Spring Brings Out the Gardener in Everyone

By Valerie Macdonald

Over 50 years of growing herbs
With over 50 years focusing on herbs, Richters Herbs has become both a grower and seed seller to ensure only the most flavourful ones are offered by the company, says owner Conrad Richter.

As spring sunshine warms the earth, market gardeners and hobbyists are getting ready to plant seeds and nurture seedlings.

For some, the excitement of pouring over seed catalogues began back in January. But for those ordering online or by mail, this is the month when the bulk of people get serious about what is going into peat pots or directly into the ground this season.

Since 1970, Richters Herbs has offered its herb and vegetable catalogue to home gardeners and herbalists, as well as to professional growers and herbalists, owner Conrad Richter told Ontario Farmer.

"We have specialized in herbs...for over 50 years."

The business has its herb shop and greenhouses in Goodwood.

Not surprisingly, with the spread of Covid-19, people are looking for anti-viral herbs and those supporting respiratory health, he said.

Some of the seedlings growing at Richters
Just some of the seedlings growing at Richters Herbs in Goodwood, Ontario. Herbs that are anti-viral and support respiratory function have been hot sellers due to Covid-19, owner Conrad Richter says.

This year’s most recent sales have been a "different experience" for the company with customers "focusing on health and less on good taste," Richter said.

Historically, their herb seeds and plants were viewed more as being multifaceted — used for culinary and medicinal purposes — but now the latter is centre stage, he explained.

There is a real uptake of elderberry as an effective anti-viral and on their website there is a half-hour video presentation by him done in 2013 entitled: ‘Elderberry for Health and Healing’.

Garlic is considered to have anti-viral benefits, he also noted.

Their garden catalogue outlines the medicinal impacts of the herbs they carry.

Conrad Richter of Richters Herbs holds some potted herbs
Conrad Richter of Richters Herbs, Goodwood, Ontario, holds some potted, lemon-flavoured herbs in one of his herb greenhouses.

"Plants are always being attacked by bacteria, fungi and viruses so they have developed defense mechanisms referred to as secondary metabolites," he said.

"These metabolites are not necessary for growth," Richter continued, "but to fight against bacteria, fungi and viruses".

His company sells about 500 different types of herbs annually but only about half of those are in seed form. While basil can be grown from seeds, most mints must be propagated by cuttings, he said.

Some oregano seeds produce flavourless plants but Richter said they try out seeds they don’t produce themselves to ensure they are have full flavour.

"We became both a grower and seed seller to be very familiar which want we have — and reject that that doesn’t conform," he summed up.

Excerpt of an article originally published in the Ontario Farmer, March 31, 2020..

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