Tomatoville® Gardening Forums


Notices

Historical background information for varieties handed down from bygone days.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old January 15, 2009   #1
Nightshade
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: So. California
Posts: 178
Default The Billy Hepler Seed Company

I found the charming story below about a seedman who was operating in the fifties. When I googled his name, I saw that he has been credited with introducing many veggies carried by SSE:

Six hundred dollars a year profit is what Billy Hepler, twelve-year-old New Hampshire farmer makes a year. Billy refuses orders for his Tiny Tim tomato seeds if they'll put him over the six-hundred-dollar mark because then he'd have income-tax troubles, and this is just too weighty a problem, he believes.

Billy's father, Professor J. R. Hepler, who wrote the introduction to this chapter, developed the Tiny Tim plant and Billy, unknown to anyone, decided to sell the seeds. Writing to a large New York firm, he offered them the seeds at eighty dollars a pound; they immediately purchased a pound in reply to Billy's letter, which carried a hand printed letterhead reading, "The Billy Hepler Seed Company." Billy signs himself "Secretary and Treasurer."


Tiny Tim seeds, planted in August, are transplanted into pots and the plants are then grown in the house. They produce tiny fruit about an inch in diameter making not only a bright Christmas plant, but producing nourishing, delicious tomatoes.

This year Billy has had printed a small, professional appearing catalogue. A single sheet of paper folded three times, it features a picture of Billy standing before a pile of various types of squashes, and the caption of the cut is, "Billy Hepler, America's Youngest Seed Grower." In addition to the Tiny Tim tomato seeds, the catalogue offers popcorn of the rainbow and popinjay varieties. Note Billy's colorful names; Billy doesn't miss a trick.
He also lists four varieties of sweet corn; seven of tomatoes; thirteen of string beans; two of squashes and three of watermelons. He often starts a description of a new seed with: A Billy Hepler Seed Company Introduction.

Billy grows all of his own seeds and when it comes time to harvest the tomatoes Billy hires his schoolmates to help him. The tomatoes are picked whether they are rotten or not because, according to Billy, even the rotten ones give good seeds. Billy averages eight hundred pounds of tomatoes to a thousand plants. This doesn't sound like very much but the fruit is very tiny. The Tiny Tim tomatoes are put in a barrel and Billy, with his rubber boots on, stamps and stomps on them until they are mashed up "real good."

Next he adds water and lets them ferment for a few days, after which the pulp is removed and the seeds, which have settled in the bottom of the barrel, are taken out to dry. First the seeds must be cleaned in six to eight washings to remove the dirt or acid. Next they are laid on paper to dry; paper is more absorbent than the screens that most seed growers use, says Billy. A particularly recalcitrant seed has to be dried by means of an electric fan, but for the most part the sun does the job. The only time Billy ever had any seeds sour on him was this year when an automobile accident laid him low with a broken leg.

http://www.profitfrog.com/money-at-home/chapter-7.htm


Last edited by Nightshade; January 16, 2009 at 11:13 AM.
Nightshade is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 16, 2009   #2
newatthiskat
Tomatovillian™
 
newatthiskat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: texas
Posts: 1,451
Default reply

That is a great story! That kid will probably more successful that most of us by the age of 18.
Kat
newatthiskat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 16, 2009   #3
Nightshade
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: So. California
Posts: 178
Default

He was quite the little hustler, wasn't he? As nearly as I can calculate, he would be in his sixties by now.

I'd love to know if he stayed in the seed business or went on to do something else. Given his marketing talent, he should have ended up on Madison Avenue in the advertising business, but I'll bet he was wildly successful at whatever he did.

I will always wonder if his father was pleased or peeved when he found out Billy had sold a pound of the Tiny Tim seeds without asking permission first.

Jan
Nightshade is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 16, 2009   #4
feldon30
Tomatovillian™
 
feldon30's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Rock Hill, SC
Posts: 5,346
Default

Did some Google searches but could not find any further history or information.
__________________
[SIZE="3"]I've relaunched my gardening website -- [B]TheUnconventionalTomato.com[/B][/SIZE] *

[I][SIZE="1"]*I'm not allowed to post weblinks so you'll have to copy-paste it manually.[/SIZE][/I]
feldon30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 16, 2009   #5
travis
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Evansville, IN
Posts: 2,984
Default

Orange Chatham - Breeder: Dept. of Hort. University of New Hampshire, Durham. Vendor: Hepler Seed Co. Parentage: Chatham x Orange King. Characteristics: extremely early determinate plant with orange fruit. Similar: Chatham. Adaptation: regionally to northern areas of short season. N.H. Agric. Expt. Sta. Bul. 380:6 1950. 1946

NCSU Cultivar Lists J - R: http://cuke.hort.ncsu.edu/cucurbit/w.../tomatojr.html
travis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 16, 2009   #6
travis
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Evansville, IN
Posts: 2,984
Default

Billy Hepler Seed Co. lima bean offerings:

Cowey Red - Breeder: Mr. Cowey, a private gardener, York, Maine. Vendor: Billy Hepler Seed Co. Parentage: selection from Hendersons Lima. Characteristics: dark-red seed coat color. Resistance: cold weather, decay in the soil. Adaptation: northern New Hampshire. 1946.

Winfield - Breeder: Ms. Winfield, Painted Post, N.Y. Vendor: Billy Hepler Seed Co. Parentage: Cowey Lima x Christmas Lima. Characteristics: earliness, adaptation to cool weather, excellent canning and freezing qualities for the home garden; a pole lima that ripens seed in New Hampshire. Similar: Christmas Lima

http://cuke.hort.ncsu.edu/cucurbit/w.../beanlima.html
travis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 16, 2009   #7
travis
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Evansville, IN
Posts: 2,984
Default

Another tomato offering from Billy Hepler Seed Co. was Window Box.

Window Box - Breeder: Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham. Vendor: Billy Hepler Seed Co. Parentage: Redskin x Dwarf Champion. Characteristics: very early, oval, medium size, red fruit borne on a dwarf determinate plant. Adaptation: regionally to the northern United States.

http://cuke.hort.ncsu.edu/cucurbit/w.../tomatosz.html
travis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 16, 2009   #8
travis
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Evansville, IN
Posts: 2,984
Default

Royal Purple Pod Beans: Bred by the University of New Hampshire by the late Professor Elwyn Meander. Introduced by the Billy Hepler Seed Company in 1957. Distinctive purple foliage and purple flowers. Stringless, 5” slightly curved, tender round pods, cook to green. Bush Habit. 55 days from transplant.” SSE

http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:...lnk&cd=5&gl=us
travis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 16, 2009   #9
travis
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Evansville, IN
Posts: 2,984
Default

White Mountain (Watermelon) - Breeder: Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham. Vendor: Hepler Seed Co. Parentage: Favorite Honey x Dakota Sweet. Characteristics: midget size, striped, thin rind, red flesh, numerous tan seeds. Similar: Favorite Honey. N.H. Bul 380. 1950.

http://cuke.hort.ncsu.edu/cucurbit/wmelon/wmculttz.html
travis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 16, 2009   #10
travis
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Evansville, IN
Posts: 2,984
Default

And I'm wondering if Paul Hepler is Billy Hepler's uncle

http://www.library.umaine.edu/specco...aulRpapers.htm
travis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 17, 2009   #11
Woodchuck
Tomatovillian™
 
Woodchuck's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 64
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by travis View Post
Winfield - Breeder: Ms. Winfield, Painted Post, N.Y. Vendor: Billy Hepler Seed Co. Parentage: Cowey Lima x Christmas Lima. Characteristics: earliness, adaptation to cool weather, excellent canning and freezing qualities for the home garden; a pole lima that ripens seed in New Hampshire. Similar: Christmas Lima.
Very intriguing!
Painted Post is in my backyard, kinda!
I need to look into this further.

Thanks for posting!

<Woodchuck>
Woodchuck is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 09:57 PM.


★ Tomatoville® is a registered trademark of Commerce Holdings, LLC ★ All Content ©2019 Commerce Holdings, LLC ★