Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Parade

Mon. May 30th - Join Victoria Gardens today at the Memorial Day Parade!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Plant Profile: Scabiosa - Superbloomer! Bloomerific! Flowertastic!

A real superhero of the garden. We had pots of Scabiosa blooming in April, and they just never quit. To ensure a long blooming season, keep the scabiosa well watered (but not in standing water) and deadhead flowers when they are past their peak.


zone 3
10 - 24" tall and wide
blooms: spring to September

Play off the blue blooms by pairing it with Russian sage 'Little Spires.'


zone 3
10 - 24" tall and wide
blooms: spring to September

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Growing Big Yeilds In Small Spaces

Growing big yields in small spaces

Even if you only have a windowsill or a doorstep, you can enjoy the “fruitful” experience of growing your own food. Container gardening is simple and easier to maintain then a full vegetable garden. It’s a wonderful experience for kids, and it’s a baby step if you’re intimidated by a full vegetable garden.

The most important element in starting a container garden begins with your potting soil. This is so important - it cannot be stressed enough - you can’t use regular garden dirt, even beautiful, compost-rich dirt. It’s too heavy for container gardening. You want to start with what is called a soil-less mix or potting soil. We carry an Espoma product that is organic, lightweight, and drains well. Most important, potting mix is disease and weed free. If you have old potting mix in a container, replace it. You will get better results.

Almost any type of container will do, as long as it allows proper drainage. And whether you start your own vegetables from seed or whether you buy plants already started (don’t worry, we will have locally gown, organic, heirloom vegetable starts again this year), here’s a quick summary of what size containers you will need to grow your favorite fruits and vegetables.

Small 8” pots are perfect for growing a single herb, like parsley, basil, dill or cilantro, chives or small leaf lettuces, like ‘Tom Thumb’ Buttercrunch lettuce. If you have a lager container plant several varieties for a mini herb garden or a live salad bowl, right outside your kitchen door.

In 10’ to 12’ pots you can grow almost any type of greens: ‘Red Sails’ Leaf Lettuce, a buttery-tasting leaf lettuce with ruffled burgundy-tinged leaves. ‘Gourmet Baby Greens’ an heirloom mesclun mix of greens with beautiful colors, rich flavors, and diverse textures. Or grow your own baby spinach by seeding ‘Tyee’ spinach and pick the leaves, while they are still small. Grow a bumper crop of ‘Easter Egg’ radishes, and enjoy the festive color blend of red, white, rose-pink, purple, and bi-color. We also love the ‘Bush Slicer’ cucumber. You will have juicy slicing cucumbers in record time on disease resistant, dwarf bushes, perfect for small space or container gardens.

To grow larger plants like tomatoes, squash, peppers and green beans, you will need a container that can hold approximately five gallons (16” to 20” pot). For growing indeterminate (vine) tomato varieties and climbing bean varieties, a trellis or a cage is also necessary. We have found a great space saver, perfect for containers, a spiraled tomato trellis. We grew tomatoes and tomatillos on them last year, and they were perfect. If you do have a small amount of garden space to growing vegetables, using trellises to grow cucumbers, tomatoes or beans is an efficient and ornamental way to produce more per square foot. We have beautiful 6’ to 8’ tall metal trellises and bamboo, 4’ and 6’ tall expandable, tee-pee trellises that will work well in the garden or in a container.

We also highly recommend fertilizing all of your containers (except herbs, which don’t need nutrient rich soil). We like Earth Juice Grow for all greens, lettuce and spinach, and Earth Juice Bloom for everything that produces flowers and fruit. Specifically for tomatoes, some of our clients swear by Neptune Harvest Fish & Seaweed fertilizer. We haven’t done a head to head taste test between Earth Juice and the Neptune Harvest (maybe we’ll do it this year), but we have had spectacular results with all three organic products.

Here's a list of the heirloom, organic, locally-grown vegetable starts we have in packs now.

We also have a full selection of herbs (our grower follows organic practices, but has not gotten certified yet - but no chemicals, no pesticides, and he uses an organic fertilizer) including Summer Savory, French Terragon, Lemon Grass, Fernleaf Dill, Chamomile, and more!

What about my sweet tooth?

You are not restricted to growing only vegetables in your container garden. You can grow your own fruit as well. How would you like to eat fresh figs right off your own tree? Figs are not cold hardy, but can be grown in a 14” to 18” pot and can easily be moved inside for the winter.

If you need to leave your containers out all winter, we have plenty of cold hardy options. We have very cool columnar apple trees in stock. Malus ‘Northpole’ and ‘Scarlet Sentinel’ are apple varieties that grow 8’ to 10’ tall, and only 1’ to 2’ wide! So they produce fruit on a tree that resembles a tall, narrow column. For this size tree, a seven to ten gallon pot would be best (24” to 30” pot).

Another compact choice is Prunus ‘Golden Glory,’ a dwarf peach variety. Often called a patio peach, ‘Golden Glory’ grows only to 5’to 6’ tall and wide. Blueberries can also be grown in containers. We recommend using the smaller varieties like ‘Lowbush’ and ‘Earliblue’ for the best results. If you plant one of each, ‘Earliblue’ will ripen in June and ‘Lowbush’ will ripen in July. And don’t forget strawberries! Grow alpine strawberries in hanging baskets, and you’ll not only have cascading sweet, ripe fruit, but you’ll also be able to better protect them from the chipmunks, birds and squirrels too.

What do I do if I don’t live on the sunny side of the street?

Another common question we are asked is what can be grown in a container in partial shade? All vegetables grow best in full sun, but lettuce, onions, parsley, mint, and radishes can all be grown in partial shade.

Another great option for a partial-shade to full sun container plant is the Currant. Ribes ‘Red Lake’ and Ribes ‘Pink Champagne’ produce glossy clusters of beautiful, tart fruit. Often used for jams and jellies, currants have made resurgence at local farmers markets and are ripe for reinvention. See the mouth-watering recipe for Red Current Sorbet from

Good Neighbors

Container combinations

Companion plants are plants that benefit each other when planted in close proximity. Some companions attract beneficial insects, while others repel damaging pests. Onions repel slugs and aphids, and therefore is a perfect companion for cabbage, carrots, and lettuce. Other times one companion will affect the surrounding soil, for example peas and beans release nitrogen into the soil, while spinach, strawberries, and radish will use the extra nitrogen as they grow.

Companion planting naturally (without chemicals, and who wants to spray chemicals on food!) benefits productivity, and reduces the damage caused by garden pests. A perfect example of companion plants are “the three sisters”, a combination planted by native Americans of beans, corn and squash. The beans release extra nitrogen into the soil, the corn provides a vertical support, which the beans grow up, like a trellis, and the squash shades the roots of the other plants.

Click here for a full list of good companion combos!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Heirloom, Organic, Locally-grown Veggie Starts are in!!!

We got our first batch of Heirloom, Organic, Locally-grown Veggie Starts! Here's what we have:

3-packs and 4-packs $3

6-packs $4

Black Plum - This high yield reddish-black plum tomato is very sweet and the fruit is crack resistant. A heirloom from Russia. Excellent in sauces.

Yellow Pear - Yellow bite-sized shaped fruit. Prolific!

Red Pear - Pear-shaped cherry tomatoes.

Goldie - Great flavor and huge fruit! This golden-colored heirloom tomato has been grown and seeds have been passed down by families for 150 years.

Comonaut Volkov - This is a large meaty tomato, an heirloom variety from Ukraine, and it was taken to the International Space Station by Russian Cosmonaut Alexander Volkov, thus its name.

Pruden's Purple - Large dark fruit with rich, sweet flavor.

Brandywine- A favorite. Meaty with the perfect hint of tartness. Beefsteak fruits average 1 lb.

Rose de Berne- Beautiful pink tomato. A favorite!

Amish Paste - Medium sized fruit. Great for slicing and great for sauce.

Striped German - Beautiful 1-2 lb. fruit with red-yellow stripes and dense, juicy, red-yellow streaked flesh. Excellent sweet, complex flavors. Produces till frost.

New Girl - Small to medium fruit. Ripens early!

Moskovich - Yum! Smooth sweet taste, and this one ripens extra-early! Small to medium fruit, and the plants are prolific.

Cayenne Pepper - Long, red, and HOT!

'Doe Hill' Pepper - Small, sweet, yellow peepers. Big producer and ripen early.

'Bizeynne' Pepper - We don't have any info on this one yet. We'll call the farmer and find out!

'EJW Green' Cabbage (Early Jersey Wakefield)- Early, dark green cabbage. Fantastic raw or cooked.

'Red Express' Cabbage - From Hudson Valley Seed Library - "If your garden was a train station, and cabbages were trains, Red Express would arrive ahead of schedule. Because it is a smaller cabbage and was bred for Northern climates, it's an early producer. This red cabbage is the perfect size for home gardening. Dense but not too large, you can try planting this cabbage closer together than most. Great for a bright coleslaw or homemade sauerkraut."

'Shacko' Pak choi - Also called bok choy, you can steam it, stir fry, and toss it in soups.

'Prize Choy' Bok choi - Upright habit and vigorous! Both the leaves and the stalks are edible. Use as a replacement for celery.

Piriciacaba broccoli - About halfway between a heading broccoli and a broccoli raab, these succulent tender small green heads with very large beads make delightful raw eating. Very loose heads, lots of side shoots, sweet stalks. Even the fairly large leaves make excellent greens. Good hot and cold temperature tolerance.

'Apple Green' Eggplant - Great reviews from Local Harvest - "What a great eggplant for northern gardeners! Apple Green is round, pale green, and very delicious. The fruits are 6"x4" and mild with non-bitter flesh. Produces early and abundantly on a modest sized plant. Developed by the late Dr. Elwyn Meador at the University of New Hampshire for northern gardeners, but also does very well in warmer climates. Keeps producing until frost if kept picked."

Rainbow Chard - Another Hudson Valley Seed Library selection - "Other names for this colorful and tasty type of Swiss chard include Bright Lights and Five Color Silver Beet. Its wavy leaves and colorful stems are irresistibly pretty. It's also really easy to grow. One sowing will provide harvestable greens all season, though it's smart to do a mid-summer sowing in case disease pops up.

One of the tastiest ways to prepare chard is to heat some oil over low heat in a tall pan, toss in some sesame seeds until toasted, and then toss in a mess of washed chard until it wilts. Add soy sauce and a little sweetener: so good!"

4-packs of Lettuce

Dino Kale - More HVSL! - "Crinkly, deep green kale of exceptional eating quality.
The blue-green foliage of this kale is nearly reptilian: deeply hued, rippled, and tough. Despite its rough appearance, it is extremely sweet and tender, just like our canine companion Kale. It's also Kale's favorite brassica, as it is for gardeners worldwide, who have given it many names: Lacinato, Cavolo Nero, Tuscan Kale, Palm Tree Kale, and Dinosaur Kale. A consistent, long-season garden companion, Dino Kale will never go extinct as long as you grow it each year."

Red Russian Kale _ And one more from HVSL - "Among kales, Red Russian shines: its tender leaves are bluish-green framed by pinkish-red veins. It's as at home in a decorative border as it is in a productive row. Because its leaves are flat and thin, it wilts very quickly; if cooking with thicker, curlier kale varieties, toss it in later to keep it from overcooking."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Plant Profile: Geum - Deer Resistant, Full Sun, Drought Tolerant, Long Bloomer!


zone 5
16 - 24" tall and wide
blooms: late May to July


zone 5
16 - 24" tall and wide
blooms: late May to July


zone 5
16 - 24" tall and wide
blooms: late May to July

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Many Faces of Euphorbia


zone 5
18 tall and 36" wide
blooms: spring but foliage great color all season long


zone 5
18 tall and 36" wide
blooms: spring but foliage great color all season long


zone 5
18 tall and 36" wide
blooms: spring but foliage great color all season long


zone 5
18 tall and 36" wide
blooms: spring but foliage great color all season long


zone 5
6" tall and 36" wide
blooms: spring but foliage great color all season long

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vegetable Companion Plants

Asparagus - Parsley, nasturtium, basil, lettuce and tomato

Beans - Potato, corn, lettuce, eggplant, cucumber, strawberry, celery, carrots,
cauliflower, radish, spinach,

Beets - Sage, lettuce, spinach, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, marigold

Broccoli - Onions, leeks, dill, rosemary and celery

Brussels Sprout - Potato, thyme

Cabbage - Onion, oregano, sage and mint

Carrot - Bush beans, pole beans, peas, onion, leeks, lettuce and chives

Cauliflower - Oregano, onions and leeks

Celery - Tomato, leeks and beans

Corn - Lettuce, peppers, cucumber, beans and peas

Cucumber - Radish, lettuce, beans, peas and celery

Eggplant - Beans, peppers, spinach, and lettuce

Leeks - Cabbage, celery, onion and celery

Lettuce - Beets, strawberry, and radish

Onion - Lettuce, cabbage and carrots

Parsnip - Shallots, chives and lettuce

Peas - Cucumber, radish, turnips, corn, carrots and beans

Pepper Chili - Cucumber, squash and lettuce

Potato - Tomato, cucumber, sunflower, green beans, peas and broad beans

Pumpkin - Corn

Radish - Peas, lettuce and nasturtium

Spinach - Strawberries and most herbs and veggies

Strawberry - Borage, lettuce, beets and bush beans

Tomato - Asparagus, peppers, marigolds, parsley and basil

Squash - Parsley, tomato, spinach, corn and nasturtium

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This Weekend Moms Get a Free Gift!

Sat. & Sun. May 7th & 8th - Mother's Day Tea in the Garden and Free Gift for Moms!

All Moms who come to Victoria Gardens this weekend get a free Mother's Day gift.