East Van gardener grows freak crops of giant tomatoes

Jessica Kerr - Vancouver Courier


Thanasi Stoubos has been growing giant beefsteak tomatoes in his East Vancouver garden for nearly two decades. The largest one he’s ever grown weighed more than three pounds. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Thanasi Stoubos says he doesn’t do anything special when he plants his tomato seeds every spring — the results, however, are a little more notable.

Stoubos, who immigrated to Canada from Greece in 1976, has been growing giant beefsteak tomatoes in his East Vancouver garden every year for nearly two decades. This year’s largest weighed in at about two-and-a-half pounds. The largest tomato he’s ever grown was in 2005. That one weighed more than three pounds.

His impressive crop was even the subject of a Vancouver Courier story way back in 2003.

Stoubos originally settled in Victoria and moved to Vancouver in 1985. He moved into his current home in 1996. He started growing the tomatoes in 1999 after receiving some seeds from a friend in Victoria who brought the seeds from Greece.

“It’s nothing secret,” he said when asked how his plants manage to produce oversized fruit year after year. “Maybe it could be the soil, or something.”

Photo Dan Toulgoet

Every year he saves seeds from some of the tomatoes for the next year’s crop and passes some along to friends. No one else, he said, manages to produce tomatoes as large as his.

The 68-year-old maintains he doesn’t do anything special, aside from digging a slightly deeper hole and mixing some manure in with the soil.

Perhaps it’s the location. The plants in a small plot next to the carport produce the largest fruit, he said. The garden has cement on both sides and gets sun all day long.

The giant tomatoes aren’t that good for eating raw, Stoubos said. He crushes them down, adds some rosemary, bay leaves and salt, and makes tomato sauce that he then freezes.

“I have that ready for winter.”

On the day the Courier stopped by this week, he was harvesting the last of this year’s crop, which was late this year due to the colder spring. He already had seeds spread out, drying, ready for next year.