Celebrating Earth Day in a Green Way

In celebration of our planet and because the timing is just right, today we honor the hosta! Very well know to anyone with a shady yard, this perennial is a gift that keeps on giving!  So why not pay it forward?  It’s the perfect Earth Day gift!

When we moved into our house years ago, and I knew very little about anything, we were lucky enough to have bought the house from people who knew what plants would work in a shady backyard.  On the side of the house there were 5 large and lush hostas.  Today, there are 31 in my yard and more than a dozen in my sister’s yard and it didn’t cost me a cent!  What’s the secret?  Propagation, otherwise know as splitting or dividing.

It’s very easy to do, I promise and the time is now, before the plant it too far out of the ground.  Just dig up a section, or the whole plant, with a shovel, and gently remove with the roots intact.  An entire plant can be split into 4 new plants (more or less depending on the size).  This year, I wrapped them with some baker’s twine, and off they went to a new home!  You can also gift them to another spot in your own yard, don’t worry, we won’t judge you!  Here are a few photos of the process:

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If you aren’t gifted one on this Earth Day, come on down to the Corner Market and check out our selection!

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Happy Earth Day, everyone!

 

It’s Baby Season on the Farm! No Kidding!

Spring on the farm is special for many reasons, but when it comes to cute,  baby goats are head and shoulders above the petunias.  You don’t even have to be a “goat person” to fall in love with the wee ones.  I speak of what I know, because, I am technically NOT a card carrying “goat person”.  There are several “goat people” on the farm, one, who’s first name starts with two vowels, is the Chairperson of the Board of Goat People.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like goats, but as the animal rule book defines us, I am a pig person.  Given that distinction, I can’t help but get a little soft when a new kid arrives.  Spring brings babies and three have been born in the last two days.  All three are uber adorable.  Plus, unlike a piglet, they like to be held, sometimes.  Pigs have an innate fear of their feet leaving the ground, hence the expression, “When pigs fly”.  Learn something new everyday!

Now, back to the kids!  Take a look at these photos and video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERxpNi4NGc8IMG_4960IMG_4921IMG_4906IMG_4883

 

Cute, right?  Come down to the Corner Market and see them.  Who knows, there may be a kid born today!

There’s An App For That: Our Favorite Gardening Apps!

Let’s face it, the days of getting advice from books, magazines and newspapers has gone the way of the Dodo bird. Smartphones and tablets run our lives whether we want to admit it or not. That said, why not let your phone help with your garden?

Just one search of “vegetable gardening” in the app store will give you 72 results. Who has time to look into all those?  Here are a few of my favorites and they all cost under $2.00 because I won’t spend more than $1.99 on an app!

Companion Planting Free on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/companion-planting/id483297047?mt=8

Some vegetables do much better when planted alongside certain others, and some veggies will bring out the worst in others, just like people! This app is very easy to use and full of helpful info.  Enter the veggie in the search bar and the app will tell what to plant with it and what to avoid.  Simple, quick and free.

 

Gardening Toolkit $1.99 on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gardening-toolkit-easy-way/id361323098?mt=8

I thought this was silly at first. Why not just take a photo with your phone or any camera, take notes and keep a journal of what you planted, where you planted it and how it did? I’ll tell you why: Let’s say you snap a photo with your smartphone. Then you edit it, then you go to some other app to upload the photo so you can label, identify and enter notes. Not in the real world! Your phone rings, a text arrives, etc. It could be hours, if not days before you ever got back to the notes on that seedling. What was it, when and where did it go in the ground? That’s why Gardening Toolkit is a top pick. It’s a one stop app. Photo taken, notes written and I’m out.

Tomatomania -Free on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tomatomania!/id426634724?mt=8

For the tomatomanic in all of us! Who knew there are so many types of tomatoes?  This app is very easy to use.  Gives you the scoop on over 200 varieties of tomatoes.  A lot of their info is California based, so it’s not always relevant to the Novasphere during the winter.  I delete it and add it back on to my phone every March – it gives me hope that tomato growing season is not that far off.

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 Garden Compass – Free on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/garden-compass/id605855033?mt=8

It did not take long to become addicted to this app!  So many great features!  It can identify plants and flowers for you from a photo, as well as pests and diseases.  There are highlighted products that you can purchase and have delivered but my favorite feature of this app is the Design Center!  This is how it works:  You take a photo of a plant or flower, a color swatch, a texture, anything and it gives you multiple results of complementary plants and flowers to use with it!  For instance, I took a photo of my favorite piece of “lawn jewelry”, a flying pig made of scrap metal, and Garden Compass’s Design Center showed me a slew of plants that work with the pig and where you can get them!  It’s so much fun!

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These are just a few to get you started, if you have a gardening app that you love, do share!

Opening Day of Spring Season – No Two Are Ever The Same!

The opening day of any season at Cox Farms is highly anticipated. Fall Festival, Winter, Spring or Summer, each comes with its own thrill, and every customer and employee has their “fav”. Yesterday was opening day of our spring season at The Corner Market.  

When I arrived at the corner a little after 9 am, I was immediately grateful that I brought gloves with me. There is no way to push a shutter button on a camera when your fingers are numb! As I looked around, my mental checklist started: Happy (albeit cold) employees – check;  Mulch, soil and composted manure – check;  Lovely and colorful ceramic pots and terra cotta pots – check! Wait -where are the plants?

At 9:40 am, a limited selection of flower and vegetable plants arrived from our greenhouses.  If you live in the Northern Virginia area, you know what this spring has brought us – a whole lot of cold, wet weather.  March came in like a lion and left in the same form. UGH.  Fortunately, the greenhouses have provided spring-like conditions through our unseasonably cold spring, so the plants arrived looking perfectly perky. Trays of beautiful lettuces and other cold crops, darling combination planters, early perennials, and a variety of blooming annuals. 

Later, I was running errands while wearing my Cox Farms sweatshirt, and a woman told me a very sad story of having already bought two tomato plants.  One was surviving in her garage, but tragically the other had been planted in the ground and was now in a pathetic state.  Sure enough, many “garden centers” are selling cold-sensitive flowers and veggies that will not thrive if planted now. That doesn’t seem very nice, does it?

Dave’s Garden, a popular gardening community site, offers a very helpful tool here. (Don’t live in Centreville? You can enter your own ZIP code to get frost/freeze statistics for your area.) According to their data, our average risk of frost runs through April 22, and our “frost-free” date isn’t until the first week of May.

What does that mean for us here at Cox Farms?  And more importantly, what does that mean for you?  For us, it means that we feature cold-tolerant plants in April.  We closely monitor forecasts and decide what to bring down from our greenhouses daily, and we cover/shelter frost-sensitive plants when necessary.  For you, it means that in early April, you should think twice before buying and planting plants that are not cold-hardy.

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Some of our “cold-tolerant” plants enjoy cool weather and lower soil temperatures but cannot handle a hard frost or freeze. We want you to have this information, so we post it on our signs and remind you when you shop. If the extended forecast looks good, we may bring some of the more sensitive plants out beginning in mid- to late-April if it seems safe. Even then, there is always risk involved, because we’re dealing with nature.

When it comes to your garden, do you like to live dangerously? Or are you a “play-it-safe” gardener?