Quincy Retiree Grows 600 Tomato Plants

July 18, 2012

By Rachel Bertone

Retiree Grows 600 Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes is not uncommon for many people in Illinois. There’s nothing quite like a juicy tomato fresh from the vine. But for 82-year-old Bob Koenig of Quincy, the hobby has taken new heights with 600 tomato plants grown in his garden.

Koenig began growing tomatoes as something to do after he retired. Twenty-five years later, he now harvests close to 400 pounds every day and runs a small business, “Grandpa Bob’s Tomatoes.” He sells tomatoes to residents and local restaurants, and gives his crop freely to churches and charities.

Koenig says he got the gardening itch from his dad and now uses the internet to answer any questions he comes across. For example, when he noticed a plant looking calcium deficient, he placed a TUMS tablet in the dirt near the roots.

When asked the secret to successfully growing tomatoes, Koenig said it’s all about picking out the right variety. “A lot of seeds are different. You pick out the disease free,” he said.

Koenig’s hobby now includes the whole family, who help him harvest the tomatoes and set rules for him to stay out of the heat. This year’s drought has kept the family busy, forcing them to haul water in for the plants. “If we didn’t do that, they would just dry up,” said Koenig.

You can visit Grandpa Bob’s Tomatoes at 2810 Elm Street in Quincy and purchase your own ripe bounty for $1 per pound. See the full article on Bob Koenig here.

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