Tell Me About It: He’s the ‘mater D

First Posted: 8/14/2011

1. How long have you been gardening?Since I was 5 years old, with Mom, Dad. I helped plant the garden and helped pick the stuff and shell pea, and pick peas. I lived on a farm and farmed until I came out of the Army. We couldn't rent enough land for Dad and I to both make a living, so I took the job with Mohawk, they had a plant in my hometown. I've been there ever since.2. Do you have any secrets to growing tomatoes?I don't know there's any secret to it, but you've got to have good ground. And I always stake mine. You can see I got them staked with rerod or anything else I can drive down in the ground. But keep them up off the ground. There's really no secret to it. Just take good care of them. I don't get that much sun here. I get all the evening, until the sun gets past these trees. Sometimes the sun is your worst enemy because it will scald them.3. How much watering have you had to do this summer?Well, up to the last three weeks, a whole lot. Then it started raining, and it just wouldn't quit raining. The whole garden looked just like that strip right there [pointing to a patch of weeds] until I finally got out here and started on the other side, on my knees and pulling one weed at a time. It's a lot of work. I've got a big garden about five and half miles from here. Earlier [in the season] I've been over there more, but then when we got done planting over there, I've tried to come in here and clean this one up and get everything going.4. What wins tomato contests? Size? Flavor? Appearance?It's size on the big tomato. Of course, Bud and I, [Hussey's friend, Bud Bowers, is the Allen County Fair's defending champion tomato grower] for years we've been butting heads over who gets the biggest tomato. The tomatoes I raise for big ones are a German tomato that I got seed several years ago from a friend of mine. You read about six-pound tomatoes, but 3.87 pounds is the biggest I've ever raised.5. You and Bud Bowers are both Allen County Fair superintendents?That's a worker. That's what they mean. Bud and I both are what you call workers. And then they give us a new hat every year. No money, but they give us a hat.6. So admit it: When growing vegetables, it's a competition.It's a competition mainly on everything, because it starts from corn to grain and seeds and apples and pears and all kinds of fruit. Most years, between me and Bud together, we'd average probably 30, 40, 50 entries. Bud raises big stuff. He's into big watermelon. I try to get everything I can get into the fair. A couple years ago, a neighbor told me she had a tomato ripen before any of mine did. And I said what? You got a ripe tomato? I said I don't believe you, Sue. And she said come look and see. And I got up close, and there it was. I said I'll be danged, she beat me. And I looked again. She had gone to the grocery store and got one of them on a stem, and she took a little wire and tied it onto her plant. And she just busted out laughing.7. Do you grow your plants from seed?I started everything from seed, except just a very few. A buddy bought some plants and we put them out. I start them in the basement under fluorescent lights. They go from the basement to the patio. My wife will be really glad when I stop raising so many. She'll get the patio back.8. What do you do with all your tomatoes?Last year I supplied three restaurants and caterer. Believe me, I don't make a nickel. By the time I get my expenses done, I still lose money. It's a hobby.9. Have any of your offspring caught the gardening bug?I have a son in Cincinnati, and he's always calling and telling me how many green beans he'd canned this year. And I say I haven't even picked a bean. He does canning, too, the same as me. But I got enough canned beans from last year. I just want to can enough to put in the fair.

Tell Me About It: He's the 'mater D Tell Me About It: He's the 'mater D Tell Me About It: He's the 'mater D

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