Vegetable

There’s few things more rewarding than growing vegetables in your own backyard. The fresh taste of a vine ripened tomato or snap pea harvested at its flavorful peak is second to none. Vegetable gardening is a great family activity, one that provides rewarding outdoor exercise. And knowing that your organically-grown veggies carry none of the risks of today’s commercial, factory-farm produce can be priceless.

To ensure you raise the best-tasting, most nutritious food for your family — in ways that make your garden as safe and healthy as it can be — takes planning, know-how and experience. Click the articles here for information on locating your new garden plot, improving soil health, selecting the best vegetable varieties for your growing conditions, and caring for your plants — naturally! — all the way to harvest.

Share tips or ask specific questions over at our Vegetable Gardening Forum. Planet Natural’s community of avid gardeners can help.

Horseradish

HorseradishA hardy perennial that grows well in colder climates and is known for its hot mustard flavored roots.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: Spring planted horseradish will be ready to harvest in late fall.
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Spacing: 1 to 2 feet apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows

Mankind has been growing horseradish for centuries. Records indicate that the Egyptians cultivated this pungent plant prior to 1500 B.C. It was also used by the Romans as an aphrodisiac. Although, what didn’t they use as an aphrodisiac?

A member of the Brassicaceae family, horseradish is closely related to Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower. The root gets its sinus clearing punch from volatile oils that are released when grated or crushed. Horseradish is high in vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber. (more…)

Grapes

GrapesOne of the first cultivated fruits, there are written descriptions of growing grapes and making wine dating back thousands of years.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: Up to 3 years
Height: 4 to 10 feet, depending on variety
Spacing: 6 to 8 feet apart, 8 to 10 feet between rows

Grapes have the reputation of being fragile and difficult to grow. In fact, many home gardeners are convinced that they are too tender to even consider trying to grow them, yet a variety of species will do well in regions of every state and in several Canadian provinces. Once established, well-tended grapevines can be productive for 40 years or more. Here’s how to grow them organically:

Site Preparation:

All types of grapes require a warm planting site in full sun, moderate water and pruning during the dormant season to control growth and produce abundant fruit. (more…)

Garlic

GarlicGrown from cloves, garlic is easy to plant and adds a new dimension to typical table fare.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: Fall planted garlic is harvested the following year
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Spacing: 4 to 6 inches apart, 1 to 2 feet between rows

A member of the onion family, garlic (Allium sativum) has been cultivated for thousands of years. Today growing garlic is popular in many home gardens. And why not? It’s ridiculously easy to care for, takes up little room in the garden and looks great! (more…)

Eggplant

Growing EggplantProper timing and weather conditions play a big role when growing eggplant.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 60-100 days
Height: 2 to 4 feet
Spacing: 18 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows

Eggplant is a beautiful, warm season annual that is relatively easy to grow providing you have warm temperatures. The planting season must be consistently warm with day time temperatures around 80˚F and night-time temperatures not falling below 65˚F. Anything cooler will result in slow to no growth once you’ve set your plants outside.

A member of the Solanaceae family, eggplant is closely related to tomatoes, peppers, ground cherry and potatoes. Numerous varieties are available for home gardeners. (more…)

Cucumber

CucumberOne of the most popular vegetables in today’s home garden. Learn how to grow cucumbers here.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 55-70 days
Height: 1 to 3 feet
Spacing: 18 to 36 inches apart, 4 to 6 feet between rows

Before you plant cucumbers consider how much space you can devote to growing them in your garden. The regular slicing varieties require about 15 square feet per plant. However, they can still be grown in smaller gardens by training vines onto a trellis or wire fence. Cucumbers may also be grown in containers and are very prolific.

Cucumbers are chock-full of vitamin C and include many B vitamins. They also provide many minerals like phosphorous, potassium, zinc, iron and magnesium. (more…)

Corn

CornThere’s nothing like the flavor of a fresh picked ear of home grown corn delivered directly to a pot of boiling water.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 65-90 days
Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spacing: 8 to 12 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows

Native to North and South America, corn — or maize — was first cultivated some 4,000 years before Columbus set foot in the New World. Today, with more than 85% of the US corn crop genetically modified it’s more important than ever for home gardeners to grow corn and preserve the good, old fashioned heirloom varieties that so many generations have enjoyed eating right off the cob (see Sweet Corn: Hybrid and Heritage).

Fact: The United States produces about 40% of the world’s corn supply on 90 million acres, most of which is grown in the midwest. (more…)

Celery

CeleryPerhaps the trickiest vegetable to grow in the home garden, celery requires a long-season and cool temperatures to thrive.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 100-125 days
Height: 1 to 3 feet
Spacing: 8 to 12 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows

Almost absent of calories, yet chock-full of important vitamins and minerals, growing celery produces crunchy leafstalks for use in everything from salads to soups and casseroles. Celery requires plenty of water, long periods of warm, but not high temperatures, and can be planted in in most parts of the country. However, it is not suited to humid climates. (more…)

Cauliflower

CauliflowerConsistent cool temperatures are required to grow this fickle “super” food.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 70-120 days from seed, 65-85 days when grown from transplants
Height: 1 to 2 feet
Spacing: 18 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows

For many home gardeners growing cauliflower can be a difficult task. This nutritious plant requires undisturbed growth for the head — or flower — to develop. As a result, planting success is often influenced by several environmental factors including cool temperatures, pest problems and moisture. Some gardeners will even set a few cauliflower plants out every week, hoping that at least a few of them will receive the proper conditions to thrive. (more…)

Carrots

CarrotCrunchy and sweet, growing carrots is easy!

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 50-85 days
Height: 1 to 3 feet
Spacing: 1 to 4 inches apart, 1 to 2 feet between rows

A wonderful source of Vitamin A and anti-oxidants, carrots provide color and nutrition to a gardener’s diet. This popular root vegetable grows best in cool temperatures (between 60-70˚F) and may be planted as soon as your garden soil can be worked in early spring.

Historians believe that the carrot originated in Central Asia some 5,000 years ago — with purple and red types being the first recorded, not orange! Carrots are low in calories and full of health benefiting nutrition such as vitamin A, vitamin C, minerals, anti-oxidants, dietary fiber and beta-carotenes. (more…)

Cabbage

CabbageHome gardeners growing cabbage are rewarded with abundant and dependable harvests.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 70-120 days
Height: 1 to 2 feet
Spacing: 12 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows

Easy to grow and delicious to eat, this extremely hardy member of the brassica family is a cool season biennial grown as an annual. A taste treat — whether raw or cooked — it’s excellent in slaws, salads, soups or stir fried!

Packed full of vitamins and a healthy supply of minerals, cabbage is an excellent source of nutrition. The leafy vegetable also contains copious amounts of antioxidants, which prevent or slow cell damage and are known for their cancer fighting properties. (more…)

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