VERMILION, Ohio -- A Vermilion couple has somehow become master gardeners.
Ron and Mandy Mittelstaedt are surprised they are still picking tomatoes this late in October. Ron's experiment started with planting just eight tomato plants. They thought they’d get a couple hundred tomatoes.
Instead, they ended up with a couple thousand.
"The experiment has just exploded into results we didn't expect," his wife, Mandy, said.
While the Big Zack variety did not live up to its name, Ron was totally overwhelmed with the Umberto plant that reached an unbelievable ten feet tall. Plus, it came from the free seeds he got from the order he placed from the Totally Tomatoes Catalog.
"The book said we were supposed to get only 250 tomatoes off this one plant, and we're up to almost to 1,200 now,” Ron added.
And, Ron didn't leave his planting prowess to memory; he documented the hefty harvest along the way.
“Every day, he would come out and he’d take his paper and he’d count the tomatoes. And, it wasn’t a big thing. But then, it started to add up into the hundreds in this one plant. And, it’s amazing,” Mandy said.
Ron's secret may have been in the way he planted the tomato plants. He started with seeds and put them in a pot. He then put the pot and not the rooted plant into the ground.
He and his wife also watered the plants twice a day, using a watering process so the soil was never too wet or too dry.
"This is the container we put the liquid fertilizer in, and we got a drip system. It takes probably about two hours to drip onto the plants,” Ron explained.
The Mittelstaedts gave away a lot of the tomatoes, and they did a lot of canning. And Ron is already planning next year’s tomato project. He will be sure to plant the Umberto variety again.
"And, we'll see what we can do. We might put some other different varieties in and see what happens there," he said.