Viette.com
May E-News from Viette's                                   Volume 11: No. 5

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                               May/2015

Lettuce in container - Mesclun Mix

May is the time for planting vegetables

and flowers ...

 

... or maybe planting  

vegetables IN the flowers!

 

Don't have room for a vegetable garden?

           

Why not tuck some vegetable plants  

right into your flower gardens or  

in containers on your deck or patio?  

Think outside the box!

Quick Links
Plant of the Month
Beautiful Heuchera varieties
Heuchera 'Mocha' and 'Caramel'
             
Heuchera

Coral Bells
 
Imagine strolling through your beautiful woodland garden on a pathway edged with bright splashes of silver, green, and burgundy! This is the magic of Heuchera!
             
Foliage Rules!
With the advent of intense hybridizing programs, foliage has become an important part of color in the perennial garden because it provides patches of long-lasting color. Heuchera, with its exciting new cultivars, provides foliage that is speckled, splashed, or washed in shades of silver, bronze, purple, and red. Some hybrids such as Heuchera 'Amber Waves' even change color over the season as the foliage matures and others provide vibrant fall color. 'Palace Purple', though still a great cultivar, is no longer the main choice for red-leaved Heuchera!   
Heuchera Amber Waves
Heuchera 'Amber Waves'
Heuchera Georgia Peach
Heuchera 'Georgia Peach'
Heuchera Obsidian
Heuchera 'Obsidian'
      

Sparkling Flowers   
Though the airy clusters of tiny flowers are very attractive, these perennials are coveted more for their foliage effect in the garden. The loose panicles of dainty bell-shaped flowers that rise above the foliage on tall graceful flower stems are simply an added bonus! The flowers, which attract hummingbirds and butterflies, appear from late spring to early summer in shades of red, pink, coral, and white. This floral display can be extended into September by removing the spent flower stalks. But don't throw them away! These light, airy flowering stems make wonderful cut flowers for a cheery indoor display!  
Heuchera Ruby Bells
Heuchera 'Ruby Bells' with
brilliant red flowers
      
Great Companions!
Heuchera (Zones 3-8) perform best when planted in light shade in average, well-drained soil. In more northern zones, they can tolerate full sun but in warmer climates they benefit from at least some afternoon shade. Heuchera are excellent for the woodland garden and are an asset to the front of the shade or part shade border garden. They are stunning companion plants to Hosta and ferns in the shade garden and the burgundy leaved cultivars are striking when combined with the silvery gray foliage of Artemisia and Stachys. These perennials are pest and disease resistant, and are evergreen or semi-evergreen in warmer zones.
      

Interesting Varieties  
             
Heuchera Crimson Curls
Heuchera 'Crimson Curls'
Heuchera 'Crimson Curls'
This unusual hybrid has interesting leaves with curled edges which emerge a deep reddish maroon in spring and mature to a soft grayish green in summer. The underside of the leaves remains a deep crimson throughout the season. 'Crimson Curls' offers a nice contrast in color as well as texture in a mixed border of perennials.  
             
Heuchera Hollywood
Heuchera 'Hollywood'
Heuchera 'Hollywood'
boasts deep purple foliage washed in silver creating a stunning contrast between purple veins and frosty leaves. To add to its uniqueness, this cultivar has dense clusters of brilliant red flowers along the stem, very unlike the typical open arrangement of flowers on most varieties of Heuchera.
              
Heuchera Mocha
Heuchera 'Mocha'
Heuchera x villosa 'Mocha'
is another excellent new cultivar with striking deep purple, almost black leaves. The small white flowers are a striking contrast.    
              
Heuchera Midnight Rose
Heuchera 'Midnight Rose'
Heuchera 'Midnight Rose'
has very unusual foliage that is dark reddish-black with hot pink flecks.   

    

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Gardening Questions?
Andre  answers a listener's question during a broadcast of 'In the Garden' 
Listen to Andre on the radio every
Saturday morning
from 8:00-11:00 on
 
"In the Garden
with Andre Viette"
 
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You can also listen to podcasts.  

 

Viette Discussion Board
Tip of the Month
Successful Tomato Crops! 

Vegetable harvest with heirlooms

       
It's May and that means it's vegetable gardening time for many people. In these days of skyrocketing food prices, more and more families are turning towards growing their own vegetables - and why not? It's fun, it's healthy, and it saves money on your food bills!
       

The delicious, wholesome crops you produce will lead to healthier eating habits and tending a vegetable garden, whatever the size, is great exercise. Plus, home-grown vegetables tend be of high quality and have fantastic flavor when fresh picked.  

      
tomatoes One of the most popular vegetables grown in the home garden is the tomato. Well, technically, a tomato is a fruit but, regardless of what you call it, I think everyone will agree that fresh, home-grown tomatoes are amazing!
      
Tomatoes are popular because, not only are they delicious, but they are relatively easy to grow and can be grown almost anyplace where there is a nice patch of full sun. You don't even have to have a big garden space to grow tomatoes; they can grow successfully anywhere you can fit a nice sized container - a deck, terrace, patio ... 
      
Just provide them with good soil, full sun, water, a stake for support, and a little food every so often and you will be rewarded with lots of tasty tomatoes.
      
Tomato Woes
Blight has devastated this tomato plant
A fungal blight has destroyed
this tomato plant
Disease
is one of the number one reasons for crop failure in tomatoes. Unusually cool, wet weather during the spring or early summer creates the perfect conditions for the proliferation of fungal and bacterial diseases that infect tomato crops. Two common diseases are listed below.
Late blight, a disease caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans, can wipe out an entire crop of tomatoes in less that a week! This is the same fungal disease that devastated potato crops in Ireland causing the Irish potato famine in the 1850's. 
Early blight, which is caused by the fungus Alternaria solani, is one of the most common of the tomato diseases. It usually appears in mid summer after the fruit begins to set. Early blight is normally noticed when the lower, older leaves begin to yellow, then turn brown, and eventually die. If it is not controlled, the disease slowly progresses up the plant.
             
Tips for Preventing Disease
Many fungal diseases, including early blight, late blight, septoria leaf spot, and Fusarium and Verticillium wilts, can be minimized by following a few simple cultural practices.
  • The number one recommendation is to rotate your crops! Don't plant your tomatoes in the same location in the garden that they were planted last season (or where you had potatoes planted either). If your tomatoes were planted in a container and you experienced disease problems last season, get rid of that soil and start fresh with a good tomato soil mix.
  • Select disease resistant tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes, while very flavorful, are sometimes not as disease resistant as the hybrid varieties and are susceptible to anthracnose, verticillium, fusarium, and alternaria (early blight). Choose varieties with V, F, FF, N, A, and/or AA after the name.
  • Allow plenty of space for each tomato plant. Wide spacing allows more air circulation and reduces disease problems.
  • Mulched tomato plants
    mulched with composted leaves
    Healthy, robust plants
    are better able to withstand disease - liquid feed your tomatoes with Monterey Bloom & Root Plant Food according to the label directions.
  • Mulching your tomato plants with 2"-3" of pine needles or another type of mulch will help reduce the incidence of fungal diseases by preventing soil (which is laden with fungal spores) from splashing up onto the foliage.
  • tomato trellises
    tomato trellises
    Staking or caging your tomato plants will keep them off the ground and also less exposed to these soil borne pathogens.
  • Keep a careful watch on your tomato plants and remove and destroy lower branches that are yellowing or turning brown.
  • To combat fungal diseases, alternate spraying every two weeks with Bonide Liquid Copper fungicide and either Bonide Mancozeb or Bonide Fung-onil. Always read and follow the label directions.
  • Blossom end rot
    Blossom end rot
    Watch for signs of blossom end rot
    on your tomatoes. Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium uptake in tomato plants which is exacerbated by dry soil conditions. Mulching with pine mulch helps retain moisture and also helps maintain an even level of soil moisture.
    • If you notice blossom end rot, spray with Bonide Rot-Stop Tomato Blossom End Rot according to the label directions. This can also be applied to cucumbers, melons, and peppers.
Join Mark Viette at Augusta Co-Op!
Saturday, May 2nd from 9 AM to 1 PM 
                 
Lawn
& Garden Answer Day at Augusta Co-Op
                 
Mark Viette in the garden
Staunton, VA Store 
         
Bring all your lawn and garden questions 
       

Mark will be available to answer all your lawn and garden questions. 

  • Bring your questions!
  • Bring some samples of problems you are having with your trees, shrubs, or perennials.
  • Bring samples of weeds or insect pests you are having trouble controlling.

Mark will do his best to provide you with simple solutions.

Augusta Co-Op, Staunton is located at:      

1205B Richmond Road, Staunton 

(540) 908-5649 

        
Did You Know?
Hummingbirds - Flying Jewels  

This tip compliments of Augusta Co-Op 

             

While setting up your gardens and bird feeders this year, don't forget about the hummingbirds!

 

Male ruby-throated hummingbird
A male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird hovers over a feeder.
Hummingbirds are a delight to have in the garden and a great way to attract them is to incorporate some of their favorite nectar plants into your landscape. Since hummingbirds forage by sight rather than scent, good hummingbird plants are those that have large colorful flowers with an abundance of nectar. Some of their favorites are azaleas, butterfly bushes, mimosas, trumpet creeper, honeysuckle, lupines, impatiens, petunias, salvia, columbine, and hostas.

         

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are by far the most common hummingbird species found in Virginia; however Rufous, Magnificent, Allen's, and Black-Chinned hummingbirds are also occasionally sighted.  

  

Male ruby-throated hummingbird
Male ruby-throat sips sugar water
at a feeder
These tiny birds eat more than five times their weight in food each day! Hanging colorful hummingbird feeders filled with fresh nectar in the shade near your flowering plants will also attract these shy birds and will supplement the nectar they get from flowers.

  

Store-bought nectar is an excellent source of the nutrients hummingbirds need. Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds will eat about five meals of concentrated hummingbird food per hour (10-80 calories each); more diluted solutions will cause the bird's crop to empty more quickly which necessitates more frequent feedings. Although homemade nectar is easy to mix, it lacks certain essential nutrients. 

         

Female ruby-throat lacks the bright red throat
Female ruby-throats are less colorful
and lack the bright red throat
Hummingbirds are highly territorial, so it is important to hang multiple feeders out of sight of each other if you want to attract more than one bird at one time. Red ribbons tied to the feeders will catch extra attention and bring them to the feeders. As an added enticement, consider putting a few flat rocks in your birdbath to create some shallow areas for your hummingbirds to bathe.

         

To prevent ants from getting into your hummingbird feeders, make or purchase an ant moat. Some hummingbird feeders actually have built-in ant moats. If you see bees on your feeder, wipe the surface with a damp sponge to rid it of nectar dripped by the hummingbirds. Scrub feeders with warm water and a bottle brush if the nectar gets cloudy or black mold spots appear.

           

Hint: Hummingbirds get protein from small insects, so instead of throwing out over-ripe fruit, set it outside in the garden to attract fruit flies. 

        
Visit your local Augusta Co-Op for a
wide selection of hummingbird feeders, food, and plants to make your own garden a hummingbird haven!
 
Did You Know?
When is it safe to direct seed vegetable crops? 
         
The timing for direct seeding into the garden is really more dependent on the spring weather conditions and the temperature of the soil.
         
In general, it is safe to sow seeds directly in the garden after the last frost date but some vegetables have more specific soil temperatures for optimal germination. Peas can be planted earlier since they are more cold hardy. Pea seeds can germinate in soils as cool as 40?F whereas cucumbers germinate best when the soil temperature is 70?F and will not germinate at all if the soil is below 50?F. It is really good to have a soil thermometer!
         
That being said, you should n ever work the garden soil when it is too wet because this can destroy the soil structure and cause your soil to become clumpy and form a surface crust. So it is also important to make sure the soil is dry enough before you plant. You can test this by taking a handful of soil and squeezing it into a ball. If the ball breaks apart when you tap it, the soil is dry enough to be worked.
         
Your seed packets will often provide optimal soil temps for germination and this is the best guideline to follow. Many seed websites, like Johnny's Selected Seeds, provide detailed growing information including when to direct seed each variety.

On the Viette's Views Gardening Blog 

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  Spring has been slow to come to the Shenandoah Valley this year. It has been cold and windy for days; not feeling very spring-like despite what the calendar says. Regardless of the chilly temps, I have observed the steady progression of the season in the trees surrounding our house. A few weeks ago, I noticed [...]...?


Join Mark on an Exciting Tour of Ireland
Best of Ireland Tour 

Departs August 20, 2015

Join Mark Viette on this wonderful tour of Ireland!

Experience the Best of Ireland on a 12-day tour.

Best of Ireland Tour with Mark Viette Fly into historic Dublin with a city tour including the Bank of Ireland and St. Patrick's Cathedral (the largest church in Ireland).  Head south with a stop at the Rock of Cashel followed by Waterford with an included tour of the famous crystal factory.  Continue to Cobh, visit Blarney Castle, and perhaps kiss The Blarney Stone en route to Killarney.
      
Drive
the spectacular "Ring of Kerry," offering stunning scenery and tour Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, built in 1425.  View the Cliffs of Moher; discover Galway, the Connemara region, Kylemore Abbey and the Sligo area.           
Enjoy a guided tour of Belleek Pottery, visit Ulster American Folk Park, and explore The Giant's Causeway.
        
Your tour of the "Emerald Isle" ends in Belfast with sightseeing, including the impressive Parliament buildings, plus you'll visit the world's largest visitor experience, Titanic Belfast.
        
Join Mark Viette and WRVA Listeners in Ireland -
and don't forget your camera!
 
Click here for more information or call 888-304-5572
for the latest updates on this exciting vacation! 
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