Growing Cabbage

CabbageEasy to plant and delicious to eat, home gardeners growing cabbage are rewarded with abundant and dependable harvests. Extremely hardy, this member of the brassica family is a cool season biennial grown as an annual. Delicious raw or cooked, it’s excellent in slaws, salads, soups, or stir fried.

Site Preparation:

Cabbage requires regular water, full sun to partial shade, and fertile, well-drained soil. Plants thrive in soils with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. If possible, avoid growing cabbage in spots where other brassicas grew the previous three years.

Tip: Humus rich soil is the key to a great harvest. Add ample amounts of organic matter to the soil prior to planting. (more…)

Growing Broccoli

BroccoliChock-full of vitamins A, B, and C, as well as calcium, phosphorous and iron, growing broccoli is popular with many backyard gardeners. Belonging to the cabbage or cole family, this popular dinner side dish tastes best fresh and is prized for its cool weather hardiness and ample production.

Site Preparation:

Broccoli is a cool season annual plant that requires full sun and regular water. It does best in loose, fast draining, fertile soils. Dig in a legume cover crop or 30 lbs. of compost per 100 square feet prior to planting. Since broccoli is a heavy feeder it thrives after a legume, such as peas. Rich, well ballanced soil will prevent many broccoli deficiencies.

Tip: Humus rich soil is the key to a great broccoli harvest. Add ample amounts of organic matter to the soil prior to planting. (more…)

Growing Beets

BeetsA delicious addition to home gardens, growing beets is a great choice for fresh eating, roasting or canning. Both foliage and roots are edible and baby heirloom beets, with their earthy sweetness, are a culinary treat!

Beet tops or “greens” as they’re called are an excellent source of vitamin A and the roots are a good source of potassium, iron, vitamin C and fiber. Rich in flavor, chock-full of nutrition, and available in a variety of colors, it’s no wonder home cooks are serving up beets like never before.

Site Preparation:

Beets prefer a cooler climate and should be grown in well drained, loose textured soil for best results. Choose a site that gets full sun and dig down deeply (at least 10 inches) to promote good root development. Work in 15-20 lbs. of compost for every 100 square feet of soil. Beets also make an excellent raised bed crop, just make sure that they get plenty of water. (more…)

Growing Beans

BeansWhen it comes to variety and versatility, growing beans can’t be beat! Gardeners generally divide beans into three categories; shell beans, snap beans and dry beans. All varieties are easy to grow, and all need the same growing conditions – the prime one being plenty of warmth.

Site Preparation:

Plant heirloom bean seeds directly into rich, fast draining soil in spring after the soil has warmed. The plants require full sun and regular water. In general, bush beans mature faster and are less sensitive to drought and extreme temperatures than pole beans. Provide support for vines in the form of a trellis or pole.

How to Plant:

Begin planting one to two weeks after the last expected frost, when the soil temperature has reached at least 60 degrees F. Plant the seeds about one inch deep and 2-3 inches apart, in rows about 18-24 inches apart. Thin when the seedlings emerge so that bush varieties are five to six inches apart, pole beans six to eight inches. In humid climates, increase the distance between plants to allow good air circulation. Provide support for vines in the form of a trellis or pole. Bean seedlings need protection from slugs and snails. (more…)

Growing Asparagus

AsparagusOne of the few perennial vegetable crops! Home gardeners are growing asparagus virtually everywhere in the United States, except Florida and the Gulf Coast, where conditions are too wet or too mild to satisfy its dormancy requirements.

Tender shoots are picked as young spears in the spring. Later in the season the foliage matures into a delicate fern which changes to a golden color in the fall. Plants can be productive for 15 or more years if given proper care.

Site Preparation:

Provide as much sun as possible and a sandy, fast draining soil for the plants. Poor drainage will cause the roots to rot. Keep the roots 12-18 inches away from fences and sidewalks. It loves plenty of water. Beds of asparagus will fill in over the years. Many gardeners with space imitations use asparagus as a border or hedge plant. (more…)

Growing Artichokes

Growing ArtichokesNative to the Mediterranean, growing artichokes (Cynara scolymus) requires cool nights and warm days. Aside from providing delicious, tender thistles for the table, the plants themselves are gorgeous! They grow to 5 feet across and almost as high with beautiful gray fuzzy foliage.

Site Preparation:

Each spring, mix compost into your growing area. Artichokes require sandy, fast draining soil and cool temperatures to thrive. They need regular water for an ample harvest, but if you just like the look of the plant and don’t want the thistles for your table, they will survive on very little water. Artichokes are susceptible to freezing and do best where the temperature remains constant year round.

How to Plant:

Plant artichokes in a location in full sun from bare root stock in January or from container grown stock later in the spring. To grow artichokes in cold winter climates, protect the root with several inches of straw mulch or better yet, grow them in large containers and move to a protected location when the temperature drops. (more…)

Growing Thyme

ThymeNative to the western Mediterranean, herb gardeners are growing thyme (Thymus) as a landscape plant as well as for culinary purposes. With many varieties available on the market, it is one of the most versatile herbs and can be used to season any meat or vegetable. In earlier days, it was also believed that a concoction of beer and thyme could cure shyness. Hardy plants grow up to 18 inches tall. Perennial.

Site Preparation:

Thyme prefers full sun to light shade and a well-drained, dry soil amended with plenty of organic compost. Keep it sheltered from cold winds. The plant may not survive severe winters unless covered or heavily mulched. It does very well in containers.

Tip: Use thyme in the rock garden to cascade over walls. It also attracts beneficial insects. (more…)

Growing Tarragon

TarragonA member of the daisy family, Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is the classic herb to accompany fish and poultry dishes. The long, narrow leaves, borne on upright stalks, are a shiny, dark green. Greenish or gray flowers may bloom in the fall. Aromatic plants grow 2-3 feet tall and tend to sprawl out later in the season. Perennial.

Note: Tarragon reportedly aids in digestion and when made as a tonic is said to soothe rheumatism, arthritis, and toothaches.

Site Preparation:

Growing tarragon requires full sun to partial shade and rich, sandy, well drained soil. The plant often fails due to soil that is too wet or acidic. It can be grown outside in gardens or in containers with good drainage in the greenhouse or on a windowsill. (more…)

Growing Stevia

SteviaNature’s sweet secret. Used widely in South America and the orient, herb gardeners began growing stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) when the safety of artificial sweeteners came into question. Native to Paraguay, Stevia extracts are 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. Extremely low in calories and all natural. The FDA has approved its use as a dietary supplement. Plants grow 3-4 feet tall. Perennial, sometimes grown as an annual.

Site Preparation:

Stevia grows best in well drained rich soil and afternoon shade, especially in hot climates. Select a site that is protected from cool winds and harsh weather. This is a sub-tropical plant that should be protected, especially when nighttime temperatures fall below 50˚F. Prior to planting, dig in a balanced organic fertilizer or well-composted animal manure. Does well in containers and can be grown year round if given proper care. (more…)

Growing Sage

SageA member of the mint family, sage (Salvia officinalis) is an ancient herb used in medicines to cure anything from broken bones and wounds to stomach disorders, including flatulence, as well as loss of memory. It is a traditional poultry seasoning, delicious baked in a low oven for forty-five minutes with onions, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Attractive plants grow 2-3 feet tall and are equally at home in herb gardens and in ornamental gardens. Hardy perennial.

Tip: Try layering a bed of sage on the grill and flavoring meat with its smoke.

Site Preparation:

Growing sage requires full sun (tolerates partial shade) and well drained, rich soil. Dig in plenty of compost or aged animal manure prior to planting.

How to Plant:

Sage seeds store and germinate poorly. When started from seed, it takes about 2 years to grow to mature size. Most gardeners start sage from cuttings or divisions, using the outer or newer growth. If growing from seed, sow indoors 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost. (more…)

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