Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cole Crops


Cole crop is a term used by gardeners when we are talking about plants in the cabbage family. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and collards are all spring cole crops that can be planted again in summer for fall harvest. Other crops that can be planted now include root crops, usually grown from seed, like radishes, beets and turnips. And, as cooler weather approaches, consider another crop of lettuce. Most of the leaf lettuce varieties and the smaller head lettuces have plenty of time to mature; in fact, the leaf lettuces can be cut and used three times before the end of the fall growing season.
Lettuces and cole crops in raised bed

To grow cool season crops, plant transplants in an area receiving at least six hours of sun for best results. Broccoli and cabbage need about eighteen inches to two feet between plants. Use a starter solution like Espoma's Bio-tone  to get them off and growing. Most cole crops are known as heavy feeders, meaning that they use a good amount of fertilizer to keep them healthy and growing. Our garden shop offers many organic choices for plant foods, including those from Espoma, Dr. Earth and Bradfield Organics.
Cabbage family plants are sometimes targeted by imported cabbage worms or loopers. Spray with a natural product like Bonide's Thuricide to keep them from harming leaves as the plant is growing.
 For more about planting vegetable crops, stop in and ask for our free Vegetable Planting Guide. It contains great tips that can be used in spring or fall. And keep that vegetable garden producing well into fall by adding cole crops now.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sneak Preview: Heucheras

One of the many upsides of establishing great relationships with growers is that we often get the first look at new plants. Andy Shelley, our perennial manager, visits our growers weekly to buy the best and, when practical, the newest perennials available. (For a funny photo of Andy, visit the Valley View Farms website.)  New introductions are placed in our sales area as they arrive giving our patrons equal opportunity to try some really cool varieties. Our perennial staff, including Marian, Pat, Jan, Peggy, Jay, Max and Margie, go gaga over the new plants as they arrive every week.

Jan, Pat, Andy and Jay show off some of the heucheras available at Valley View Farms.

Heucheras are one group of plants that keep improving. The foliage colors are fantastic and the new plants' names are fun. Names like Midnight Bayou, Solar Power, Electric Lime and Autumn Leaves describe the heucheras beautifully. Take a look at this cool collage for an idea of the leaf colors available.

Photo courtesy of Terra Nova Nursery

Dan Heims, the owner of Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon, has been breeding perennials for years. He has over fifty varieties of heucheras listed in the nursery's catalog. Terra Nova supplies growers with starter plants; the grower then finishes the plant providing a healthy specimen ready to thrive in our perennial gardens.
Heuchera, also known as coral bells, is a very versatile plant, growing well in sun and part shade. Our staff and customers love that heuchera is at home in a garden bed or in a container. We also enjoy using them in combination with summer and fall annuals and perennials like mums and ornamental grasses.
If you're in the neighborhood, stop in and take a look at the many heucheras on our benches. Better yet, walk around the plant area and see which plants combine well with the stunning foliage. There are sure to be a few container gardens to inspire you. In the meantime, take a look at these container gardens from Terra Nova.