Mountain Valley Growers USDA Certified Organic Herb, Perennnial and Vegetable Plants





 for Fall Planting

Herb's Pick
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I read once that Americans are hard to please because we insist on uniformity. If we buy a bottle of olive oil from a specific company, we expect that oil to be the same the next time we buy it. Whereas in another country, they might be inclined to take the oil a little more or less green (or whatever other criteria one may judge olive oil by) from one time to the next and not be bothered by it.  This second approach to buying olive oil (and to life) creates an awareness that not only are all years of harvest not the same but that a little variance in life is normal and can even be exciting.

What possesses our nation of consumers to want the same product each time? Why does my house (or my yard) have to look like yours? Where has our lust for life gone? Why do we always want everything guaranteed or we just won't try it?

Every day we get questions from folks who want to know if the plant they want to buy will grow in their yard. They explain their conditions and hope that we will say, "Yes, you will be 100 percent successful." Needless to say, we cannot make this guarantee. Heck, the plants can even grow differently when planted in different areas of the same garden. It is kind of like making your favorite recipe. You have made it hundreds of times, but it is always a little different (sometimes better than others). Does this mean you stop cooking? 

Like cooking, gardening is made up of a lot of different components. Soil, sun exposure, cold, and heat are just a few of the ingredients of gardening. And these components interact with each plant differently. No matter how many soil tests we run or books we read, the only way to learn is to try the plant and see what happens. The difference between a successful gardener and a struggling gardener is experience. The former would never get that experience if he didn't have a great big dose of curiosity and a healthy respect for perseverance. Sometimes it takes a bit of work to get it right. Sometimes you may have to try several things before the answer comes. But that's all right; it is part of the fun. When something does do well or your plan comes together just right, nothing is more encouraging.

Here are few guidelines for fall planting that may help you be more successful.

1. All planting should be finished about 4 to 6 weeks prior to frost. This gives the plant plenty of time to establish roots and keep it from dying during the winter. By planting early, plants still have enough daylight to make one more little flush of growth.

2. Choose plants that are right for your zone. Choosing a zone 7 plant for a zone 4 climate spells disaster, unless you want to try growing indoors.

3. Mulch well. Three inches of a small-particle mulch, like ground bark, should cover the ground around the plant but should not come up to the plant's stem. Leave a two-inch air space around the little plant. Don't worry about the mulch standing taller than the plant. In about two months the mulch will be ground level.

4. Water anyway; don't wait for the rain. Water well when the plant goes into the ground and continue to water whenever the soil is in danger of becoming too dry. If gauging this is hard, try one of our handy water meters. Inserted near the plant's root zone, they make it a snap to see if the plant needs a drink.





Butterfly Bushes are blooming again now that the weather has cooled off. The hummingbirds and butterflies are zooming in and out and cheering us on with their non-stop activity.

Until we read the new book Buddlejas, by David D. Stuart, even we didn't realize how many different butterfly bushes there are. If you want to know more about the different kinds and how to grow them, be sure to grab a copy.

We know that while some of you are pretty much shutting down your gardens for winter, others are just starting to enjoy a planting season. So we will have new Bargain Plants soon. We have to regroup after the wild party that was our 8th annual Fall Extravaganza. If you didn't make it this year be sure and mark Labor Day on your calendar next year for our 9th Fall Extravaganza.

This past month, unbeknownst to us, our company's name was listed in Domino Magazine next to a beautiful blooming Spanish Lavender in a cool blue clay pot. The problem is we don't sell blooming Spanish Lavender in a cool blue clay pot. We do sell Spanish Lavender, but it is a starter plant in a plain brown pot.

 The problem is that the cool blue Spanish Lavender will not last more than a few weeks in a small pot and then it will start to die. Why? No room. One of the most common misconceptions about herbs and perennials it that they can live life stuffed in a small pot. It just ain't so. Spanish Lavender is a large shrub that grows to about four feet around and two to three feet high. In order to survive and thrive, it needs "feet" that are big enough to support it. This means enough growing ground or container space to for an adequate root zone.

What is adequate? Figure foot for foot. If the plant has a mature height of one foot, then it needs approximately a one foot square for root space. In a container, if it doesn't have this, it will become root bound. When a plant becomes root bound, no amount of fertilizer or water will save it. Why? Basically because plants take food and water from the soil which, in a root bound plant, is all used. In a garden, where space is in short supply, one plant will outgrow the other and take over. 

As you choose plants for your situation be sure to consider the size of the plant and its root zone size. You might want to plant it in an eight-inch cool blue pot, but that might not be what the plant needs to stay healthy. Give the plant the space it needs and you both will be happy.

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