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5 Questions with Greenhouse Manager Steve

It’s March in Rochester and after four months of gray, we’re ready for something green!  We thought you might be feeling the same way so we asked our Greenhouse Manager Steve to step out of the warm greenhouse for a few minutes and answer five questions about seed-starting, growing your own vegetables at home, and his favorite things to grow.

Q: First off, can you tell our blog readers a little about yourself and what you do on a day-to-day basis at Van Putte Gardens?

Steve: Sure.  I’ve worked at Van Putte’s for over 25 years and I usually start off my day with watering.  It’s the most important job when it comes to our plants so it’s a priority.  Then I get into seeding and transplanting.  Things are really starting to ramp up around here with our greenhouse staff so I get everyone organized with what they’re responsible for each day.

Q: So what tips would you give someone who wants to start their own seeds for the first time?

Steve: Read the back of the seed packet!  Sounds simple and obvious, but really, there’s a wealth of information on the back of those tiny packets.  Also, don’t start stuff too early.  It’ll get overgrown and then you’ll end up having to start over.  I would recommend first-time gardeners tackle plants that are easier to start like tomatoes or marigolds rather than something like begonias.  And peppers are easy to start but you need patience – they have a 2 to 3 week germination time so you may think nothing’s happening when really, they’re just growing at their own pace.

Q: What are you up to in the greenhouse at this time of the year?

Steve: We’re planting our hanging bags this week which is always a big job. Transplanting things like pansies, and taking care of others like peppers and herbs that are already growing.  And soil!  Filling all the trays and pots we use with soil is a constant job – we have someone working on that basically every day.

Q: What fun new plants and projects are you working on?  What can we look forward to this year? 

Steve: This year we have a sample variety called Pink Sky Petunia which I’m excited to see how it grows.  Last year we sampled Night Sky Petunia which was really popular and we’re going to be growing a lot more of that one this year.  Night Sky is dark purple with white speckles like a starry night, and this new variety is similar but with a pink background for a more fun and lighthearted version.  Plus we’re growing some new vegetables specifically for small gardens and containers.  We’ve had a lot of people come in looking for smaller vegetables that would fit on a patio or deck so we’ve got dwarf varieties of eggplant, cucumber, squash, and a bunch of others.  The one I’m really looking forward to growing is Dwarf Sugar Baby which is a new dwarf watermelon.

Q: Finally, what’s your favorite thing to grow & why?

Steve: All of it!  But if I had to choose, probably the super hot peppers.  We grow the Scorpion, Ghost and Carolina Reaper peppers which are just really intense.  The Reaper is the new World Record Hottest Pepper so we have a lot of people coming in looking for that.  They’re certainly not for everyone but I think they’re a lot of fun.

If Steve piqued your interest in seed-starting but you still have a few more questions, be sure to RSVP for his free “Seed-Starting is Simple! An Interactive Garden Talk & Demo” on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 11 a.m.!

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