Howdy Friends and Fans! As the title of this blog post suggests, Lettuce Chat about some beautiful soil-grown plants. Last year, those of you who frequented the ESH farm stand will remember the stunning display of our revamped garden bed. For those of you who didn't have the pleasure - it was absolutely gorgeous! You're going to have to take my word for it because as odd as it seems, we cannot find a single picture (and a few of us did take pictures) of this garden bed. The huge bed of ginormous Elephant Ears and Cannas (we're talking six foot or taller plants!!) that graced our front garden last year was courtesy of Wally Reed, retired expert gardener and husband of our very own Mary Ellen, and his crack team of garden building/planting/tending hands Kieran, Declan, Keegan, and Ryan. The term Canna is Latin for Canna. Each time I use Elephant Ear, I am referring to Colocasia Esculenta (Taro). If you were to Google "Elephant Ear plant images", you would come up with something like the screenshot below.
Wally displayed his expertise with the jungle he curated out front, which garnered many an "Ooohhhh and Aaaaaah" and several gasps of delight. It started out like small pickin's, and gradually grew into its shoes, as it morphed into a wonderland of two and a half foot wide (some three!) green heart-shaped leaves and long slender leaves with bright red flowers jutting up from the middle section of the bed. We enjoyed the hummingbirds and butterflies it attracted, and just the simple tranquility it provided, as we stood outside and marveled at its beauty, day after day, when we should have been inside making your lettuce blends. I was personally bummed big time when I came to work and the whole thing was chopped down to one foot stumps, awaiting removal and preservation for the winter season. But I got over it when Wally promised me that it would be back in the spring. He is keeping his promise...and then some.
Because a retired expert gardener is never really "retired" from gardening (only from his day job), currently Wally is in the process of potting and growing the ESH tubers and rhizomes which will once again grace our front garden, plus several more tuber / rhizome starts of these Elephant Ears and Cannas, for our customers to purchase. (Seems so odd to type that part about potting, since we are a hydroponic farm, but the evidence sits right here in this impromptu photo.) So soon, you too can have a beautiful assortment of jungle-like plants in your home garden. Wally and Ryan have been working very hard on getting these babies going, so they will be ready for you to take home and plant at the just right time. We will have these available for you to purchase at Falls Church market and here at the ESH farm stand, and you might also be able to pre-order a selection of plants.
These beautiful tuber and rhizome starts will be potted and easily transportable from our place to yours. First, they will spend a little time in the greenhouses, getting all happy and warm, and will begin growing. According to Wally, we are shooting to have these ready for purchase and planting around May 1st through May 10th. When you get them home, they will be just as easy to transplant as your veggie plants.
We will be offering the pots of Cannas and Elephant Ears at various price points. Prices
will vary according to size and variety of plant. Some of them are going to be smaller sizes (like four-inch+) plants, but some of these plants will be specimen size. For those of you who crinkled your forehead just now, Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a specimen plant as "a plant grown for exhibition or in the open to display its full development, as distinguished from one in a border or other planting". (Rumor has it that some of these will grow larger than they grew in our garden bed last year.) Therefore you can choose whether to have them as potted plants or beautiful centerpieces for your outdoor landscape, depending on which variety you purchase. Aahh the possibilities!
You will not be able to find or buy anything like these at a garden center in this area, and certainly not at local big-box home improvement establishments. Well, I'm sure you can find some varieties of Elephant Ears at a garden outlet of sorts, but nothing like ours! Also important to note that some of our plants are very unique varieties, some of which are rare, and these I guarantee you won't find at the depot of all things home improvement.
I have taken the liberty of linking you to a couple of almanac.com pages that spell out for you the specifics of caring for Elephant Ear (colocasia esculenta) and Canna (canna). There are many more websites out there that also cover the subject, all with similar instructions, so pick your favorite page and run with it. Learn all about them, grow in your knowledge, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Something I want to stress to you (I learned the hard way...don't ask...): Do me a favor and wear gloves and long sleeves when you take to cutting off stalks and leaves of the Elephant Ears. Don't get the goo on your skin. You'll thank me later. Speaking of cutting off stems of Elephant Ears - I have a very special customer who recommends cutting a couple of long stems and displaying them in a tall vase. She says the long slender stems with the huge heart-shaped leaves make for a stunning arrangement, and will last a couple of weeks in water. (Thanks for the tip, Katrina!)
There you have it, Friends and Fans, Elephant Ear Enthusiasts, and Canna Lovers (I'm looking at you Abby)! We are super excited to be able to add these beauties to our offerings, (Wally is super excited to be able to do something he has a deep passion for) and we know that your garden will be just absolutely stunning. We Want To See Your Pictures!!