Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ready, Set, Grow!

After a particularly long winter, a spring rain today promises warmer temperatures just in time for our spring gardens. Winter has allowed our gardens to rest. Straw spread out over planting rows are ready for tilling. The use of organic matter is important to the garden. It supplies natural food to support microbial life, creates air spaces for healthy roots, and provides space for water.

Straw in Billy Foard's Garden

Get a soil test done now; our garden shop can process one in a few minutes for pH for no cost to the home gardener. If lime should be added, do so right away. Add fertilizer as needed, till, then get ready to plant.

John James tests soil for pH levels
 Valley View Farms has grown vegetable transplants for gardeners for over 30 years.
Seedlings growing in our farm greenhouses

 This year's cole crops and other cool weather plants are already at the store. Asparagus, horseradish and rhubarb roots are available as well.

Tomatoes and peppers, and other warm weather vegetable transplants will soon follow. By mid-April, we'll have most of  our vegetable transplants available for area gardens.
Hanging baskets and container gardens grown at our farm greenhouses

Of course, our farm greenhouses grow beautiful flowers, including the area's best selection of hanging baskets. Our head grower, John Miller, starts growing in late January to have healthy flower and vegetable plants available from March to the end of the year.

John Miller, our head grower

We're ready! Are you? Ready, set, grow!

Saturday, March 15, 2014


The Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are still here! After a super cold winter, many snowfalls and other weather events, the BMSBs have survived!

 I know because they are in my ceiling light fixtures and various other venues in and around my home and office. That telling cilantro odor clings to the air. Luckily, they're slow moving so I can pick them up and dispose of them in any number of ways. But how did they make it through this winter?

'Stinky' hanging around my computer at work

According to Dr. Stanton Gill, an University of Maryland entomologist, stink bugs have a knack for finding nice, warm spots in which to hide. Deep in loose tree bark, in the attic or hiding in a warm pile of leaves, they have managed to stay alive. As it has gotten colder in some of those spaces, they have moved into mine. Yuk!
Mike Raupp, also an entomologist with the University of Maryland, offers some advice in the following video.

The trap that Mike shows is a Rescue Stink Bug Trap. I used one last year in my vegetable garden to keep tomatoes stink bug free. The amount of the critters that crawled up the green fins to the trap was astonishing. The pheromones attract the little critters into the trap. Good for me that it is reusable; once I've emptied the trap, it is ready to go for more.

Rescue Stink Bug Trap

Once just a problem in the Mid-Atlantic region, stinkbugs have slowly spread out to much of the United States. There are insecticides available that will kill the little devils.With some vigilance in closing gaps in the home, pesticides can be used very sparingly.

Good luck putting up with these nuisance pests. Unfortunately, they may be here to stay.