Developing a green thumb

Published 9:48 am Friday, March 27, 2009

It seems the declining economy has caused a lot of people around Chelsea to develop a green thumb.

So many people have come into Eric Peterson’s store wanting advice on gardening that he decided to hold gardening seminars.

“Customers come in saying, ‘Eric, I want to do a little gardening, but I don’t know where to start,'” said Peterson.

So, he’s teaching them things such as selecting a site and designing the lay-out, whether to go with organic gardening, selecting and caring for plants, and ways to keep pests out. Which isn’t easy with the abundance of crows, squirrels and deer in the area.

“There are so many sub-divisions now, and people wanting to garden in their backyard, that we put a focus on gardening in small spaces and using raised beds and containers,” Peterson said. “The soil is not very good around here, and this way you can bring in good soil for a garden.”

He pointed out the importance of matching seeds and plants to the right type of soil and the region of the country in which they’re planted.

Peterson said he is even closing out his clothing line to make room for more agricultural supplies. He’s added a hot house where he keeps plants, and is beginning to grow some of his own. And customers can buy loose seeds the old fashioned way, by weight instead of in packages.

He also has horse feed and supplies and has added small engine repair to his services. “People kept asking if we repair lawn mowers,” he said. Now they can bring in not only lawn mowers, but other equipment with small engines.”

Peterson said he grew up farming on his family’s farm in south Alabama. “That’s before people knew about child labor laws,” he joked.

His mother worked 30 years for the Department of Agriculture, he said, and his family is agriculture oriented.

Peterson’s next seminar will be held at his business, Shelby Ag Supply, on CR 39 in Chelsea, on April 1 from 10 a.m. until noon. There is no charge for the seminars, but he likes for participants to call ahead to be sure he has plenty of seminar material on hand. You may call him at 678-4250 or visit his Web site at