Tomato plants in unusual places

Posted: 9th October 2013 by Aaron Hagen in Uncategorized
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I was talking to a friend of mine this weekend. He had an interesting story.

He said that at every sewage plant in America, there are people who all they do is cut down tomato plants.

I have never heard of such things. So, being the curious person that I am, I decided to look into this.

I contacted Scott Hain, General Manager of Worthington Public Utilities.

He confirmed part of the story.

Tomato seeds, in fact, are pretty much indestructible.

“People eat tomatoes,” Hain said. “When you eat tomatoes, next time you order a hamburger, look at it. The seeds are still there, in the tomato. You eat the tomatoes, when your body eliminates its waste, the tomato seeds are there. They are part of the elimination. They are non digestible. It’s an incredible seed because it just doesn’t seem like it’s able to be killed. You flush the toilet and away it goes, it goes out to the waste water plant, it runs through the process and it’s pulled off the sludge. It goes through a primary anaerobic digester, it goes through a secondary aerobic digester and it goes into a pond. it used to be when we hauled sludge on a daily basis, that’s when you could really see it. We were hauling on land that was not being used for production that year and we were hauling everyday. Well, when you’re spreading that sludge on the ground, you’re spreading tomato seeds along with the other stuff. Sludge, by and large, is a pretty good fertilizer.”

But, do tomatoes grow in the plant?

“No,” Hain assured me.

Years ago, the city would haul it’s sludge to an open area that was not used as farm land.

“They were tomatoes, they’d grow and they’d vine and they would die. Nobody would go out and harvest them or anything,” said Hain. “It’s not like we’re planting them in rows or anything. There would just be tomato plants popping up all over the place.”

I had to ask. Have you ever tried one?

“No, no, no, no, no,” Hain responded.

Why not, I asked.

“Well, No. 1, I don’t like tomatoes, at all. Never have,” he said. “Even before I witnessed this. I haven’t liked tomatoes my entire life. I can stand one on a hamburger or something. I like bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches without the lettuce and tomato.”

Now, the sludge is applied to land being used for agriculture purposes.

“Now all of our sludge is applied to ag land,” Hain said. “As a matter of fact, the window is right now, we’re applying when the crop goes out and before the ground freezes. Obviously next spring, or maybe even yet this fall,  the farmer will go out there with a disc or whatever and incorporate that and dig it up. Next spring, they will go as soon as they can get into the field and they will spray and do their thing. They will plant, whether it beans next year or corn next year, whatever it is, they will put that in the ground. Tomatoes are just like ragweed or any other weed to a farmer. They spray for them, so you don’t see them like that anymore.”

I had to know, are there any other seeds that produce plants after being digested?

“That’s really the only one I’m aware of,” Hain said.

So, I learned something new. I learned the tomato seeds can’t be digested and actually can produce plants after going through the human body. I also learned my friend was a little off when he said they grew in the waste water plant. In fact, they do not.

And even though it was all new information to me, Hain chuckled as he was explaining the process to me.

“It certainly is common knowledge in the waste water field,” he said.