Friday, April 25, 2014

Lightening, thunder and rain oh my! What a wet day to be out and about. Part of the day I stayed south of Kansas City, the sky was very menacing and when it started to rain it would just pour. I was a little soggy and muddy by the end of the day. I will definitely have to wash the truck on the way home. Today I really mixed things up a bit; I visited an artist/crafter vendor, a greenhouse vendor and a new farmer.

After rush hour traffic lightened up a little I headed to Blue Springs, Missouri to approve a new artist crafter vendor, Brenda Green. Brenda’s specialty is making little miniature gardens, these were super cute! She makes very little bird houses, stepping stones and butterflies from polymer clay and places them in a garden scene in concrete containers which she also makes. I was amazed how many different things she makes out of so many different types of materials. Brenda also makes unique stepping stones out of concrete, broken plates, shells and glass pebbles, each one is unique. Another outside item she will be bringing to the Market are hand painted wooden signs painted with house paint so should hold up very well. Brenda is lucky enough to have a craft room in her home which was filled to the brim with supplies. In addition to items for your yard she also makes scrapbook type shower invitation, party favors, party games and centerpieces, you will have to see these to appreciate them. Brenda’s booth at the Sunday farmers market should prove to be very unique.

It was raining pretty heavy as I passed by Garden City so I opted to bypass the Malcom’s for now and catch them on the way back to KC. Linferd and Judith Klassen, with the help of their daughters ,run a very nice greenhouse in  Rockville, Missouri. The Klassen’s have been coming to the Market since 2009 as daily waiting list vendors. This season they have really increased the number of succulents they are bringing to the Marked. Judith has put together some beautiful succulent wreaths, moss baskets and hanging baskets. I am sure I will be buying one of these very soon, they are very cool. You will find Country Blooms Greenhouse at the Market every Saturday through mid-June. Their location changes every week so feel free to stop by the yellow information tent and we can point you in the right direction. For more information visit their web site at

Back to Sheila and Robert Malcom’s in Garden City. It was still raining a little but that is why I have a raincoat and boots. The Malcom’s are new to growing for farmers markets so Sundays will be a perfect place to start. They also plan to sell at the Lee’s Summit market on Saturday. They have not been able to build a greenhouse this year but hope to do so by 2015. They did the next best thing and started the seeds in their garage in planting beds with plant lights. They have land they are leasing which has been tilled and made ready to plant. The north end of the plot has been planted with onions, assorted peas and a variety of lettuce. I think they should have enough early produce to bring in towards the end of May. I will visit them again towards the end of June to see how they are coming along.

The market will be booming tomorrow, we will have 104 stalls filled. Sunday is a little questionable right now, Mother Nature is just not cooperating, but we do need the rain.

Friday, April 18, 2014

I was surprised when I started out today and it was 37 degrees and overcast. No better way to brighten a gloomy day than to visit a greenhouse full of beautiful flowers. My first stop will be in Emporia, Kansas, I have never been to Emporia so am looking forward to the trip. The farther south I headed on I - 35 the more smoke I saw in the distance. I think these were possible controlled burns, at least I hope they were.

Marcus Jamison is just getting started growing microgreens which are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seeds and require very little space. Microgreens are not sprouts or young vegetables but grown from plant seeds such as beets, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, mustards or radishes then harvested when less than two inches tall. Marcus will be growing these in a small greenhouse which they built last year. As I said, he is just getting started so does not plan on attending the Market till next month. Marcus’s father also has a small garden so he might bring a few cucumbers, tomatoes and onions during the summer.

I wanted to make sure I visited the Flower Farm before this coming weekend. Keith Johnson grows beautiful Easter lilies which I knew he would have at the market this weekend. Keith showed me the beautiful Martha’s geranium and azaleas he will also have in his stalls on Saturday, they are perfect for Easter. I always love visiting the Flower Farm, in addition to a great selection of bedding plants and hanging baskets he has wonderful tropical’s. I think the bougainvilleas are my favorite; they line the top of one of his greenhouses. Keith is at the City Market now through July in the middle shed in stalls 69-71. His greenhouse in Gardner, Kansas is opened to the public Monday – Friday 8am to 6 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit the Flower Farm web site at

I have time for one more stop today so head towards Platt City, Mo. The Oberdiek’s are currently selling at the Parkville Market and Leavenworth Market on Saturdays and will include the City Market on Sundays. Today I am checking their greenhouse tomatoes which they started back in January. The plants are loaded with green tomatoes and according to Zach should be ready to bring to the market in a couple weeks. I will visit their farm in July when they will be harvesting corn, green beans, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, beets and field tomatoes. I have three other vendors who live in that area who will need to be inspected at the same time so I will have very little driving that day.

Next week I am heading to Rockville and Garden City Missouri which is south of Kansas City. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a nice warm sunny day.

The Farmers Market will be bustling tomorrow. Many of our vendors have returned so I expect to fill at least 100 stalls in the morning. The Saturday Market hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Sunday Market starts at 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Today was the perfect day to get out and visit a few greenhouses .After this terrible long winter it was nice to drive out in the country and see all the trees starting to bud out. The grass along the highway has started turning green and there were cute baby cows frolicking in the fields. Spring is a wonderful time of the year.

Today I visited two of our vendors who live in Versailles, MO. Versailles is located south of 50 highway and east of Sedalia. When I started at the Market in 2003 I had many more vendors to visit in this area. Since that time many of them have retired, sold their businesses or opted to sell their produce at the auction house in Fortuna.

My first stop was at The Busy Bee located off highway 52. Darrel and his wife Diane have been bringing bedding plants to the City Market since 2004. Diane told me she was selling at the Market with her family when she was 18. I am always amazed by the number of people I meet who have a story about the City Market. This is one of the things that makes the City Market so special. The Unruh’s have two greenhouses which they heat with propane and wood. During the extreme cold spells Darrel had to get up during the night to stoke the fire so the plants would not freeze. I don’t think people always appreciate what it takes to get healthy plants ready to bring to the Market by April. As always their greenhouses are immaculate which insures healthy plants free of disease. They have started bringing the plants out of the warmth of the greenhouses to get them ready to plant. This is very important so as not to shock the plants. They had a wonderful selection of annuals and tomato plants. I especially liked a new plant Diane put in hanging baskets this year. They should bloom all summer and have already started to trail out of the baskets. They also had King Tut, which is a grass that looks great when planted in a large pot surrounded by colorful annuals. Darrel said it also does well in a pond, they placed one in water and it did well all winter. Darrel and Diane do not sell plants directly to customers from their home but they do have a roadside stand which is located on highway 52 a few miles from their home. The roadside stand will open tomorrow, it should do well since it is located near a very busy intersection. You will find the Unruh’s at the market every Saturday through June in the middle farmers shed in stalls 60-63.

 My next stop is only about ten minutes down the road and is also located on 52 highway. Chris Pifer started selling at the Sunday farmers market last year. Chris starts his tomato plants very early in the winter so is the first vendor to have vine ripened tomatoes at the Market. He is able to do this since he heats his greenhouses by burning sawdust instead of using propane. Chris took me on a tour of his tomato house, wow was it impressive. He planted 544 plants and hopes to get 25# to 30# of tomatoes from each plant. He should get 1 ½# to 2# of tomatoes per plant per week, that’s a lot of tomatoes! When I entered one of his 5 greenhouses the smell of the petunias was unbelievable. The Pifer’s specialize in extra-large hanging baskets which they start a little earlier than most of the vendors, they are beautiful. In a few weeks he will also be bringing some potted pepper plants, succulent planters and knock out roses. The Pifers sell at the Columbia Farmers Market, City Market and the Merriam Market on Saturdays.

I had the scariest thing happen to me on the drive back from Versailles. A wild turkey came flying out of the tall grass along the road on highway 50. All of a sudden it was in front of my windshield at the nose of the truck, I am sure I screamed. I don’t know how it did not crash into my windshield. I had to pull over for a minute. Wild turkeys are much bigger than you think!

Next week I will be heading to Emporia, Kansas to visit a new vendor for the Sunday farmers market.