Some area gardening experts are ready to share their expertise to those trying to grow the biggest tomato.
Columbia County's agriculture teachers and area extension agents are holding their annual tomato-growing class at 6 p.m. Thursday at Harlem High School.
"Growing tomatoes is a big thing in the Augusta area," said John Joyner, an agriculture teacher at the school. "We kind of share ideas on how to grow them. We have some county (cooperative extension) agents and all that come in and talk to (the class) on the different type programs and all they can do as far as how they can plant, some of the diseases and how to treat for them."
As many as 75 people have attended the tomato class at one time, Joyner said, adding that those in attendance receive tomato plants to get them started. Class members, in addition to instructors, also share tips, successes and failures, Joyner said of the class that has been offered annually for about seven years.
Attending the free class also makes gardeners eligible for the annual Big Tomato Contest, which is often highlighted by tomatoes growing to more than a pound.
"A lot of factors go into how big they will get," Joyner said, adding that the variety, weather and soil can all contribute to an overgrown tomato. "... You are going to have one or two (gardeners) that are going to get some big ones."
Joyner said throughout the summer large tomatoes are weighed and logged. The winner receives a plaque at the following tomato class and a free steak dinner along with the obvious bragging rights, Joyner said.
This year's winner, Russell Williams, grew a Beefmaster tomato that weighed one pound, six ounces from a plant donated by the Evans High School Agriculture Department.
To register for the free class, contact Joyner at (706) 556-5980, ext. 236, or email@example.com.
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