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!

We continually add to this section, so please check back often. Also, you can share tips and ask questions over at our Organic Gardening Forum page.

Marjoram

MarjoramMagnificient marjoram, with its aromatic leaves and warm flavor, is available in many varieties.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 70-90 days from seed
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Spacing: 8 to 12 inches apart, 8 to 12 inches between rows

Herb gardeners growing marjoram (Origanum majoricum) enjoy its fragrant and flavorful leaves which are highly esteemed for seasoning. The aroma and flavor is similar to mild oregano, but noticeably sweeter.

Marjoram grows 1-2 feet tall and has square stems, gray-green leaves and small white flowers borne in clusters. Plants make an attractive ground-cover in the summer and do well indoors during winter months. Tender perennial, often grown as an annual. (more…)

Lovage

LovageA hardy perennial with dark green shoots and a big, bold flavor — tastes like celery!

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 85-95 days from seed
Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spacing: 24 to 36 inches apart, 3 to 5 feet between rows

Native to southern Europe, growing lovage (Levisticum officinale) is easy! The leaves, stems, roots and seeds of this old-time herb are all edible and taste a lot like celery, but stronger. Perennial plants are large — up to 7 feet tall — and very hardy, no trouble to maintain.

Beloved during the Middle Ages, lovage could be found in almost every kitchen garden where it was cultivated for medicinal and culinary purposes. Today, the herb’s most popular usage is in soups, stews and salads, similar to celery. Lovage may also be useful for relieving abdominal pains due to gastrointestinal gas when consumed as a tea. (more…)

Hyssop

HyssopGrown in containers or as a border plant, Hyssop is extremely attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 75-85 days from seed
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Spacing: 12 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 4 feet between rows

Home herb gardeners are growing hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) for its dark green leaves which are used to flavor salads, soups, liqueurs and stews. Attractive plants have woody stems, small pointed leaves and spikes of pink, red, white and blue-purple flowers. Hardy perennial grows 2-3 feet tall.

Native to southern Europe, Hyssop was used as early as the seventh century as a purifying tea and for medicine. The ancient herb is said to cure all manner of ailments from head lice to shortness of breath. (more…)

Dill

DillAttractive and flavorful, dill is an aromatic herb with feathery green leaves and a pleasant, sweet taste.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 40-65 days from seed
Height: 3 to 4 feet
Spacing: 12 to 18 inches apart, 2 to 4 feet between rows

Home herb gardeners are growing dill (Anethum graveolens) for its flat, light-brown seeds and feathery foliage commonly used to flavor fish. Its large fragrant heads add a sweet, citrusy flavor to pickles and are perfect for spicing up many summer salads. Foliage is abundant and long-lasting and can be used in soups, dips and egg dishes. The graceful plant makes a unique filler in cut flower arrangements.

Native to the Mediterranean, culinary dill is a member of the apiaceae family which makes it closely related to carrots, parsley, caraway, anise and coriander. Self-seeding annual grows 3-4 feet tall. (more…)

Cilantro

CilantroNothing 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…)

Chives

ChivesEasy to grow, chives are perfect in pots and make an attractive border around gardens.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 60-75 days
Height: 6 to 18 inches
Spacing: 4 to 6 inches apart, 6 to 12 inches between rows

Home gardeners are growing chives for their bright green leaves and attractive purple flowers. The cool-season, compact plants produce grass-like, hollow leaves that add a mild onion-flavor to potatoes, salads, soups and egg dishes. In spring, showy flowers are popular in salads or as an edible garnish. Grows well in containers both indoors and out. (more…)

Borage

BorageAn easy to grow annual, borage leaves and flowers have a mild cucuber-like flavor.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 55-75 days
Height: 18 to 36 inches
Spacing: 12 to 24 inches apart, 2 to 4 feet between rows

Star-shaped borage (Borago officinalis) flowers hang in clusters and are a beautiful blue color. Bees love the bright blooms and rely on the herb as a nectar source, literally covering the plants some days. Leaves and stems are covered with fine, silver or white hairs and appear to be almost woolly.

Borage flowers can be used to decorate cool, summer-time party drinks and add color to salads and desserts. Both the flowers and leaves are edible and provide a light cucumber flavor. Grows well in containers and may be used as a companion plant with tomatoes and squash. Plants are 2-3 feet tall and self-sow readily. Hardy annual. (more…)

Basil

BasilA how-to guide for growing this classic culinary herb.

Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Maturity: 60-90 days from seed
Height: 18 to 24 inches
Spacing: 6 to 12 inches apart, 1 to 2 feet between rows

A member of the mint family, home gardeners are growing basil (Ocimum basilicum) for its luscious flavor and wonderful aroma. This extremely popular herb is available in many beautiful varieties, all of which make uniquely flavorful and aromatic additions to gardens and borders.

Colorful, compact plants grow well in containers — both inside and out — and add interest to herb and ornamental flower beds. Excellent fresh or dried, the classic large-leaved variety is a favorite in Asian and Italian cuisine and is best known for pesto. Fragrant plants grow 18-24 inches tall and are very productive. Tender annual. (more…)

Zinnias

Growing ZinniasLarge, brightly colored blossoms make zinnias a sunny summer-time favorite.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 60-75 days from seed to flower
Height: 18 to 24 inches
Spacing: 6 to 12 inches apart in all directions

Available in a wide variety of sizes and colors, growing zinnias will satisfy home gardeners for several months each summer. Larger varieties can be used to brighten up annual or mixed borders and are a favorite in cut flower displays. Smaller varieties are well suited for containers and windowboxes or planted at the front of a garden bed.

Zinnias are amoung the easiest flowers to grow and are extremely rewarding with their beautiful colors and long-lasting blooms. Vibrant blossoms are also highly attractive to songbirds, butterflies and pollinators. Plant an array of colors and watch your flower gardens come to life. (more…)

Sweet Peas

Sweet PeasUniquely shaped and sweetly fragrant, sweet pea blossoms add soft, varied color to bouquets and trellised borders.

Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 55-75 days from seed to flower
Height: 48 to 72 inches
Spacing: 4 to 6 inches apart in all directions

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 cool, damp climates.

These classic, cool-season annuals have been a fixture in American gardens for generations. However, they don’t like heat — hot weather stops their flowering — so plant early and mulch well to keep roots cool. Hardy annual. (more…)

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