Seedlings: Collaboration with Gardens of Eagan

Two varieties of basil at Gardens of Eagan (GOE).

Two varieties of basil at Gardens of Eagan (GOE).

One of the first things to be do when planning a farm season is to decide what crop varieties will be grown. Usually, farmers and gardeners have a couple of slower months to pilfer through seed catalogues and exchange locally-grown varieties with each other. For me, mid-March, I have everything but time. Seeds have to get started soon. Oh, wait. Neither do I have greenhouse space to grow seedlings. Time and space are two crucial conditions that crops like tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, etc. need in order to have a fair chance of producing a bounty of fruits and seeds in a cold climate.

After a bit of research and checking in with various farmers and businesses, I find out that greenhouse space in  March in Minnesota is as precious as water in desert. People do not have any extra to borrow. Ultimately, I came across Gardens of Eagan in Northfield, MN, which has a couple of organic certified tunnels to grow starts for farmers. This is one of the best options this season because they can handle the quantity I need to grow out, they have the professional experience to ensure I receive sizeable plants for the season, and their customer relations services are impeccable. So I pass them along my seed lists as well as my seeds from High Mowing, Baker Creek Seed Company, Seed Savers Exchange, and Johnny’s Selected Seeds with a sigh of relief. Even though there will be crops that I directly seed (plant) at each site, there are quite a few that require an early start.

Gardens of Eagan delivery truck.

Gardens of Eagan delivery truck.

At the beginning of April, I drove down to Northfield (30 minutes south of the Twin Cities) to meet the movers and shakers at Garden of Eagan (GOE). Jackie Green, the Sales Lead, and Susan Quigley, the Pack Shed and Plant Manager, gave me a tour of their seedling operations. They even let me get a sneak peak of the seed starts for the Tiny Diner and Honey House Farm. Even though GOE just moved to their new site this winter, things are hustling and bustling. They have plants started for  their farm, other growers, and for their new farmers in their farm incubator program. Here are a few pictures of the tour. Until I return here in May with interns, I will bask in the friendliness, light, heat, and greenery I experienced in their high tunnels. THANK YOU GOE!

Large soil packer for flats.

Large soil packer for flats.

Strawflower starts for the Tiny Diner and Honey House Farm - too early to see any sprouting.

Fennel starts for the Tiny Diner and Honey House Farm – too early to see any sprouting.

Mechanized seeding. This can fill a 128-cell flat in 2 minutes or less. Save a lot of time and improves eye sight for GOE crew.

Mechanized seeding. This can fill a 128-cell flat in 2 minutes or less. Saves a lot of time and improves eye sight for GOE crew.

Susan Quigley demonstrating the seeder.

Susan Quigley demonstrating the seeder.

Healthy dill transplants

Healthy dill transplants

IMG_7909

Special planting trays: More durable, allow for more seeds to be planted per tray, the transplants are easy to pop-out.

Kale galore

Kale galore

Grafted tomatoes

Grafted tomatoes

Green transplants that are ready to be planted. No go - there's snow.

Green transplants that are ready to be planted. No go – there’s snow.

One of the two seedling tunnels.

One of the two seedling tunnels.

Jackie Green describing the order of operations in the greenhouse tunnels.

Jackie Green describing the order of operations in the greenhouse tunnels.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s