We’re going to the Greenhouses and Growing Fields of Tim Thompson. Tim, of Southern California Plant Breeders and our mango expert, will lead our tour. He has been developing mangos for 23 years, trying to discover varieties that grow and produce really excellent fruit in our Southern California climate. He has chosen to market a few special varieties that he is currently growing. We will see his mangos growing and learn how he has developed the varieties that many of us have ordered! We will also see the other tropical and semi-tropical trees that Tim grows and hybridizes, such as guavas and dragon fruits.
Tim grew up just north of Chicago. He notes that to describe himself, he must describe his father, an innovator and amateur plant scientist. Tim’s father had the proverbial green thumb. According to Tim, he could grow almost anything with a little experimentation. Tim says that they were the only people who had a greenhouse where they lived in Illinois.
His father would often tell Tim and his brother that if you love doing something, then figure out how to turn it into a business. That’s how they could pay for a hobby. Tim worked on his first business was when he was six or seven years old. He and his brother used their Dad’s research techniques and business strategy. They went around the neighborhood in the fall as the cold weather set in and took orders for tomato plants. They ordered tomato seeds from the Burpee seed catalogue, planted them in the green house, grew them, and delivered them to the neighbors in the spring.
When he was 12 years old, Tim’s family moved to California, where they had a mini ranch in the country between Ventura and Santa Paula. They had a huge garden and the kids sold their surplus produce at a fruit stand in front of their house for spending money. Every time they heard about some new plant that produced either something tasty or something pretty, they would ask their father if it would grow where they lived. He never gave them a yes or no answer. Instead, he took them to the local library and taught them to research the subject and come up with a plan to test the idea. He always added the comment, “If you don’t see it in the neighborhood, the only way you will know if it will grow here is to try.” There was one more comment he would add: “If the Thompsons can’t grow it here then it can’t be grown here”.
We will get the chance to find out what the Thompsons can grow in Camarillo!
Note that we will not be picking up the mangos we ordered at this field trip. Tim believes the trees have not grown to a level he feels comfortable for our members to try to plant before winter. He suggests that he hold the trees in his greenhouse until May, 2015. (He will refund the order of anyone who doesn’t want to wait.) He has orders for more than 10,000 trees now, since several articles have come out referencing his mango trees. The price for the trees will also be going up but he will honor his price to those of us who have already placed our orders with the deposits. He has upped the ante for members who wait for their trees; for each order, he will include a special variety of a juicy pink tropical guava and a dragon fruit variety he is developing.
(for location, please contact us through Contact Us above)