Co-op Gardens

Greetings! Many of you are asking about the metallic brown/black beetles that are all over your bean plants, roses and grapevines. These are the much despised Japanese Beetles, and they are everywhere. [caption id="attachment_23585" align="aligncenter" width="347"] Japanese Beetle. Too bad they can’t just be earrings.[/caption] Earlier in the spring, I was really hopeful we wouldn’t see too many of them because I didn’t find too many JB grubs in the ground. (Their grubs are the white ones with the orange faces.) They over-winter underground and start to emerge late June-mid July where they start a gluttonous party that would put the revelers of Dionysus to shame. [caption id="attachment_23586" align="alignnone" width="230"] Dionysus. Like the Japanese Beetles, he’s got your garden by the grapes.[/caption] JB’s will notoriously go after just about anything edible, and even some things that aren’t. Gardener chat sites are filled with discussions about them, any

  [caption id="attachment_21233" align="alignright" width="369"] Photo by Susie Hessburg[/caption] Why are these guys having so much fun with some vintage bottles and heirloom tomatoes? Because they excavated the bottles and the tomato seeds from an 1890s homestead privy in Faribault, MN.  Imagine how thrilled they were to discover that the seeds were viable and produced prolific plants with tasty tomatoes, in spite of "crappy" beginnings. Before you pooh-pooh this unlikely discovery, click here to read this fascinating, Growing "Crappy" Tomatoes story, authored by Tracy Donovan from our produce department. This past Spring the Valley Natural Foods Garden Center was able to distribute a few young descendants of these Faribault Privy Tomatoes to customers who were interested in growing an ‘unknown’ heirloom tomato variety. The customers agreed that they would check back in with us at the end of the season to give us their reports. Here, finally, is our forum for reporting in!  Please feel welcome to

Snow may still be on the ground outside but the excitement happening on our window sill is a true reminder that Spring is close! In mid-February, we used a Jiffy Professional Greenhouse kit (see last week's post) and planted seeds from a Bhut Jolokia pepper, otherwise known as the Ghost pepper. The first seedlings started emerging just last week on our upstairs south-facing window sill, right here in the marketing department!So what's the big deal about Ghost Peppers? According to The Chile Pepper Institute, "The Bhut Jolokia pepper remains the hottest commercially available pepper." The big deal here at Valley Natural Foods is taking on the challenge  to successfully grow Ghost peppers right here in Minnesota—not the ideal place to grow them, we've been told, because of our short growing season and climate. However, there's strong staff interest in this very fragrant, very tasty pepper. According to our