Last Wednesday, I stopped by the Parkesdale Greenhouses to visit Grandma Parke and Colleen. There’s just something really neat about being in a greenhouse early in the morning. Since 1977, Grandma Parke and Colleen have been working together at the same greenhouses. Not much has changed since they started. The process is always the same. When July rolls around is time to start the “seedlings”.
All of their tomato and pepper plants are grown from seed! How they sort out 25,000 seeds I'll never know!
This season they’ll be growing the following tomato varieties: Big Boy, Better Boy, Whopper, Plum, Grape, Cherry and Tomatillo. You can find these varieties at our market from October to May. One of my favorite things to do at the market is walk around and pick out the fresh tomatoes right off the vines. Don't worry, I don't take them all! It actually helps the plant produce more tomatoes if the ripes one are removed continuously. And I'll do anything to help our plants produce more tomatoes!
They also grow many varieties of peppers. This year, we’ll have the following sweet peppers: green, yellow, red, and orange bell pepper, sweet pickle and sweet banana.
If you are into hot peppers, then we’ll have the following: Thai hot, Nu Mex Twilight, Jalapeno, Long Red Slim, Orange Habanero, White Habanero (yellow), Scotch Bonnet Habanero, Purple Flesh, Anaheim, Serrano, Cherry Bomb, Bolivian Carrot, Super Chili, Prairie Fire, Purple Jalapeno and Bolivian Rainbow. Honestly, I haven’t heard half of these names! Have you?
According to Colleen, we should have the Poblano peppers at the market pretty soon. These are mostly mild peppers used in Mexican cooking for Chile Relleno. They are perfect for roasting and stuffing. We’ll also be featuring Cajun Belle this year for the first time. They are a miniature bell pepper with a spicy flavor that is a tasty blend of heat and sweet.
And of course, we can’t forget our beautiful Strawberry Baskets. Between Grandma Parke and Colleen, they will plant about 5,000 strawberry baskets. This year, they are planting Festival and Camino Real strawberries. These strawberry baskets won’t be at our market until they are a bit bigger and are bearing fruit. We should have the strawberry baskets at our market around Thanksgiving or early December through sometime in March or April.
As you would imagine, a lot of work goes into planning a growing season. And a lot of help is also needed. Thanks to Grandma Parke, Colleen and her husband Terry, who is in charge of irrigation and repair maintenance, we are very fortunate to provide our customers with the healthiest, most beautiful tomato, pepper and strawberry plants in Hillsborough County.