Rainy days mean I can run errands off the farm without feeling guilty (or anxious) about not tending the garden. After a 15-minute drive to the Benton Harbor farm supply store I discovered several of my farming friends had the same idea. In the parking lot I ran into my sister-in-law’s cousin who told me he was already planning summer snowmobile race events on his pond and we chatted about how we hoped this summer wouldn’t be as bad as the last. Inside I ran into another friend with a 9-5 job but farms after hours. He was on his “lunch break” and had his arms full of spark plugs and oil for his lawnmower. As I passed the baby chicks, ducks, and geese bins another customer was buying baby runner ducks. As I looked at the poster describing the different breeds, debating if I wanted runners or those cute White Pekins. . . or if I should buy those little geese that tilted their baby heads to look at me. . . I turned around and realized I knew the runner duck-buyer from the Benton Harbor Fruit Market’s package shop where she worked and I buy all my market containers and waxed vegetable boxes. It seems a rainy day had everyone running out to get some shopping done.
By this time I was starting to realize the farm store didn’t carry anything on my shopping list: fungicide to prevent late blight on my tomatoes and potatoes, fruit tree spray, onion sets, or salt blocks without copper for the sheep. It seems farm stores cater to those with lawnmowers, All Terrain Vehicles, or horses. . . or backyard poultry.
So back in the car I drove down to Baroda to buy more onion sets from the feed mill. I was out of radish seeds and they were out of French Breakfast in bulk so I bought a few of their smaller packages. For my bulk purchase I bought a pound of Sparkler radishes, which are similar to the French Breakfast with a white tip but round. I also bought a few pounds of onion sets – and debated buying a thirty pound bag but thought about trying to harvest all those scallions.
By now the sky started clearing up but I was loving the freedom of not working in the garden and headed to Hills Road in Buchanan and passed all the wineries that, midweek, still had Illinois license plates pulling into their driveways. I was heading for Teifke (pronounced “tife key”) Farms to bother my friend David Teifke in his greenhouses. David was two years ahead of me in high school and we end up gossiping about everyone we knew as well as talked about our favorite flowers – mine are always those with deep rich colors like the Merlot geranium or the petunias picture above. The Teifke’s have been farming hundreds of acres for a few generations and David cares for nine greenhouses full of flats of annuals that the family starts to sell in early May in the farm shop. That means countless hours of work that start in January, planting tiny seeds, transplanting, making sure the furnaces don’t go out in the middle of the night, fighting voles for pepper and tomato seedlings. . . but the result is stunning.
Teifke’s Plants, 12371 Hills Rd., Buchanan MI 49107