Saturday, December 17, 2011

The First Day of Winter is Just a Few Days Away!

As I sit here, the sky is a brilliant blue here in South-Central Kansas. It's 2:12 in the Afternoon and the temperature is 52 degrees with absolute calm and wonderful sunshine. It doesn't get better than that for a  gardener I think. I walked out this morning to my little garden and opened my Hoop-House to the open air. It's liable to get up to 90 degrees in there if I don't and the Winter Crop of Plants will suffer from the heat.
Hopefully I wont forget to close it again. The low for tomorrow morning is supposed to be 27 degrees!

I have been doing a lot of hibernating lately, except that I had to go into Wichita to see my VA doctor for an eye check-up from Cateract Surgery on my left eye the day before. On the way home, I decided to run into Hillside Feed and Seed on Hillside in Wichita. I was looking for the kind of radish seeds I wanted for next Spring. My family loves the long fat red radishes. They have different names but I'm sure these come from the same family - Different seed companies come up with different names for the same exact seeds to - well, be different! But when I run out last year, no more were to be found.  It had been a few years since I'd been to Hillside Feed and Seed. Good People. Family Owned and been there for at least 3 generations or more. As I walked into the store, I was greeted by a warm-hearted  "Russian Blue" kittie called "Lucky".  Carin (the owners daughter explained that she saw a glint along side the road while driving and noticed a kitten that was bound to be hit by traffic if he wasn't rescued. Caren opened her car door and the kitten hoped right in and introduced himself. Lucky was so friendly sitting up on an empty shelf and he greeted me at the door. I just had to stop and talk to him a few minutes. Carin said he is a mix. But we wont tell anyone about his pedigree. Meet Lucky:

But it was so dark in that hallway. Man they could use a few more lights in here... Then I remembered. I had just come from a check up a few minutes ago. And I was still wearing my Deep dark glasses to protect my eyes from strong light. I took them off. Ahhh, That's better. And my,  how they have brightened up this store with bright and shiny green garden tools on the left and bright and shiny red forks, shovels, rakes on the right. Right away I am greeted by a very nice lady Carin,  who helps run the store. We chatted about Organic Fertilizers for a garden and the regular kind too. Early next spring, I know exactly what I'm going to pick up for my growing plots. One of the things they have available is Alfalfa Meal. A great Natural, Organic Fertilizer that you can just spread and scratch in  or spread down the rows of your vegetables after they start growing. Completely safe for plants. It will never burn them. And it starts gently feeding the plants in just a few days! They also had Rabbit Pellets that give you similar results.

Carin explained to me the different kinds of fertilizer Nitrates and their effect on plants. I learned a thing or two from her explanations of Ammonical Nitrogen, Water Soluble Organic Nitrogen and Water insoluble Nitrogen. And I have a feeling, that was just the start. I'm sure this lady knew more about Fertilizer than I could learn in a few days of visits. I know where to come to when I'm feeling dumb about having good Garden Soil to plant in and what I need to help my plants to grow. Carin had the goods!

I walked over to the seed package rack but there wasn't any radishes that looked like the ones I wanted. So I asked and was told that these were last years seeds. Later on I found out that these were the left overs from last spring and summer. That is -  packaged for 2011. I just cannot see radish seed getting old that fast especially in a nice dry and cool environment like this store. Now I have a Garage that is hot enough to kill a package of Radish Seeds in 5 to 7 Days. Guaranteed. I said "That's OK, if you can find me some of those long fat radishes. She did. Carin lead me over to the Old Fashioned Seed Bins that Hillside Feed and Seed  had since 1959 when Carin's Grandfather bought the store from it's previous owner. You can buy just about any kind of seed here in bulk from Radishes to Cabbages and Sweet Corn. You won't find this at the Big Box Stores!

And sure enough. There was one there that had My Radishes. This time they were called French Breakfast Radishes. Carin got out a little scoop that look like a cross between  a Tablespoon and a small Sugar or Flour scoop. She gave me a reduced price because these were "Old" seeds. The new ones are due in February I believe she said.  Anyway, I got a regular sized garden seed envelope - that had 6 X the number of seeds I was used to - no matter what the price - for $1.70! Gee Grace - What a bargain! Then I remembered, that's why I used to go to Hillside Feed and Seed. They always had reasonable prices.

But before I close, I would like to say. This store has done a tremendous job of keeping up with the times on Products but beating out the Big Box Garden outlets by a Mile for service, knowledge and friendly garden advice. Just for Christmas, you could spend half a day looking through all the beautiful Garden Decorations and Bird Houses. Lots of Bird feeders. Health Food Products and Accessories for Dogs and Cats . These people love animals and it shows! So, if you get a chance, I would personally recommend checking out their store on South Hillside near George Washington Boulevard. It's nice to know that there are still stores like this around. You'll be happily surprised. And By the Way, you can see them on Facebook - Hillside Feed and Seed


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