Monday, March 6, 2017

Ordering Plants 2017

We have decided to limit our plant sales in 2017. For more of an explanation, go to the bottom of this post.

If you want specific heirloom plants from us, you will need to ORDER THEM in advance and we will grow them specifically for you. They will be made available to you when they are ready and they could be picked up at the Waverly Farmers' Market or during one of our CSA pick up locations (see the calendar page).

Orders will need to be received in the month of March - the earlier, the better - so we can get your plants started and ready for optimal planting times.

If you do not order plants, you will take your chances that we will happen to have extras of the varieties you want.  For more explanation, see the end of the post.

$3.00 for 3-4" pots.
Smaller pots will be priced as appropriate.

Available Plants:
Tomatoes: Italian Heirloom, German Pink, Trophy, Speckled Roman, Amish Paste, Silvery Fir Tree, Nebraska Wedding, Moonglow, Black Krim, Green Zebra, Red Zebra, Tommy Toe, Hartmann's Gooseberry, Jaune Flamme, Wapsipinicon Peach, Black Cherry, Paul Robeson, Hungarian Heart, Gold Medal, Tasty Evergreen, Wisconsin 55, Rutgers, Cosmonaut Volkov, John Baer, Opalka
Peppers: Wisconsin Lakes, Jimmy Nardello's Frying Pepper, Tolli Sweet, Alma Papricka, Golden Treasure, Purple Beauty, Quadrato asti Giallo, Early Jalapeno, Wenk's Yellow Hot, Joe's Long Cayenne, King of the North, Napolean Sweet, Garden Sunshine, Marconi Red, Chervena Chushka
Eggplant: Pintung Long, Rosa Bianca, Casper, Diamond, Florida Highbush
Basil: Sweet Genovese, Thai, Mrs Burns' Lemon, Dark Opal and Lime
Cucumber: Marketmore 76, Boothby's Blonde, A and C Pickling, Green Finger, Lemon

Others: ask

Why Are We Scaling Back on Plant Sales?
We feel that our supportive customers deserve some explanation - so here it is.  For the past seven years, we have entered the season starting anywhere from 750 to 1500 ADDITIONAL plants (typically tomato, pepper, eggplant) beyond what we need for production on the farm.  We have had plant sales at the Saturday Waverly Farmers' Market, at Hansen's Outlet and other places.

Essentially, we tried to create a situation for success and growth each year and simply did not find it.  Sales have been largely static, with no growth in sales shown even last year when two growers at the Waverly Market stopped selling after the 2015 season.  It is no exaggeration to say that we regularly composted 500 plants each season.   The reality is, if we wanted to sell that many plants, we probably needed to go farther afield to find markets.  Our desire to sell direct to consumer locally did not apparently have a large enough pool of potential customers to support the endeavor.

The main reason we are no longer operating in this fashion is actually a function of labor.  The number of hours required to transplant all of these plants, sort them out, move them around, load them, unload them, etc etc put the labor cost at a point where we were not making money with the previous model.  Perhaps the most telling point was the fact that some of our Spring field work was sometimes delayed because we were too busy just trying to get a plant sale ready to go.

So, How Are We Addressing The Problem?
We will plant only as many of each variety as we need PLUS whatever orders we have for those plants.  Invariably, we will plan to seed only a few extra of each variety in case there is a problem with germination or some other issue.  That means we will likely have some extra plants, but not the numbers we've shown in prior years.

For example, we knew Italian Heirloom would be popular because we do talk them up.  We need 85 of these for our own growing operation and we would typically grow another 85 for sales.  Once transplanting occurred, we would often have about our 85 plants plus 100 more.  After all, if you have extra seedlings that look good, why would you kill them?  Now, we will target 85 Italian Heirlooms plus whatever is ordered plus maybe 5% extra to cover possible problems.  If they all do well, we would have maybe 5-8 extra plants that are not spoken for.  These will come to our Saturday Waverly Farmers' Markets.  And, once we get tired of hauling these around, we will simply stop doing so.

We will not be holding any additional plant sales beyond the Saturday markets this year.  We will, however, deliver pre-ordered plants during our CSA distributions as arranged.

What Do We Hope This Change Will Accomplish?
It's not just about money.  In fact, it isn't really as much about the money as it is about time.  Spring is packed full with activity on the farm and there is only so much of us to go around.  Most of our workers do not start on the farm until school is out, which occurs after most/all of the transplanting into pots is done.  If we do not spend so much time on plant sales, there are a number of things that can and will take the place of tasks centering around these sales.

We expect that we will have more seed starting space and transplant space so we can push more of our seed starting for the field up a couple of weeks.  As it was before, some of our plantings were pushed back until space was freed up.  This model was fine for a while, but we are increasing the numbers of things we transplant, so space is at a premium.  We are also noticing that our start dates for things like melons and squash are moving up with changing weather patterns - this allows us to make that adjustment.

We are hoping to get more of our annual flowering plants going in trays so they can begin producing flowers sooner in our fields.  The better we are at providing food for our pollinators for a longer season, the more effective their labor will be for us.  This change will free up seed starting space and seed starting time to do this.

Valhalla is scheduled to be moved in late April to early May.  That did not happen last year in large part because we were trying to keep plant sales going.  We would like to hit the schedule on that this season  and in future seasons.  This is only once example of farm growing tasks for April/May that we hope we can pay attention to instead of plant sales.

Will You Change Your Mind and Reintroduce Plant Sales?
Never say never.

However, there will need to be some major changes for us to accomplish this.  First, we would need to change our facilities so that we have a dedicated space for starting plants for sales.  We need to improve efficiency of the processes that lead to growing these plants.  Second, we would need to evaluate when and where the market is and then we would have to aggressively market the product so we could have sufficient sales.  In short, it will take a serious bit of work before we go back to what we were doing in previous years.


  1. Rob,
    Would you save 3 tomatoes, 3 eggplant and 2 peppers, sweet, for us. You know what we like and what will take our Minnesota climate.

  2. Anonymous8:10 AM

    Could you please plant for me 1-black cherry, 2-Amish paste, 2 German pink.

    Eric Berns

  3. Both orders are noted!

  4. Anonymous7:41 PM

    I tried to follow the link and it didn't work. May I order a Nebraska Wedding, a German Pink, and a black cherry? Also a Sweet Genovese basil plant? Thanks! Sheila Benson (CF)


Thank you for your input! We appreciate hearing what you have to say.