MOUNTAIN VALLEY VIEWS

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This newsletter can be found online in living color at:
<a href="http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/Weeklyspecials.htm"></a>
OR http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/Weeklyspecials.htm

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*****THIS WEEK*****

*****HERB'S ADVICE FOR SPRING*****

*****HERB'S PICK OF THE WEEK*****

*****ON SALE*****

THE KING AND EYE

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NOTES FROM HERB GARDENER:

Here in our corner of the west,
March brings the promise of spring.
Chives are three inches tall,
most mints are starting to push up,
the ornamental oreganos are brighter,
rockroses have buds just starting to form,
and early blooming plants like Cleveland Sage
are looking gray instead of almost dead.

Days are warming but nights are still too cold to plant.
In colder parts of the country, April and May
bring these kinds of days. This is usually
when I get out and do some pruning and cleaning.
If I wait too long, the plants will start to grow,
and it will get harder to shear off dead flower stems
and shape bushes that are now filling out.
This is also a good time to clean weeds
from the aisles of the garden and to think
about mulching the bare spots.

Still, the most exciting part of spring is the planting.
For those of us who have gardened for most of our lives,
there is always a new bed to plant,
a new color scheme to try,
a bare spot that presents its challenge each year.

Many folks will come to gardening as novices this spring.
They will have lots of questions.
They will read all the books, make lots of lists,
maybe even draw up diagrams.
They will vow to keep a journal of the weather
and the plants they lovingly put in the ground.
Some things will work great and others will be disappointing.

Since I know how frustrating learning something new can be,
I thought I would make a few suggestions
for those just starting out.

1. Soil should be the best you can make it.
That said, unless you are trying to grow on asphalt
or on top of hard pan, don't worry, just mulch.

MULCH is organic matter (leaves, shredded newspaper,
ground-up tree stems, compost, etc.) spread
on TOP of the soil after planting. Mulch has to be thick;
three-inches deep is the minimum.
Leave about a two-inch circle of clear dirt
around your new plants. Don't worry, it will settle
and be ground level in no time.
Every time there is a bare spot,
throw some more mulch on it.
I use a small-ground fir bark,
but you can use whatever you have handy.
Just no sewage sludge or bio solids.

<a href="http://www.life.ca/nl/58/sludge.html">sewage sludge</a>

OR http://www.life.ca/nl/58/sludge.html

If you buy bags of mulch stuff, read the bag carefully.

 

2. Either choose plants that are
winter hardy in your area or realize
that you will be growing them as an annual
(annuals don't return the next year).

If you are looking to improve your landscape,
then you want plants that will be there year after year
(also known as perennials). If you are planting culinary
or medicinal herbs, then you can harvest and preserve them
so it isn't as important that the plants survive the winter.

Winter hardiness is referenced by zones.
ZONES simply tell you that a plant will survive
your winter or it won't. You have a zone where you garden

<a href="http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/zoneinformation.htm">ZONES</a>
OR http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/zoneinformation.htm
and each plant has a zone.


<a href="http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/gardeningbyzone.htm">ZONES FOR PLANTS</a>
OR http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/gardeningbyzone.htm

You just match them up and voila!

3. Culinary herbs aren't all that pretty
and they need a lot of attention,
so plant them all together (preferably close to the kitchen)
where they will get about six hours of sun each day.
About the only exception to this is Rosemary, which,
if you are in Zones 6 and up,
can be used as a culinary landscape plant.
The herbs you choose will depend, of course,
on personal preference, but we put together a handy chart
(see below) to help get your mind and salivary glands going.
It is based on the average needs of a family of four.

4. New plants need lots of watching.
When you get them, set them on the back porch
for a few days and let them get used to
their new surroundings. Make sure to water them
if they feel dry to the touch. A WATER METER can help
you know when to water.
<a href="http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/rapitestwatermeter.htm#watermeter">water
meter</a>
OR http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/rapitestwatermeter.htm#watermeter

Sometimes plant's soil looks wet,
but really it is only wet in the top inch or so of the pot.
The roots are down further,
so make sure they have the water.
After you plant, water well and check often
to make sure the root zone area of the plant,
and not just the ground around it, is moist.

5. Fertilizer is important for all plant life,
but the truth is that if you are mulching
that will probably be all the fertilizer you need.
The earthworms and bacteria will
take care of the garden for you
(of course, this assumes you do not poison them
with chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides).

If you are container growing then be sure to use
a high quality potting soil and a slow-release organic fertilizer,
like our Organic Gro Container Mix.

<a href="http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/soilandpotkits.htm">Organic Gro Container Mix</a>
OR http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/soilandpotkits.htm

6. Have fun!
All the planning and plotting
can get kind of tedious.
Just relax and let the plant do its thing.
All it really needs is
sun, water, fertilizer and you.

Oh, and my tip for experienced gardeners?
Try something new (like we could stop you)
and share what you know.

TIL NEXT TIME,

HERB

P.S. For all AOL and Sunset Magazine subscribers
there are two articles in the March issue of Sunset to check out.
The first is on Organic Garden Basics,
which is both in the magazine and online,
and the second is on Homegrown Herbs, which is only online.

<a href="http://www.sunset.com/sunset/"></a>
OR http://www.sunset.com/sunset/

(((((((((((((((((((HERB'S PICK OF THE WEEK))))))))))))))

GARDENS ACROSS THE NATION

Many times the best advice
about what you should grow,
comes from local resources.
Botanic Gardens, Master Gardeners,
and Public Gardens can be a wealth of information
about what will do well in your area and what won't.
Most major Botanic Gardens or Arboretums have herb gardens
and herb gardeners to inspire you and answer your questions.
Below are just a few links to some
of the really great gardens around the country.

NANCY BRYAN LUCE HERB GARDEN

A part of the world famous
New York Botanic Garden
designed by Penelope Hobhouse,
it contains over 160 herbs to tantalize your senses.

<a href="http://www.nybg.org/gardens/herb.html">Nancy Bryan Luce Herb Garden</a>
OR http://www.nybg.org/gardens/herb.htm

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THE HUNTINGTON BOTANIC GARDEN,

located in southern California,
has a wonderful herb garden
and tea room you could easily spend
an "educational" afternoon in.

<a href="http://www.huntington.org/BotanicalDiv/HerbGard.html">The Huntington Botanic Gardens</a>
OR http://www.huntington.org/BotanicalDiv/HerbGard.html

Of course, California is loaded with great gardens.
This list will help you find one near you.

<a href="http://www.californiagardens.com/Essays/links.htm"></a>
OR http://www.californiagardens.com/Essays/links.htm

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At RED BUTTE GARDEN
in Salt Lake City, Utah
you can get the kids involved
and let them learn to love gardening you like do.

<a href="http://www.redbuttegarden.org/Garden_Activities/?c=Childrens_Garden">Red
Butte Garden</a>
OR http://www.redbuttegarden.org/Garden_Activities/?c=Childrens_Garden

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Explore 23 acres of fragrance
and foliage a mile high at the
DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS.
With over 17,000 plant species,
you are sure to find what you are looking for.

<a href="http://www.botanicgardens.org/pageinpage/home.cfm">Denver Botanic Gardens</a>
OR http://www.botanicgardens.org/pageinpage/home.cfm

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If you live in the hot deserts of Arizona,
be sure to check out the TUCSON BOTANICAL GARDENS.
They have herb gardens, butterfly gardens,
children's gardens and a whole lot more.

<a href="http://www.tucsonbotanical.org/html/garden_specialty.html">Tucson Botanical Gardens</a>
OR http://www.tucsonbotanical.org/html/garden_specialty.html

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Or, maybe your garden is a bit further north?
Visit with a master gardener online
at the UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA EXTENSION SERVICE.

<a href="http://www.extension.umn.edu/topics.html?topic=5">University of Minnesota Extension Service</a>
OR http://www.extension.umn.edu/topics.html?topic=5

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Or maybe, ya'll are down south way?
Then be sure to visit
the 14 herbal theme gardens at the
HUNTSVILLE-MADISON COUNTY BOTANICAL GARDEN.

<a href="http://www.smith.edu/garden/Gardens/prezgarden.html">Huntsville-Madison County Botanical Garden</a>
OR http://www.smith.edu/garden/Gardens/prezgarden.html

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Only one of 26 gardens,
the herb garden at the
CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDENS
will yield baskets of information
and clipboards full of ideals.

<a href="http://www.chicago-botanic.org/plantinfo/pp/PPHerbs.html">Chicago Botanic Gardens</a>
OR http://www.chicago-botanic.org/plantinfo/pp/PPHerbs.html

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If we missed your favorite garden spot
or you would like to find one closer to you,
search the listings of GARDENS BY STATE
at Cornell University.

<a href="http://www.plantations.cornell.edu/visitor/links_university.cfm">Cornell University</a>
OR http://www.plantations.cornell.edu/visitor/links_university.cfm

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Become a plant expert
or ask an expert a question
by getting in touch with the
MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM near you.

<a href="http://www.northerngardening.com/extension.htm">Master Gardener</a>
OR http://www.northerngardening.com/extension.htm

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Oh, and last, but certainly not least,
if you are in our neck of the woods
here in central California,
be sure to arrange a visit to the
SQUAW VALLEY HERB GARDENS.
During March, they are celebrating
their 20th anniversary
with a special presentation
for Women's History Month,
Stories of Women, their Plants & Remedies.

<a href="http://squawvalleyherbgardens.com/calendar.htm">Squaw Valley Herb Gardens</a>
OR http://squawvalleyherbgardens.com/calendar.htm

 

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------------------ON SALE!----------------------

THE KING AND EYE

An oregano fit for a King.
Also called Bible Hyssop,
SYRIAN OREGANO has outstanding flavor.

Add one to any order of six plants
at the regular price for just 1.59.

This is ISP-696.

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AND

Just as beautiful as the multi-colored eye
of a peacock feather, is this heavenly
rose scented PEACOCK GERANIUM.
Add this variegated wonder to your garden
and wait for the oohs and ahhs!

Add one to any order of six plants
at the regular price for just 1.59.

This is ISP-697.

(PLEASE USE THIS LINK FOR ORDERING ALL ISPS, INTERNET SPECIALS)

<a href="http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/orderform6.htm#isp"></a>
OR http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/orderform6.htm#isp

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AND, IN PARTING WE LEAVE YOU WITH THIS:

This list should help you get an idea
of how many herbs a family of four might need to grow.

CHIVES: 3-4 plants. They don't get very big.

BAY: 1 plant, at least.
Grow it in a pot and bring it in for the winter
if you have to; a bay tree is an absolute must.

DILL: 4-6 plants.
Like Basil, you have to plant in succession
to have fresh Dill throughout the growing season.

ENGLISH or GARDEN THYME: 4 plants.
These are small plants and you might want to let one flower
(for garnish and for the bees) while harvesting from the other 3.

FENNEL: 2 plants.
One for you and one for the butterflies.

FRENCH TARRAGON: 4 plants.
Even so you will never have enough.

GREEK OREGANO:
2 plants, because you will put this in everything.

MINT: 1 good Spearmint like Mint the Best or Kentucky Colonel Mint
and 1 nice Peppermint.

PARSLEY: 4-6 plants.
Even though this plant lives two years,
you should replant every spring for the best results.

ROSEMARY: 1 plant, if you live where Rosemary is hardy;
2 if you must grow it as an annual and harvest and dry for winter.

SAGE: 2 plants.
You can choose from any of the forms of Garden Sage.
They all have excellent flavor.

SWEET BASIL: 4-8 plants.
It takes 3 cups of fresh Basil leaves
to make enough pesto to coat one pound of pasta.

WINTER SAVORY: 2, maybe 3 plants,
depending on how much you put in your spaghetti sauce.


You can find out more about each of these plants by
locating their links on our PLANT LIST page:

<a href="http://mountainvalleygrowers.com/herbplantlist.htm"></a>
OR http://mountainvalleygrowers.com/herbplantlist.htm

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