Early Spring Plants, Low Tunnel Materials, and Gardening Classes

floating row covered bed

It’s almost time to get your early spring gardens planted!  Early salad crops and onions can be planted as early as the first week of March if you use low tunnels.  You’ll need to wait until towards the end of March if you don’t plan on using low tunnels.


If you haven’t taken one of my early spring gardening classes in the past, now is your chance to learn how to use your beds efficiently to get multiple crops out of the same space throughout the seasons.  If you time things right you can get two if not three harvests of different crops out of the same space.  My classes are $50 and include all of the plants and materials you’ll need to plant a 10 foot garden full of great salad ingredients and cover them with a low tunnel.  I’ll teach you how to plant and help you out with advice throughout the year to keep your garden growing.  I am offering 10 a.m. classes on Saturday and Sunday,March 7 and 8.



For those of you that have already taken my gardening classes, I have plenty of Agribong 19 and Hoop Loops ordered if you want to expand your gardens this year.  The Agribond is $1 a foot and the Hoop Loops are 3 for $10.

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I’ve got a great selection of densely planted early spring plants for sale this year as well.  All plants will be $2 a set.  I’ll be open on  March 7th and 8th from 8-9 a.m. and from 1 – 4 p.m. both days.  If you can’t make it during one of those days, let me know what time and day work for you and I can work out a time for us to meet.

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Here are the varieties I have growing for you:

Lettuces:  Rocky Top, Red Tide, Little Gem, All Star, Black Seeded Simpson, Buttercrunch, Bronze Mignonett,Red Romaine, and Paris Island COS,

Onions:  Several varieties of plants from Dixondale Farms

Kohlrabi:  Winner, Quickstar, Early Purple Vienna, and Kossack

Radishes:  Early Scarlet Globe, and Champion

Cauliflower:  Graffiti, Veronica, and Vitaverde

Broccoli:  Green Magic

Kale:  Red Russian, Toscano, and Starbor

Beets:  Golden, Merlin, and Red Ace

Brussels Sprouts:  Long Island Improved

Swiss Chard:  Bright Lights

Minuet Chinese Cabbage

Pac Choi and Extra Dwarf Pac Choi


Broccoli Raab

Graffiti cauliflower...tastes as good as it looks!

Graffiti cauliflower…tastes as good as it looks!

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2015 Tomato, Pepper, Herb, and other Summer Plants Lists

Well I’m a couple of weeks later than usual in posting my lists, but I’ve been a bit discombobulated the past few months due to some major life changes and am going to have to adjust things accordingly this spring.  The first big change in my life is that I am no longer a classroom teacher.  After 18+ years in the classroom, I switched careers and am now an Education Specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation at the Gorman Discovery Center on Troost.  My new job is great as I spend my days teaching the public about the wonders of fish, forests, and wildlife.  Another major change this year is that my mother-in-law passed away last week and I’ll need to devote some time this spring with my wife as we cope with her loss and the estate she left behind.  Due to these two factors, I won’t have quite as much time to spend managing the plants so a few things will change.

The first major change will be that I will not be taking pre-orders for tomato and pepper plants as I have done in the past.  I hate to drop this convenience feature for so many of you, but organizing and preparing all of those orders takes three or four days and I just don’t have much spare time this spring.  Another change is that I will have a bit fewer days of sales this year.  I am committed to a special plant event on May 2nd and won’t be open for sales on the first Saturday in May.  The Grow Native event and SeedSavers KC plant exchange is that day at the Discovery Center and you’re welcome to come down there that day to swap some of your own plants with other gardeners and pick up some free native flowers and grasses that I am growing for the MDC.

I’ll post up the dates and times for tomato and pepper plant sales later on, but for now plan on weekends starting April 18th through May 10th with the exception of May 2.  I will have very limited evening hours this year as well, but will be available some evening by appointment.

So without further ado….here is the list  Make sure you print it off and bring your own boxes to carry your plants home in and you’ll receive a free plant of your choice.

2015 Plant Lists

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Flavor and FIRE!!!!!!!!!


About 40 pepper lovers and those who like to watch people suffer attended our third pepper tasting on Saturday evening.  The Local Pig was our gracious host this year and they provided a pitcher of chunky and flavorful bloody mary, some great pickled beans and peppers and some of their amazing habanero sauce.  We had over 30 types of peppers available ranging from the sweet Purple Beauty to the mean and nasty Carolina Reaper.


Many of the attendees brought delicious things for folks to sample including a great pot of “Triple Threat Chili” that my mother brought, two different kinds of brightly colored pepper jelly, several amazingly flavorful and smoking hot sauces, and salsas, hummus, and some lovely desserts including an eclair cake!

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The peppers were the star of the show as the brave tasters worked their way around the table of peppers ordered by their Scoville Heat Unit ranking.  Some made it all the way around the table to the SUPER HOT Chinese Naga, Brazillian Ghost, Trinidad Scorpion, Brain Strain, 7 Pot Moruga and the infamous Carolina Reaper.  Many others tapped out before they got that hot, but made valiant efforts at taming the heat nonetheless.

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A good time was had by all and we’ll definitely do this again next year!




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Eulogy for the passing of a great gardener

The man who taught me how to garden passed away last week and we buried him today.  I had the honor of writing and reading his eulogy as well as being a pall bearer.  he will be missed, but not forgotten.
grandpaandgrandma2013Here is the eulogy:


As most of you know, I have dedicated the past 25 years or so to being a teacher.  With 19 years in the classroom, I have taught hundreds and hundreds of children how to read, write, calculate, and about the wonders of the natural world and its history.  I had years of formal training in college and in various seminars and conferences to perfect my craft.  The classes and sessions were taught by people with various degrees and doctorates who were experts in their field and they gave me a lot of useful information that made me the teacher that I am today.  However, none of them taught me anything close to what my grandpa. Big Jim, taught me over the wonderful years we spent together.

Grandpa was my mentor, my father figure, my role model, and so much more to me.  He was always there for me and taught me everything I know about how to live life to its fullest.  Grandpa was the best teacher I ever had and I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for his love and devotion to my upbringing.

Here’s a few things he taught me…maybe he taught a few of you the same things when you spent time with him.

He taught me how to cast a pole, bait a hook, run a trotline, clean a fish, shoot a squirrel, deer, turkey, duck, goose, rabbit, coon, pheasant, quail, and pretty much anything else that swam in the water, ran across the Earth or flew across the skies.  He taught me how to blow a duck and a goose call and set a decoy spread making sure there was always a pocket for the birds to land in.  He taught me to eat what I caught or shot and to respect the game and fish that I pursued.

He taught me how to drive a nail, screw a screw, build a wall, roof a house, wire a switch, plumb a toilet, paint a room, change a tire, change my oil, change my brakes,  and fix pretty much anything that needed fixing.  He taught me the value of a set of tools and that a can of starting fluid, duct tape and bailing wire can solve a lot of problems.

He taught me how to plant a seed and grow a garden.  He taught me how to split wood and build a fire.  He taught me how to drive a stick shift and took me to get my driver’s license.  He loaned me a car when my truck was broken down. He taught me how to drive a boat and back up a trailer. He bought me my first gun and always made sure I had plenty of ammunition to shoot.  He took me for my very first haircut…I gave him his last haircut.

He taught me that a full house beats a straight and a flush, but loses to 4 of a kind  He also taught me how to call Dr. Pepper (10’s, 2’s, and 4’s) and Baseball (3’s 6’s and 9’s) as wild cards even if all the other players groaned and complained..  He taught me how to rack the balls, make a bank shot and to call the pocket on the 8 ball. That a leaner was worth 2 points and a horseshoe worth 3. He taught me how to mix a cocktail and drink a cold beer.  He taught me how to make friends and how to deal with enemies.  He taught me to respect my elders and to listen to them because they have so much to offer.  He taught me how to love my wife, because he loved his wife so very much  He taught me how important family is.  He taught me how to be a man….I hope I did him proud.

Grandpa taught me how to tell a dirty joke.  He was the first adult that let me use a few curse words without getting in trouble….he made sure that I didn’t use them around my mom or grandma though!  Grandpa told me that it was ok to bend some of  the rules, just don’t bend them too far or too often.

Grandpa taught me that if I work hard and learn as much that I can, that I can have a successful life full of good times, great friends, and a family that will always be there for you.  In my darkest days of depression, grandpa taught me that life was worth living.  He taught me how to live.  Now he is teaching me about death and grieving…a tough lesson to learn.

Grandpa made me the man and the teacher that I am today by teaching me and I’ll do my best to live up to his expectations and pass on his legacy. If he touched a part of your life by teaching you a thing or two, I hope that you take the time to pass it on to someone you care about.

I love you grandpa, they broke the mold when they made you.  Thanks for teaching me.  I hope you are where the food is home cooked, the fish are biting, the ducks and geese are flying, the turkeys are gobbling, the big bucks are rutting, the cards are running good, and the renters are paying on time!


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KCTT Tomato Tasting #6


80 Feet of Tomatoes!

We had a record number of tomatoes (about 100) and a record number of tasters (about 150) last Saturday for the 6th Annual Tomato Tasting.  Thanks so much to the fine folks at The Local Pig for hosting this event again this year!  We had visitors from as far away as New York, Texas, and Iowa this year.  The weather was perfect and the food was fantastic.



I don’t think we’ve ever hit the absolute peak of harvest like we did this year.  I personally brought 43 different varieties from my own garden that were ripe on Saturday.   We had so many people bring in varieties that I was unable to keep track of them all, but it ended up being 80 feet of tomatoes lined up along the picnic tables…a sight to behold!


Tomato Nerds!

I want to thank my mother for bringing so many tomatoes from her garden…all of the slicers for the sandwiches were from her backyard garden.  Thank you to Camry for all of her work in organizing the food drive.  Thank you to Todd and Julie for coming by early to help us set things up and slice tomatoes.  Thank you to anyone else who helped out as well!  A special thank you to Matt from The Local Pig for all of his support and hard work to make things run so smoothly!  Thank you to all that brought tomatoes and side dishes for everyone to sample…no one went away hungry that’s for sure!


Black Cherry was the winner this year!

We had 58 different tomatoes get votes in our entirely un-scientific voting method.  This shows just how diverse people’s tastes are and that there is a tomato out there for everyone!  Here are the tabulated results:

Black Cherry 19
Sungold 15
Lucky Tiger 11
Grandfather Ashlock 8
Brandywine Sudduth’s 7
Carbon 7
Cherokee Purple 6
Garden Peach 6
Opalka 6
Sunrise Bumblebee 6
Anna Russian 5
Black Krim 5
Boondocks 5
Green Tiger 5
Kiss the Sky 5
Snow White 5
Soldaki 5
Speckled Roma 5
Pineapple 4
Yellow Pear 4
Honey Drop – Medovaya Kaplya 3
Purple Haze 3
Blush 3
Black from Tula 2
Black Magic 2
Brad’s Black heart 2
Brandywine 2
Brazilian Beauty 2
Carolina Gold 2
Cherokee Gold 2
Cherokee Green 2
Northern Lights 2
OSH21-27 2
Prue 2
Rosella Crimson 2
Zogola 2
Arkansas Traveler 1
Beefy Boy 1
Budanovka Pink 1
Burraker’s Favorite 1
Delta Cartone 1
German Giant 1
Grubb’s Mystery Green 1
High Pigment 1
Hippie Zebra 1
Juanne Flamme 1
Kumato 1
Lithuanian 1
Marvel Stripe 1
Noire Charboneuse 1
Paul Robeson 1
Pole 1
Rumpto 1
Sara Black 1
Sun Lucky x Anna Russian 2
10-2k-7-S Variegated Line 1

We’ll taste again next year…I already have plans to make the KCTTTT #7 even better than ever!

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6th Annual Kansas City Tomato Times Tomato Tasting F.A.Q.


It seems like only yesterday that we hosted the first KCTTTT, but has been 6 years of great food, great friends, and great memories!  Some of you have been with us since the very beginning and without you, we couldn’t have continued to support and promote the unique deliciousness of the tomato.  For those of you that are attending your first time, you’re in for a treat!

Every year is a little different as we like to mix things up to keep it interesting. Please review the F.A.Q.’s below to help make your trip to the 6th KCTTTT a memorable success for all of us!

  • Where and when is the KCTTTT?  The tasting is from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, August 2nd at the Local Pig (2618 Guinotte Ave, Kansas City, MO 64120)  Please click the link to get directions as it can be a bit difficult to find if you’re never been there before.
  • How much does it cost?  The KCTTTT has been and always will be a free event.  This year we are asking for a donation of at least 5 non-perishable food items per person to help the St.James Church and the Bishop Sullivan Center’s  food drives.
  • What should I bring?  Please bring labeled varieties of tomatoes if you can for people to enjoy.  We love tomato variety and want to have as many types of tomatoes to taste as possible!  Put your tomatoes in a brown paper lunch sack with the variety labeled on the sack.  Check them in with Jen at the registration table to get your tickets for the prize drawings.  Each variety you bring gets you one ticket for the drawing…bring as many varieties as you can for the best chances to win!

The big hit of every tomato tasting is the creative dishes people bring for others to sample.  Break out your favorite tomato dish  recipes and we look forward to devouring them!

Also,you might want to bring a lawn chair to sit in as seating will be very limited with the large crowd we are expecting.

  • I don’t have any tomatoes to bring this year, what else can I bring?  It’s ok if you don’t have tomatoes to bring, but we would appreciate it if you would bring along something to accompany the spread of food.  Fresh breads, cheeses, sweets, or anything else that you think people would enjoy will definitely be appreciated.
  • What else is there to do at the tomato tasting besides eat and eat and eat?  You will have the opportunity to vote for your 5 favorite tomato varieties, so be sure to bring a pen to write on your voting tickets.  If you’re a gardener, you might also want to bring a pad and paper to write down your favorite varieties so you can grow them in your garden in the future.  You will also be surrounded by like minded foodies and gardeners who are the friendliest people on the planet…I’m sure you’ll have plenty to talk about!  Also, make sure you make a trip inside The Local Pig to buy some of their fantastic sausages, bacon, steaks, and other amazing products!
  • How can I help with this event?  We are always looking for help setting up and taking down the event.  I will arrive around 7:30 in the morning to put down table cloths and start organizing the tables and tomatoes.  Jen will need one person to help with the registration.  Around 8:00 we’ll need a couple of people to help with slicing and labeling tomatoes to put on the tables.  If you would like to help out, please arrive early and we’ll put you to work!



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Shishito Peppers


If you are not growing and eating Shishito Peppers you are missing out on a true delicacy of the garden!  Shishito
Peppers are a Japanese variety of flavorful, very mild pepper.  The Japanese aren’t much for super spicy foods, so they grow these peppers for flavor with just a tiny touch of burn.  They are served in some of the finer restaurants such as the American and Gram and Dunn here in Kansas City.

They are very easy to grow and very prolific plants.


Cooking the peppers is as easy as it gets….add a teeny tiny amount of olive oil to a pan…heat on high and toss in whole Shishito peppers.  They will pop, smoke, and blister as they cook…just keep turning them and let them blister on all sides until they soften up a bit, but not too much.  Then add some salt (flake salt is best) squeeze a the juice from a lemon over them and give them one last toss in the pan.  Serve immediately.  Eat the whole pepper up to the seeds…don”t eat the stem!

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