Tips for Buying Healthy & Safe Plants this Growing Season

As many of us excitedly hurry out to plant sales and garden stores this season, be sure to use your garden dollars and sense wisely when purchasing plants. While most plants look healthy and safe for us to take home, we want to ensure that they are by offering a few simple to-dos keep our homes, garden soil, water and pollinators safe. Large industrial greenhouses and nurseries that supply plants to our local stores may  be using harmful chemicals or incubating fungal diseases that can cause a chain of weakening events in our landscapes and injure pollinators. Review the steps below.

Steps to Source Safe and Healthy Plants

  1. Ask Yourself: Are you purchasing plants from reputable sources?  Whether it is a small-scale farmer, a garden center or a huge box store, make sure you can trust the way they grow their plants as well as where they source their seeds. If they have trusted practices and can answer the questions below, you are likely on your way to selecting healthy plants.
  2. Select Disease Resistant Plants. Your grower/store should have plants labeled that have a special resistant to rot or other fungal diseases. For example, a label with “VF” is resistant to Verticillium and Fusarium wilt. If you have disease issue at home, be sure to ask the supplier if they have any varieties that are resistant to these diseases.
  3. Closely inspect plants for signs of insects, diseases or poor care. Lightly brush hand over tops of plants, if you see fly-like insects appear, avoid purchasing these plants. Avoid plants with leaves that wilted, curling, spotted, or have holes and avoid plants that have discolored stems/lesions. Take a few transplants from their containers (if root bound) and notice if the roots are brown/black in color.  Look for plants that are sturdy and appropriately colored.
  4. Ask your grower what soil mix they used on the plants and if it is organic. If it is not certified organic or they cannot prove that the soil mix is chemical free, you may be transporting toxic soil to your home if you buy it.
  5. Ask your grower if their transplants/seedlings are neonicotinoid free. Most garden centers and growers should understand these chemicals and be ready to respond. Do not bring home plants that have been sprayed with any herbicide. pesticide nor insecticide.

For more info on neonicotinoids, check out the Xerces Society free PDF, “NeonicsInYourGarden.pdf.” From annual vegetables to large edible and ornamental fruit trees, the small and steady pressure we put on plant producers by asking and only buying plants that fit the practices above can clean up the toxic plant industry. Lets tell them what we want through our careful questions and with our purchasing power. Now or never.

If you are in need of organic vegetable and herb transplants, be sure to come to our 3rd Annual Plant Sale with  Wozupi Tribal Gardens this Thursday May 16th at the Tiny Diner from 5-8pm.

Tiny Diner May Classes & Events 2017

Our May calendar is set with tons of helpful spring classes and events at the Tiny Diner (1024 E. 38th Street Mpls, MN). Check them out.  If you have any questions or would like to request a specific workshop or teach one, please contact our Permaculture Education Coordinator Andrea Eger:


Buying Healthy, Safe Plants: 101

Tuesday May 9th, 6:30-7:30pm

Are the plants you buy from stores safe for you, your family and garden? Are they healthy plants? Some plants may have harmful chemicals like herbicides and insecticides, or pest infestations. Come learn the basics to purchase healthy and safe plants.

Instructors: Andrea Eger, TD Permaculture Education Coordinator, and Koby Jeschkeit-Hagen, TD Garden, Farm and Market Adviser, team up to provide an energetic hour of plant talk. With experience in greenhouse growing, urban and rural farm management, and transplant sourcing, they bring real-world tips and tons of energy to help you source healthy plants.


Pre-Planting Tiny Diner Tour

Thursday May 11th, 6:30-7:30pm

What will the TD Gardens grow this year? Come take a tour before we get our transplants in the ground. We will highlight planter designs and the crops that we are growing for our kitchen.

Instructor: Koby Jeschkeit-Hagen, TD Garden, Farm and Market Adviser, installed the TD Gardens since the beginning. With experience in rural and urban permaculture designs, and in farm production, she melds function with aesthetic and edible integrity. and would like to see it replicated throughout homes and businesses in the Twin Cities.


Wozupi Organic Plant Starter Sale 

Thursday May 18th, 5-8pm

Can’t wait to dig your hands in the summer soil? Neither can we.

The Tiny Diner Farmers Market is celebrating the start of the farmers’ market season by partnering up with Wozupi Tribal Gardens of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and their Organic Tribal Farm. Stop by Tiny Diner or order ahead online to purchase herb, vegetable, and fruit starter plants.

Are you a planner? So are we. And your garden will thank you for it – PRE-ORDER TO RESERVE your plant starts for sale for pick-up at Tiny Diner here:

Wozupi is an organic farm committed to growing food in a way that nourishes the earth, the community, and people’s minds and bodies. Using environmentally-sustainable and fair labor practices, we grow vegetables, herbs and fruit, produce eggs, honey, and maple syrup, and provide educational, therapeutic, and fun opportunities at the farm and through community outreach. Our produce and eggs are USDA certified organic.

We are owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, a federally-recognized, sovereign Indian tribe, located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Since opening in 2010, Wozupi, which means “garden” in the Dakota Language, has encompassed the tribe’s focus on being a good neighbor, good employer, and good steward of the earth.


Growing From Seed

Saturday May 20th, 2-3pm

Growing flowers, herbs, and vegetables from seed can seem difficult. But with a few good tips and some good seeds, it can be quite easy and fun. By starting from seeds, we can choose more diverse plant varieties than we find in at the stores.

RSVP required: Send and email with subject heading, “Growing From Seed” to Andrea Eger:


Mulch 101

Tuesday May 30th, 630-730pm

What is mulch and why is it important for our gardens, farms, and potted plants? Come learn how to source, apply and work with mulch in your space. It will save you money, labor power, as well as make your plant healthier.

Meet the 2017 Farm, Market and Garden Staff!

Every season is different at the Tiny Diner. And we are not just talking about our gardens, menu and weather. This season we have a new fabulous farm, garden and market staff to increase local food access and our skillets and awareness for sound land stewardship.

Our farm, garden and market staff consists of five powerhouse people. Andrea Eger, with an organic farming and social justice organizing background, is our Permaculture Education Coordinator as well as the Farmer’s Market and Garden Liaison. She is an effervescent resource so be sure to connect with her for any idea you may have.

Tony Root is our Rural Farm Manager for our rented farmland plot at Garden Farme (owned by Bruce Bacon). He loves food and farming as an art and is working hard to produce lots of vegetables for all 8 Bartmann restaurants, including the Tiny Diner.

Cody Mastel, once a Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate Apprentice at the Tiny Diner, is our Garden Lead this season. He is in charge of installing and managing at the Gardens around the restaurant. He has a great passion to share his experience with permaculture design, perennial and edible plants, and their flavors, with you.

Katie Myrhe of RED Food is our Farmers’ Market Manager. She is organizing vendors, creating market themes, and finding ways to ensure all community members can access our market goods.

As for me, I will continue to train staff, teach public classes, provide consultations and design with the Tiny Diner staff as the Farm, Market, and Garden Adviser. I am very excited about this flourishing season. I hope you are too. Come enjoy our mneu, gardens, classes, farmers’ market (beginning June 29th) and other events. It’s the little things – like food, fun, and passion – that keep us going healthy and strong.

More next week! For more info on our staff, check out our short bios on our “Recipe for a Tiny Diner” page.

Koby Jeschkeit-Hagen

Tiny Diner

Farm, Market and Garden Adviser

MSP Mag Restaurant Week February 19-24, 2017

Celebrate the best of Twin Cities dining with a week’s worth of great deals in the Twin Cities’ trendiest and best restaurants. Tiny Diner is featuring a 2 course $15 lunch menu and a 3 course $20 dinner menu.

And the winner of the 3rd Annual Tomato Tasting is…

This past glorious Sunday, we had over 120 people come to the 3rd Annual Tomato Tasting at the Tiny Diner. In partnership with Seed Sages, we had 35+ varieties donated by local farmers and gardeners (see the list below). With great music in the background by Heart of a Tinman and Eli Utne, 81people voted for their 1st, 2nd and 3rd favorite varieties. Thank you to the following volunteers and tomato growers for donating their time and tomatoes: Lisa Ringer of Two Pony Gardens, Kim and Kim Ganske of Bloomington Gardens, Nick Colacci of Simply Sprouts MN, Mary Stade of south Minneapolis, Les Macare of Racing Heart Farm, Taya Schulte of Tiny Diner @ Garden Farme, Andrea Eger of Hungry Turtle Farm, Cody Mastel of Land By Hand, and Seed Sages (For a complete list of tomatoes at the Tasting and their sources and rankings, please write to


The 1st Place Winner of the Tasting was Chocolate Sprinkles from Andrea Eger of Hungry Turtle Farm!

Andrea Eger, Farm Liasion of Hungry Turtle Farm in Amery, WI, shows off her fabulous Chocolate Sprinkles.
Andrea Eger, Farm Liasion of Hungry Turtle Farm in Amery, WI, shows off her fabulous Chocolate Sprinkles.

2nd Place Winner is Black Cherry from Cody Mastel of Land By Hand. And last but not least is our 3-Way tie for 3rd Place: Sungold and White Cherry from Lisa Ringer of Two Pony Gardens and Black Krim from Andrea Eger of Hungry Turtle Farm.

2nd Place Winner: Black Cherry from Cody Mastel of Land By Hand
2nd Place Winner: Black Cherry from Cody Mastel of Land By Hand


3rd Place Winner 3-Way Tie: Black Krim of Hungry Turtle Farm
3rd Place Winner 3-Way Tie: White Cherry from Lisa Ringer of Two Pony Gardens


3rd Place Winner 3-Way Tie: Sungold from Lisa Ringer of Two Pony Gardens
3rd Place Winner 3-Way Tie: Sungold from Lisa Ringer of Two Pony Gardens