Ron has over 35 years of experience growing and selling plants in his green house nursery in Eureka, MT. From high tunnels, to the best seed catalog Ron shares secrets for success in the challenging Tobacco Valley Climate in NW Montana.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been gardening all my life, but have spent over 35 years growing and selling plants in the Tobacco Valley.
Tell me about your first gardening experience?
Parents had a garden here in Eureka, remember picking raspberries and selling to neighbors. @ 10 -11 years old checked out lots of books at the local library and grandfather let him till up some land on his local lot. Had own garden at 12 years old about 30×30’.
What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?
Learned from grandfather just spread manure on and don’t use any chemicals.
Had Colorado potato bugs back in the 1950-60s that we had to pick off, now we have new bugs that come from shipments all around the world.
Who or what inspired you to start using organic techniques?
Just always did it organically. Father-in-law gave subscription to Rodale’s Organic Gardening and found benefits and started composting. If you raise healthy plants you don’t need chemicals to take care of the bugs, healthy plants will ward off bugs themselves.
Tell us about something that grew well this year.
Great year for tomatoes. Good growing season. Grew in 72×30’ hoop house that he built as part of a government grant to raise vegetables in the ground without fan or heat and had to fill an annual report for the NRCS. Can put row covers (polyethylene – clear plastic film) on to start fairly early. March would put on cucumbers in high tunnel.
Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?
Mexican sour gherkins look like a miniature watermelon.
One of the best seed catalogs Johnny’s Selected Seeds esp for micro greens.
Pine Tree good for small starters. Sample packets to try and experiment with.
Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.
Corn – tried planting a little earlier, but didn’t get second crop. Needs lots of manure even use some side cast new manure after corn is 3 feet tall before it starts to tassel.
Something that you find is easy to grow and is generally successful every-time.
Radishes are easy to grow in potting soil in the greenhouse that didn’t have the worms. Spinach is easy to grow which bolts easily.
Something you would steer new gardeners away from that you find is typically challenging to grow in your climate.
But have had success so encourage to try: Sweet potatoes/melons
Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.
None, would spend every minute in the garden!
Weeding is my therapy.
A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.
Rototiller. Learning lately it’s bad to till and disturb soil too much. Till with rototiller behind tractor, mark off a row, plant it, till right up next to row marked with string, move over, plant another row etc… so I haven’t walked on any of spots between rows on plants. Makes it easier to fight the weeds,
Eating or harvesting vegetables or fruit on time?
Plan and time and keep watching your garden.
Do you have any secrets for preserving food-making it last?
Peppers are especially easy to freeze.
A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?
Zucchini, peppers, onions, sautéed with some tomatoes. Maybe some green beans. toss with some parmesan and broil in the oven.
A favorite internet resource?
Not really, at 64 I’ve read lots of books already.
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can
Zone 4 Magazine. Awesome about gardening especially zone 4. Colorado or Bozeman
If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?
Start small unless you’re very experienced with plants. Be prepared to grow a little faster then you want to. There is a need out there. A small high tunnel hoop house would be a great way to extend your growing season.
Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the earth either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
More home gardens. Doesn’t mean you have to have a garden plot in your yard.
Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
So much fun can’t understand anyone wouldn’t want to garden.
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