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Get to know Jaci! Head of Research and Development
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Get to know Jaci! Head of Research and Development

If it's on our roster, she's picked it, tested it, grown it and probably cooked with it.

(Or turned it into an earring!)

She's the Head of Research and Development at Pinetree Garden Seeds but to us, she's so much more. 
Full of laughter, exuberance, patience, and an unbeatable passion for gardening, Jaci is our guiding light. She has been the head of our trial gardens for the last 12 years, graced our YouTube page with lots of tips and tricks and can name a cultivar faster than you can remember which email you used to create an account. 

Read on to learn more about the woman behind the seeds

 

WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTO GARDENING?

I started gardening at 19. I was always an outdoorsy child and loved plants but didn't grow up gardening. I grew my first little garden in the summer of 1996 in my Nano’s yard (that's the name I gave my grandma when I was 2 ).

My big first lesson in my first year was how much sun vegetables really need. I ended up planting in an area that got more shade than I realized after the maple trees leafed out. That didn't stop or discourage me though - my passion was born, I needed to learn more!

I moved to Maine a year later and lived in a cabin on an old 300 acre farm. There was open land available to use and I just started working at Pinetree that winter so I had all the seeds I needed to get started. I tilled up a plot and grew more than I ever had. The addiction started (getting free seeds from Pinetree as an employee helped this along) and the next season, I bought a house up the road with a few acres and that is where I continue to garden today: 23 years later!

In the last 23 years, I have had a small CSA style farm for 7 years where I grew hundreds of pounds of seed garlic each season all while working at Pinetree part-time in the summer and full-time during the winter. 

 

IF YOU COULD DESIGN YOUR PERFECT GARDEN, WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?

 Oh my, this is a loaded question, I will try and keep it short and sweet.

First, I would have very large Geodesic dome greenhouse so I could grow food in the winter and it would be heated geothermally. I would have an aquaculture set up and a living swimming pool to enjoy in the winter. A hammock would be strung about somewhere, some butterflies and a few birds would be living in there too. The outdoor veggie and flower garden area would be grown around the dome in concentric circles and another pond with a waterfall would supply my water for the garden and my swimming needs. And I would have fruit trees growing on the outskirts of all this.    

(SOUNDS DREAMY RIGHT??)


GARDENS CAN BE TIME CONSUMING. HOW DO YOU BALANCE TENDING TO PINETREE'S GARDENS WITH THE ONE YOU HAVE AT HOME?

First, I now have lovely folks here at Pinetree that help me tend to the gardens. This is especially helpful too as I move into more of my roll as the Research and Development Manager. I have found balance by intensely mulching with leaves, straw, and compost in my home garden. This helps me keep my garden mostly under control  from overwhelming weeds, as weeding is the most time consuming chore in my veggie garden and landscape.   

 

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WEEKEND DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU? 

Sleeping in past 6 am, cooking good food on Sundays and being creative in someway.



DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE METHOD YOU SWEAR BY EVERY YEAR TO KEEP YOUR GARDEN GROWING?

Mulching and adding compost.


WHAT'S THE ONE THING YOU'D NEVER GARDEN WITHOUT?

Its hard to say this but my phone- for my camera! I always need a photo of something growing and, I want to listen to some jams and podcasts. I do like the silence gardening brings to my mind so I try to live in balance and be without my phone at times too. 

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST GARDEN OR SEED FAILURE?

Losing all of my favorite garlic variety in one season. I had been growing that variety for almost 20 years!!! I did share it over the years and ended up getting a few bulbs back to build up my stock again. 


WHEN DID YOU START WORKING AT PINETREE?

February 1999


WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE PARTS ABOUT WORKING AT PINETREE?

My favorite part is working with and being a part of the GREAT team we have here at Pinetree and sharing my knowledge of gardening to folks who are just starting out. I love and feel so fortunate to be able to grow all the different types of seeds and varieties over the years.

My least favorite?  The Pinetree driveway- the bumps are back! Sorry Melissa, I know you fixed it last season but man winters are hard on that driveway. 

 (#MAINE)


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO GROW?

Favorite right now - I have transitioned to growing more flowers over the past couple of years - half of my garden space is flowers now. In the past, veggies were my main focus. 

LEAST FAVORITE?

Corn. It just takes up SO much space so I tend to support other local farms now for fresh corn.

MOST CHALLENGING?

Squash! The darn squash bugs and now the vine borer has finally found it's way into my garden 😡

MOST REWARDING?

Garlic, onions and shallots because I can keep them stored all winter long

 

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE 'NERDY' SEED FACT?

I can’t think of anything right now, but get me at a party and the nerdy gardening lady truly comes out!

Recently, while I was walking through the fulfillment floor, some folks were talking about a certain seed and someone asked:

“Jaci, what is the seed that looks like a Whoopie Pie?” 

Me:  “The hyacinth bean”- it really does look like the famous Maine dessert!


WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU AREN'T GARDENING?

I love creating and crafting-  making jewelry and baskets. I also love painting, reading, and running. When spring and summer hits, it is time to be in the woods hiking or on the water paddle-boarding.  

DO YOU LISTEN TO ANY PODCASTS?

Yes, I like to listen to other peoples life stories: The Moth is a good one. I like interesting science stuff, and I even like a good mystery podcast too. There is not enough time to listen to everything I would like to and I have to balance that with listening to all the music I love. 


SO, WHATS THE MUSIC YOU LISTEN TO MOST? (IN OR OUT OF THE GARDEN)

I am just gonna say it- I love Phish!  And also: Foals, Twenty One Pilots, Cold War Kids and Two Door Cinema Club are some of my other favorites!

 

Catch more of Jaci on our YouTube channel: PinetreeGardenSeeds

 

Got more questions? Reach out via the form below

6 comments on Get to know Jaci! Head of Research and Development

  • Penina  Onugha
    Penina Onugha June 12, 2024

    I love this information. Am 72year old woman. Love gardening as a teenager but planted mostly flowers then. Have never really had opportunity to practice since then.Retiree came visiting from Africa and want to garden at my spare time now here in Edmonton Canada.

  • dick meiners
    dick meinersApril 13, 2023

    karen – i can’t tell you how flattered and honored i am by your comments. i have a nice garden in florida – terrific tomatoes this year, 40 eggplant last year but it is also very spotty – maybe it is time to learn southern methods. you summed up my original intentions so well. it is also fortunate that melissa took over just when i was reaching my technological limits. jaci has been the horticulture backbone of the company for over 20 years. there was also a guy named nicholas lindholm who also contributed a lot but that was long ago.. stay kind – dick

  • Sue Lewandowski
    Sue LewandowskiApril 04, 2023

    Jaci’s job is hard work, but sounds very rewarding. I can relate to the issue with squash bugs. We had them here last year for the first time and they were impossible to control. We won’t get back the time spent picking them off plants or trying to scrape the eggs off the undersides of leaves. After the meager harvest we pulled the plants and burned them then found the bugs on tomatoes and cukes. We’re not growing squash this year hoping maybe the bugs will die out with nothing to eat, but I’m also wondering if we should pull up the weed barrier. Gardeners are a patient lot so we’ll keep trying to combat the pests. Thanks for the information on Jaci and her work.

  • Kim Ormsby
    Kim OrmsbyApril 04, 2023

    Loved reading all about you!
    Proud of you!

  • Martha
    MarthaApril 04, 2023

    Really enjoyed that interview; thanks!

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