By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
A strong entrepreneurial spirit permeates the branches of Elizabeth Tomsche’s family tree. Her great-grandpa, Matt Reisinger, was a peddler near Avon — an easily-recognized face to area residents. Her dad, Dave Reisinger, owned and operated a construction company and later a cabinet company.
“I always wanted to own and operate my own business,” Tomsche said. “My dad told me about 10 years ago that I should raise hostas.”
At the time, she was working for a clothing designer, but with the economic downturn there wasn’t as much work. When her husband, Pete’s, hours were cut too, her thoughts turned to her hostas.
“I had my own hostas almost since we were married,” she said. “I had pots and ground, so I started dividing plants.”
The first plants were potted in July and August of 2010, and were sold in the summer of 2011.
“It’s pretty amazing to start a business from scratch,” said Tomsche. “I didn’t know anything, and had to get a tax ID number, a grower’s license, learn about ground, pots, plants and where to buy plants and other supplies.”
Tomsche has been at the St. Joseph’s Farmers Market alternating weeks since that first summer.
From 2011 to 2012 there was a significant increase in sales as more people found out about Woodland Hostas.
“They were surprised to see the variety I have,” said Tomsche. “The customers appreciate how healthy the plants are.”
Each plant, sold in a one-gallon pot, is identified with a tag.
Currently, Tomsche has more than 110 varieties ready to sell. Her vision ultimately includes a much larger selection.
“I’m hoping to work my way up to 500,” she said.
There are about 7,500 types of hostas worldwide, with about 4,000 having registered names.
At this point, Tomsche has a mental picture of what each hosta looks like. She doesn’t have just one favorite — she has five.
“Cameo” is a mini hosta with 1-inch leaves that are green with white edges.
“Candy dish” is a medium-sized plant with waxy green leaves that have rippled edges.
“Diana Remembered” is a large hosta with large pure white fragrant flowers. The leaves are green with a narrow white edge.
“Whirlwind” is a medium-sized variety with variegated twisting leaves.
“Blue Jay” is unique in that it retains a true blue color all season. It is a medium-sized hosta.
Tomsche enjoys growing hostas because, “They are really easy to grow. You don’t have to divide them if you don’t want to. They survive hail. They like water but will survive without watering.”
Hostas can be planted any time the soil can be worked, from spring all the way through summer and into fall.
To back up her years of personal experience, Tomsche has the 1,125-page, 2-inch thick “Hostapedia,” an encyclopedia of hostas.
Hostas like natural mulch such as peat, manure, chopped bark and pine needles.
“They should be mulched spring and fall,” Tomsche said.
Other hosta varieties available include small “Blue Mouse Ears,” very large “Victory” and medium “Cup of Grace.”
Tomsche and her family live on what used to be her grandparents’ farm. They have done extensive remodeling, taking the house right down to the two by fours. There are four Tomsche children: Stanton, DeAnna, Jovan and Nasia.
Tomsche used a small hoop house (greenhouse) last year for the hostas, which provided more space and extended the growing season.
“This year we are building a 24-foot by 84-foot high tunnel,” Tomsche said. “We want to raise blackberries, leatherwood and more hostas in it.”
Leatherwood grows to a height of six feet and is the first plant to flower in the spring. It likes shady areas.
To find out more, visit www.woodlandhostas.com or call (320) 356-7565.