Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Product Spotlight: Container gardening favorites; herb discs; seed starting; eggplants

Container plantings that mix vegetables, herbs, and flowers are all the rage right now. There's no better summer vegetable for mixed containers than ornamental peppers. Two of our favorites are 'Black Pearl' and 'Sangria', which bring sophisticated colors to containers and gardens.

'Black Pearl'
has dark green foliage that matures to black, and shiny, round, black peppers that mature to red. The peppers are very hot, so use caution around young children. Besides being a container ingredient, it also can be used as edging in a garden or as an intriguing filler for bouquets. This unusual and beautiful plant was a 2006 AAS and Fleuroselect Quality Mark winner.

'Sangria' is child-safe, as the colorful peppers are not hot. Clusters of 2-3" purple peppers stand tall above the green foliage and turn red as they ripen, so there is a long period when both colors are visible on the plant.

Another good container vegetable that also can be sold in packs, or grown for pepper harvest, is the colorful sweet pimento pepper 'Apple'. This heart-shaped pepper matures to red in 77 days and has a sweet, fruity flavor. The fruits are 4" long and the medium-sized plants yield well in diverse climates. In the garden or in a pot on the patio, 'Apple' is an attractive and delicious pepper.

If you sell container herbs in spring, you will love the ease of Johnny's herb disks. The biodegradable disks have seeds embedded at the perfect spacing to create lush 6" pots of herbs. No transplanting is needed. New this year are Greek oregano and marjoram herb disks, bringing to nine the number of varieties available in this convenient form. The number of seeds per disk varies by herb variety to ensure compact, full plants.

Greek oregano disks contain Johnny's special strain of true Greek oregano, with a strong flavor popular in Italian cooking and used medicinally in tea for digestion. Marjoram disks contain sweet marjoram, which has a fragrance like oregano but sweeter and more balsam-like, used in cooking and aromatherapy for its calming properties.

To use herb disks, fill a 6" nursery pot with potting mix and place the 4" herb disk on top. Cover it lightly with potting mix or vermiculite and water gently. Place the pots on a heat mat or other warm spot. Water as needed.

Johnny's has a full line of greenhouse supplies. You'll find convenient quantities of trays, flats, and pots in sizes for every use. We also have our own formula germinating mixes that will give your seedlings a strong start. Grow lights, heat mats, hand seeders we have everything you need in stock and ready to ship today.

Eggplant is one of the most beautiful vegetables and 'Dancer' is one of the prettiest eggplants. The semi-cylindrical fruits are a shiny, deep pink with a fresh green calyx. Grow 'Dancer' with several other colorful eggplants and mix them together for an eye-catching display. Johnny's has 20 varieties of eggplant in shades of white, green, and purple and in shapes ranging from small and round to long and cylindrical. Eggplant is popular in many ethnic cuisines, so grow several types and expand your market.

'Dancer' is extremely popular in Puerto Rico. The fruits are mid-sized and mild in flavor. Plants are strong and high yielding.

Eggplant should be started eight weeks before it can be planted outside. Don't rush it, as cool weather weakens the plants. Space plants 18-24" apart. Row cover and mulch film help keep the air and soil warm during the cool early season. Eggplants may be pruned and staked like tomatoes to keep the fruits straight. Picking the fruits regularly encourages further production. It is important to be mindful of over-fertility of eggplant. Too much nitrogen often results in large bushy plants that produce only one small set of fruit.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Hi. Was contemplating growing Seascape strawberries in hanging baskets for market sales. Any tips/sites I can be directed to for help? Thanks for your time.