The tomato bush that Jack grew

Growing to new heights: Jack Edwards with his tomato bush, which has grown to the roof of his home.
Growing to new heights: Jack Edwards with his tomato bush, which has grown to the roof of his home.

GROWING to the roof of Jack Edwards' Taree home, the tomato bush has people talking.

"Everyone is saying they haven't seen anything like it," he said.

From seeds planted in October, the New Zealand oxheart tomato bush has flourished and is now starting to bear plenty of fruit.

Located at the front of the 85-year-old tomato enthusiast's home, it is the only one of his four bushes to survive the November hailstorm.

"The three other tomato bushes out the back - the hail got them."

Jack has been growing tomatoes since he was a 15-year-old living at Dorrigo and he's got his routine for success down pat.

Six weeks before planting the seeds he digs in a combination of Dolomite (a liming material), Dynamic Lifter (fertiliser) and white sugar.

After the seeds have been planted he tends to his growing fruit regularly.

"The thing about tomatoes is that you've got to keep them wet."

With that in mind, he's out every second day watering the bush at the roots.

"Never, ever put the hose on the tomato bush," he warned.

Another tip he learned through experience was how to keep grubs away.

"Years ago I had some grub trouble and I was told that when the bush is small and has one flower to spray it each week with a seaweed spray and that would keep the grubs away."

It has definitely worked for him.

To combat the crows, which had been coming and eating the growing fruit, he put a wire fence around the bottom of the bush, which has successfully protected the fruit.

Jack said the bush has grown from seeds that are no less than 25 years old.

He and his partner are out in the garden most days.

"People call us the walking stick gardeners," he chuckled.

He said giving the tomato bush "love and care" has been key to his success.

So what happens to all those tomatoes when harvested?

"We give them away."

They also cook them up in meals.


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