Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tomato Tornado to Touch Down This Weekend

Next weekend on May 2 and 3, a Tomato Tornado will touch down at Valley View Farms' greenhouse. Our usual selection of 36 varieties of tomatoes will almost double for Saturday and Sunday, but wait too long, and you'll miss them. A limited selection of mostly heirloom varieties has been grown by our grower John Miller at our farm greenhouses out in Hydes, MD for this special event.
Our grower, John, stands in front of thousands of tomato transplants
If you can't make it, rest assured that our usual 36 varieties will still be available through of the month of May.

Those of you who are 'regulars' at Valley View Farms in the spring know that we are a little bit crazy when it comes to tomato plants. Our founder, Bill Foard, spends his spare time growing tomatoes at his home.
Billy's summer garden

Plum Crimsons make great sauce according to Billy

 He loves the Celebrity and Plum Crimson varieties for their great taste and productive vines. In fact, Billy brings buckets full of tomatoes all summer long for some of us lucky enough to be on his 'nice' list. His garden shed even contains a full kitchen for canning and processing tomatoes.

My co-worker Dotty enjoys growing her tomatoes, too. She and her daughter, Suzanne, love the heirlooms. Japanese Black Trifle, Big Rainbow, Oxheart and Black Cherry are some of Dotty's favorite heirloom varieties.
Mmmmmm---Sunsugar tomatoes
 She also likes the hybrid Sunsugar, a very sweet orange cherry tomato that we started growing last year when we were unable to get Sungold seeds. It's a winner according to our tomato gardeners.

Jan, recently retired from Valley View, likes the German Johnsons, Brandywines  and Mr. Stripey, all large slicing tomatoes with fantastic flavor. The Sungold orange cherry is on her favorite's list too.
Our perennial specialist and graphic/web designer Marian's garden in northern Baltimore County boasts heirlooms as well. Her favorites include Black Krim, Pineapple, Box Car Willie and Tomatoberry. I love the descriptive names of these wonderful tomatoes.

Summer produce from Marian's garden
Don, who takes care of all of our plants that come in from our own farm before they reach the sales floor, loves Brandywine and Mortgage Lifter. Both the tomatoes and the plants can get quite large over the summer. Don says the taste of the fruit is fantastic!

Stop by next weekend and talk to our tomato and vegetable experts.
Eddie, Nat and Sheila, ready to help gardeners choose from our tomato selection

 We have put together a special handout profiling each of our varieties and will have some recipes from Chef Tom Schwarzweller, Executive Chef at Wegmans. Please keep in touch this summer and share your tomato growing tips, recipes, and gardening stories on facebook. . This is our 1st Annual Tomato Tornado event; we hope to have many more.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Contain Your Excitement!

Beautiful planters soften stone walls
Potted gardens are remarkable! They can be mobile, colorful, contain edibles and/or ornamentals, and have a ton of flexibility for use in the garden and patio.
 Valley View Farms has some wonderful talent in our greenhouse and in our perennial area who have become masters at putting together delightful, colorful containers for people, using annuals, perennials, tropicals and even vegetables and herbs. Stop in to talk with Cindi, Nancy, Ruth, Jen, Pat, Joann, Katie, Marian and many others on our staff. Someone is available from 7am to 9pm everyday to answer questions and offer expertise on how to match up plants with pots.
Use container gardens to signal stairs and grade changes

Cindi has put together some designs in our Container Idea Book to get gardeners inspired. The book is located at the front of our greenhouse. I like that there is a photo and 'recipe' for each design featured. Cindi offers substitutes for the plants she uses as well.
We offer several classes a year on container gardening. We'll also teach individual groups,  including garden clubs, civic groups, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts about gardening in window boxes, patio pots and hanging baskets. We regret that we are unable to provide classes in May, but we can generally schedule them the rest of the year.
So, let's get started! Choose a container. Pots seem to made an infinite number materials, including terracotta, concrete, ceramic, metal, wood, plastic, fiberglass and coco-fiber. Colors range from natural browns and greens to neon yellows and pinks. Determine if the container will be left to overwinter outside.Add a good quality potting mix.
My favorites are made by Promix and Espoma, though we have many more from which to choose.
Now, we are ready for planting, Take a look around and at the idea book to determine if you like a particular style. Pick out plants of different heights, foliage interest and, in the case of perennials, bloom time. 
Pinterest is a great place to find ideas too!

We sometimes use the Thriller, (tall plant), Filler, (medium height) and Spiller (trailing plant) method to combine plants. The rest is just a matter of making sure that the plants chosen are compatible in terms of light and water requirements.
Once the pots have been planted, add some fertilizer and water. Check the soil surface daily to see if the soil has dried out. Water to soak the potting mix, allowing excess water to drain from the bottom. If a saucer is under the pot to catch excess water, be sure to dump it out to encourage good drainage.
Gardening in containers is a creative endeavor with limitless possibilities! Stop in and talk to our experts to get your container garden ready for spring and summer.

Plant for all seasons. Look at the texture and color for fall in this planter.