,  

“We have been eating these tomatoes and giving them away,” he said. “Everybody has said these are the best salad tomatoes they ever had.”

So far, Lamaster said, he has picked about 400 tomatoes from the plant and he thinks he can get another 200 before it dies in the winter.

Lamaster said he has been raising tomatoes for many years.

“I started raising tomatoes in 1953 working at H.J. Heinz,” he said. “I worked there for 10 years, then I moved to Tennessee where I raised vegetables in a garden for more than 40 years.”

With all of the tomato plants he has grown, however, Lamaster said the one in his backyard is the biggest he has ever seen.

“Usually they grow to be about 6 or 7 feet,” he said. “But this one wouldn’t stop growing all summer.”
Lamaster said that he thinks it will reach at least 11 feet before cold weather does it in.

“We are going to keep growing the plant until it gets cold,” he said. “Soon it will be so tall it will start to bend over.”

Lamaster said he grew up on a farm in Marks, Pa., raising  cattle and growing vegetables. After he stopped working at H.J. Heinz in 1963 he moved to Churchill, Tenn. He currently spends time between his house in Churchill and  the house he shared with Mackley in Hagerstown.

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