Saturday, March 31, 2012

NEW FOR 2012

Amberboa (Amberboa muricata) - This selection dazzled me in a catalog. A member of the aster family, it has spidery purple petals and grows about 30” tall. Sun-loving and easy to grow, it’s a great cut flower and blooms until frost. Delicate habit looks best planted in multiples.
(Annual - 30”).

Wild foxglove (Digitalis sp.) - Tall, ornamental biennial with mixed flower colors. Will tolerate a fair amount of shade, like along woodland’s edge. Allow to reseed after flowering (year 2) so it continues. Caution: Plant is toxic.
(Biennial – 2’-3’).

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum ‘Patio Tasty Fiesta’) – Another slow-bolting type (along with our ‘Santo’ variety) with a unique appearance. Finely cut, ferny foliage rather than standard broad leaves. Good taste and an ornamental plant, useful in the garden and also in mixed containers.
(Annual – 14”).

Dwarf purple basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Dwarf Purple’) - We got this plant last season, as a substitution, so I knew nothing about it. Turns out it’s a very nice little plant. Similar to compact ‘Minette’ but with purple leaves with hints of green. Excellent flavor and fragrance, great in mixed container plantings. Definite ‘cute factor’ in this small plant. (Annual – 12”).

Plum lemon tomato (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Plum Lemon’) - Customers have asked for a yellow cherry tomato, and I found a promising heirloom variety. Lemon shaped, cherry sized with lower acid and sweet taste common in yellow tomatoes. Indeterminate variety – 88 days.

Rosemary – Paris (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Paris) Will three times be the charm? I’ve been trying to obtain this more winter hardy variety for 2 years. Like ‘Arp’ and ‘Hill Hardy’, it may survive our winters outside. Keep your fingers crossed! (Tender Perennial – 48”).

Thursday, March 29, 2012


We offer three varieties of fennel. All have feathery anise-scented foliage and flat yellow flowers. Sweet fennel’s foliage is bright green; bronze’s is dark reddish-brown. Both come back--from the root or certainly by reseeding. Florence fennel has green foliage and yellow flowers, but it’s the only variety that produces a bulb that can be eaten raw or cooked.

All are host plants for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, along with dill, parsley and rue. Foliage and seeds can both be used in cooking and baking. Fennel is paired with fish, shellfish, pork, ham and sausage, breads, cabbage, eggplant and beans. Add grated raw fennel bulb to salads or sauté’ with onion as a side dish. For a delicious autumn salad, combine arugula, fennel bulb, cold cooked beets and pears.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


My anticipation of spring starts early and increases quickly as winter ticks on. I look forward to warmer weather, the greenhouses filling with plants, new growth in the gardens and the return of old friends. I love seeing returning customers and catching up with them. We have regulars at Landis Valley too, although I don’t get to talk to them at length. We’ll be returning to our regular site at the Landis Valley Herb Faire on May 11 & 12. Let’s hope for good weather. In fact, let’s hope for better weather throughout the season this year. It will be interesting to see the effects of our record setting year in the gardens.

Many herbs were not happy being wet for so long, but they’re pretty tough and I expect most will recover. I’ll be looking for signs of new growth; as long as I see that, I’ll cut back hard, even on woody perennials, and hope for the best. With all that groundwater, flowering perennials and early annuals should be lush this spring. It’s always easy to be optimistic at the beginning of the season.

To get you thinking about planting, read about our new selections on page 2. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll finally receive ‘Paris’ rosemary, although no guarantees. Also, read about the varieties of fennel we offer, the herb of the year and plants for specific uses and settings. Here’s hoping for a productive spring!

Friday, March 9, 2012

By the end of February, spring is in full swing for me. Starter plants arrive from the end of the month and into mid-March. They all need transplanted along with the earliest batches of seedlings. I continue to start seeds, going from pansies and early perennials to early annuals and then heat loving herbs and flowers. As more is planted, more needs to be watered, tagged, etc. In preparing for spring, the work builds gradually, and then there's always one day where it really hits and then it's crazy busy for about three months.
It also means my least favorite greenhouse activity - moving plants around. Obviously, it needs to be done. Crops must be rotated as new ones size up and as things sell. I don't really mind moving things between the two greenhouses, especially on nice days. But shifting stuff around inside the greenhouse seems a waste of time. Early in the season, it's moving around to make more space, which is necessary. But then I think I should be planting instead of moving things. When I worked at garden centers, there was lots of moving around, some probably unnecessary, so maybe that's where it started.
Right now, the shop is open Thurs - Sat, 9-5. The spring newsletter should be out in mid-March. If you didn't receive one, let us know when you visit the farm. We did lose some mailing list info from a computer meltdown a little while ago. We think we recreated the list accurately, but please let us know if we've missed you. Also, if you'd prefer an e-mail newsletter, give us your email address and we'll switch you over.
Other things coming up - the greenhouse reopens April 3 this year and our spring open house will be Friday and Saturday April 27 and 28 from 9 to 5. It will be here before you know it.
My outside rosemarys are still surviving - it may be a good year for wintering them over. Someone asked me if the hardier varieties were guaranteed to winter over. Simply said, no. I think the deciding factor is the severity of the winter weather.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Marching Toward Spring!

The "March" toward spring continues. I can feel the change-over in the work I have to do. Most of the inside paperwork and preparation and organizing is done. Now it's turning to growing. I start seeds each week. The earliest varieties were started in January. Then a big batch of perennials and I'm finishing them up along with a few slow starting annuals and some biennials. I've been working in the greenhouse filling pots. Boy, is it nice in there on a sunny day. It's like being in Florida for a few hours - perks me right up. Haven't planted any plugs yet, but that will start soon and then it will be planting straight through until the greenhouse opens, which is APRIL 3, this year.

We did get our new plant list finished up and are posting it here. Just click on each page to open, then print and peruse at your leisure!

One morning on Lucy's walk, we saw a squirrel fight. I think a couple pairs live in the treeline at the back of our property where it touches the alpaca farm. With the leaves off the trees, I can see nests way up in the trees. I don't know if the fight was territorial or a love triangle, but two chased one all over the place. They are so agile. It always amazes me when they jump onto a thin, little branch. The whole branch bends and swings, but they just hold on and then leap to the next one. They finally chased him far enough away to be satisfied.

Our basement has been pretty well refurbished. It got flooded last fall when the tropical storm roared through. We repainted and had flooring put down. John talked me into half linoleum and half carpet, which I wasn't too enthused about. But now I really like it.. And I can work on the lino side with my drieds and it will be easy to clean up.

John got the stock plants out of the garden. That's always a big, spring prep job. I keep stock plants of perennials that I can divide into small plants and just grow them to size up. We put them in trenches in the garden for the winter, insulating the roots. Dig them up, put them in the greenhouse, and soon for some, longer for others, they break dormancy and begin to grow. I'm watching them closely for signs of new growth. It's as good as the seedlings popping up - a sign that spring is coming!