‘It took off like Godzilla’

Published 8:34 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Pulling away the protective leaves reveals the fruit of the vine getting plump and, eventually, tasty after they ripen. — Stephen H. Cowles Tidewater News

Gardener’s vine outpaces his other plants


There’s a beast hanging around Ed Mattucci’s front yard, practically attached to the porch. Even he calls it a monster, and you can see the thing for yourself as you drive by in the 1400 block of Clay Street. Yet it doesn’t thrash about, yelling and stomping on the flowers or terrorizing neighbors. All it does is stand around growing … and growing some more. Even more astounding is that it appears there are children! Nestled with the parent, they start off small and green and only get bigger. You know they’ve matured when they turn an orangish-red. Odd colors for offspring, but there they are … waiting.

Waiting, that is, to be picked from the 7-foot-plus tomato vine planted by Mattucci, who stands at 5-foot, 11 inches.

A home gardener for many years, he’s as surprised as anyone that that particular vine has reached such a height. The beef master variety hasn’t gotten any treatment different from the other plants in his yard.

“I use water and a little bit of Miracle-Gro. It took off like Godzilla,” said Mattucci, referring to a popular movie monster that’s trampled around Japan for several decades.

“I never had tomatoes grow that big,” he said, pointing to several fist-sizes fruits still attached to the vine stalk.

Other vines in his yard have also done well, as evidenced by these two tomatoes, but none have grown as large as the ‘monster’ in front of his porch. — Stephen H. Cowles Tidewater News

Much later, after they’ve been picked and fully ripened, his wife Nancy Sue will enjoy them as fried green tomatoes, a dish that Ed acknowledged he’s never quite come to appreciate. Each to their own taste.

That plant, like all the others in the front and back yards, came from seeds he’s bought. Squash and bell peppers are also interspersed with bushes of bright-colored flowers, more visible proof of the 74-plus year-old’s dedication to his hobby.

“I just grow everything,” said the Portsmouth-born native. “It just keeps you busy.”