Avon man has lots of tomatoes on tall vines

Photo by Mike Sakal

Avon resident Gene Schwartz standing beside one of his tomato plants that is about 9 feet tall.

AVON - For more than 55 years, Gene Schwartz has watched his tomato plants grow a bit taller than him.

And the 66-year-old Avon resident is 6-feet-1.

When Schwartz was about 10, he began planting tomatoes around Memorial Day, first with his father, Eugene, in the back yard of his family's home on Stoney Ridge Road. Now, In the back yard of the Willo Street home he shares with his wife, Amy, vines tower above the green beans, squash and sweet Hungarian banana peppers.

One plant is 9 feet tall and another is 8 feet tall. Two years ago, he had two tomato plants that were 12 feet tall, he said.

"Aren't they something?," Schwartz said as he measured one vine crowded with Super 100s. “One plant is enough to feed a family of four, and then some. Tomatoes are like apples. Some people think a tomato is a tomato, but each different kind has a distinct flavor."

As in years past, Schwartz is enjoying a bumper crop of the sweet and tiny Cherry Super 100s and the more mild medium-size Early Girls. They are tomatoes with a distinctly different taste, but good on salads, in salsa and chili, on sandwiches and even just straight off the tall vines.

As October approaches and the tomato-growing season nears its end, Schwartz said he hopes the weather stays warm so more tomatoes ripen. There are about 35 to 40 medium-size ones on each plant and hundreds in his garden.

"Aren't they something?," Schwartz said as he measured one vine crowded with Super 100s. “One plant is enough to feed a family of four, and then some. Tomatoes are like apples. Some people think a tomato is a tomato, but each different kind has a distinct flavor."

Schwartz, a landscaper has followed in his family's footsteps of growing vegetables. His great uncles, Peter and Leo Schwartz (of Schwartz Road), first came to Avon in 1820 and farmed land off of Stoney Ridge Road. Later on, his grandfather, Luis Schwartz farmed.

"It was their livelihood," Schwartz said.

One might think Schwartz's method of tomato growing is a secret, but just as he is quick to share the tomatoes with neighbors, family and friends, he'll tell you how it's done:

"I use fertilizer on them and Miracle-Gro once a week," he said. "The bottle says to fertilize tomatoes about every seven to 10 days, but I do it every seven. It does the job if you do it just right and don't overdo it. A lot of people just plant tomatoes and let them flop. I sometimes tie the vines so they stay up, and they do pretty good. I just keep an eye on them."

But does his wife help him grow them?

"No," Schwartz said. "She eats them!"

Contact this reporter at mailto:msakal@westlifenews.comor 440-871-5797.

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