Johnson's Fill-A-Flat Sale starts in stores today.

Hello, again!

Our business roots go back to 1928 when my grandfather Orie Johnson ‘truck farmed’ and sold vegetables at the Johnson & Binford Market at Douglas and West Streets in West Wichita just off of what we called ‘Cannonball Highway’. Cannonball was the stagecoach route which started on Wichita’s West Street, ran west along Maple Street and then hooked up with what is now U.S. 54 going west to Kingman.

By the time my siblings and I came along, Orie had retired from truck farming and our father Harold was running ‘Orie Johnson’s’, which we know now as Johnson’s Garden Centers. Orie spent his time in the greenhouses propagating annuals for our bedding plant sales. The three Johnson boys all followed in our family’s footsteps with careers working with plants.

I find myself being a bit like Orie in that going back to the root of our business is what I enjoy most. I still find myself getting my hands dirty working in the soil, planting a small garden or spending time in the greenhouses. I know my brothers do as well. Visiting with my brother Linden yesterday, I know that although he retired from his business Johnson’s Legacy Landscapes, he still enjoys the outdoors and stays busy adding plants to his landscape and giving us a hand as needed.

My middle brother Wes spent years operating his greenhouse in Hesston, and now along with Megan and their son Orie, owns and operates 0rie’s Farm Fresh. Orie’s is an urban farm nestled in the heart of Northwest Wichita specializing in garlic, growing about twenty varieties each year. In addition to garlic, Orie’s grows a wide array of seasonal vegetables and herbs, raises grass-fed lamb, and produces a full line of handcrafted, all-natural, full-flavored seasonings.

Late in his life, Orie Johnson still grew a garden. I remember his last crop of Rocky Ford cantaloupe behind the garden center. I’m estimating it was over 100’ in length, way more than would supply all of the employees at the garden center, but that’s what he enjoyed doing.

While we three boys all learned what we needed to know about our businesses from Dad and Orie, I have wondered how much easier it would have been for Orie to take a little from what Wes is doing in growing many of his food items in containers. Wes grows his plants in large containers, 15-20 gallon pots. His tomatoes flourish in well-drained organic soil and slow release fertilizer to feed for weeks. There’s no bending over to harvest, cultivate and tend his crops.

If you’re interested in giving container gardening a try, here are a few tips:

1. Select the largest container you can for your crops. We have EarthBox, Smart Pots and more, which are perfect for gardens on the patio.

2. Select a professional potting media for growing in. I use ferti-lome Ultimate Potting Mix in all of my containers.

3. Feed regularly. Vegetables are heavy feeders, and I like to use ferti-lome Blooming and Rooting at planting. For my long-term feeding option, I’ll use ferti-lome Tomato and Vegetable Food.

Come see us for all of your gardening needs - for plants in the ground or in containers.

Your friend in the garden,

Marty Johnson
Owner - Johnson's Garden Centers

P.S. Today is the FIRST day of our 35th Annual Fill-A-Flat Sale! Stop by this weekend for your favorite summer flowering annuals.