University of Idaho Extension

Roger Solaas, Salmon

Sowing Seeds, Harvesting Thanks:

When Roger Solaas’ friends and neighbors need spring bedding plants, they know whom to ask. From inside the greenhouse at the Solaas Bed & Breakfast south of Salmon come tomatoes, pumpkins, cabbage, squash, and other vegetables that feed the Solaas family, its B&B guests, the beneficiaries of the Sacajawea Center’s community garden, and other appreciative folks.

A few years ago, Solaas’ grown daughters had paid his fees to attend Lemhi County’s Master Gardener class at the Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension, and Education Center. “I would love to do it again—just to have fun,” says the gardening veteran and former South Dakota farm boy. “There are so many things to know about each individual seed, fertilizer, and insect.”

Although he also propagates dahlias and annual flowers to spread bloom wherever he goes, Solaas’ unrestrained passion is for vegetables. “I love to eat,” he explains, “and I love to get up in the morning and go out and see what popped out of the ground.”

In addition to delivering dozens of flats of vegetable starts to the community garden every spring, Solaas helped fellow Master Gardeners install a native-plant garden at the Sacajawea Center. From July 4 to mid-November, however, he’s likely to be tending the 76 tomato plants that grow to his greenhouse ceiling or filling shopping bags with produce for visitors to take home.

Solaas shares more than vegetables: he also shares the knowledge he gained through the Master Gardener program. “I’ve gotten people involved in gardening who usually wouldn’t,” he says. “If people know more about gardening, then they can succeed at it. If they fail every time, then they say, ‘I can’t make anything grow’—but it’s only because they don’t know.”