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!
Attractive and flavorful, home herb gardeners are growing dill (Anethum) for its seeds and feathery foliage commonly used with fish and fowl. Its large fragrant heads are great for making dill pickles, spicing up summer salads or as a unique addition to flower bouquets. Foliage is abundant and long-lasting. Self-seeding annual grows 3-4 feet tall.
Prefers full sun, regular water and rich well drained soil. Loosen soil to a depth of 8-12 inches and work in a handful or two of organic fertilizer. Plants grow vigorously and will readily volunteer each year from dropped seeds. Dill is frost-tolerant but will not do well in prolonged freezing temperatures. (more…)
Nothing brightens up a Mexican dish like the fresh green leaves of cilantro grown right outside your kitchen door.
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 60-75 days (leaves), 100+ days (seed)
Height: 1 to 3 feet
Spacing: 8 to 18 inches apart, 12 to 18 inches between rows
Native to the Mediterranean and popular in Mexican and Asian cuisine, kitchen gardeners across the country are growing cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) for it’s fresh, bright green and aromatic leaves. The annual’s pungent seeds — known as coriander — are dried and used, whole or ground, as a spice. Temperamental plants grow 1-3 feet tall and self-sow readily. (more…)
A member of the Allium family, most home gardeners are growing chives for the mild, onion-flavored leaves, although the plants also produce attractive and edible purple flowers in the spring. They are easy to plant and make attractive borders around herb gardens. Plants grow to 1-1/2 feet tall and self-sow readily. Perennial in zones 3-9.
Each spring, work aged compost into your garden plot. Chives grow well in full sun, ample water and rich, sandy soil. The plant will tolerate frost but not prolonged freezing temperatures. They are frequently grown as annuals in climates with winter temperatures below 32 degrees F.
How to Plant:
Chives grow easily from seed planted directly in the ground or from divisions. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep in early spring. Seed germinates best at 70 degrees F. with germination usually occurring in 14 days. Chive plants are usually not thinned, but left to grow in bunches. (more…)
Beautiful blue star-shaped flowers hang in clusters. The leaves are covered with stiff white hairs and appear to be almost woolly. Bees love the bright flowers and rely on borage (Borago officinalis) as a nectar source, literally covering the plants some days. The flowers are great for floating in cool drinks at summer parties. Plants grow 2-3 feet tall and self-sow readily. Annual.
Container gardens, herb gardens and organic gardens all work well for growing borage. It prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade, and rich, moist soil. Choose a site that is well protected from wind as it is easily blown over and work in plenty of organic matter prior to planting.
How to Plant:
Easily grown from seed. Borage can be started indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost or direct seeded just after the danger of frost has passed. Plant seeds just beneath the surface of the soil and thin seedlings to at least one foot apart. Trim back occasionally to keep them tidy and more upright. (more…)
Native to Mediterranean climates, home herb gardeners are growing basil (Ocimum basilicum) for its luscious flavor and wonderful aroma. Excellent fresh or dried, the classic large-leaved variety is a favorite in Asian and Italian cuisine. Fragrant plants grow 18-24 inches and are very productive. Annual.
Basil thrives in soil gardens or containers and prefers full sun, regular water and fast draining, rich soil. Work in plenty of aged animal manure or compost prior to planting.
How to Plant:
Sow seeds outdoors when the soil is warm and the temperature does not drop below 65 degrees F. Can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before planting out. Space plants 4-6 inches apart in all directions. Plant seeds just beneath the surface. Seeds germinate in 5-30 days, so keep moist. An application of organic fertilizer once or twice during the growing season will help promote sturdy growth. At the end of summer, allow the plants to go to seed to attract beneficial insects and bees. (more…)
Easy to plant from seed, growing zinnias is very rewarding with their full, rich colors and abundant blooms. Available in a wide variety of sizes, from miniatures to giants, and colors, from white to orange to pink and multicolored, zinnias will satisfy any flower-lover for several months every summer.
Zinnia is an annual warm season plant that likes full sun and a rich, well-drained soil. They are easy to grow, however, and will tolerate average to slightly poor soils. Generous amounts of compost and organic matter will improve the health of your zinnias tremendously. Keep the soil moist, but not wet.
How to Plant:
Zinnias can be started early indoors for transplanting outdoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost date, or they can be seeded directly into the flower bed after all danger of frost has passed. Sow directly into the soil and cover with about 1/4 inch of soil. Water thoroughly. Thin to 6-12 inches apart after they have sprouted. (more…)
A great climber that’s perfect for fences and trellises! Home flower gardeners are growing sweet peas for their fragrant scent and interesting blossoms. Easy to plant from seed, they add a splash of color to any garden, especially in cooler, wet climates.
Sweet peas like a rich, well-drained soil but will tolerate various conditions. Soak seeds in water for 2-6 hours before planting to improve germination. Sow directly into the soil, about 4-6 inches apart and cover with 1/2 inch of soil.
How to Plant:
Sow sweet pea seeds as soon as the soil can be worked for summer bloom. The seed casings are hard, so soak overnight for best germination. Sweet peas like full sun and cool weather, so they can tolerate wet soil and wet climates well. Water regularly during dry conditions to keep them blooming. Fertilize a couple times during the season with an all-purpose fertilizer. (more…)
Remarkably fun and very hardy — perfect for kids! Home gardeners are growing sunflowers for their full, rich sunset colors and large blooms. Easy to plant from seed, they are available in sizes ranging from miniatures at 1-2 feet tall (good for edging) to 20 feet tall with 2 foot diameter blooms. They germinate easily and are fascinating and rewarding to watch, and provide fun seeds to harvest at the end of the summer, making them the ideal seed for children.
Sunflowers like a good, well-drained soil and will thrive in areas with full sun. It is not recommended to plant them in sandy soil, however, as they need a strong soil to support their tall, top-heavy plants.
How to Plant:
Sunflowers are very easy to direct-seed. Sow after danger of frost has passed, about 4-6 inches apart with 1/2 inch of soil covering them. If started indoors, use peat pots or pots made of newspaper that can be planted directly into the soil. (more…)
In ancient times snapdragons (Antirrhinum Majus) were thought to have supernatural powers and offer protection from witchcraft. They were also believed to restore beauty and youthfulness to women. Growing snapdragons provides months of color ranging from pale pastels to vibrant reds and oranges. They are a favorite flower for cutting and fragrance. Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. Plants grow 1-3 feet tall. Self-seeding annual.
Snapdragons thrive in the cooler temperatures of late spring and do best in sunny locations with rich, well-drained soil. Plants will not flourish where temperatures are high for long periods of time. Blooms will tolerate some frost. Under favorable conditions, snapdragons will self-sow in the garden.
How to Plant:
May be grown from cuttings or from seed. If planting from seed, sow indoors on the surface of the soil for 8 weeks before last frost. Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days. For best results, sow in vermiculite and water from below. Plant outdoors after last frost. Pinch back young plants after 4-6 leaves have appeared to encourage a bushy habit and apply an all-purpose organic fertilizer for optimum plant health. Spent flowers should be picked often to encourage more blooms. If blooms become scarce, cut back plants drastically, then feed and water generously. Plants may need to be staked when young. (more…)
Home gardeners everywhere are growing daisies. The simple white flowers with yellow button centers are a symbol of purity and are perfect for cutting. Easy to grow, they are a favorite for beginner flower gardeners and are effective when planted in small groups. Perennial, 2-3 feet tall.
Daisies like rich, fast draining soil, ample water and lots of sunshine. However, they are hardy and will tolerate poor soil conditions and partial shade. Work some old animal manure or compost into the soil to help promote abundant blooms.
How to Plant:
Easy to grow from seed, division or nursery stock. Plant directly into the soil 1/8 inch deep when a light frost is still possible. Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days and plants will bloom the following year – after one seasons growth. Apply an all-purpose organic fertilizer early in the season to promote strong, sturdy growth. (more…)