My favorite place to buy vegetable seeds is Gronis Hardware Store in downtown Leavenworth.

My favorite place to buy vegetable seeds is Gronis Hardware Store in downtown Leavenworth. My wife, Helen, has a hydroponics kit and has been growing tomatoes and lettuce all winter and she has a separate grow kit to get lots of seedlings started for transplanting to the garden. Well, you need seeds, of course, to start a garden with annual vegetables.

While I believe that the price is probably better than in most stores, what I really like about buying seeds at Gronis is the custom service that you get. They do have an assortment of packaged seeds like you will find in any store, but they also have shelves full of jars of bulk seed. So, they grab a jar that contains the seeds that you think that you might like and they carefully pour them onto an old brass cupped tray sitting on a balance beam.

It is music to my ears to listen to the seeds hit the tray and then to watch as the balance arm gently tips over when it goes past whatever amount by weight that you have requested. It might be old-fashioned, but in my opinion, there is no better way to buy seeds. You get a full-spectrum sensual treat and superb customer service when you buy from Gronis. I would brag about other stores with seeds, but I am not aware of any that do it this way anymore. Everyone seems to have only the packaged seeds.

While I was buying a few varieties of kale seeds and spinach, I also asked for beets and I also mentioned that I absolutely love canned beets. When I remarked that I did not know of a good recipe for canned beets, the store owner immediately gave me her recipe and instructions for canning beets.

It is such a pleasure shopping at a local store that not only provides what you need, but also has people with the personal experience to be able to provide you with information that you will need to take your hobby to its full experience. This is the kind of hardware store that brings back memories of Trenton where nearly every store or business was actually located in the front room of someone's house on the block where you lived.

Back in Trenton, Blakey's Hardware was located right next door to Nowak's Saloon and was next door to a bakery. In each of these businesses, the owners, like my grandparents with the Polish saloon, lived in the back of the store. I am certain that the owners of Gronis do not live in the store today, but the rest of the shop is very similar to how it was in when I was growing up.
Besides the seeds, I also bought a bunch of asparagus crowns and will go back to get my onion sets and potatoes. Yep, they also weight them in the scale with the balance beam. It even smells great back in the garden section. I am not sure what the rules are for chickens in Leavenworth and Lansing, but I could imagine Gronis carrying chicks, too. Actually, you can get your chicks right now at the TSC store in Lansing.

Hopefully, it will not be so hot this year and we will actually get some rain in moderate amounts at the right times during the growing season. We can only hope for the right weather for our gardens.
My next step may be to expand into aquaponics, which is a hybrid between raising fish in tanks and using the fertilized water to grow vegetables either directly on those tanks in floating trays or in separate tanks with a sterile medium. I am sure that Gronis will not be providing the fish, but I do know that I will be able to buy my seed and enjoy the sensual pleasures of listening to and seeing the fresh seed being weighed out for me. I highly recommend the experience.

Matt Nowak lives in Lansing and works as a natural resources manager.