Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The nursery tour

Midweek last week I went off to Bath County, VA to visit friends at Walatoola and to scour local nurseries for tomato plants. Our day began with breakfast in a town that time forgot. The town of Low Moor, Virginia was once a thriving community built around the mining of iron ore. The old “company store” is today Averill’s Store and it is presided over by Granny Averill who celebrated her 99th birthday last January. Not only does Granny run the cash register, but as we were eating our breakfast (cooked for us by her 68 year old son) Granny took to the piano and played a snappy version of Easter Parade for our dining pleasure. No flies on Granny.

Our first nursery stop was in Covington. It is a daunting operation to run a nursery this time of year and the owner informed us that much of the work was being done for free by two friends. They had repotted 4,000 tomato plants the day before and were on their way to another 4,000 as we watched. I bought some German Johnson’s, Mortgage Lifters, and some cauliflower there as well as some harvest baskets.

Our next stop was at Longdale Nursery on VA Rte. 42 in Longdale. It is a funky little nursery with plenty for a single owner to do. The speckled swan gourds hanging from the barn to dry and the “boot planter” give it a homey feel. It was here last year that I first encountered the tomato variety Box Car Willie. It was this variety that won the blue ribbon at the Ag Fair last year. But alas there were no BCW’s to be seen. When I inquired, the owner asked if I could come back in 10 days. I explained that I would not be in the area and asked if she could pot up four seedlings for me which she did along with some Italian Sweet seedlings. Italian Sweet may be the best tomato I have ever tasted. I left Longdale a happy camper.

We stopped by the farm for lunch and then headed over the mountains to Rockbridge Baths. There we found a highly efficient floral operation at Mountain View Farm Greenhouse. I was not in the market for flowers though I did pick up a geranium. They had a good selection of herbs, and I came away with a selection of dill, sage and marjoram.

I did pick up a garden tip at Rockbridge Baths. I noticed that the watering wands in these greenhouses were all resting vertically. There were little wire nooses hanging from the tops of the greenhouses or pergolas and the head of the watering wand rested in these nooses. The owner said it really saves wear and tear on the watering wands (which they buy by the dozens) to rest them this way.

Our day of meandering through nurseries in Bath, Alleghany and Rockbridge counties in Virginia was a success.

1 comment:

Judith said...

What a blissful trip this is--hunting down tomatoes in VA! Nothing could be finer. I like your photos, too--the boot is a hoot. Interesting tip about the watering wand--I have volunteered in a greenhouse where the wand was hung in such a way.