NEW ULM - Thanks to ample sunshine and a dose of his own ingenuity, a retired 3M blueprint inspector and former Home Township farmer who loves tomatoes, continued to enjoy his own home-grown variety over the winter.
Cledus Freiderich began growing a cherry tomato plant in the Orchard Hill garden last summer. When the weather turned cold, he transplanted it into a large pot and placed another plastic pan that holds water underneath the pot.
"The plant just kept right on growing after I transplanted it," Freiderich said.
Retired 3M employee Cledus Freiderich poses with his cherry tomato plant at Orchard Hill Assisted Living in New Ulm. The plant has produced tomatoes throughout the winter. Freiderich plans to plant it in the garden this spring.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
He placed Miracle-Gro Plant Food Spikes in the tomato pot every two weeks for good measure. Later this spring, he plans to transplant the tomato plant back to the Orchard Hills garden to the west and underneath his patio.
"I love tomatoes. I've gotten lots of tomatoes off the plant already," Freiderich said. "I think the plant is as healthy as it is due to the large amount of sunlight we've had this winter. Sunlight really makes it grow."
He enjoys eating tomatoes in the Orchard Hill dining hall too.
"We recently had Swiss Steak that was covered with tomatoes," Freiderich said. "It was great."
Decades ago when he worked part-time on his family's Home Township farm, Freiderich grew many tomato plants in a garden. Because the plants produced too many for his family to eat by themselves, every two weeks he gave three bushels of tomatoes to the nuns at the Church of St. Mary in Sleepy Eye.
Cledus helped grow corn, beans, barley and flax on the family farm in the 1950s. He and his late wife Roselyn lived in Sleepy Eye for seven years before they moved to New Ulm.
Besides gardening, Cledus enjoys walking. For years, he's been walking three miles a day. Nowadays he drives his car to an area of New Ulm each day, walks three miles around town and drives back to Orchard Hill.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).