News from Headstart Nursery, Inc.
February 2015
View email in your browser

Nursery News

2015 California Spring Trials Coming Soon!

We hope you’ll make Headstart Nursery one of your stops during 2015 California Spring Trials, April 11-16. We are partnering with Danziger "Dan" Flower Farm to showcase some of the highest-quality plants in the industry, including many exciting new varieties.  

See the Spring Trials page of our website for additional info or to schedule an appointment.

Staying on Track with Picas Software

Headstart Nursery has worked for many years with Innovative Software Solutions, which customized its Picas greenhouse management software to work for all of Headstart’s ornamental and vegetable production.
Last fall, ISS representatives came to Gilroy to review our current systems and discuss goals for the upcoming season and beyond.  We had one-on-one training, went over wish lists for the system, and brainstormed ideas to improve efficiency and traceability for the nursery in general.

New Watermelon Varieties Showcased in Florida

In mid-November, Mike Bushman, Doug Iten and Daniel Clerou traveled to Fort Meyers, Florida to check out the new genetics of watermelon for Sakata Seed. Headstart Nursery is the largest grower of watermelons on the west coast, and it was exciting to get a “sneak peek” at what is up and coming for the industry.  

Poinsettias Brighten the Holiday Season

In 2014, we stuck 75,000 6-inch pots and 1,000 10-inch pots of poinsettias. We increased retail sales both locally and in Arizona and saw a significant jump in fundraiser sales. Megan Smith coordinated the entire project and did a phenomenal job organizing deliveries and getting product to customers on time. We’re already thinking ahead to Christmas 2015 and plan to target more schools for fundraisers in Monterey and Santa Clara counties. 

Cyclamen Trials Put On a Colorful Display

In January, Hans Gerritsen and Melissa Campilli headed up the annual Cyclamen Trials at our facility in Castroville. This is the world’s largest Cyclamen evaluation trial and shows Headstart Nursery’s commitment to the wholesale floral industry. We really know our Cyclamen crop, and we’re serious about educating our staff and customers!

We had two exiting weeks with good discussions regarding plant breeding and crop culture, plus the introduction of several new varieties that will be available for the retail trade this fall.

In cooperation with the industry’s largest breeding companies (including Syngenta in Switzerland, Schoneveld from Holland, Morel Diffusion from France, and Snow Brand seed from Japan), we showed over 400 blooming varieties in 4-inch and 6-inch pots. The trials were grouped by breeder’s selections or “series” and plant size and also by color comparison, so that we can show objectively how the plants perform in California winter conditions. 

Our visitors and customers are mainly large wholesale bedding plant growers and pot plant growers for the floral trade. Several brokerage companies also came by and used this time to educate their sales representatives or seed buyers with the help of our staff. Some of the breeding companies gave tours to represent their breeding and future vision of the Cyclamen culture. 

Viva Las Vegas!

In January, the Headstart Nursery Rat Pack (a.k.a. the management & sales teams) made their annual pilgrimage to Sin City for the Western Watermelon Association meeting. Steve CostaRandy CostaMike BushmanLisa BrancoDoug Iten, Daniel Clerou and Michael Cardenas were in attendance. 

We had the opportunity to meet with growers, shippers, customers, seed producers and dealers. Presenters covered important topics such as groundwater basins, new and emerging viral diseases of watermelon, the CGMMV pathogen, biostimulants, and more.

And yes, there was a little time for soaking up the, uh, atmosphere in Las Vegas!

Online Vegetable Availability is Back!

Back by popular demand, our website once again includes updated availability of both organic and conventionally grown vegetables and herbs. We currently have cauliflower, chard, tomatoes, kale, peppers, eggplant and cabbage in the pipeline, with plenty more to come. 

Whether you forgot to place an order, are looking for plants for your home garden, or want to try growing some new “niche” items for the farmers' market, you’ve come to the right place. You can view our Vegetable Availability on our website or send email to to be added to our weekly email blast. If you’d like to place an order or have ideas about other crops we should grow, contact Leslie Rudd and she’ll be happy to assist! 

Headstart in the Community

Headstart Hands on Deck for Farm Day

At Farm Day Monterey in October, Melissa CampilliSergio Torres, and Lisa Branco all participated as guides, while Chris Cornia dazzled the audience with his presentation as a seed scientist. 

Ag companies from all over the Salinas Valley participate in this fun annual event to educate thousands of third-grade students on agriculture. The kids get to see how much agriculture is a part of their everyday life and are hopefully inspired to explore a career they never thought of before. It’s truly rewarding to see how excited they get about learning in a hands-on environment. 

To get involved or learn more, please visit the Farm Day Monterey website.   

Cal Poly Mustangs Make Pilgrimage to Mecca

In December, Headstart Nursery hosted a dinner for Cal Poly faculty and alumni at our Desert Sea facility in Mecca, CA. We gave the group a tour of our greenhouses and then provided a lovely “farm-to-fork” dinner emphasizing locally grown products from the Coachella Valley and wine from the San Luis Obispo region.

Special thanks to Bonny Iten for making this a truly special event to remember!

Industry Issues

Curbing the Spread of CGMMV

As we gear up for the 2015 season, we have been communicating with our customers about the Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus (CGMMV). This seed-borne virus causes fruit drop and reduced yields, and it spreads easily through contact with people and equipment. The industry in general is mobilizing to understand and combat CGMMV, and it was the hot topic of the Western Watermelon Association and ASTA meetings that were held in January. 

One of the key preventative measures in the successful management of CGMMV is using clean, tested seed. As there is substantial liability to the nursery, we now require that all cucurbit seed be tested and found negative for this pathogen. Any cucurbit seed that Headstart Nursery supplies for your transplanting needs will be tested. 

If you are ordering seed either for transplanting or direct seeding, we recommend that you inform your seed supplier of this requirement. Most seed suppliers should already be aware of this issue and hopefully will have testing protocols in place. To learn more about CGMMV, please visit

Continuing the Battle Against the Bagrada Bug 

The Bagrada bug, Bagrada hilaris, is an invasive pest species native to Africa that has spread to California agricultural corridors. After first being identified in Los Angeles in 2008, it has since disseminated throughout Southern California and moved northward to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. In 2013, the Bagrada bug was found in Fresno, Tulare, and Monterey counties.

Headstart Nursery has made every effort to minimize the risk of damage to plants by transferring crops between our Northern and Southern California facilities. However, now that the Bagrada has moved north, this is an issue we will all continue to face.

All in the Family

Welcome Helder Faria

Despite the fact he is an avid Dodgers fan, Headstart Nursery has welcomed Helder Faria to the team as our new Logistics Coordinator in Gilroy. Helder has 18 years of agriculture experience and 8+ years in trucking.

Helder says he is excited to “contribute to the expansion of a growing company with a great reputation.” Helder currently resides in Gustine with his wife and two daughters. In his downtime, you can find Helder spending time with his family on RV trips or coaching fast pitch softball.  

New Kid on the Block

On January 2nd, accounting manager Emily Angotti welcomed her second child: baby girl Peyton Leigh. 

Peyton was born at 6:27 AM and weighed in at 6 lbs. 7 oz. and was 19.5” long. 

Congratulations to Emily and her growing family!


For the first time in almost 20 years, we got the whole Headstart Nursery gang together for a group photo!


Forward to Friend
Copyright 2015 Headstart Nursery, All rights reserved.

We appreciate your business and will not share your contact information with outside parties. 

Our mailing address is:
4860 Monterey Road
Gilroy, CA  95020
(408) 842-3030