Baker Botanicals specializes in hydroponic gardening

By Observer Upload March 14, 2013 09:21 am

by Mark Bogart/For The Observer

Indoor and organic gardening are the focus of Baker Botanicals, a new business located on 10th Street in Baker City.

Owner Tammy Dowell explained that she offers a variety of equipment and supplies for hydroponic, soilless gardening, as well as more traditional methods. Her inventory includes everything from seeds and nutrients to grow lights and established plants.

She added that information and expertise are also available to help curious customers.

Dowell’s emphasis on growing plants indoors reflects her desire to make horticulture a year-round activity for her customers and for her business.

“House plants add oxygen to the air and make you happy,” she explained.

Showing a large plastic drum with hoses stretching to several growing containers, Dowell explained more about hydroponics. Instead of soil, the containers have clay pebble, which can be reused, for a growing medium.

Organic seeds, nutrients and light (either natural or artificial depending on the location) are added to the process in order to produce a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

Nanodomes are also sold at Baker Botanicals. These are transparent containers which can include grow lights or may be placed in a windowsill. They provide a controlled environment for growing micro- greens, such as alfalfa and radish sprouts, basil, and other small plants to use in salads, sandwiches and other dishes. Dowell said the micro-greens are highly nutritious, and some are used for medicinal purposes.

Dowell’s business offers a whole range of products for both indoor and outdoor gardening. Organic, heirloom seeds (not hybridized or genetically modified) are sold in packaged and bulk quantities. Soils and nutrients are specialized for the types of plants and growing conditions to be used. Brands include Oxfarm, Earth Juice and Botanicare.

All kinds of containers, including fabric pots, are also in the inventory. Established plants such as aloe vera, violets and ferns are ready for customers to purchase, and herbs and vegetable plants will be available soon, Dowell said.

While materials and equipment are for sale, Dowell said one of her most important products – information – is mostly free. She is anxious to answer customers’ questions. In addition, she plans to offer free classes monthly.

The next class, which will focus on hydroponics, is planned for April 20. The store also has a variety of books and other printed materials or sale.

Dowell said she has seventeen years of experience in nursery work and a year focused on organic gardening. She has lived in the Baker area for three and a half years since coming from Idaho.

Baker Botanicals, which opened on March 1, is located at 3797 10th St., the former location of the Treasure Box, across the street from Robins Equipment. Although

Dowell is the sole owner and operator of the business, she said she is grateful for the help of family, friends, and her boyfriend, Donny Rowe.

She added that Gene Stackle, of the Blue Mountain Small Business Development Center (SBDC), was invaluable in helping her get started. Stackle, she said, helped her write a business plan and secure funding as well as answering all kinds of questions throughout the process.

Baker Botanicals has a Facebook page, and Dowell plans to post a website in the near future.

She is also waiting for approval of a new sign to draw customers to her store.

Other plans include growing an indoor garden within the store as well as increasing inventory to include statuary, fountains and a wider variety of plants and lighting.