Ag Voices: Starting from seed

by | Oct 3, 2011

Matt Currin, a sophomore at N.C. State University, recently planted 6,500 pansies in his greenhouse in Wendell.

Matt Currin, one of the students participating in our Ag Voices series,  started a nursery business with his father when we was still in high school. Now a sophomore at N.C. State University, he is in the process of growing his first crop of pansies. He sent us the following post about his experience.

Currin’s Cedars and Nursery is a small business I helped start with my father, Johnny Currin, about 5 years ago. My father has grown Eastern Red Cedar trees even before I was born, but I decided to tag another part onto the production, with my father’s help, back when I was a sophomore in high school. That part is where the nursery comes into play.

To keep it short, I currently own a commercial size greenhouse (30’ by 60’) and during this season, I am growing pansies, or Viola x wittrockiana. The 6,500 pansies are planted, germinated and already growing, and will hopefully start to flower in the next 3 to 4 weeks so they will be ready for market. By market, I mean local home gardeners, landscapers and anybody else interested in beautifying their yard for the cold season.

Since this is my first time growing pansies, it has been a bit tricky. They aren’t your usual plants to grow from seeds because they have to be germinated in the dark and then, when the first leaves pop out of the soil, they must be moved to light immediately. That caused some problems at first, but all is up and running now. Watering and fertilizing for the first week was difficult to deal with because I was unsure of how much or how little to add. But, as my mother says, “it’s a learning experience.”

I can guarantee I am learning a lot through this whole process, not only growing pansies, but also managing and operating my own greenhouse and nursery. I will learn a lot more through the upcoming year with my big spring production, and with growing ornamental plants, trees and shrubs.