Nurturing Heirloom Plants at the Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles

Nurturing Heirloom Plants at the Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles
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Tammy Holloway has a public confession to make. In 1991, she became infatuated with heirloom seeds. During that time, she lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and was introduced to heirloom seeds by the Amish community. The question she kept asking herself over and over again was: Isn't it fascinating that a tiny seed, over 50 years old, could be saved and sprouted, and years later, grow the finest quality and tastiest produce?

This avid gardener will be the first to admit that she didn't really know what she was doing in the beginning. In fact, there are many days even now where she tinkers around in her garden, transplanting a new variety, and wondering if she has chosen the right location. She often thinks aloud, Did I take proper care when transferring the plant from our Bed & Breakfast window sill to the freshly tilled earth?

A stroll through the gardens of Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles reveals that Tammy does indeed know what she is doing. Last year she and her husband grew over 32 varieties of tomatoes. The colors ranged from deep orange, purple, and crimson, to bright yellows and greens. Their passion of organic, heirloom farming has paid off! The innkeepers serve tomatoes well into December!

She and her husband have been collecting heirloom seeds for over 20 years. They learned to save the seeds that were left on their plates, perhaps from one of their favorite summer meals--a sun-ripened tomato sandwich. They would rescue the seed, wash it, let it dry, and store it in a jar or envelope, making sure to label and describe it.

Five years later, when they moved to Woodbridge,Virginia, the couple retrieved the seeds and started gardening organically. The process they use today hasn't changed much. They begin by sprouting the seeds indoors, using the purest soil, and rotating the seedlings throughout their Bed & Breakfast, ensuring they are exposed to varying degrees of light. Some seeds grow...and some don't.

Spring is the time of year when Jim and Tammy begin planting the seeds. They note how inspiring it is to peruse the Seed Savers website in the deep, cold, dark of winter, dreaming of the brighter, warmer days. Nurturing their garden has become a labor of love--and they absolutely enjoy sharing the bounty with their guests at the breakfast table.

When guests gather to eat breakfast at their inn, they partake in a variety of fresh produce that was grown just 15 feet away. Tastebuds dance with delight for the cukes, melons, peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes. And, if guests are lucky enough to be at the inn when there is an abundance, you can visit the Abundance Farm Stand in the backyard, throw a few dollars in the jar, and leave with heirloom produce to remind you of your wonderful stay at the Bay Haven Inn of Cape Charles.

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