Notes from a farmer

Notes from a farmer

I had the great pleasure of talking with a real local farmer recently. I first met William Perego at the festive Saturday morning farmer’s market on College Street by the tennis courts a couple of weeks ago. William and his wife, Lori, live in Kirbyville and are pretty popular up that way this time of year. They farm acres of land and produce quite an inspirational variety of produce. If they have just too much of something some weeks, they give the extra to the local nursing homes. William says, “I make sure to keep the local widow women with some produce, too.”

It is that spirit and joy that comes out of Perego when you have a conversation with him. We decided that he has a pretty perfect life: They live in the country and farm vegetables and berries and have chickens and eggs and he goes fishing a couple of times a week. That sounds pretty perfect to me. I’m not sure how old William is, but he looks and acts pretty darn young. And I’m betting that it’s that wonderful lifestyle that makes him look that way!

Perego gives seminars for master gardeners and the Tyler County Resource Center. He taught me a really interesting fact that he had learned at master gardener class years ago. William says, “When you see the weather report at night, pay attention to the temperature of the water in the Gulf that’s at the bottom of the TV screen. The temperature of the soil is about the exact same when you measure it 5 inches down. That’s an important thing to know for plants that are finicky about growing temperature.”

I asked this full-time farmer how he handles watering his crops. He said, “I pray for rain for the crops in the fields. I have a couple of areas close to the house that I can water with well water.” William uses a gigantic 3,000 square-foot greenhouse until about the middle of April for growing, then moves all plants outside. Perego says, “When its 40 degrees outside, its 95 degrees inside the greenhouse.”

He has fields and fields of produce. I’m talking beans like Blue Lake snap beans and Honey Select sweet corn, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, squash and cucumbers. 

“I found out just how dangerously hot ghost peppers really are. When taking out the seeds to save for next year, I had to wear gloves and mask, and I still felt like I had gotten a sunburn,” said Perego. 

In his tomato field, he has 340 plants. About 120 of those plants are slicers, and 220 plants are cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes. In his “spare time,” Perego has sold 14,000 tomato plants to gardeners who know they get a high quality plant from this farmer.

Perego likes the slicer varieties: Celebrity, Parks Whopper, Mountain Fresh and Cherokee purple. A couple of his favorite tiny tomatoes are Large Red, Sweet 100 Cherry and the Grapette grape tomatoes. He has chickens and reminds us, “If you get fresh chicken fertilizer, be sure to let it dry out before you use it so it doesn’t burn your plants. Don’t use too much of it, either.” 

Look for William at the farmer’s market in two weeks. He will be towing beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, blackberries and eggs. The Peregos also sell from their farm in Kirbyville. You can follow William and Lori Perego on their Seedlings And Such Facebook page. Lori keeps this information updated with what’s growing. You can also read about specific varieties of plants that the Peregos think grow best in our area.