Brookside’s Tomato Kid, Alex Gasperik, has grown a lot of tomatoes as he’s grown up over the last seven years. We first featured a story about Alex when he was just 10 and was raising heirloom tomatoes so he could buy an ipod touch — remember those?
Now a high school senior trying to sort out where he’s going to college, Gasperik is once again offering a crop of about 400 carefully grown heirloom tomatoes in his Mullen Avenue backyard operation. We stopped by over the weekend to pick up some seedlings and tour Alex’s operation.
Gasperik explained how he harvests and saves seeds from his personal favorites. With help from his dad, Dave, he uses stored rain water to water all the seedlings and makes his own potting soil amended with worm castings and compost.
This year’s crop features an all star cast of all the varieties that Gasperik has decided yield the best fruit and produce the best tasting tomatoes. About half of them are harvested from his own plants and the other half were purchased from Gary Ibsen’s Certified Organic Seeds, where Gasperik got his first seeds.
The plants are $4 each and come with a money-back guarantee.
“Absolutely, we offer a money-back guarantee or we will help you with new plants,” explained Gasperik.
While his tomato growing started out as way to earn extra money, Gasperik said the tomatoes have given him much more than that. The work has also provided a connection to his community as he has come to know all his customers, who come back year after year for his seedlings.
“I send out an email and I get all these orders back and send my tomatoes all over the neighborhood. It’s really great, I know people all over my community,” explained Gasperik.
There are still seedlings available, he says, but they are going fast – about half the crop has already been sold. The best way to reach Gasperik is to email him at [email protected]. You can check out his catalogue or ask Gasperik for his recommendations based on what you want. And 10% of the proceeds are donated to Tails of the City Animal Rescue in honor of Gasperik’s four rescue dogs.