Since blessed fall has finally arrived, now's the time to start prepping that patio or backyard garden for planting. Play your cards right, and you'll have plenty of produce to pick from for the next couple months -- instead of being forced to buy plastic-wrapped crap at Publix.
The Little River Cooperative Nursery. is hosting its Heirloom Tomato Seedling Sale this weekend. While the sale is in its fourth year, this is its first at the newly built nursery. But it's not just about tomatoes. This is a gardener's dream come true. They'll have everything from Cubanelle peppers to Garden Peach tomatoes to Red Veined Sorrel -- and lots more.
See also: Five Reasons to Join a CSA for Fall
So why buy from the co-op and not Home Depot? To start with, they buy organic seeds from specialists, while Home Depot's are hybrids (aka genetically altered, and not for taste).
"We sell organic seeds, and organic plants that, besides being grown from organic seed, also are grown in an organic potting mix. The ingredients of our potting mix are extensive ... we make our own compost from kitchen scraps from local restaurants, local horse manure and bedding, peat moss, and kelp meal and chicken manure as an organic fertilizer. It takes us 18 months to two years just to make the compost for our specialty seedling mix," says Tiffany Noe, co-owner of the co-op.
"Home Depot tomatoes are not organic, not heirloom, they are grown in a warehouse in a different state and shipped down to miami and put on the shelves of a huge corporate chain," she adds. Meanwhile, buy plants from the coop and they're organic, locally grown, painstakingly tended to and the money stays in our local economy.
Plus, their plants are sold in biodegradable peat pots, which leaves them out of landfills and makes it easy to plant them right in the ground without disturbing plant roots.
So what will be available this weekend? Lots.
Cherries: Sungold, Everglades Cherry, Yellow Pear, Black Cherry, Blueberries
Medium: Green Zebra, Garden Peach, Costoluto Genovese, Black Prince, Amish Red, Red Zebra. Black Seaman, Amber Colored
Large: Arkansa Marvel, Homestead 24, Atkinson, Chocolate Stripes, Mortgage Lifter, Gold Medal, Black Krim, Anahu
Paste/Sauce: Jersey Devil, Amish Paste, Purple Russian
Hot: Ilica, Cayenne Long Red, Hungarian Hot Wax, Habanero, Purple Jalapeno
Sweet: Cubanelle, Shishito, Cupid, Arroz con Pollo, Pepperoncini
Florida Market, Listada de Gancia, Black Beauty, Prosperosa
Kale, Collards, Mustards, Escarole, Arugula, Swiss Chard, Mizuna, Red Veined Sorrel, Lettuces
Okra, Fennel, Cucumber, Patty Pan Squash, Zuchini
Lemongrass, Oregano, Cuban Oregano, Citrus Basil, Parsley
Albion Strawberries, Chandler Strawberries, Pineapples, Lima Beans, Hyacinth Beans, Winged Beans, Pea Vine aka Butterfly Pea, Cranberry Hibiscus, Papalo, Nasturtiums, Calendula, Moringa, Surinam Spinach, Malabar Spinach
They also use a special recipe of homemade compost, peat, perlite and organic kelp meal for potting mix and feeding seedlings daily -- with organic fish emulsion. So basically, these plants get lots of TLC.
As far as prices, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in peat pots are $4 each or buy 5 get one free. Greens, herbs and flowers in peat pots are $3 each. Some plants, especially perennials and herbs, are in 5" pots and prices will vary. Everything is while-supplies-last, so get there early.
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"We really started the plant selling project because of Home Depot, because there isn't another place in Miami where you can go and get some of the extremely unique varieties of plants that can and should be grown here in our subtropical crazy climate," Noe adds. "We also sell organic soil amendments, seed packets, and local compost from a new company called Historic Compost."
They'll be accepting cash, check, or Square payments. The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Little River Cooperative Nursery, 115 NE 76th St., Little Haiti.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.