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Family's Heirlooms Keep Growing Strong

Three more tomatoes from the Coviello brothers' plant weighed in at more than 2 pounds.

, who have harvested seeds from their heirloom tomatoes for the past 10 years, store the seeds, though they won't reveal how, and replant them each year.

Over time, they have created a new variety of heirloom tomato, one they have named Rose of Italy after their mother Rosaria.

"Every year it gets bigger and bigger," Mike said. "And how do you know? Next year it could be even bigger."

The first tomato harvested from this season was picked in July and weighed 2 pounds, 5.2 ounces.

Since then, several other ripe tomatoes have been harvested from the plant, which the Coviello brothers grow on a tract of land in Florham Park. Paul Suszczynski, a family friend and member of the Chatham Borough Community Garden, weighed and measured the tomatoes. Three of them weighed 2 pounds, 5 ounces or more, according to Suszczynski.

The two brothers, owners of on Main Street in Madison, grow the tomato plant on a tract of land in Florham Park. They also grow peppers which measure 9 inches or longer.

When asked what the secret of growing such large tomatoes, Peter Coviello, a resident, said, "When you plant anything in fresh soil with good drainage, you have everything you need."

These tomato plants are grown in a planter with 18 inches of soil with drainage out the bottom. The plant stretches 66 inches high and 36 inches across. "They're growing like weeds," Peter said.

Peter Nitzsche, the county agricultural agent with Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Morris County, said he will include some of the Rose of Italy tomatoes in Rutger's annual grow-out to compare its taste, size, color and other characteristics to other varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

"For heirloom tomatoes, this is commonly how they’re kept or discovered. Some saves seeds over time, and it leads to a better fruit and people develop a better variety that way," Nitzsche said.

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