Dave and the Goliath garden

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Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013 12:00 am

Plants and vines overshadow small dirt paths already covered by severe underbrush; it's hot, it's humid, it's a garden.

Dave Distefano's backyard garden has shot up this year, with tomato plants well over six feet tall whose fruits are on average the size of a softball.

“We've been blessed with a bountiful crop,” said Distefano with a smile.

He and his son, who is also named Dave, have worked in their backyard garden for more than 35 years, and while they have seen crops this big in the past, they said it hasn't been this large in nearly 20 years, when some tomatoes grew larger than three pounds.

“I'm sure that we have some tomatoes that big now,” Distefano said.

The current garden consists of 12 beefsteak tomato plants, with vines large enough to require steel bars to reinforce the fences around the plants and many tomatoes weighing in at more than two pounds.

“One slice covers a 6-inch hamburger patty,” Dave said.

In addition to the tomato plants, he said the father-son team also grows peppers and cucumbers — some of which have grown as long as 18 inches.

“You don't find things like this in the store,” he said.

These fruits and vegetables won't end up in any local store or market either as Distefano said the family gives away roughly 90 percent of its crop to friends and family.

“We're not going to let it go to waste,” he said.

Distefano said he is unsure why his garden has grown this large, speculating it might be the new location where his pool previously stood before being torn down this year.

“Instead of seeding it, I thought, 'heck, lets move the garden',” he said.

However, his son doubts years of pool water splashing out has affected the soil too much.

“All my dad used was water and Miracle-Gro,” he said.

“And I only used Miracle-Gro once,” Distefano added.

The two also said the wet spring and hot summer may have played a role in creating the large fruits and vegetables.

Regardless of the outside factors of the garden's size, Distefano said he is proud of the work he and his son have put into the garden and is very pleased with the results.

“It's my pride and joy,” he said, “next to my family, of course.”

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