Organic Gardens

Few pursuits are as rewarding as growing your own organic garden. Not only do you get to enjoy the fruits of your own labor, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that the produce you are eating was grown free of chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. Growing organically produces healthy, more diverse ecosystems which are better able to resist significant pest damage… naturally!

Onion

OnionsThis hardy, cold-season vegetable is easy to grow, takes up little space in the garden and delivers plenty of punch, both raw or cooked.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 80-100 days
Height: 1 to 3 feet
Spacing: 2 to 4 inches apart, 1 to 2 feet between rows

Easy to cultivate with a long storage life, home gardeners are growing onions in most areas of the United States. These glorious globes serve up a super-sized portion of vitamin C, are low in calories, and high in minerals and dietary fiber.

Records indicate that onions were grown in Ancient Egypt, and eventually arrived in Rome and became known as the word onion (from the Latin word UNIO, which means large pearl). (more…)

Melons

Garden MelonSweet and succulent, growing melons can be a challenge in areas colder than zone 4.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 75-90 days
Height: 12 to 18 inches
Spacing: 2 to 4 feet apart, 6 to 10 feet between rows

A warm season crop, melons require hot, relatively dry weather and steady heat for at least 2-4 months. Cultivating homegrown melons in colder climates can be rewarding but will require short season varieties, plenty of attention and frost protection.

Fact: Melons, such as cantaloupe and honeydew, are members of the Cucurbitaceae family that also includes pumpkins, squash, cucumbers and gourds. (more…)

Lettuce

LettuceThe delicate leaves of this early-season garden vegetable are a favorite.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 40-50 days
Height: 6 to 18 inches
Spacing: 3 to 4 inches apart, 12 to 18 inches between rows

Home gardeners are growing lettuce for its edible foliage which is 90% water, but offers plenty of vitamins A and B. A cool season annual, lettuce is a member of the Asteraceae family and has been cultivated for ages, perhaps longer than any other vegetable crop.

Fact: The average American eats about 30 lbs of lettuce each year. (more…)

Kale

KaleA cool season biennial that is grown as an annual and harvested for its nutritious foliage.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 50-65 days
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Spacing: 12 to 18 inches apart, 2 to 3 feet between rows

Reliable and quick to harvest, growing kale is relatively easy because cold weather doesn’t bother it. In fact, cold weather makes it taste… well, a whole lot better!

Kale is a member of the Brassicaceae family and related to broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. It is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, and super-loaded with vitamin K, a sometimes overlooked nutrient that may reduce the risk of cancer. (more…)

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…)

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