Monday, January 9, 2017

New online ordering system for seedlings

You can now reserve your M R Gardens seedlings online! With this system, the Pre-Season Prep Service is user-friendly with easy click forms and photos so you can see the differences between varieties. When you order, you put down a deposit for half the price of the plant, and then pay the remaining when you pick up the plants.

M R Gardens is fully committed to delivering you the healthiest plants possible. You will have a chance to inspect the plants and address any concerns before paying the remaining bill and taking your plants home. Those who have been using my order ahead service since 2012 can attest that I love handing off beautiful plants and wouldn't think of doing otherwise.

Since M R Gardens seedlings are grown on a small scale, they are given individual attention and are exceptional quality. The goal of the business is "as sustainable as possible," which means not only growing organically but also using nearly all renewable resources in our passive solar greenhouse, as well as reusing nonrenewable resources.

I'm now taking orders for early spring seedlings (lettuce, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, spinach, pak choi, Chinese cabbage, dill and parsley). Reserve your plants by February 20, and they will be ready for pickup at the farm in early April. Selections for summer crop starts, herbs, native wildflowers and other beneficial plants will be posted soon, with ordering deadlines in March and April.

If you'd like to try a variety that is not listed, please don't hesitate to ask!

I also continue to offer a Recycled Pots Discount—50 cents off each plant for every returned container! Bring all the pots you have to receive 50 cents off each plant you purchase and accumulate credits toward the purchase of next season's plants. I prefer 3-inch to 5-inch pots and gallon containers.

The only way I can take them is if you wash your pots so they are free of dirt before bringing them to the nursery. While I sanitize containers before I reuse them, it's important that I take every precaution to minimize the chance of disease spreading to my nursery since I only use organic practices. If you have a hard time prioritizing pot washing, pretend that pile of containers in the corner of your garage are just dishes after a big dinner party. While you spray the dirt off, think about how much you enjoyed last year's garden and the fun you'll have next time you bring home a tray of plants!

If cost is the only barrier stopping you from ordering plants, let me know and I’ll help with a solution. I gladly consider work-trade offers.

Why order ahead?

I've described the multitude of benefits for customers who use Pre-Season Prep Service in past articles. But the main inspiration for the service is sustainability, the core mission of my business. It affects every single choice I make, from the way I design my greenhouse, to the potting soil I choose, to the way I market and communicate.

Italian Giant parsley
Growers of vegetable starts have a very short window of time to get their products to customers before the plants become too big for their pots. Depending on the amount of heat and sunny days, we might have two weeks at the minimum, or a month if we're lucky.

Businesses that are not addressing sustainability as deeply as me just grow or buy extra and discard any mature plants that are too leggy or yellowing to sell. I can't bring myself to do this—the natural resources used to produce plants are precious, and so is my time! I think, I could have used those hours to teach someone to garden or help them design their edible and native landscape instead of growing a plant that had no home.

A key to a sustainable community is that we all have the opportunity to use our talents in ways that most benefit the community. That means prioritizing our time and sharing simple monotonous duties so not any one person is tasked with them. I continually think of this belief when operating my business, whether I'm capping the size of my nursery, creating a pot washing discount, or making sure I'm varying types of activities when working with volunteers.

Brussels sprouts - Catskills variety
The other variable in determining plant selection is customers' tastes, which change year to year. One variety might sell like hot cakes one season, so a grower is tempted to produce a ton of them the following year. But tastes change—while we have our favorites, we also like to try something new. So what does well one year might not the next.

My intention is to communicate with my customers up front about their gardening plans so that little is wasted. Furthermore, I can give you the plants when they are at their most beautiful—just the right size for transplanting.

If you have any questions about my ordering system, please feel free to contact me at or 828.333.4151.