Friday, July 30, 2021

Growing Pains

With increasing seed sales, comes increasing work and responsibility. One of the first things that my family suggested, to help me, was to create a return address stamp for my envelopes. The idea was that, if I had a return address stamp, I would be able to save a whole lot of time in writing out the return address information on each envelope. I was really excited to use the stamp, but the first one turned out wrong. Sometimes I feel like nothing comes easy in life. Eventually I received a return address stamp that, while occasionally finicky, has been a huge time-saver for me.

The second issue with the growth of my hobby business came when talking with a farmer about selling seed. He asked me, are you registered as a seed seller in California? The thought that I would need to register to sell seed in California was completely foreign to me. You mean that I have to complete some kind of permit and be licensed to sell seed? Apparently this is a thing. Though I have never heard of it, this was definitely something that is required here in California, so I emailed the Department of Food and Agriculture, explained to them my situation and sent a check. Because I had been selling seed for some time, I included all of the previous years of fees along with a late fee for each year for which I had not paid the fees on time. At least I can have some solace in knowing that I did the right thing, as soon as I knew what I was supposed to do.

The third issue I encountered in my business journey was the need to promote my brand. In the past when people asked me for a business card, I just told them how easy it was to find me website (cucumbershop, cucumberseed or But after someone told me that I should really have a business card, I decided it was time to take the matter seriously. I found a site that made stickers and ordered a set of sticker business cards. Just thinking about having a business card had always seemed pretty boring, so instead I choose to design a business card sticker that someone could stick to the outside of their water bottle or some other item seems a lot more interesting and fun. If nothing else, the logo is pretty cool.

The final issue I had to figure out with my business was how to work with the state of California, to enable me to legally purchase a bacterial fungicide. While bacillus subtilis strain QST 713 would most likely not hurt a fly or a bee, I was required to obtain a permit from the Solano Department of Agriculture in order to spray this organic fungicide on my plants – at least if I purchased it as CEASE from BioWorks. So I had a department of Agriculture agent for Solano County come to my residential backyard to verify that I was indeed growing the cucumber and tomato plants that I said I was growing, in order to grant me a permit to spray them with a primarily benign bacteria. Welcome to the bureaucracy! Though this was just one hoop in many to get my seed business to where I wanted it, one positive thing I learned from the experience was that I could have the a small portion of my seeds from my plot to receive a phytosanitary certificate (documentation that is sometimes required in exporting seeds abroad).

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Long Wait for Italian Seeds

On October 25th, 2019 – having noticed a slight decrease in the germination and vigor of my seed supply, I reached out to a reliable Italian seed company to restock some carosello cucumber varieties that I did not have the time or energy to grow. If I had the time and energy to describe all I did to purchase these seeds, you would wonder why it mattered so much. For anyone not familiar with the process of getting everything in order and working with bureaucracies, the process can be daunting. But after over 114 emails and many days of work and effort utilizing a friend to translate for me – along with a good deal of divine intervention, I finally received the seed package in June of 2020. It was, at least partially, worth the wait.

Acquiring high-quality foreign seed requires so much time and patience. But for me, it is the price I pay to ensure that I can continue to provide high-quality carosello varieties to others.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Customer Pictures

With a very large increase in individuals interested in growing their own little vegetable gardens has come a very large increase in cucumber seed sales. A few customers have shared some of their beautiful cucumber pictures that I would like to, in turn, share with you.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Making the Raised Bed Garden

With Covid in full swing by the end of March 2020, my seed business required an expansion. Along with expanding my seed selection, I needed to add a garden.

A nearby family friend had a front yard that would be perfect for our use, except for the fact that they had no garden in the front yard. After talking with them about an idea, we settled on the idea that I could use a little area in front of their porch to build two small raised bed gardens in. The supplies would be easy to acquire from the local hardware store. So I went to the sites, measured things, priced supplies at the local hardware stores and brought the raised bed supplies to the front yard. The raised bed garden is made out of blocks and wood that are set into place with metal rebar going through the center of the blocks.

One of the funny parts of the whole experience was when I purchased the wood frame. For the frame, I purchased long 2x6 cuts of lumber. The cuts (probably 8’ long) were too long to fit in my van, so I used some seatbelts, along with some of the raised bed cement blocks to hold the back door of my van down so that I could transfer it to another friend’s home so he could cut the wood for me. Fortunately, by the time I purchased the wood I had already measured how tall a two blocks was, so I knew that the beds would have to be at least three blocks tall in order to support healthy summer plants.

The first raised bed I filled up with mostly bagged compost from the hardware store. After recognizing how expensive that was and how quickly it would degrade (mostly decomposed wood chips), I purchased 3 cubic yards of garden soil from a local supplier. They brought it in a truck and dumped in onto the driveway, where I slowly worked to fill in the raised beds until I had no more room. Then I used a wheelbarrow to transfer the rest of the compost the half block back to my backyard. 

By the time everything was said and done, I had spent a lot of money, but then I had the whole season of sun to work with.