Giant Belgian, Heirloom
Won 2nd place
at Dekalb Co. Fair 2007. Entered by Jim Yuvan of Plano.
(72 - 84 days) 1 - 4 pound, low acid, mild flavor, very sweet fruit. Solid, more meat than juice, makes Belgian a great slicing tomato for sandwiches. Dark pink throughout. The plant sends out very long branches that need caging or staking. It sets fruit better during extreme heat than most heirlooms. Bun size does not adequately describe Belgian's size, one slice more than covers an average slice of bread.
Albert Behnke, a German immigrant and founder of Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville MD, first offered Giant Belgian for sell at his nursery in the 1930's. He admired the taste of the large, pink fruit, so much so, that he insisted other family members store seed for him in coffee cans in their homes to prevent a disaster from destroying next year's seed crop. The Giant Belgian tomato soon gained popularity across the Mid-Atlantic with customers driving to Albert's nursery in Beltsville from as far away as Richmond and Charleston to purchase plants. By the 1950's Giant Belgian was advertised in the garden catalog of the Gleckler Seed Company of Ohio.
An interesting fact about Albert is how he met his wife, Rose Hausner. It follows the romantic script of three Hollywood films. If you've seen Love Affair  starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer, the remake  with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, or the ever-popular An Affair to Remember  with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, then you know the plot - sans Empire State Building. Albert and Rose both were born in Germany and had immigrated to the U.S. as young adults seeking greater opportunity. Having never met, in 1931 they both were aboard a ship traveling to Germany for matrimony - but not to each other. On the journey they met and fell in love. As soon as they arrived in Germany they broke off their prior engagements and made a new one. Returning to the U.S.A. they became Mr. and Mrs. Behnke and lived happily ever after.