My drive across 50 highway was beautiful. With all the rain we’ve had everything was bright green and some of the redbud trees were still in bloom. I am still visiting greenhouses with bedding and vegetable plants this week, for the most part, they will be selling at the market for seven more weeks. The exception is The Flower Farm, Keith Johnson usually stays through July.
Whenever I make the two and a half hour drive to Versailles I always think of the long days the vendors put in on Saturdays. They usually try to load their trucks the night before which means a late night. They need to arrive at the market no later the 5 a.m. so they can unload their truck and get set-up before the Market opens at 6 a.m. If you add a two to three hour drive home everyone is getting very little sleep and probably won’t get back home before 7 p.m. that night. Makes me tired just thinking about it.
After my two and a half hour drive I arrived at The Busy Bee, home and greenhouse of the Unruh family. Darrel, Diane and their children have been vendors at the Market since 2002. In 2013 they became contracted vendors so are in the 2nd farmers shed in stalls 60-63 every Saturday. I knew that the Unruh’s had been building a new home so was thrilled when Darrel asked me if I wanted a tour. The house is beautiful and will be completed after the flower season is done. All the children got to pick out their wall colors and I am green with envy of their kitchen. I had to get back on track. I strolled through their two large greenhouses filled with hanging baskets, succulents, a few tomato plants, and assorted trays of annuals. What a great way to start the day. Darrel and his daughters had just finished pulling freeze cloth off the plants located outside the greenhouse, there had been a threat of frost the night before. I was talking with Diane last Saturday at the Market about how they start their plants. They mainly start the plants with seeds or plugs. Diane said they also propagate some of the plants. As I left Darrel was busy watering the plants which is a never ending task this time of the year.The greenhouses at their home is where they grow the plants, in addition to selling plants at the City Market they also have a retail location on 52 highway called The Busy Bee. I stopped by to say high to Diane on my way to my next stop.
Highway 52 Greenhouse is about 15 minutes from the Unruh’s retail location. As I pulled up I noticed the pieces of a new greenhouse laid out in the yard. Chris Pifer told me he loved growing tomatoes so much he bought a used super-sized greenhouse. Once constructed, it will cover ¾ of an acre and should house 6,000 tomato plants. If all goes as planned these plants should produce 1,200 pounds of tomatoes per week. Once the flower season is over Chris will start working on cleaning all the pieces and then painting each piece a bright white. This is really going to be something to see when it is completed. Chris hopes to have it up and tomatoes planted by October. I told him to call me when it is finished, I would love to see it. Chris has also constructed another building to house the furnace that heats there greenhouses. He installed a ramp to drive the front loader up to load sawdust into a hopper which has a conveyor belt that moves the sawdust into the furnace. He will install a second furnace house to provide heat to the new greenhouse, this will be much larger with a much taller stack. Chris currently has one large greenhouse where he has 500 tomato plants, they had just finished picking a couple rows when I arrived, the remainder where heavy with red and yellow tomatoes. He was experimenting with some grafted plants which were producing about 50 tomatoes for each plant, these plants were huge. Mrs. Pifer, Chris’s mom, oversees all the flowers they grow and does a really nice job choosing a mixture of plants for their hanging baskets and planters. In fact they were so nice I bought one while I was there. Chris showed me a bougainvillea he has been growing for three years, it was beautiful. He will be bringing this plant to the market this weekend. Chris Pifer has been a Sunday contracted vendor for a couple years, this year he also has a Saturday contract to sell tomatoes. Chris should be at the Market every weekend.
My last stop for the day was a couple hours away but on the west side of the state. I will be getting back to Kansas City much later than I had planned, the upside is I will have missed rush hour traffic. Country Bloom Greenhouse is off of highway P in Rockville and has been a waiting list vendor for quite a few years. Waiting list vendors get a Saturday or Sunday stall if we have any available so the Klassen’s location will change every time they setup at the Market. Linferd and Judith have four greenhouses at their home all of which were filled with beautiful plants. Over the years they have added more and more succulents and are bringing beautiful moss baskets to the Market. Everything was in full bloom.
I hope to finish visiting all the green house vendors next week so I am planning to head north to Saint Joe and Plattsburg. The Market will be bursting with flowers this weekend, my favorite time of the year.