Custom potting is one of the special services offered this spring at the Johnson Farms Plants and Pumpkins garden center. Simply bring in a container (or if it’s heavy, just the measurements) and the staff will design a mix of colorful plants to brighten a deck, porch or patio.
“If we know the diameter and depth of the pot as well as the location—sun or shade—then we can put together a collection in a recycled fiber pot that you just pop in when you get home,” says owner Jeanne Johnson. She says the design staff also will assist customers who want to think up their own “recipe.” To make the shopping experience as easy as possible, most plants are organized not only by sun tolerance, but are alphabetized according to botanical names.
The 140-acre farm at 177th Street and Holmes Road (about 3 ½ miles south of Martin City) is known for you-pick vegetables in late summer and pumpkins in the fall, but beginning in April through mid-June the retail center offers annuals, perennials, vegetables and fruit plants as well as a huge selection of over 5,000 hanging baskets, combo planters and flower pouches.
New this year are an assortment of Brazel Berries (TM), a collection of compact blueberry and raspberry bushes that are easily grown in containers or for small landscapes. Three varieties for sale are Peach Sorbet blueberries, Raspberry Shortcake raspberries and Jelly Bean blueberries. Lemon and lime trees also are available. While these must be wintered inside (a bright corner of the house is best), Johnson says it’s worth the trouble. “They smell so good when they bloom—better than gardenias!”
Johnson says staff recently planted 5,000 apple trees, and in the coming weeks they’ll be putting tomatoes, peppers, beets, sweet corn, turnips and various cruciferous vegetables in the ground. Season passes to the farm will be sold later in the summer for families to experience the pumpkin patch, farm animals, hayrides, playground and jumping pillows. But no passes are required to shop now at the 1 ½ -acre greenhouse.
Johnson, who also is board president of KC Common Table (a nonprofit associated with the national One World Everybody Eats organization), purchased the farm with her husband about 16 years ago. Before that, the land was a hobby farm for a local heart surgeon. The Johnsons use integrated pest management, spraying only when necessary and rotating products, and pump water from a small lake on the property to be as sustainable as possible. For more information see johnsonfarms.net.