Mitchells find fishy solution for tomato plants

Published 8:29 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The story of the Mitchells’ giant tomato plant began with the simple purchase of what was thought to be just an ordinary tomato.

And, perhaps it was.

Maybe it was the trick that Johnny Mitchell had up his sleeve that grew a plant that rivaled Jack’s beanstalk.

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In the spring, Larita Mitchell visited Buford’s Farmers Market in Atlanta with the Colley Senior Complex. The market features produce from around the world. Mitchell brought home a basket of red, unblemished tomatoes and they were so good that her mom, Mary, saved the seeds and her dad, Johnny, planted them.

“We didn’t dry the seeds or anything, I just planted them in a flower pot on the patio,” Mary Mitchell said.

The seeds grew big enough to be transplanted in a sunny spot in the Mitchells’ backyard.

Johnny Mitchell drove a PVC pipe into the ground next to the tomato plants and, every time he went fishing, he used the fish to fertilize the tomato plants.

“After I cleaned the fish, I’d throw what was left down in the PVC pipe,” he said. “Scales and all. Then, I’d fill the pipe with water so the fish would deteriorate. Every day or so, I put more water in the pipe and I kept a can on top to keep anything from getting down in the pipe.”

And, the two plants grew and grew.

“The plants grew taller and taller and Johnny put two bundles of wire around them,” Mary Mitchell said. “They kept growing.”

Mitchell did a lot of fishing over the summer and kept the tomato plants well-fertilized.

And all of his fishing paid off.

His tomato plants have produced an over abundance of the biggest and best tomatoes anywhere around.

“There’s not a blemish on any of them.” Mitchell said, with producer pride. “Even at this late in the year, I’ve got 134 tomatoes on the five-foot plants. They grow in bunches. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Mitchell said he believes that it’s the fish fertilizer that has made the tomato plants so productive.

“The Indians used fish to fertilize their corn and I believe the fish are the reason that these two plants have been so productive,” he said. “I’m going to keep them covered and, hopefully, they will make it through this cool snap. If they do, we could have tomatoes fresh off the vine on Thanksgiving.”