Sunday, March 31, 2024

Is Cabbage the New Kale?

 I may be late on this trend, but I'm hearing from our gardening customers that cabbage is the new kale. I'm not much of a greens lover myself, but have always liked the combinations of vegetables in Cole slaw. Cabbage is part of our St. Patrick's day fare and, in Baltimore, a much loved Thanksgiving side as sauerkraut. 

My family, (my dad in particular was a meat and potatoes guy), saw few greens other than lettuce served with dinner for our family of eight. When I began working at Valley View Farms in our produce department, I remember being handed a head of cabbage to weigh. I thought it was really heavy lettuce. Thus began my learning about other vegetables.

A few years later, my husband's parents, a German immigrant and his southern belle wife, taught me more about vegetables in the garden and in the kitchen. Collards, kale, and other greens were cooked along side black-eyed peas and cabbage. A new cuisine was introduced to me. 

Kale and Broccoli 

Vegetable transplants are grown at our farm greenhouses by John and his crew to sell in both spring and late summer (for fall harvest) at the store. Cabbage is being sought after by more and more gardeners. We had reduced varieties a few years ago and added 3 varieties of kale. Now we are considering bringing back some of the other cabbages back into our line of  transplants.

Cabbage transplants

Golden Acre cabbage is an early cabbage (65 days) with dense, compact round heads. It is a great variety to use for Cole slaw, stir fries and many other dishes. 

Photo courtesy Baker Creek Heirloom Seed

Red Jewel F1, a 3-5 pound hybrid cabbage, features round, deep heads with a short core that matures in about 75 days. 

Photo courtesy Ball Seed

China King F1, is a miniature Chinese cabbage with barrel-shaped heads and a yellow interior color. The miniature Napa cabbage can be grown in 55 days from transplant and weighs in at about 2 pounds.


Photo courtesy Ball Seed

We've been asked to grow Savoy cabbage again and may add it to our offerings this fall or next spring. Savoy Ace F1 has crinkled leaves and a super holding capacity.  

Photo courtesy AAS

In an article on Web MD, cabbage is chock full of vitamins, helps cleanse our gut, provides probiotics when fermented (sauerkraut), helps prevent cancer, keeps blood sugar under control, and provides scores of other benefits. It is indeed a Superfood. 

One of our young plant growers offers weekly recipes in a newsletter. Cabbage Soup, a healthy warm dish is just one of several recipes  from Bob's Market.

Jan grows greens including kale and Swiss chard in her raised beds. 

I may have to grow some myself this spring in my Earth Box on the patio. Slaw for all this summer!

Monday, March 11, 2024

Plants of the Week: Pansies and Violas

 Spring isn't officially here until the pansies and violas make their first trip to the store from our farm greenhouses. And, so, they've started to arrive. While the colors and fragrances of these plants make them a gardener's cool- weather- favorite -flowers, the incredible variety of patterns, growing habits, and bloom sizes bring new fans each season. Our farm greenhouses grow most of what we carry this time of year, with several other local growers adding to the mix as needed. 

Combine with primroses, ajuga, and other perennials 

Solid colors or pansies and violas with 'faces' are beautiful

Pansies typically are planted in the spring garden. They like growing in the cooler winter season, where they may be started from tiny plugs in our greenhouses in late January to be shipped to the garden center by mid-March. The blooms are bigger and very vibrant. We grow them in the summer for fall as well, but the blooms tend to be smaller at first. The best part about fall pansies is that they will come back up for spring, making them perfect companions to daffodils and tulips. 

Happiest during cooler weather, even surviving the snow in winter

Let's get this spring going! The daffodils and hellebores are blooming. Fresh pansies and violas will be planted in the containers along the front walk. Bulbs in pots have started to emerge. With Easter just 3 weeks away, I'm ready!

Yellow violas with tulips

Bluish pansies with tulips

Happy place, happy face



Looking happy to be headed to Cockeysville from the farm. 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

WBAL and Valley View Farms Collaboration 2024


Extras Abby, Georgie, Matthew and Marlin were on set this week

Last week, WBAL's crew produced 10 + commercials and 5 upcoming Sunday Gardener segments in our greenhouse. Scott, Sandy, Jen, Rachel, Matt and others from Valley View Farms created the set for us. Wow, it is beautiful and will remain up through next weekend, March 2 and 3.  

Sandy, Scott and Jen

The sod was brought in last fall and laid out in our unheated greenhouse. When it was moved to our heated glass greenhouse, it was still dormant. The heat, light, and water turned it green in two weeks. 

An amazing mid-February lawn

The house facade was slightly updated from last year. A stockade fence served as a backdrop. Scott and his crew added a flagstone patio, a gravel seating area, a dry stream bed, (later a pond; thanks Carl and Nick), and a nice stone bench. The team then "planted" the trees and shrubs, adding pansies, bulbs, perennials and annuals as needed throughout the week of filming. The sky was clear blue, without a cloud (or wrinkle). Curtained windows and doors added to the realism of the house. Didn't they do a great job?

Beautiful set in our greenhouse

I could spend some time here

WBAL's crew, led by  Senior Producer/Director Don, moved in Monday to set up the cameras, lights, monitors, audio system and much more. Photographer Mike, gaffers and grips Stu, Mark and Rhett got everything ready and were able to start shooting Monday. 


Rhett, Mark, and Stu

Our Garden Shop kept everything going, providing product, people and knowledge to lead the shoot and worked very closely with Don. Annie, WBAL's Commercial Production Manager, kept thing organized, provided call times, set up the script, worked with the teleprompter, timed the segments and did anything else that came up. 

Annie, Don, and Mike (behind the camera) review 

Dick P, our advertising agent, had already written the commercial scripts and had them okayed with our vendors. He, with Brian, Annie, and Don, made sure the scripts were followed and that the actions that accompanied the scripts were relevant. 

Kevin, our Armstrong Bird Feed vendor, sets up the product shot with our Garden Shop manager Brian

Another member of the crew, Dawn, provided make-up and hair styling for our "talent" including Carrie, Rachel F, Brent, and Rachel W.

Photographer Mike and Rachel W

Dawn had her work cut out for her

Most of the commercials were shot by Thursday. Mike, our cameraman, was taking still photos on the go too. The results of all of the work on the shoot was phenomenal. 

Mike looks, listens, and photographs us for Sunday Gardener

Yes, Rachel and Scott really did vacuum the lawn

Ava Marie stopped by in late morning to do the Sunday Gardener segments with Carrie. We usually do this without lights, the fancy set, and all of the perks we had set up. We were able to use the set for all 5 of the episodes, airing through March at about 9:20 am Sundays on WBAL TV 11.  The vendor  commercials will air from March thru June.

It was a lot of work, but what fun we had!

We look forward to doing this again in 2025. The technology has really changed in the 30 years we've been collaborating with WBAL TV 11.

Thank you to our vendors who invest in our ads. 

Thank you to all my un-named coworkers for keeping the store running, plants watered, and providing customer service to all who stopped in this week. 

And, a big thank you to Dan J, CEO at WBAL, and Andy F, CEO of Valley View Farms for providing all the people and resources that we used to create these videos. 

Photos provided by Mike from  WBAL, and Jen, Scott, Rachel, Cynthia, and Carrie from Valley View Farms

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Plant of the Week: Helleborus

Hellebores are a perennial favorite for early blooming.

What's not to love about Helleborus? The first perennial to bloom in the new year, they are very hardy, have evergreen leaves, and that is just the beginning of all that is good about Helleborus. They grow in part sun to full shade, are resistant to pests and diseases, including deer, and make adorable cut flowers for this time of year. 

Beautiful cut flowers for late winter/early spring

Mine are beginning to bloom now. I wait to clean up older leaves as the flowers appear. New leaves will fill in in no time and the flowers will be on upright stems above the foliage. Also called Lenten Rose, a nod to their blooming time, Hellebores have become a very sought after perennial. 

Our growers offer an amazing variety of Hellebores

Newer breeding has led to cup shaped flowers, many with yellow centers, that stand up straight, unlike the nodding flowers of earlier varieties. Frostkiss have been bred for the upright blooms that are borne above the mottled bushy evergreen foliage. The flowers come in different shades, of red, pink, purple, cream, and almost black. 

The Frostkiss is a beautiful, newer variety

When they were planted over a decade ago, we created a river of hellebores through our shady foundation planting in front of the house. Surrounded by other shade tolerant plants like Osmanthus (False Holly), Cephalotaxus (Japanese Plum Yew), and various hostas and ferns, the Hellebores have thrived. Deer have left them alone; even the discovery of a nearby rabbit warren left me worry-free. I do admit to spraying the hostas with a deer repellent. 

Consider planting Hellebores early this year. You'll be sure to enjoy them for many years to come. Click on the Plant Finder tab on the Valley View Farms website to see the many varieties that we may carry this year. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

Plant of the Week: African Violet


African Violets are available in many colors

African Violets, Streptocarpus sect. Saintpaulia are native to Tanzania and parts of Kenya in southeastern tropical Africa. For many years, Saintpaulia, which is how I've always known this plant, showed in various studies to be within the genus Streptocarpus. 

Enough about all of that. 

Mini violets are very popular, here in 2" pots

African Violets are among the most commonly found houseplants. I can't help but think of my mom and grandmothers everywhere that grew this plant on a windowsill in their home. Clusters of purple, blue, pink and white blooms grew atop soft, velvety leaves of green. Most seem to grow in round 4" pots where I've seen them. A few bigger plants may thrive in 6" pots and miniature varieties reside in 2-3" planters. In the right conditions, African Violets bloom all year. 

Light is a top priority for these flowers; many hobbyists grow them under lights for that reason. Sixteen hours of bright light is ideal under grow lights. Keep them protected from direct sunlight as it will burn the soft leaves.  An east window may be enough to provide natural light. They like humidity as their native habitat is tropical.

African Violets require moist, well-drained soil. African Violet specialty soils and fertilizers are available in garden shops like ours. 

Maintain the plants by dead-heading old blooms and tired foliage. 

African Violets can be watered from above or below. Do not allow water to sit in a saucer or pot for too long; empty once the soil is moist to the touch. African Violet pots, self-watering through the porous inner pot, is an excellent way to take the guessing away. 

Look for African Violet pots in our greenhouse

Fertilize African violets monthly with a food made just for them. I like the liquid fertilizer that mixes easily with water. Don't have African Violet food? Use any bloom booster fertilizer. 

Like so many plants in the plant world that have made a comeback of sorts, I expect that African Violets are due another moment of time in the spotlight. 

Monday, January 8, 2024


Tillandsia is a fascinating genus of bromeliads that have become popular due to their ease of growth, unique plant form and the crafting possibilities they encourage. These air plants are epiphytic in nature, meaning that, like many orchids and some ferns, they are able to take in moisture and nutrients from surrounding air and humidity directly onto their leaves. They may be found growing on another plant, like a tree, but are not parasitic in nature.
We maintain a nice assortment of tillandsias all year

Spanish Moss, Tillandsia usenoides, is one variety that many of us are aware of as we have seen them in the humid south growing on live oaks and other trees.

Tillandsia can grow without soil, so are ideal for creating wall art, growing on rock and wood  or displaying in all sorts of fun vessels, including seashells.

Provide bright light and sufficient water to be rewarded by a durable plant with unforgettable shapes, colors and blooms. Plants grow from an offset at the base of the "mother" plant. Pups will reach maturity relatively fast. Once they bloom, expect another offset. Tillandsia can grow in clumps or be divided into individual specimens.
Ionantha Ball

Under watering tillandsia is the most common problem for the plant. Be sure to water them once a week. They will survive longer, but the leaves will dry out and begin to curl. I soak mine in water if it has been mounted on a frame, a shell or piece of driftwood. A larger plant could also be misted, but would need almost daily misting to keep the tillandsia healthy.

Here are varieties of tillandsia to consider for growing indoors





Capitata Maroon Hybrid

Bulbosa Hybrid

Brachycaulos Abdita

Ionantha Fuego

 These and many more varieties, large and small, are now available in our greenhouse. We will be hosting a seminar on how to grow tillandsia and will offer a frame project to interested attendees on Saturday, February 17 at 9:00 am. Visit our website for information on this and other upcoming classes.

Thanks to Russell's Bromeliads for many of these wonderful photos. 

Many forms and sizes are available now.