Not too early to start seeds at Bob’s Garden
Because I have a severe case of SAD (Seedtime Affective Disorder), Olan and I recently spent a Saturday afternoon at "Bob's Garden" with Bob & Darla Beasley. They are in the process of planting 80,000 seeds, - yes, I said 80,000. That includes 9,000 pepper seeds & 20,000 tomato seeds, and a large variety of other vegetables and herbs.
Now that is a BIG garden! Bob & Darla wholesale, participate at farmers markets and have a market at their home at 3334 E 1/4 Road.
You may have met Bob last year in The Daily Sentinel when his tomatoes sold out faster than he could grow them. This year he is expanding his varities of heirloom tomatoes. He says they started out as slow sellers because they are not as pretty as the hybrid varieties. But as soon as customers started buying, they couldn't get enough. A few of this year's varieties are Old German, Abraham Lincoln, Amish Paste and Anna Russian.
Since there are no heirloom tomatoes that are early varieties, the Beasleys have some hybrid tomatoes that will produce early. Bob recommends the Early Goliath Hybrid that takes only 58 days and is up to 1 1/2 pounds when mature.
"There is not an insect problem in the valley," Bob says. One of the secrets to his success is his "no spray" approach to gardening. "Sometimes I get squash bugs and they will attack one plant, leave several other plants alone and attack others down the row." He just plants enough to share with the insects.
A good gardener always plants three seeds -
one for the bugs, one for the weather and one for himself.
- Leo Aikman
Peppers have also been a huge hit. This year he is growing 4,500 hot peppers plants and 4,500 sweet peppers. Customers were also clammering for more eggplant varieties and is planning five different varieties this year.
For two years I have tried starting my plants indoors from seed. Each year they have sprouted and died. Since I have never been able to grow my garden plants indoors from seed I thought Bob could give me a few tips:
1. Soil does matter when it comes to seed growing and you can buy the same kind Bob has as Mt. Garfield Greenhouse. This kind of dirt shortens the days of germination by having all the nutrients the germinating seed needs.
2. If you are planting early, scoop the dirt into four packs which gives the roots plenty of room to grow. Place them on trays and poke holes into the dirt with your finger and insert the seed. Place more dirt into the top of the seed and water.
3. Cover the trays loosly with clear plastic to keep in the moisture. Uncover when the seeds germinate and keep moist.
4. Bob's nursery feels like a warm tropical paradise with lights on 12 hours per day.
Bob's recommended seed catalogues are Rupp, HPS, Jung seeds, and if you love tomatoes, Totally Tomatoes is a must have.
I am hoping Bob won't mind this novice gardener sneaking in to "help" him over the next few months and that I too will be able to successfully grow my vegetables from seed this year.
"A gardener's work is never at an end; it begins with the year and continues to the next."
The Gardener's Almanac"1664