0488 919 666
Attendance at market
Distance from market
10 August 2016
CONTACT PHIL TIMMS
Phil has been growing and selling his seedlings since 1994 when the Moruya Country Markets were held in the car park behind the Adelaide Hotel. The mix of plants has responded to demand and over time vegetable and herb seedlings have replaced the annual flowers and “potted colour”.
When Phil first came to Australia from his native UK at age 18, he studied at Hawkesbury Agricultural College for a Diploma of Horticulture. This followed on from a long interest in gardening, nurtured at the family vegetable allotment.
Growing seedlings for 22 years has taught Phil to be efficient and to maintain his operation at a scale that is manageable by one person. He cannot compete on price with the big seedling companies who use computer controlled mechanised seeders in huge glasshouses, and concentrates instead on growing plants in local conditions for local conditions.
He goes to the extra trouble of preparing his own organic seed raising mix. Unlike commercial blends, this contains no artificial fertilisers which can make seedlings have lots of leaf growth but poor root development. The slight downside of this principle is that each seedling needs a bigger volume of growing medium, but Phil’s return customers tell him how well his plants respond to transplanting.
It takes 6 to 8 weeks to get seedlings to a market ready size, and they require care every step of the way. Long holidays are not on his agenda, as they create a big interruption to the continuity required for a steady supply of plants at the stall.
Any surplus salad seedlings are planted out in the vegetable garden to be picked for Phil’s salad mix bags. The salad garden is very inventive, and is based on circular beds around 3 metres diameter. There are 13 beds and at any one time 2 of them have a “chicken dome” with 10 laying hens over them. After a 6 week growing period the greens are trampled (we helped with this and it was difficult – the greens looked so pristine) and the chicken dome is moved onto the lush foliage.
The eggs help the chickens to “break even” and are not the main game. Phil uses them as labour to cultivate, de-weed and fertilise the beds ready for the next planting. This is the only input needed for strong, healthy greens.
Phil values his time at the SAGE Farmers Market for the social interaction as much as the business, and enjoys chatting with other growers after the rush has subsided. Like many other growers, he has found that the secret of sustainability is finding the right scale.