Vegetable Garden


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SA City
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There are a variety of different soils. Some are rich and loamy, others are sandy and alkaline. Since man first used a stick to make a furrow, farmers and gardeners have worked to enrich their land for planting. We can test pH and amend soil with lime, leave mould, and an array of products, but sometimes the most practical solution is simply to plant what is most likely to grow there.

The benefits of planting natives are legion starting with water conservation and saving you time and money in the long run. However, if you select the right plants for the growing conditions, even non-natives can add interest and character to your garden.

If your garden is especially clayey or sandy, for example, you can alter it by testing, then adding appropriate amendments. Read Dirt 101 for insight into making your soil more plant friendly.

*Video: Garden Soil Testing - Steps Before Planting Your Garden

Smiling Gardener's Garden

MySA: Tom Harris: Living with Caliche On the other hand, if you want to make your own soil for the garden, mix two parts compost, one part peat moss, and 1/2 to one part perlite or vermiculite … be sure to use the coarse perlite or vermiculite so that you don’t have to deal with a lot of dust. I call this “Tom’s mix” and I use it for my potting soil as well. This mix is even lighter in weight (because it has no sand) so you can use it in hanging pots and not have the weight to worry about.

Soil 101


Where soil is concerned, keep it simple...especially if you are a beginner. Gardening is a learn as you go proposition; you won't learn it all in one season, so don't make yourself crazy thinking you're going to create an entire produce market all by yourself the first season.

Start with your dirt. Healthy plants come from healthy soil; it's alive with critters and healthy soil has plenty of them. You don't need to be a soil biologist to grow productive plants but it doesn't hurt to know the basics.

Rich loamy soil is not too sandy or too clayey. It drains well but holds enough moisture to nourish plants. It's dense with nutrients like nitrogen and potassium as well essential trace elements. Your soil is very much alive with a universe of invisible organisms. Keeping them healthy, makes your plants healthy.

Most of us have soils that are too much of one thing or another, so amending the soil is important. Soil structure can be dramatically improved by adding mulches and compost.

Dig it in

Work compost or manure into the soil as deeply as possible. New beds benefit from having it worked in from 6–18 inches deep. The deeper you dig it in the better, but any digging is better than none at all. The older the bed, the easier it is to work as soil structure improves. For existing beds of perennials you don't wish to move, spread a 4–5 inch layer and work it in. (This can be an ideal time to move or divide perennials, though, especially if it's been a few years. Spring soil preparation is an opportunity to be seized.)

About mulch

Mulch is a little different than compost. Compost is usually much more decayed than mulch, though it is also organic matter. Cedar chips, straw, cocoa husks, hazelnut shells, and coffee grounds are all used as mulch and you can add any of them to your compost. Most mulches are brown carbon sources and are used to deter weeds and retain moisture. As such, it's a useful top dressing. If looks are important, mulches can be chosen as much by appearance as by what they do. Dark brown coffee grounds are particularly attractive and roses love them.

Other Soil Amendments

You can add other components to your soil as needed. Testing soil helps determine where it is deficient and what amendments will help. You can purchase a soil test kit at the nursery or take a soil sample and have it tested through the county extension service.

Plants, like people, have individual requirements for happiness. Cactus likes sandy, well-drained soil in which their roots can easily spread. Roses seem to prefer a slightly acid soil, which is why coffee grounds seem to make them happy.

Some gardeners use plant by-products such as alfalfa, soybean, or cottonseed meal for its nitrogen, clean leaf compost, and wood ash. Rock and mineral powders are frequently rich in phosphates and potassium which release very slowly into the soil. Other products include seaweed fertilizers.

Another means of amending soil, especially during off seasons, is to plant a cover crop like red clover or fava beans. They fix nitrogen in the soil which succeeding plants can readily use.

Liquid supplements like Soil Soup® can be purchased at local nurseries then fed directly to the plants. Teeming with good organisms, this enhances the overall health of the soil and therefore your plants.

There are dozens of products on the market for improving soil health, but the bottom line is that you can improve your soil without buying chemical fertilizers. Organic gardening simply means paying attention and adding as much into the soil as your plants take out. It's really not complicated and it's very good for the planet.

Plants for Alkaline Soils Soils that are derived from limestone or those overlying marl favor the growth of certain plants. A neutral reaction may be satisfactory for some plants, but the addition of lime will increase the alkalinity that can enhance their health and well-being, not to mention flowering. [Lists of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants.]

Clay Soils: Plants for Heavy, or Dense Soils Clay, while generally fairly rich, is also a heavy, dense, cold soil. Drainage can be a problem and plants like lavenders, which hate wet feet, don't thrive without soil amendment to promote aeration and drainage. [Lists of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants.]

Improving Soil The materials you put into the garden will break down, providing nutrient-rich, crumbly soil in which to plant. The following materials are all perfect for lasagna gardens:

Grass Clippings
Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
Coffee Grounds
Tea leaves and tea bags
Weeds (if they haven't gone to seed)
Shredded newspaper or junk mail
Pine needles
Spent blooms, trimmings from the garden
Peat moss

Just as with an edible lasagna, there is some importance to the methods you use to build your lasagna garden. You'll want to alternate layers of “browns” such as fall leaves, shredded newspaper, peat, and pine needles with layers of “greens” such as vegetable scraps, garden trimmings, and grass clippings. In general, you want your "brown” layers to be about twice as deep as your “green” layers, but there's no need to get finicky about this. Just layer browns and greens, and a lasagna garden will result. What you want at the end of your layering process is a two-foot tall layered bed. You'll be amazed at how much this will shrink down in a few short weeks.

You can make a lasagna garden at any time of year. Fall is an optimum time for many gardeners because of the amount of organic materials you can get for free thanks to fallen leaves and general yard waste from cleaning up the rest of the yard and garden. You can let the lasagna garden sit and break down all winter. By spring, it will be ready to plant in with a minimum of effort. Also, fall rains and winter snow will keep the materials in your lasagna garden moist, which will help them break down faster.

If you choose to make a lasagna garden in spring or summer, you will need to consider adding more "soil-like" amendments to the bed, such as peat or topsoil, so that you can plant in the garden right away.

Video: How to Sheet Mulch cardboard, wet; leaves and compost, wet; straw [mulch], wet. You can plant the same day.

Soils Matter Get the scoop.

Soil pH The number can range from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic, or “alkaline”), and a value of 7 is considered “neutral.”

7/11/16 ordered: Melon ‘Ananas‘ melAna This is a white fleshed heirloom muskmelon. It said to very sweet. The name Ananas means pineapple so I would think that is an indicator of good flavor. 25 seeds for $1.25. Okra ‘Red Burgundy’ (Abelmoschus esculentus) okrRB Red Burgundy has red pods that stay tender for as long time. AAS winner in 1998. 25+ seeds for $1.25.

Starting Seeds

Rob's Baggy Method It's quite simple, really: enclose seeds within a folded dampened filter paper or other moist medium, place this in a zip-lock baggy, and wait for it to germinate.

Rob on Starting Seeds

GardenWeb: The Baggy Method

"How to Winter Sow Seeds Outdoors"

Seeds are smart, though, and fall or spring, they’ll only germinate when the soil is right. To spare the guessing game, Jeff picks your #1 tool: an inexpensive soil thermometer. From Fall into Winter Vegetables CTG

Seed Starting Basics Good news! Seed starting is amazingly easy, consumes little time, energy and money, and brings you a whole new level of gardening satisfaction. It’s an adventure that, once begun, leads you to a brand-new sense of pride and joy in the plants you grow.

If you have been buying mainstream seedlings down at your garden center each spring, mail-order seed offerings are a real eye-opener. There are dozens, indeed, hundreds of varieties to explore. The only difference is you’ll be raising them! Fans of seed starting often tout how much money they save. True, seed packets tend to be fairly inexpensive compared to bedding plants, which have time, effort and storage factored into their pricing. And seeds can lead to a lot of small plants.

Still looking for an excellent reason to raise your own plants? By giving them a little TLC from seed to planting, you know the seedlings are well rooted because you’ve seen them grow day to day and tended to their needs. The seed-lings will be naturally husky if you raise them in good soil at the proper distance from a light source and you don’t hurry them along with chemicals. You’ll also know they’re healthy because the soil-borne diseases that sometimes plague big operations are easily prevented at home.

First, know when to start the seeds indoors based on your last spring frost. Second, you should know how long it takes from seed planting until the time it produces flowers or fruit. This helps you decide if the plant is suited for your climate and if it must be started indoors for longest bloom and greatest productivity once moved outdoors.

Prepare a spot to grow them. In milder climates, gardeners are able to sow seeds in a cold frame or greenhouse, if they have one. The rest of us have to make do indoors.

The best spot to grow seeds is in an area out of the path of household traffic. You won’t want people bumping into your tender sprouts, or curious pets coming around. It should also be a spot that is warm and out of drafts. A basement, sunporch or spare room are all good options. Some people even raise seeds on the tops of dressers, cabinets or refrigerators! Think I’m kidding? The top of the refrigerator is an excellent place to grow seedlings because it generates a little warmth. Many seeds germinate better with some heat.

Provide sufficient light. Some seeds germinate under a thin layer of soil mix, some are pressed lightly right on top, but in all cases the seedlings that sprout will require between 12 and 16 hours of light per day. Sunlight from a window is not at all ideal. It’s pale and limited in late winter and early spring. To make it work, you’ll need artificial light. Fluorescent is best, and a timer at the outlet will help you regulate the hours it is shining on your baby plants. Given these two critical requirements – location and light – some gardeners purchase a seed-starting setup for their house, while others make their own.

Planting seeds indoors is not as hard as you think if you keep these simple tips in mind…

Begin with damp (but not drenched) sterile seed-starting mix, filling containers about three-fourths full. Tamp the surface flat and level with the flat of your hand or a small piece of wood before sowing.

Read the backs of seed packets for the information you need about sowing depth (or whether the seeds need light to germinate). The backs of seed packets have a wealth of important information, such as how far apart to sow the seeds, how many days they usually take to germinate and when to plant outdoors. Sow carefully by hand. A pencil tip can be a very helpful tool when placing small seeds.

Don’t sow too many seeds. This can lead to a forest of seedlings growing too thickly for you to thin without damaging them. Make little furrows if you’re using flats, spacing seeds up to an inch apart (closer if they are tiny seeds).

Cover seeds with plastic. Do this the very day you plant. This holds in warmth and humidity, giving the seeds the best chance of absorbing moisture and getting going. Don’t seal tightly, though. That causes condensed water to drip back down onto the mix, making things too soggy.

Check on the seeds daily. The planting mix must not dry out, or seeds’ growth will immediately halt. The best way to keep seedlings evenly, consistently moist is with bottom watering. Just set the container into a few inches of water (in the sink or in a tray) and let it wick up what water it needs before returning the container to its designated spot.

It usually takes a week or two for the first little leaves to poke up their heads. But what a thrill it is to see them! Once they begin to sprout:

Snip away extras. When the first true leaves appear, use sharp scissors to snip some weaker seedlings right at soil level. The properly spared survivors gain better air circulation, important for their health, and their roots won’t have to compete for precious nutritional resources.

Water from above with a fine spray as the seedlings grow bigger. The plastic covering can be shifted on and off as your developing plants need ventilation. After a while, they’ll be too tall and you’ll have to remove it completely.

Fertilize seedlings after they germinate with a diluted flowering houseplant fertilizer (about 50 percent of the recommended dilution). Do this about every 2 weeks or less until you begin “hardening off” outdoors. When seedlings are husky, well-rooted (tug gently on the leaves, never the stem, to check) and several inches high, it’s time to get them ready for outdoor life.

In their original containers or transplanted into new individual pots, they may be moved outside in late spring to a sheltered spot out of the sun. Bring them indoors or cover them on chilly nights or if a frost threatens. A few days or a week of gradually introducing them to the sun and outdoors makes them much better prepared for life in your garden.

Damping off: This refers to a fungal disease that attacks developing seedlings, causing them to shrivel and die right at soil level. The fungi thrive in stagnant air and high humidity. The best ways to prevent this problem are to use clean containers and sterile mix and to monitor your seedlings, removing the plastic covering if the environment is too damp and…not to overwater! Seedlings affected by damping off must be discarded; start over with a more sterile, less humid setup.

Pricking off: Once seedlings are a few inches high, they may start to outgrow their quarters. They need to be carefully lifted out or “pricked off.” Depending on how little they are and how closely you sowed, you can use your fingers, tweezers, a fork or a small stick. Gingerly tease interwoven roots apart. Move each plant carefully to its own pot, where it will enjoy more root room and better air circulation.

Hardening off: After the threat of frost has passed, it’s time to get your babies ready for outdoor life in the garden. Move your seedlings outside to an area sheltered from the sun and wind. Bring them indoors or cover on chilly nights or if frost threatens. Stop fertilizing your plants and gradually increase the amount of sun they receive each day for a week or so. They should be ready to place into the garden once the soil is slightly dry rather than waterlogged.

GROW SEEDLINGS FOR TRANSPLANTING Lee Reich. Does it all outside.

Garden Planting Guide Most soil mixes consisting of peat, perlite, and vermiculite are excellent seed sowing media for bedding plants. Besides light and moisture, seeds need warmth to germinate well. A soil temperature of 70°F is sufficient for most crops. Please see the planting depth of most seeds for optimal conditions. Some seeds prefer growing just below the soil including most vegetables, herbs and flowers. Although some flower seeds need light to germinate and should be placed on top of the so

Direct Sow Seeds Sow these seeds directly into the garden and watch them take off. Direct sow seeds are easier to start outdoors than other seeds. Known for high germination rates and fast growing habits. These warm-season vegetables take little effort to start and produce high yields of lettuce, beans, cucumber, squash, peas and more.


Top 10 Surprisingly Simple Tomato Growing Tips

Choose a bright airy location and don’t crowd the plants
Pass up overgrown transplants at the garden center
Feed the soil first
Preheat the soil in your garden
Plant them deep, bury the stems

Provide lots of light, space seedlings when planting
Mulch but mulch later for sure
Grow them up, grow vertically
Remove the bottom leaves, pluck the first flower, practice proper pruning
Water deeply but infrequently

*Video: My Secret For Great Container Tomatoes Jeff Bernhard, Houston: tomatoes are heavy feeders, you need

1) Epsom salts helps the photosynthesis process & keeps leaves green, add some to soil mix, then every few weeks add a tsp. in a gallon of water and feed your plants. It will leach out of the soil after a month if have heavy rains.

2) Fish bone meal. Phosphorus. Cheap. [bat quano, rock dust or colloidal phosphate (also called “soft phosphate”), or from bone sources, such as steamed bone meal or fish bone meal. Mineral phosphorus sources are cheaper and last longer in the soil. Bone sources are more readily absorbed by plants. Phosphorus is needed for root development, stem formation, and fruiting in summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, melons, and cucumbers. Inoculating seedling roots with Endo-Myccorhizae increases their ability to absorb soil phosphorus. ] Mix a few tbsp. with your soil to encourage flowers for fruit. Add every 2-3 weeks after the first month since it can also leach out. Try Hydrofarm BGC1002 Guano Grow Crazy 5-1-1, 3 pounds 5* $15.95 prime. Powder form.

3) Calcium Nitrate or Kelp 4 [Organic Calcium Sources for Gardens Dried, finely ground eggshells--flour are a great source of calcium for vegetable container gardens. Or dolomite lime or calcite. Calcium is a component of plant cell walls, and it’s needed for enzyme formation and nitrate uptake. Organic calcium can also be used to help neutralize excessively acidic soils, which is especially important when you’re growing green, leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, or cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Try Dolomite Lime - Pure Dolomitic / Calcitic Garden Lime (5 Pounds) 5* $9.95 & FREE Shipping] Blossom end rot from deficiency of calcium. Mix a few tbsp in your soil. Every 4-5 weeks a tsp in water and let absorb overnight.

These three are critical.

He also uses LiquiFeed by Miracle Grow [not for indoor plants]. 9-4-9. A tsp every week.

Uses chicken wire to support the vines. Uses mesh bags to protect them from rats, mice, birds.

The Benefits of Baking Soda in the Garden ~ Noreen's Garden Make tomatoes sweeter by sprinkling BS on ground--top dressing. Don't get it directly on the plants. Will burn the leaves. Rabbiits, ants, silverfish, cockroaches, slugs don't like BS. Pour BS or salt directly on slugs.

Tomato Growing – 8 Do’s and 5 Don’ts Don’t...

Buy seedlings that are already flowering. You might believe you’ll be one step ahead. But… plant first need to get their roots firmly established before flowering and producing fruits. Let them start and flower in your garden.

Over fertilize your crops. The majority of the people think that by adding more fertilizer, you’ll double or increase yields in the same proportion. Too much fertilizer will lead to more foliage and wonderful bushes. The plants will look healthy but unproductive. If you want to enrich your soil, use more compost; not fertilizer addition. Same applies for your peppers

Water your tomatoes from the above, if possible. Watering them from above will make the soil splash up on the stems, thereby making them susceptible to diseases. Use the dripping system or soaker hose whenever you want to water your tomatoes.

Stress over having too many tomatoes! If you’re having tomatoes in plenty or concerned about the fruit flies invading your kitchen because of the influx of the tomatoes?

Simply wash a good number and store them in the freezer. Defrost them after some time. You’ll see the tomatoes skin slipping off.

PRUNING TOMATOES Lee Reich. Excellent info. Uses one really tall bamboo stake per tomato.

Tomato Dirt Digging up the best gardening tips for growing tomatoes and using them


Tomato Dirt Crash Course

email from Tomato Dirt: FEATURE: Plant These Companion Plants to Protect Your Tomatoes From Pests You can protect tomatoes from pests with companion plants -- those vegetables, herbs, or flowers planted nearby that offer a special benefit to tomatoes. Companion plants behave a lot like good friends.

We all know one of the benefits of good friends: they stick up for you when bullies threaten you, often protecting you from getting hurt.

Companion plants do that for tomatoes. Tomato plants are among the favorite menu items for certain insects, including aphids, whiteflies, and different types of beetles. Once these pests flit into your garden and discover your luscious, healthy tomato plants, suddenly it’s Feast Time. But companion plants act as natural defenders against these tomato pests, either by repelling harmful insects or attracting helpful insects (to eat the harmful ones.)

Try these companion plants to protect your tomatoes from pests:

Basil: repels flies, mosquitoes; attracts bees
Borage: attracts bees and wasps
Cabbage: repels whiteflies, moths
Chives: repel many insects
Collard greens: repels flea beetles
Geraniums: repel cabbage worm, Japanese beetles
Marigolds: repel tomato worm, asparagus beetles, flea beetles, whiteflies, aphids
Mint: repels white cabbage moths, ants, rodents, flea beetles, fleas, aphids
Nasturtiums: repel whiteflies and aphids
Parsley: attracts hoverflies

Googled companion planting tomatoes

Here are 12 companion plants I grow with my tomatoes in containers.

Calendula. ...
Carrots. ...

12 companion plants to grow alongside your tomatoes Companion planting is part science and folklore. Grouping friendly plants together in the garden is suppose to help enhance growth, flavor and protect plants from pests. As an urban gardener with a small garden, my interest in companion planting is mostly centered on maximizing space. If my tomatoes actually benefit from growing alongside these plants, well, that’s a bonus.

1. Borage

Borage is suppose to protect tomatoes from tomato hornworms.. Grow borage for the leaves and flowers that have a fresh, cucumber-like flavor. Add the young leaves and blooms to salads, soups, and summer drinks.

2. Chives

3. Marigolds

The genus Tagetes is well known for it’s qualities to repel garden pests. They produce a substance called alpha-terthienyl, which helps reduce root-knot nematodes in the soil.

4. Nasturtiums

5. Basil

6. Calendula

Sometimes called pot marigold, but the Calendula genus should not be confused with marigolds listed as number 3. They’re completely different plants. Calendula leaves and blooms are edible and make a nice addition to salads.

7. Carrots

I’ll plant a crop of carrots early in the season with my tomatoes before the tomatoes take off. Then plant another crop towards the end of the season when the tomato plants are on their last leg. Any time in between and I grow stunted--but still flavorful--carrots as they compete with the roots of mature tomatoes for space in the soil.

8. Peppers

I grow both hot and sweet peppers alongside my container tomatoes every year. The drought and heat this year is reportedly the cause of some really hot peppers showing up in markets. If you’re growing peppers for heat, growing them alongside tomatoes may not be the best choice. My peppers have been spared the effects of the heat and drought because they’re growing in self-watering containers alongside the tomatoes.

9. Sage

10. Onions

11. Garlic

12. Leaf lettuce

Growing leaf lettuce (and other leafy greens) in the same container as my tomatoes acts as a living mulch which helps keep the soil cooler, and reduces the chances of spreading diseases from water and soil splashing on the leaves.

Tomato Growing Tips

Tomato Diseases

7 Homemade Miracle Remedies for Your Garden

Tomato Dirt Digging up the best gardening tips for growing tomatoes and using them

Like anything else, there are some special things to know about growing tomatoes and some pitfalls to avoid. We get excited when we share our gardening tips with you – and you find out that growing tomatoes is easy with just a little help from a friend.

Most everyone agrees a fresh tomato tastes so much better than those bought in the store. That’s one reason growing them is so popular.

Plant Tomatoes Deep, Deep, Deep Each Bonnie tomato label urges you to plant tomatoes deep, so that a full 2/3 of the plant is underground. That means that if you buy a 10-inch tall plant, all but the top three inches is buried. Why? Because the plant will have a better, stronger root system. Better roots mean better tomatoes.

They sprout roots along the buried stem. The extra roots strengthen a plant so that it can support more fruit and is better able to survive hot weather. (This applies whether you’re growing in the ground, in a raised bed, or in a container.)

Once you’ve nearly buried it in soil, only the top few inches of the plant will be exposed. Water well, label the plant (to help you remember which variety you’re growing), and watch your tomato plant grow big and strong. Within a few weeks, your plants with super roots will delight you with a bountiful harvest of lovely fruit.

How to Support Tomatoes Tomato plants benefit from support, whether a cage, stakes, or a myriad of other creative solutions. Learn how to support tomatoes and get inspiration from our slideshow of solutions.

Stake or support tomatoes off the ground to:

  • Avoid diseases
  • Make it easier to harvest
  • Keep fruit clean
  • Make it easier to spray and monitor problems

An excellent slide show illustrates the choices.

Prepare Now for Next Year's Tomato Harvest As you may already know, from your own experience, tomatoes (and all members of the nightshade family: peppers, eggplants, potatoes) should not be grown in the same soil one year to the next--in order to prevent soil-borne diseases. For those of us with small gardens, this can be a problem; we simply do not have enough space to rotate our kitchen garden beds. Reading the excellent The Great Tomato Book by Sheila Buff, I learned the following, terrific organic tip:

"For home gardeners who don't have space for rotating, planting a cover crop can be very effective. Cover crops, also sometimes called green manure, are planted not necessarily to eat but to improve the soil...try planting any member of the Braxxica family in fall as soon as the tomato harvest is done. The roots of these cool-weather plants give off potent sulfur compounds that help control tomato diseases. In spring, till them in a couple of weeks before you plant your tomatoes. Good choice are leafy Brassicas such as mustard greens, kale, and collard. Your primary goal is to improve your soil by killing off disease microorganisms, but cover crops like these also give you delicious early-season greens."

Fall Tomatoes There are three important keys to growing late tomatoes successfully.

1. Plant appropriate varieties

In more temperate and sub-tropical areas, nurseries and garden centers provide a selection of tomato seedlings beginning in midsummer. Choices may be limited especially when compared with first crop tomatoes. When you grow tomatoes in the fall, you’re on an unpredictable calendar and at the mercy of a looming Jack Frost. Choose early-producing varieties, smaller tomatoes, and certain heirlooms. They set fruit and mature in the shortest time, making them easiest to grow on a limited time frame.

Choose indeterminate tomatoes, early-producing (“short season”) varieties, smaller tomatoes, and heat-tolerant tomatoes.

Certain heirlooms work well when grown as second season tomatoes.

These set fruit and mature in the shortest time, making them easiest to grow on a limited time frame.

Indeterminate tomatoes varieties produce flowers (and tomatoes) as the vine grows, throughout the season, rather than all at once during a 2-3 week period. Indeterminates are more likely than determinates to be ready to bloom when fall temperatures are right for pollination. They ripen sequentially. That means a steady supply of fresh tomatoes until the thermometer dips below 32ºF.

Cherry and grape tomatoes produce more flowers and fruit than larger tomatoes. That means when pollination conditions are poor, these smaller varieties have more chance of setting fruit. Tomatoes are pollinated at temperatures between 55º-85ºF, a less predictable range in the fall than in the spring, making cherry and grape tomatoes especially desirable to grow in the fall.

Gardeners in regions with long growing seasons and sub-tropical climates should consider choosing fall tomatoes that are heat-tolerant. Fall tomatoes must survive their first 4-6 weeks in the garden during the hottest part of the growing season. Heat-tolerant varieties flower, are pollinated, and set fruit both at higher temperatures and earlier than others.

Best Fall Tomato Varieties

Best Tomatoes for Hot, Dry Climates Desert-like areas present special challenges for the gardener, including drought, intense sun, wind, and sandy or clay soil.

Tomato Sweetie Solanum lycopersicum Extra sweet cherry tomato with 12-14% sugar content, 1/2 in diameter. Regular leaf. Open pollinated.

Sweetie grows as an Annual and is a Fruit. Being an Annual, it tends to grow best over the course of a single year. Sweetie is known for growing to a height of approximately 1.20 metres (3.90 feet). United States is believed to be where Sweetie originates from.

Sweetie Tomato is normally fairly low maintenance and is normally quite easy to grow, as long as a level of basic care is provided throughout the year. Being aware of the basic soil, sun and water preferences will result in a happier and healthier plant.

Plant in a location that enjoys full sun and remember to water moderately. Keep in mind when planting that Sweetie is thought of as tender, so remember to wait until your soil is warm and the night time temperature is well above freezing before moving outside. Use USDA Hardiness Zone 3 - 14 as your guideline for the appropriate climate for this plant. Ideally plant in loamy soil and try to keep the ph of your soil between the range of 5.0 and 6.0 as Sweetie likes to be in moderately acidic soil to weakly acidic soil.


Plant to the first set of true leaves to promote strong root growth.

Try to aim for a seed spacing of at least 2.60 feet (80.0 cm) and sow at a depth of around 0.78 inches (2.0 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 12°C / 54°F to ensure good germination.

By our calculations, you should look at sowing Sweetie about 42 days before your last frost date.


Transplant out when around 15cm (6 inches) high.

Plant to the first set of true leaves to promote strong root growth.

Ensure that temperatures are mild and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Sweetie is a tender plant.

Roma: Most Popular Tomato Solanum lycopersicum

Roma is, in fact, a specific heirloom variety of tomato, although it is now (incorrectly) being used as a generic term for any tomato of the same shape and quality. The original, heirloom, Roma tomato was introduced in the 1950’s, and skyrocketed to fame thanks to its excellent canning, paste, and sauce-making qualities.

The true, heirloom, Roma is an heirloom as well as OP variety (Officially now an heirloom, as defined by being a 50+ year variety. Introduction in 1958. 2011-1958=53.)

There are also, unfortunately, several tomato varieties mislabeled as “Roma” and which are hybrids. These tomatoes should not be labeled as Roma, and should only be referred to with complete names like “Hybrid Roma” or “Roma Hybrid”, to avoid this confusion.

This variety is an Fruit that typically grows as an Annual/Perennial, which is defined as a plant that can matures and completes its lifecycle over the course of one year or more. Roma is known for its Vine habit and growing to a height of approximately 1.20 metres (3.90 feet). Italy is believed to be where Roma originates from.

Being a fairly low maintenance plant, Roma Tomato is normally quite easy to grow provided a minimum level of care is given throughout the year. It will be helpful to note the correct soil, sun and water needs of this plant to ensure that this plant thrives.


Try to plant in a location that enjoys full sun and remember to water moderately. Keep in mind when planting that Roma is thought of as tender, so remember to wait until your soil is warm and the night time temperature is well above freezing before moving outside. USDA Hardiness Zone 3 to 14 are typically the USDA Hardiness Zones that are appropriate for this plant (although this can vary based on your microclimate). Planting Roma in loamy soil with a ph of between 5.0 and 6.0 is ideal for as it does best in moderately acidic soil to weakly acidic soil.


Start indoors six weeks before last frost date.

Sow 0.78 inches (2.0 cm) deep with a guideline distance of 2.60 feet (80.0 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 12°C / 54°F to ensure good germination.

By our calculations, you should look at sowing Roma about 42 days before your last frost date.


Transplant out when around 15cm (6 inches) high. Plant to first set of leaves to promote strong root growth.

As Roma is tender, ensure temperatures are mild enough to plant out - wait until after your last frost date to be on the safe side.


This variety tends to be ready for harvesting by mid summer.

High Yield

7 Secrets For A High-Yield Vegetable

1. Build Up Your Soil... raised beds

The fastest way to get that deep layer of fertile soil is to make raised beds. Raised beds yield up to four times more than the same amount of space planted in rows. That’s due not only to their loose, fertile soil but also to efficient spacing—by using less space for paths, you have more room to grow plants.

2. Round Out Your Beds

The shape of your beds can make a difference, too. Raised beds are more space-efficient if the tops are gently rounded to form an arc. A rounded bed that is 5 feet wide across its base, for instance, will give you a 6-foot-wide arc above it—creating a planting surface that’s a foot wider than that of a flat bed. That foot might not seem like much, but multiply it by the length of your bed and you’ll see that it can make a big difference in total planting area.

Lettuce, spinach, and other greens are perfect crops for planting on the edges of a rounded bed.

3. Space Smartly

Avoid planting in square patterns or rows. Instead, stagger the plants by planting in triangles. By doing so, you can fit 10 to 14 percent more plants in each bed.

Just be careful not to space your plants too tightly. Some plants won’t reach their full size—or yield—when crowded. For instance, when one researcher increased the spacing between romaine lettuces from 8 to 10 inches, the harvest weight per plant doubled. (Remember that weight yield per square foot is more important than the number of plants per square foot.)

Overly tight spacing can also stress plants, making them more susceptible to diseases and insect attack.

4. Grow Up

No matter how small your garden, you can grow more by going vertical. Grow space-hungry vining crops—such as tomatoes, pole beans, peas, squash, melons, cukes, and so on—straight up, supported by trellises, fences, cages, or stakes.

Growing vegetables vertically also saves time. Harvest and maintenance go faster because you can see exactly where the fruits are. And upward-bound plants are less likely to be hit by fungal diseases thanks to the improved air circulation around the foliage.

Try growing vining crops on trellises along one side of raised beds, using sturdy end posts with nylon mesh netting or string in between to provide a climbing surface. Tie the growing vines to the trellis. But don’t worry about securing heavy fruits—even squash and melons will develop thicker stems for support.

5. Mix It Up

Interplanting compatible crops saves space, too. Consider the classic Native American combination, the “three sisters”—corn, beans, and squash. Sturdy cornstalks support the pole beans, while squash grows freely on the ground below, shading out competing weeds. This combination works because the crops are compatible. Other compatible combinations include tomatoes, basil, and onions; leaf lettuce and peas or brassicas; carrots, onions, and radishes; and beets and celery.

6. Succeed With Successions

Succession planting allows you to grow more than one crop in a given space over the course of a growing season. That way, many gardeners are able to harvest three or even four crops from a single area.

To get the most from your succession plantings:

  • Use transplants. A transplant is already a month or so old when you plant it, and so will mature that much faster than a direct-seeded plant (one grown from seeds sown in the garden).

  • Choose fast-maturing varieties.

  • Replenish the soil with a ¼-to-½-inch layer of compost (about 2 cubic feet per 100 square feet) each time you replant. Work it into the top few inches of soil.

7. Stretch Your Season

Adding a few weeks to each end of the growing season can buy you enough time to grow yet another succession crop—say a planting of leaf lettuce, kale, or turnips—or to harvest more end-of-the-season tomatoes.

To get those extra weeks of production, you need to keep the air around your plants warm, even when the weather is cold, by using mulches, cloches, row covers, or coldframes.

Japanese Tomato Rings

Japanese Tomato Ring Early last month, I wrote about my plans to build a Japanese Tomato Ring. In that post I showed my plans for it, but now I have pictures of my actual physical tomato ring. The name and the idea comes from Mike McGrath's, The Best of Organic Gardening.

I only have four tomato plants around the ring, and they are all Big Zac, going for those giant tomatoes! I only added a small volume of compost to the ring for now because I don't want the compost heap to shade the plants. As the tomato plants grow bigger, I will add more compost.

The idea here is to water the compost heap, giving an added boost to the surronding tomato plants. The plants are just on the outside of the ring and eventually will be tied to it.

Planning to use the Japanese Tomato Ring A Japanese Tomato Ring is basically a big circle of fence that you fill with compost and then grow tomatoes on the outside. My ring will probably just be chicken wire, although it is best if the wire can be five foot tall.

I will only fill the bottom foot or so with rich organic matter and maybe some finished compost. Then as the tomato plants grow, I will add more material to the compost ring. Of course, I'll tie the plants to the outside of the ring as they grow and prune them to a central stem.

I will keep the compost inside the ring well watered. This will greatly help the tomato plants by giving them a continuous supply of water and rich organic matter. Hopefully that will help the tomatoes grow bigger as well so I'm growing my giant tomato varieties on the ring.

How to Make a Japanese Tomato Ring A Japanese tomato ring is a growing technique that can produce some of the sweetest tasting cherry tomatoes you will ever have. The tomato ring is perfect when you have little space as they are designed with that in mind. These tomato rings are also very easy to maintain, harvest and water. The size of the ring is also able to be sized to the location you have to work with.

Japanese Method of Tomato Growing The ring is a circular cage that is about 3 feet in diameter. The structure is filled with fertilizer and organic material, including compost, which feeds tomato plants growing just outside the ring. The tomato plants' feeder roots grow underneath and inside the ring, where they gather moisture and nutrients. The results are prolific plants that reportedly produce some of the healthiest fruits among tomato plants.

History: The Japanese tomato ring was developed by a South Carolina gardener in the 1950s. The design generated a buzz from South Carolina to as far south as the Caribbean. It was a popular project among gardeners in South Florida. In fact, a South Florida newspaper, "The Miami Herald," was responsible for causing a mix-up in the structure's name. Today the tomato ring is permanently dubbed the “Japanese tomato ring,” although it has no basis or roots in the country of Japan.

Ring Construction: A Japanese tomato ring that is 3 feet in diameter is capable of growing up to four tomato plants around its circumference. Increasing the ring's size is possible if you wish to grow more plants. The ring is constructed of sturdy welded wire, such as concrete reinforcing wire, with a mesh size of 6 inches, which allows the movement of water and oxygen. When purchasing wire for a standard-size ring, choose a piece of wire 6 to 10 feet in length and 3 to 5 feet in width.

Soil Preparation and Layers: Prior to installing a Japanese tomato ring in your garden, prepare the soil by turning and raking it to a depth of 8 inches.

Choose a space in your yard or garden that receives full sunlight and has well-draining soil.

The inner portion of the Japanese tomato ring is made up of layers. The first layer is aged compost, 6 inches deep, followed by ¼ cup of balanced fertilizer and ¼ cup of a liming agent. Next comes 6 inches of yard waste such as leaves and/or grass clippings. The layers are continued in this succession until the ring's organic material is piled 2 ½ feet deep. The final, or top, layer of the Japanese tomato ring should be leaves or grass clippings. Make a hole at the center of the top layer, and add 1 cup of fertilizer. It is important to water and soak the materials all the way through before planting your tomato seedlings around the ring's outer edge.

Tomato plants are spaced about 2 inches from the ring's wire structure. Retain moisture and prevent weeds by laying mulch in a circle about 2 feet in diameter around the outside of the ring and around your tomato plants. The mulch layer should be about 3 inches thick.

Feed and hydrate your tomato plants by watering through the top of the Japanese tomato ring, allowing the water to soak through the organic material and fertilizer and make its way down to the tomato plants' feeder roots. As your tomato plants grow and become heavy, tie their stems and branches to the ring's wire to give them support.

Learn This BRILLIANT Trick for Growing TONS of TOMATOES in a Small Space I love to see people growing food not lawns and this is a brilliant way to grow a ton of tomatoes in a small space. This idea comes from James C Bryan in Kentucky.

Rev. tomato ring

On May 28th he started like this: He planted 4 tomato plants around a pail as pictured above.

He drilled some holes in the bottom of the pail and then some more around the outside of the pail, about 10 inches from the bottom.

He then buried the pail so the top set of holes were just barely above ground level then added 2 shovels full of compost to the pail.

He built a tomato cage around the plants and then simply filled the pail with water every couple days, being careful not to water the leaves.

Only 1 month later his plants were peeking over the top of the 3 foot tomato cage:

One month after plantiing

The on July 9th he took this next picture [below] and said his tomato plants were 5 foot 4 inches tall, loaded with green tomatoes and had about 100 sets of tomato blossoms. Seems likely James and his family and friends enjoyed an abundance of fresh, juicy, delicious tomatoes that year.

One month and 12 days after planting

You generally cannot buy tomatoes that healthy and delicious in the grocery store. So I hope you get some inspiration from this post and try growing some healthy foods at home! It’s easier than most people think.

7 Homemade Miracle Remedies for Your Garden

Companion Planting

Companion Planting, 200 best videos #1 Top five companion plants:

1) beans or peas, nitro fixers, in container with chard, lettuce, spinach.

2) Alliums--onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, et al. repel pests with brassicas like cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, also tomatoes, carrots, celery, peppers in containers.

3) Marigolds "the wonderdrug of companion planting" french marigolds in particular produce a pesticide which lasts for years; plant with brassicas and cucurbits like squash, cucumbers, melons; even put in small pot and move around the garden to keep pests at bay.

4) Herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme, and sage; enhance the flavor of tomatoes and repel pests; plant at base of tomato plants.

5) Radishes, plant with plants which will be tall or slow growing like eggplants [slow until summer heat], peppers [same], and good with squash [prevent squash borrers]

Companion Planting Made Easy Later

The Benefits Of Growing These Plants Side-By-Side Organic gardeners know that a diverse mix of plants makes for a healthy and beautiful garden. Many believe that certain plant combinations have extraordinary (even mysterious) powers to help each other grow.

Companions help each other grow—tall plants, for example, provide shade for sun-sensitive shorter plants. And the technique uses garden space efficiently. Vining plants cover the ground, upright plants grow up, allowing for two plants in the same patch. Companions also prevent pest problems. Plants like onions repel pests and other plants can lure pests away from more delicate plants. Or one plant may attract the predators of another plant's pests.

Roses + Garlic

Marigolds + Melons

Tomatoes + Cabbage, carrots

Cucumbers + Nasturtiums + squash

Peppers + Pigweed/ragweed

Cabbage/broccoli/brussels sprouts + Dill

Corn + Beans

Lettuce + Tall Flowers [Nicotiana (flowering tobacco) and cleome (spider flower)]

Radishes + Spinach

Potatoes + Sweet Alyssum

Cauliflower + Dwarf Zinnias

Collards + Catnip

Strawberries + Love-In-A-Mist (Nigella damascena)

email from Tomato Dirt: FEATURE: Plant These Companion Plants to Protect Your Tomatoes From Pests You can protect tomatoes from pests with companion plants -- those vegetables, herbs, or flowers planted nearby that offer a special benefit to tomatoes. Companion plants behave a lot like good friends.

We all know one of the benefits of good friends: they stick up for you when bullies threaten you, often protecting you from getting hurt.

Companion plants do that for tomatoes. Tomato plants are among the favorite menu items for certain insects, including aphids, whiteflies, and different types of beetles. Once these pests flit into your garden and discover your luscious, healthy tomato plants, suddenly it’s Feast Time. But companion plants act as natural defenders against these tomato pests, either by repelling harmful insects or attracting helpful insects (to eat the harmful ones.)

Try these companion plants to protect your tomatoes from pests:

Basil: repels flies, mosquitoes; attracts bees
Borage: attracts bees and wasps
Cabbage: repels whiteflies, moths
Chives: repel many insects
Collard greens: repels flea beetles
Geraniums: repel cabbage worm, Japanese beetles
Marigolds: repel tomato worm, asparagus beetles, flea beetles, whiteflies, aphids
Mint: repels white cabbage moths, ants, rodents, flea beetles, fleas, aphids
Nasturtiums: repel whiteflies and aphids
Parsley: attracts hoverflies

Googled companion planting tomatoes

Here are 12 companion plants I grow with my tomatoes in containers.

Calendula. ...
Carrots. ...

12 companion plants to grow alongside your tomatoes Companion planting is part science and folklore. Grouping friendly plants together in the garden is suppose to help enhance growth, flavor and protect plants from pests. As an urban gardener with a small garden, my interest in companion planting is mostly centered on maximizing space. If my tomatoes actually benefit from growing alongside these plants, well, that’s a bonus.

1. Borage

Borage is suppose to protect tomatoes from tomato hornworms.. Grow borage for the leaves and flowers that have a fresh, cucumber-like flavor. Add the young leaves and blooms to salads, soups, and summer drinks.

2. Chives

3. Marigolds

The genus Tagetes is well known for it’s qualities to repel garden pests. They produce a substance called alpha-terthienyl, which helps reduce root-knot nematodes in the soil.

4. Nasturtiums

5. Basil

6. Calendula

Sometimes called pot marigold, but the Calendula genus should not be confused with marigolds listed as number 3. They’re completely different plants. Calendula leaves and blooms are edible and make a nice addition to salads.

7. Carrots

I’ll plant a crop of carrots early in the season with my tomatoes before the tomatoes take off. Then plant another crop towards the end of the season when the tomato plants are on their last leg. Any time in between and I grow stunted--but still flavorful--carrots as they compete with the roots of mature tomatoes for space in the soil.

8. Peppers

I grow both hot and sweet peppers alongside my container tomatoes every year. The drought and heat this year is reportedly the cause of some really hot peppers showing up in markets. If you’re growing peppers for heat, growing them alongside tomatoes may not be the best choice. My peppers have been spared the effects of the heat and drought because they’re growing in self-watering containers alongside the tomatoes.

9. Sage

10. Onions

11. Garlic

12. Leaf lettuce

Growing leaf lettuce (and other leafy greens) in the same container as my tomatoes acts as a living mulch which helps keep the soil cooler, and reduces the chances of spreading diseases from water and soil splashing on the leaves.

32 companion plants to grow with your peppers Companion planting, or grouping complementary plants together in the garden to benefit each other, can be done for a variety of reasons, such as to provide shade or a wind barrier to other plants, or to cover the surface of the soil with edible plants to crowd out weeds, or even to help boost the growth, flavor, or yields of food crops.

1. Basil: Arguably one of the most popular summer herbs, basil is great on its own, but also has a place next to and around pepper plants. It's claimed that growing basil next to peppers boosts their flavor, and may help to repel some common garden pests, such as aphids, spider mites, thrips, mosquitoes, and flies. Plus, pesto!

2. Chives: Growing chives near peppers can help to deter aphids and other insects, and is said to improve the flavor and yields of plants nearby. Chives are also a handy and flavorful kitchen herb, and because it's a perennial, a single planting can come back year after year.

3. Carrots: Growing carrots around peppers can help to shade out some of the weeds, providing a living mulch, and are a great way to maximize space in the garden. Plus, who doesn't love a fresh carrot, straight from the soil?

4. Onions: Onions don't take up a lot of room above the ground, and are said to deter many common insect pests in the garden, such as aphids, slugs, and cabbage worms, making them a good companion plant for peppers. Besides the onion bulb itself, onion greens can be clipped throughout the season as an addition to salads and other fresh vegetable dishes.

5. Chard: Swiss chard is another incredibly useful plant in the garden, and interplanting it with peppers can offer partial shade and protection from winds, while also crowding out weeds. Chard also happens to be one of the easier veggies to grow, and can add some color to garden beds.

6. Lettuce: Growing lettuce as a companion planting to peppers is a great way to get an additional harvest in a small space, due to their lower growth habit, while also crowding out weeds.

7. Spinach: Spinach can be a compliment to peppers in the garden, for many of the same reasons that both lettuce and chard are, and because of their shorter stature, will not shade out peppers and other taller plants.

8. Okra: Growing okra near peppers can offer wind protection and partial shade for the peppers in the heat of summer, and may offer some protection from pests such as aphids.

9. Leeks: Although not quite as popular to grow as its family members, such as garlic and onions, are, leeks can be a good companion plant for peppers. They don't take up a lot of room, so growing leeks can help to fill in empty spots in the garden, and they are also thought to repel some insects, such carrot flies.

10. Radishes: Radishes are not only easy to grow, but are also one of the quickest (as little as 3 or 4 weeks from seed). Growing radishes around peppers allows you to get a fairly quick food crop in a small amount of space.

11. Beets: If you've only ever eaten canned beets, eating fresh beets from your garden is quite a treat. Growing beets near peppers is another method of filling in empty space in the garden and shading out weeds while helping to keep soil moist.

12. Corn: Besides being one of the most popular summer vegetables, corn is also a unique plant to have in the garden, as we don't often grow any other giant grasses in our beds (at least on purpose). Due to its tall growth habit, corn can serve as a windbreak or to cast shade on pepper plants during parts of the day. Corn is also said to also act as a trap crop for aphids, which may keep them off the pepper plants.

13. Beans: Besides fixing nitrogen in the soil and helping to feed other garden plants, beans can provide other benefits for pepper plants, including crowding out weeds and helping to block the winds or cast partial shade.

14. Tomatoes: Although it's usually recommended to not plant tomatoes and peppers right after each other in the same bed every year, they can be grown together in the same garden bed (and then rotated to another bed next season). Growing tomatoes near peppers helps to shade the soil, and can offer the peppers some protection from the sun in the hottest parts of the day. Plus, salsa!

15. Asparagus: Although asparagus is a perennial, and can't be planted for an instant crop in one season, pepper plants can be grown in the asparagus patch to optimize the use of that space during the summer, after the spring asparagus is picked and eaten.

16. Garlic: Growing garlic as a companion plant with peppers can help repel or deter aphids and certain beetles from taking over the peppers. Planting garlic around peppers, or peppers among garlic, is another way of maximizing garden space for better yields.

17. Squash: Both summer and winter squash can be grown near peppers, where their large leaves can help keep the sun off the bare soil and keep weeds down.

18. Oregano: Due to its shorter stature, oregano grows well around peppers without competing for space, covers bare soil, and is a great complement to many dishes that also include peppers.

19. Dill: Dill is said to attract beneficial insects and to help repel pests such as aphids, and may improve the flavors of vegetables grown nearby. Planting dill around peppers is a great use of space, while their feathery leaves offer some contrast and texture to the garden.

20. Parsley: Growing parsley around pepper plants not only helps you get a second edible from almost the same amount of space, but also serves to provide some shade and cover for bare soil.

21. Marjoram: Another lower-growing herb that won't compete for space with peppers, marjoram is said to improve the flavor of vegetables and herbs grown near it, while also providing a tasty culinary herb.

22. Buckwheat: Growing buckwheat around pepper plants can attract pollinators and other beneficial insects, as well as serve as a green mulch (cut and chop the buckwheat and lay on the ground in garden beds).

23. Rosemary: Rosemary can be a great addition to your culinary herbs, while also serving as a groundcover plant to minimize bare soil and high evaporation rates.

24. Cucumbers: Cucumbers are another summer vegetable favorite, as great to eat fresh as they are pickled, and go well with many pepper dishes.

25. Eggplant: Also a relative of peppers, this member of the nightshade family enjoys the same soil conditions that peppers do, and can add some diversity to garden beds while providing another tasty summer vegetable.

26. Parsnip: Parsnips aren't usually one of the vegetables people name as their favorite, but growing this root vegetable around peppers can yield another food crop while helping to crowd out weeds and keep soil shaded.

27. Peas: Peas are a tasty treat in the spring and summer, and the pea plants help to fix nitrogen in the soil to benefit other plants growing nearby or afterward.

28. Geraniums: Growing geraniums as companion plants for peppers is said to help repel cabbage worms, Japanese beetles, and other pests, while also providing some colorful blossoms in the garden.

29. French Marigolds: When grown near other garden crops, French marigolds are claimed to stimulates their growth, while also repelling beetles, nematodes, aphids, potato bugs, and squash bugs.

30. Petunias: In addition to providing a splash of color in the garden, petunias can be a great companion plant for peppers due their ability to repel asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, tomato worms, and aphids.

31. Lovage: Lovage, as a taller plant, can offer protection from drying winds and sun, and is said to improve both the health and the flavor of many garden vegetable plants.

32. Nasturtium: This edible flower is not only beautiful, and is claimed to benefit the flavor and growth of many other plants, but also is thought to deter aphids, beetles, squash bugs, whiteflies, and other common garden pests.

Raised Beds

Video: Deep Raised Beds

Video: How to Construct a Deep Raised Bed

Raised Beds Pre-Constructed

Soil For Raised Beds: How To Make The Best Raised Bed Soil Raised bed gardening is an excellent way to garden in a small space. The quality of soil for raised beds gives gardeners one reason they produce bumper crops.

No specific combination of ingredients will make the perfect all around raised garden soil. What you put into your soil depends very much upon what you plan to plant and your local climate.

Various plants require different pH levels. For example, blueberries need a more acidic soil.


Additionally, gear the soil texture toward your local weather conditions. For example if you live in a very arid and dry climate, you will want a soil mix that will retain moisture with good capillary action. On the other hand, if you live in a very rainy and damp area you will want to create raised garden soil allowing for good drainage.

Soil For Raised Beds Begins With A Good Basic Soil Mix--One good way start “building” out fertile soil… begins by making a 50-50 mix of high quality compost and screened topsoil.

When you blend these two ingredients together thoroughly, you will have a nice basic mixture you can amend to suit your specific climate and plant needs.

For a more quickly draining blend, you can create a three-part mix. For this coarse mixture, combine equal parts of:

  • Coarse Horticultural Vermiculite
  • Blended Compost
  • Peat Moss

Why Not Just Buy Compost?

If you rely only on bagged compost, you’re likely to get a scarcity of nutrients along with weed seeds. There is really no reason to purchase compost. It is easy to make your own compost at home.

Well seasoned compost made from yard and garden clippings and kitchen scraps provides a wealth of nutrients.

Raised Bed Garden Soil Does Not Have To Be Deep

When you have created this kind of high quality raised bed gardening mix, you don’t need to spread it very thickly. This highly nourishing fertile mixture will support a wide variety of plants even if it is only six inches deep.

Be sure to line the bottom of your raised bed with thick layers of cardboard (sheet mulching) and/or newspaper or landscaping fabric to prevent plant roots from contacting native soil and to prevent weeds from growing up into your rich soil.

When Should You Amend Your Raised Bed Garden Soil?

Early in the spring each year, till your raised bed garden soil and replenish it. Remember that friable garden soil is airy, soft and light.

You should be able to poke your finger into your soil easily all the way up to your topmost knuckle.


Demesne: Growing Vegetables IT'S EASIER THAN YOU THINK

Growing vegetables is one of life's great pleasures. No matter how large or small your garden, you can grow a few veggies and enjoy the amazing flavor that you'll never get in grocery case. Tomatoes are more tender and richer, asparagus and corn are sweeter. Even if you can only grow in containers, you can often find varieties that will work for your region and climate.

Fall Vegetables


Spring Vegetables

Veg. Planting Guide from Rainbow

John Kohler Video recommended plants:

Ashitaba, Angelica * [Japanese, not New Zealand, variety]

Health Benefits of Ashitaba Angelica kinesis. Tastes bitter and nutty. Rich in potassium and manganese; fights diabetes.

Ashitaba Angelica keiskei, commonly known under the Japanese name of Ashitaba (literally "Tomorrow's Leaf"), is a cold hardy perennial plant from the angelica genus with an average growth height of 50–120 cm. It is endemic to Hachijo-jima, though it is artificially cultivated in Izu Oshima, Mikura-jima, Nii-jima, To-shima and parts of Honshu as well.

The plants additional cultivar epithet koidzumi refers to botanist Gen'ichi Koizumi, while its Japanese nomenclature stems from the above-average regenerative capabilities it exhibits after injury. Harvesting a leaf at the break of day often results in a new sprout growing overnight, being visible the following morning.

Traditionally it is seen as a major contributor to the supposedly healthier, extended lives of the local residents, something that may be based on its substantial levels of vitamin B12 and on the chalconoids that are unique to this species of angelica.

modest conditions for cultivation and fast rate of growth, with optimal temperatures ranging between 12-22 degrees, have led many locals to plant ashitaba in herb gardens, flower pots, and backyards. These days the main use of their stipes, leaves, and taproots is in regional cuisine, where they are prepared as soba, tempura, shochu, tea, ice cream, etc. The Mikura-jima variety might excel in this regard as it is reputed to be less bitter than others.

Wakate [tastes similar to cilantro]


Wapato Sagittaria latifolia is a plant found in shallow wetlands and is sometimes known as broadleaf arrowhead, duck-potato, Indian potato, or wapato. This plant produces edible tubers that were extensively used by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Easily cultivated in 0.15 m to 0.45 m of water with no or little current. Plant tubers well spaced (no more than 12 plants per square meter) at the end of May at a depth of 5 to 7 cm. Fertilize with decomposed manure. Multiply through seeding or division in July. The tubers of Sagittaria latifolia and Sagittaria cuneata have long been an important food source to indigenous peoples of the Americas. The tubers can be detached from the ground in various ways: with the feet, a pitchfork, or a stick, and usually then float to the surface. Ripe tubers can be collected in the fall and are often found floating freely.

These tubers can be eaten raw or cooked for 15 to 20 minutes. The taste is similar to potatoes and chestnuts, and they can be prepared in the same fashions: roasting, frying, boiling, and so on. They can also be sliced and dried to prepare a flour.

Other edible parts include late summer buds and fruits.

It is vulnerable to aphids and spider mites.

Eat the Weeds: Wapato: All It’s Quacked Up To Be Sagittaria Lancifolia: Duck Potatoes, Wapato: Duck potatoes are actually corms... cut off the sprout before cooking.

Generally the bigger the leaf in structure, usually the larger the potatoes. The S. latifolia tends to have the best “duckies.”

Duck potatoes, also called Arrowhead, Watato or Wapati, or Katniss, can be eaten raw, should you be in a survival situation. But, they’re bitter and don’t taste good. A little cooking, like a little wine at closing time, can make all the difference in the world. Boiled or roasted for about a half hour, they become worth getting wet for.

Besides being part of the staple of Indian life, duck potatoes were also the entre and dessert for Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition. According to their diaries, Duck Potatoes and elk were their main fare while they were on the Columbia River, now in present day Oregon.

Other edible parts of the Sagittaria include young unfurling leaves and stalk. Boil them like any green. The flower stalks before the blossom are also a tender tidbit, again, boil them. Lastly, the lateral tips of the growing rhizomes are also edible, raw or cooked. The petals of the white blossoms are edible raw. They are delicat. Light. A little minty. Sweet.

Foraging Texas: Arrowhead/Wapato Dangers: Beware the similar-looking arrow arum, (Peltandra virginica) plant which has an arrowhead-shaped leaf and produces tubers same as Sagittaria species.

The vein pattern in the leaves of Sagittaria species is palmate, which means the leaves have numerous thick veins running from the stem out to the tips and sides. This pamate venation is important to distinguish the edible Sagittaria from toxic Arum species.

Note that arrowhead tubers do not store very well, unlike traditional potatoes. If you want to keep them make sure you are storing only perfect, undamaged tubers and place them in moist, clean sand in a cool, dark place.

Akiva vine - fruit

Akira - canna idales [produces tubers]

Chufa [chupa?] tubers



Video: What Is Biochar and What Are Its Benefits?

Biochar Biochar is a name for charcoal when it is used for particular purposes, especially as a soil amendment. Like most charcoal, biochar is created by pyrolysis of biomass. Biochar is under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration to produce negative carbon dioxide emissions.[1] Biochar thus has the potential to help mitigate climate change, via carbon sequestration. [2] [3] Independently, biochar can increase soil fertility of acidic soils (low pH soils), increase agricultural productivity, and provide protection against some foliar and soil-borne diseases.[4] Furthermore, biochar reduces pressure on forests.[5] Biochar is a stable solid, rich in carbon and can endure in soil for thousands of years

International Biochaar Initiative Valuable Soil Amendment: This 2,000 year-old practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and increase soil biodiversity, and discourage deforestation. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water.

GAIA International biochar... increasing crop yields up to 800%... Sharing knowledge with farmers... reviving ancient technologies... Improving soil quality... making an impact

This long-forgotten technique is the creation and use in agriculture of a special soil called Terra Preta, which includes a process of turning organic waste into charcoal (or biochar). Ancient Amazonian farmers made Terra Preta by combining various types of parent soil with biochar and natural fertilizers (such as animal bones and fish or turtle excrement). Biochar is a type of charcoal created from a method of slash-and-char, or by using a pyrolizer, where agricultural waste is incompletely burned to retain most of its carbon content. The charcoal is then mixed into the soil, along with high nutrient additions found locally. Once in the soil, the carbon binds with the nutrients of the fertilizers and allows it to be maintained in the soil for thousands of years.

Biochar is charcoal (carbon) produced when organic matter is baked at relatively low temperatures (?700? C) in the absence of oxygen. After this baking process, approximately one-third of the initial mass remains in the form of charcoal. This charcoal, when used in the soil, is known as biochar. Biochar improves the soil by acting like a sponge, retaining plant nutrients and soil moisture. This improved soil quality results in higher crop yields, which is life changing for people who barely exist on subsistence farming balance carbon and restore soil fertility. Most carbon in the soil is lost as greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide, CO2) into the atmosphere if natural ecosystems are converted to agricultural land. Soils contain 3.3 times more carbon than the atmosphere and 4.5 times more than plants and animals on earth (1). This makes soils an important source of greenhouse gases but also a potential sink if right management is applied.

Organic Gardening: Biochar An ancient soil amendment is new again.

Nature: The bright prospect of biochar Enthusiasts say that biochar could go a long way towards mitigating climate change and bring with it a host of ancillary benefits. But others fear it could do more harm than good.

Reach for the Sun Photosynthesis, in the form of biochar, may be one of our best defenses against climate change.

Carbon Farming Regenerative agriculture: Carbon Farming puts carbon where it belongs – in the soil and on the farm.

What is Carbon Farming? Common agricultural practices, including driving a tractor, tilling the soil, grazing, and other activities, result in the return of CO2 to the air. As much as one third of the surplus CO2 in the atmosphere driving climate change today has come from land management practices that cause loss of carbon, as CO2, from our working lands.

On the other hand, Carbon can be stored long-term (decades to centuries or more) in soils in a process called "soil carbon sequestration." Carbon Farming involves implementing practices that are known to improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant material and/or soil organic matter.

What is Carbon Farming Carbon Farming is simply farming in a way that reduces Greenhouse Gas emissions or captures and holds carbon in vegetation and soils. It is managing land, water, plants and animals to meet the Triple Challenge of Landscape Restoration, Climate Change and Food Security. It seeks to reduce emissions in its production processes, while increasing production and sequestering carbon in the landscape.

Carbon Farming can range from a single change in land management, such as introducing no-till cultivation or grazing management, to a whole-of-farm integrated plan which maximises carbon capture and emissions reduction. Carbon Farmers have many practices

maximum groundcover (no bare earth)
grazing management
no-till cropping
pasture cropping
green manure
stubble retention
cover cropping
exhaust injection
controlled traffic
precision application (fertiliser)
natural fertilisers
soil inoculants (probiotics)
soil stimulants
compost teas
Albrecht soil mineral balance
Natural Sequence Farming
water spreading
Keyline Planning
Subsoil ploughing
Activated clays
Dung Beetles
Rumen inoculants
Low methane animal genetics
Methane-reducing feed supplements
Manure management

This list is constantly growing. The benefits of Carbon Farming include Carbon Sequestration, reduced erosion and soil loss, improved soil structure, increased soil fertility, reduced soil salinity, healthier soils, vegetation and animals, increased biodiversity, buffering against drought and greater water efficiency.

The Carbon Farmer

No-till Farming

No-till Farming No-till farming (also called zero tillage or direct drilling) is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. No-till is an agricultural technique which increases the amount of water that infiltrates into the soil and increases organic matter retention and cycling of nutrients in the soil. In many agricultural regions it can reduce or eliminate soil erosion. It increases the amount and variety of life in and on the soil, including disease-causing organisms and disease suppression organisms. The most powerful benefit of no-tillage is improvement in soil biological fertility, making soils more resilient. Farm operations are made much more efficient, particularly improved time of sowing

Tilling is used to remove weeds, shape the soil into rows for crop plants and furrows for irrigation. This leads to unfavorable effects, like soil compaction; loss of organic matter; degradation of soil aggregates; death or disruption of soil microbes and other organisms including mycorrhiza, arthropods, and earthworms;[1] and soil erosion where topsoil is washed or blown away. No-till farming avoids these effects by excluding the use of tillage. With this way of farming, crop residues or other organic amenities are retained on the soil surface and sowing/fertilizing is done with minimal soil disturbance. Continuous no-till needs to be managed very differently in order to keep or increase yield on the field. Residue, weeds, equipment, crop rotations, water, disease, pests, and fertilizer management are just some of the many details of farming that change when switching to no-till.

No-Till Farming Pros and Cons To many people, no-till farming appears to be a tremendous step forward for agriculture. At a time when fertile topsoil is being worn away by wind and water at rates that are figured in tons per acre per year, a drastic new soil-conservation measure is certainly in order. And as you're about to see, no-till does preserve topsoil, but this advantage doesn't come without certain trade-offs. As it's currently practiced in the U.S., no-till farming might more appropriately be called no-till/chemical agriculture.

Rodale: Organic No-Till One of the key elements of our organic no-till research is a front-mounted cover-crop roller that knocks down a weed-suppressing mat that can be planted through all in one quick pass.

10 Plants Never To Grow in your Yard mint (roots seriously invasive), aloe vera (poisonous for pets), deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna--extremely toxic), bamboo (extremely invasive roots), mimosa tree ( It is incredibly invasive and will spawn seedlings everywhere in your yard and throughout the neighborhood), Japanese barberry ( It is drought and shade tolerant, and deer resistant. But studies have shown that it harbors black-legged ticks, which can carry Lyme disease. It is also invasive and covered with a thicket of sharp barbs to boot), Wisteria ( Its root system can send shoots popping up far away from the main plant, engulfing trees, shrubs, and anything else in its way. It can live hundreds of years, and requires serious pruning every year to keep it under control), Amaranthus can be a showstopper in the garden (but as a top pollen producer, it can also make allergy sufferers miserable), Castor bean (All parts of this impressive plant are poisonous, though, especially the seed. It’s not a good candidate for a gardener who shares property with animals, as it’s toxic to not only small pets like dogs, cats, and rabbits, but also larger animals like cattle, sheep, and horses), Yucca plant (requires a lot of maintenance. Its sharp, pointy leaves need to be discarded after they’re spent, and stalks need to be chopped down. It blooms for only about a week, and yucca attracts lots of bugs. Its root system is pervasive and hard to kill. Should you want to remove it, you might have to dig up everything around it as well. This distinctive plant is best left in a pot),

Fix the Soil, Feed the Planet, Save the World: The Power of Regeneration 'Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy,' says Vandana Shiva

Roadside verges 'last refuge for wild flowers'

Seed Savers Exchange


Papalo aka Summer Cilantro (Porophyllum ruderale) papal
I grew this this past year (2012,) and I was very pleased with it. The spoon shaped leaves added to tacos, etc. made them taste very authentic of Mexico. The chopped leaves should be added to uncooked dishes or right before eating cooked items as it looses its flavor when cooked. Papalo is a plant in the aster family and grows tall to about 5' and will get tall even even in pots. It is good for hot summer climates as it does not bolt. In fact it will not flower or make seeds in short season climates. A few other names this herb goes by are Papaloquelite and Bolivian Coriander. 50 seeds for $1.25. [I ordered a try 9/4/15].

How to Grow and Use Papalo Papalo (Porophyllum ruderale) is also called papaloquelite, poreleaf, mampuito, summer cilantro, and Bolivian coriander. It doesn’t taste identical to cilantro but if you just want a vibrant herb substitute, it’s excellent! I think it tastes like a mix of nasturtium flowers, lime, and cilantro.

Papalo is a beautiful and large (6') annual herb... It’s also generous with its leaves. A single plant can reach 4' – 6' by the end of the season! I give mine a full square foot of space per plant in the garden. It’s so pretty that I recommend surrounding it with edible flowering herbs such as pineapple sage.

I start mine from seed that I got from the Johnny’s catalog in 2006. This year I didn’t get great germination, only 2 seeds out of 36 came up. The shelf life for them seems to be about 2 – 3 years. The seeds look a little like marigold or cosmos seeds. I bury mine horizontally about 3 x the depth of the seed and keep them moist and warm until they germinate.

When starting them as transplants make sure they are extremely warm. The germination rate is much higher if they think it is early summer. It’s easier to direct seed them in May or later, but if grown in pots I harden them off and plant them into the garden when they reach about 6" tall. While still young I pinch off the growing tips to get them to bush out into a sturdier plant, otherwise they can be spindly and flop over. Papalo prefers full sun but I had great luck in spots that only got about 4 hours of sun a day.

If you can’t grow your own your may be able to find it in Mexican groceries or at local farmer’s markets.

In Bolivia, Mexico, and other areas of Central America papalo is so popular it is often kept fresh in vases on restaurant and kitchen tables. Diners pluck the leaves and shred bits of the pungent herb onto their food before eating it. It doesn’t dry well, but it can be frozen if it is pureed with water or oil and put into ice cube trays.

You can use papalo as a substitute in any recipe that calls for cilantro. Papalo is more strongly flavored so you may want to use 1/3rd the measured cilantro amount recommended by your recipe.

Though the leaves constantly have the succulent and tender look of new spring foliage, this plant can take whatever our southern weather dishes out. I love it as an edible ornamental because it seems oblivious to drought, pests, or disease. **Edit: In 2012 it had some insect damage. Papalo Easily grown from seed sown directly in the ground in Spring. Can also be started indoors 6 weeks before the last frost date, then transplanted to the ground when the weather warms. Plant in fast-draining, sandy soil and water regularly. Grows best in full sun but can take some shade. Space plants about 1 ½ feet apart. Leaves possess huge oil glands which give papalo its potent flavor and scent. The flavor gets stronger the older the leaves get . Harvest when young for a milder flavor.

indoors 6 weeks before the last frost date, then transplanted to the ground when the weather warms. Plant in fast-draining, sandy soil and water regularly. Grows best in full sun but can take some shade. Space plants about 1 ½ feet apart. Leaves possess huge oil glands which give papalo its potent flavor and scent. The flavor gets stronger the older the leaves get. Harvest when young for a milder flavor.

Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album and C. berlandieri)

Lambsquarters Even though this plant has delicious leaves with more Vitamin A than spinach or broccoli, to most people it's a no-good weed to be mercilessly hoed out of the garden. The seeds of one of its relatives were a staple food of the Aztecs.

These two very similar species (except C. berlandieri smells, but does not taste, like dirty gym socks) are "camp followers," and move with people from site to site and thrive in disturbed soil (like a building site or garden). Keep it. It's great.

Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album and C. berlandieri)

Lambsquarter, Lamb’s Quarter, Chenopodium – Delicious whatever you call it one of the all-time great greens. It tastes wonderful (like a cross between asparagus and spinach); it’s easy to prepare and cook; it’s good for you – the usual dark green “high in vitamins and minerals, low in calories” – and as a major bonus, it not only plants itself, it starts so early and grows so fast that you can harvest multiple crops and still have time to plant tomatoes, corn, squash, beans or whatever in the very same ground.

It is considered by some to be one of the most widespread weeds in the world. Lambsquarter (Chenopodium album) is probably best thought of as a complex of related plants which intergrade and hybridize quite easily. I find a variety of forms growing in my garden, often changing as the season progresses.

Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album and C. berlandieri)

In Mexico a subspecies (ssp. nuttalliae) and hybrids are still grown as commercial cultivars: ‘Huauzontle’ for the flowering heads, ‘Chia’ for the seeds, and ‘Quelite’ for the leafy greens. It is sometimes called Pigweed or Goosefoot, and Giant Goosefoot, or ‘Magenta Spreen’, (C. gigantium) is available from several specialty seed suppliers, including Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

All varieties of Chenopodium seem to be quite prolific, producing panicles that release thousands of tiny seeds, some of which germinate quickly while others persist in the soil for years. This is undoubtedly one reason why these plants are such successful weeds.

Far from being difficult to grow, they are often difficult to eradicate, particularly in soils which are frequently turned. It’s like the many-headed Hydra of Greek Mythology, every time you hoe down the weed, more come up as you expose more seed to sprout. You can see how lambsquarter is a problem when thought of as a weed. Think of it as a delicious green, however, and the problem becomes a blessing, a gift that keeps on giving.

Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album and C. berlandieri)

Next to Broccoli Raab, Lambsquarter is my favorite green, but it does have two characteristics that might give you pause the first time you try it.

The first is a grayish, mealy powder found mainly on the underside of the young leaves. This will create an intriguing silvery sheen to the leaf when it is plunged into clear water. The grayish powder, parts of the leaf structure itself, will easily rinse off and rise to the top as a scum. Not to worry, it is harmless.

Equally harmless is the purplish red bloom which will come to dot some of the leaves.

The second aspect of lambsquarter that might cause concern is a flavor characteristic. Best described as a slightly astringent, bitter or mineral quality, it occasionally will leave in the mouth and on the tooth an oxalic acid sensation similar to that produced by rhubarb. If you or your children do not like spinach, you will not like lambsquarter. But if your palate has progressed to a more mature level chances are that you will flip over it.

Fall Vegetables

Mid-Sep: 16 Crops To Plant NOW for Fall!

Lettuce / Basil

Veg's Better after Frost

19 Frost Hardy Vegetables to Plant this Fall esp. parsnips, turnips, cabbage. Great photos.

Parsnip / Rutabagas

Tomato Plants

What's the difference between "indeterminate" and "determinate" tomatoes? Determinate tomatoes, or "bush" tomatoes, are varieties that grow to a compact height (generally 3 - 4'). Determinates stop growing when fruit sets on the top bud. All the tomatoes from the plant ripen at approximately the same time (usually over period of 1- 2 weeks). They require a limited amount of staking for support and are perfectly suited for container planting.

Indeterminate tomatoes will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost. They can reach heights of up to 12 feet although 6 feet is normal. Indeterminates will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit all at the same time throughout the season. They require substantial staking for support.

Never prune a 'determinate' type tomato. You want all the fruit you can get from these shorter plants. Indeterminate varieties vary in their response to pruning, some reportedly have increased yields when the young plant is pruned back to three or four vines. I prefer to let the plant produce stems for better fruit production and better leaf canopy to protect the fruit from sunscald. However, I like to remove most of the suckers at the bottom 10" of the plant to invite greater air flow at the base of the plants and reduce the risk that fruit will touch the ground where they insects and disease might be encouraged. Know that removing new flowers near the end of the growing season can help speed up the ripening of mature fruit.

How to Distinguish a Determinate from an Indeterminate Tomato One of the first things to consider is the length of your growing season.

  • Determinate tomato varieties tend to ripen early.
  • Indeterminate tomato varieties will have a longer growth period and can produce fruit until frost arrives.

The selection of tomato will also depend upon the use you have for the fruit. If you will be canning, a determinate type, which ripens all around the same time, is useful. If you want fruit throughout the growing season, then an indeterminate tomato is best.

one is a vine and one is bushy.

The determinate tomato plant is often grown in a cage or even without support, as it has a more compact shape. The determinate tomato varieties also produce most of their fruit on the terminal end.

The indeterminate tomato varieties have much longer stem growth, which continues to grow until cold weather arrives. They require staking and tying onto a structure to keep the fruit off the ground. This type sets fruit along the stem.

To learn how to distinguish a determinate from an indeterminate tomato, check the shoot formation.

  • The determinate forms stop their shoot production once flowers form on the ends.
  • Indeterminate tomato varieties will form flowers along the sides of the shoots but they continue to grow until weather conditions are no longer favorable.

This is the main difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. The formation of new leaves at branch areas is a characteristic of both types of plants and doesn’t help in distinguishing the forms. Just to confuse things a bit, there are also tomato forms that are semi-determinate and fall between the two main varieties in growth habit.

Staking Tomato Plants – Find The Best Way To Stake Tomatoes cages, poles, strings.


Video: How To Grow Potatoes : How to Plant Potatoes buy certifies seed potato; cut two days before planting;

Growing Potatoes If you love potatoes and have never tasted a homegrown one, you definitely need to try growing potatoes. Potatoes are cool-season vegetables and yield the best quality and number of tubers in the northern portion of the country. And just so you know: A potato isn’t a root but an underground storage stem called a tuber.

Potatoes are cool-season crops and can survive light frosts. Plant as soon as soil is workable in early spring. Potatoes need fertile, well-drained soil that’s loose and slightly acid (pH 5.8 to 6.5). Hard, compacted soil produces misshapen tubers. Amend heavy clay soil the fall before planting by working organic matter into planting beds. Potatoes form tubers 4 to 6 inches below the soil surface. When stems reach 8 inches tall, draw soil up and around plants, covering half of lower stems. Repeat the process two to three weeks later. Potatoes exposed to sunlight turn green, which causes flesh to taste bitter. Keeping tubers covered prevents greening.

White Potato Young Leaves

Some gardeners grow their potatoes in straw, placing straw around the 8-inch-tall stems instead of soil. This method yields potatoes that you don’t have to dig, but simply fish out of the straw. If you use the straw method, be sure to keep your straw layer consistent throughout the growing season. It will most likely break down and need to be topped off during the course of growing the potatoes.

Maximum tuber formation occurs when soil temperature is 60 F to 70 F. Tuber formation stops when soil temperature hits 80 F. Mulching soil with straw or other organic matter can help reduce soil temperature. Research has shown that maintaining a 6-inch-thick straw layer around potatoes keeps soil temperatures 10 degrees lower. Potatoes are sensitive to drought. Keep plants consistently moist, especially when plants flower and right after, since this is the peak time when tubers are forming.

Move potatoes to a different place in the garden each year to help limit disease and insect problems. For best success, rotate potatoes on a 3-year program, growing them in a different spot for three years in a row before cycling through the growing spots again.

Leaf Miner Damage ~~ Sweet Potato Leaves

When preparing potatoes, cut away any green areas and discard. Potatoes in storage will develop green spots if they’re exposed to sunlight or fluorescent light. Keep stored potatoes in darkness. If your storage space isn’t completely dark, store potatoes in a box with a lid. Mounding soil or straw around potato stems will protect developing tubers during the growing season.

You can harvest new potatoes usually about two to three weeks after plants flower. If soil is loose enough, dig potatoes free with your hands. Otherwise, use a shovel or digging or spading fork to loosen soil near stems.Harvest all potatoes after vines have died. If the growing season has been rainy, wait a few days for soil to dry. It’s easier to dig potatoes in dry soil. You’ll find tubers 4 to 6 inches below the soil surface.

Brush dry soil from potatoes. Don’t wash them if you plan to store them. Newly dug potatoes don’t have a tough skin. Handle tubers gently to avoid damaging and bruising them. Curing produces a tougher skin. To cure potatoes, place in a humid spot at roughly 55 F for two weeks.

7 Ways To Grow Potatoes

Grow Bag
Commercial growing bags are constructed of heavy, dense polypropylene. Put a few inches of a soil-compost mixture in the bottom of a bag, then plant 3 or 4 seed potato pieces and cover with 3 inches of soil. Continue adding soil as the plants grow until the bag is filled. To harvest, turn the bag on its side and dump out the contents.

Video: Potato Harvest: Growing Potatoes & Building Soil at the Same Time

Video: Enormous harvest of Container Grown Potatoes

Allotment Diary : How I plant / grow my Container grown Potatoes

Sweet Potato Flowers ~~ White Potato Flowers

Sweet Potato Flowers ~~ White Potato Flowers

Video: Larry Hall--This is Incredible! The Self Watering Grow Bag Grow System! You got to see this!

Video: Larry Hall's Grow Bag System Part 2~Garden Update

Calvin Finch: A few tricks for growing corn, potatoes and summer squash

Potting Soil

**Video: Larry Hall--Making your own inexpensive potting mix

Video: Best Potting Soil Recipe

**Video: How to Make Square Foot Gardening Soil Mix - in Real Time

Video: How to Make Your Own Seed Starting Mix and Potting Mix: Save 75% - The Rusted Garden 2014

Video: Making Low Cost Potting Soil

Secrets to a successfull urban garden with little work

How to Grow a lot of Food in a Small Garden - 9 EZ tips

10 Gardening Products & Practices I’ve Abandoned & Why good ideas

One Yard Revolution videos


Comfrey articles in my permaculture page

Comfrey articles in my herb page

Low Maintenance Plants: Comfrey comfrey originated in Europe and is common in England and Ireland.

Functions: Accumulates nutrients in the soil, excellent mulch plant, fast growing, chop and drop or add to compost, grown for 2000+ years for medicine, attracts pollinators, beautiful flowers and foliage.

Site Requirements: Tolerates a wide range of conditions but prefers sun to partial shade and moist clay soil. Once established it is very difficult to remove, so take care in choosing an appropriate site.

Notes: A highly multifunctional garden plant and excellent addition to a fruit tree guild to improve nutrient quality of the soil and suppress weed growth. Its long taproot mines nutrients from deep in the soil. Mine tries to spread throughout my garden, but I chop it back every month to use as an exceptionally nutritious mulch, and I use it when I’m making herbal teas as well (after the urine section).


Low Maintenance Plants: Yarrow My favourite low maintenance companion plant that’s useful to have in the garden is Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Yarrow: Attracts beneficial predator insects by into your garden to eat your garden pests (by providing the predators with a nectar source to keep them alive once they eat all the pests)...

Stimulates the growth and vigour of nearby plants, and increases the aromatic oil content of culinary herbs and insect repellent plants...

Works as a compost activator just like comfrey to speed up the decomposition process in your compost pile...

Grows as a shallow rooted, dense groundcover on garden borders that creates a barrier to weeds, and being a wild plant, requires very little fertilizer or maintenance... Is a wonderful medicinal herb that has been used over centuries for wounds and a variety of other ailments! This was in my original list, but nice to have it as a duplicate because it's definitely one of my favorites!


The Superfood Crop That May Help Change The World What is moringa, and why is everyone eating it?

Native to northwestern India, Moringa oleifera is a small tree that’s grown in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. The leaves have a slightly nutty taste with a hint of horseradish and can be eaten raw or cooked, though they’re most commonly powdered and used as a supplement in smoothies and drinks or made into a tea.

It’s extraordinarily nutritious: Ounce for ounce Moringa has twice the protein of yogurt, four times as much calcium as milk, and three times as much potassium as a banana.

Not only is it healthy and tasty, but you don’t have to feel guilty about buying it. Unlike crops that can be harvested only once a year, moringa leaves grow and mature all year round. This means farmers can subsist on the plants while growing them, which hinders the kind of problems typically associated with foods such as quinoa, where the entire crop must be sold, leaving little for the farmers or their communities.

The tree also produces other crops and products growers use and sell locally: The seed pods are edible, and the seeds can be made into a useful oil. Not only do they produce abundant crops, but the trees also need little in the way of water or fertilizers and grow easily in dry places where few other crops do well. Bonus: The leaves are compact and lightweight to store and ship, giving them a much smaller ecological footprint.

Container Gardening

Photo Gallery of Container Gardening


Plantain is a useful herb that is often considered a weed by most people.

It is native to Europe and parts of Asia, but was said to have been introduced to North America when the settlers came from Europe. It’s scientific name is Plantago Major, and it likely grows in your yard.

The leaves are actually edible and somewhat similar to spinach, though slightly more bitter. They can be used in salads or other culinary uses.

Herbal Uses:

The leaves can also be made into a tea or tincture, and this is said to help with indigestion, heartburn and ulcers when taking internally.

Externally, Plantain has been used for insect and snake bites, and as a remedy for rashes and cuts. I use it in making my Homemade Healing Salve, which we use as a natural antibiotic ointment on cuts and bruises.

The natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of plantain leaf make it great for healing wounds, and for itching or pain associated with skin problems. A tea made from Plantain leaf can be sprayed on mosquito bites to ease the itch.


Plantain is good for injuries because of its coagulating properties, but those with blood disorders or prone to blood clots should not use Plantain internally.

WebMD: Great Plantain Other Names: Common Plantain, Erva-De-Orelha, General Plantain, Grand Plantain, Greater Plantain, Llantén, Plantago asiatica, Plantago major, Plantago Mayor, Plantain, Plantain à Bouquet, Plantain Commun, Plantain à Feuilles Larges, Plantain Majeur, Plantain...

Great plantain is a plant. The leaves and seed are used to make medicine. Be careful not to confuse great plantain with buckhorn plantain, water plantain, or other similar sounding medicines. Great plantain is used for bladder infections, bronchitis, colds, and irritated or bleeding hemorrhoids. It is also used to kill germs and reduce swelling. Some people apply great plantain directly to the affected area for skin conditions or eye irritation.

Safety: Great plantain seems to be safe when taken by mouth by most adults. But it may cause some side effects including diarrhea and low blood pressure. It might be UNSAFE to apply great plantain to the skin. It can cause allergic skin reactions.

Warning: Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with GREAT PLANTAIN. Great plantain contains large amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is used by the body to help blood clot. Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. By helping the blood clot, great plantain might decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin).

Plantain Plantain is an Alterative meaning that it is one of about 100 plants that clean and correct impure conditions of the blood and the eliminative tissues and organs. The roots, leaves, flowers and seeds can be used internally or externally.

Plantain is #1 in the field of blood poisoning treatment. You can see the healing at work. Swelling goes down and the “red” line recedes. Limbs poisoned can be saved using this herb. It is used as a poultice on the outside and taken as a tea on the inside.

Plantain is also a diuretic so is useful for kidney and bladder problems. It is taken throughout the day as a tea to help the kidneys and bladder. It is used in bed-wetting challenges. It also helps dropsy and water retention.

As a styptic it can be chewed or pounded into a paste and applied to a wound to stop minor bleeding. It is very soothing and cooling as it heals. Taken as a tea or in soup it soothes irritated mucous membranes. It will stop the bleeding of minor cuts and when taken internally, ulcers.

Plantain recipes Plantain is also great as an astringent for your face. It is a great addition to your nopoo routine to help heal dandruff & other scalp issues. Plantain contains natural allantoin a phytochemical, & allantoin produces its desirable effects by promoting healthy skin, stimulates new skin cells & healthy tissue growth. Plantain is an anti-inflammatory that kills germs & speeds wound healing.

Plantain can be eaten raw or cooked & used almost anywhere you would use lettuce or greens. Great in salads, salsa, pesto, smoothies, juicing, & vegetarian meals, just use your imagination.

Pan fried green n onions: I added olive oil & raw coconut oil to my pan & heated it to med/high,plantain greens then I added 1 med sized diced onion & cooked till translucent, then I added a bit more olive oil, to this I added fresh picked, washed greens, Turnips & Spinach & the Plantain... Then I cooked until desired tenderness & add a couple caps of Bragg Vinegar & a pinch of natural unrefined salt & a pinch of course black pepper, & served with baked chicken, broccoli, & rice.

Salad: Great mixed into salad, cut into strips like above, & toss in with other salad items.

Learning to Love Weeds - Plantain Comment: One of my favorite stories is when my boyfriend ( a huge herbalism-skeptic) got some bee-stings. We applied plantain spit-salve mixed with some self-heal spit-salve to the stings on his elbow. Those stingers slid out like…well..something that easily slides out. The other ones were not as easy to get out. However, one of the things he noticed was that the ones that we applied the salve to seemed to leave more of a scar a few months later, and the ones that stung longer but did not have plantain did not do that.

Comment: Yes wild plantain leaves are everything you say of them. Added storey. My mother used to score them with a knife and then place them on cuts ,bruises or bee stings covering the leaf with a small piece of cotten and taping in place. We kids used to pick them from the stem and count the white strings that show up telling us of how many lies we have told in the past year. tee hee.

How to Grow Plantain Greater Plantain is low to the ground and will grow to a height of approximately 8-12" showing tiny white flowers. Plantain prefers full sun to partial shade and will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, including rocks and sand.

can be direct sown outdoors in mid-spring, or started indoors in early spring and transplanted out in late spring. Germination rates can be enhanced with a one week period of cold stratification prior to sowing.

Perennial (zones 3-9) Germination 7 - 14 days. Seed life 2 years. Partial shade to full sun. Seeds: Whole plant. Seedlings 12" apart. Days to harvest 30 days+

Plantain Till or No-till: This is a plant that does its best using Natural farming or no-till garden methods. Once started, whether on its own or in with other plants, there is no need to turn the soil. In fact, this plant takes hard, compacted soils and loosens them.

This plant is remarkable for its ability to grow in hard, poor soil and take abuse like being walked on over and over. So, I like to grow it between the rows of plants in the garden on the pathways. It can grow in a wide range of soil pH, types and climates. If you are growing for greens, other than turning over the soil before planting, there is nothing you need to do. If you do put some composted manure or other fertilizer in the soil, this plant can get huge.

Planting: Spread the seeds over the area you want them, tamp lightly, put over a very thin layer of fine mulch, water, and there should be no problem getting a good crop. When planting for pathways between rows, just spread a layer along the pathway between rows early in the spring when the garden has been prepared for planting. You don't have to wait for the last frost to plant this one. After spreading the seed, just tamp the soil with the back of a hoe, then spread a little mulch.

Maintenance: If you are growing a couple of these for the greens, there is nothing to do other than picking off flower heads to prevent them from turning into seedheads. This forces the energy back to the roots and into the greens so year after year you will have nice greens. Mulch around them to prevent other weeds from coming up.

When using for paths between rows in the garden, I run over it now and then with the lawn mower to keep it growing low and prevent the seedheads from coming up. If I see low seedheads forming, I just pick them to prevent this plant from becoming a weed in the garden next year. By doing this, it provides a path to walk on that is not muddy after rains or watering, plus during times of drought, this plant shades the soil and prevents the sun from baking it.

Harvesting: For greens, harvest small, young leaves only. Don't use the pathway plants for this, only use the ones you left to grow upright.

Using: You can use the fresh, young leaves raw on a salad, but I have to say, I'm not really keen on them. Not bad tasting, but the chewy texture, dry/nothing taste isn't my favourite. However, used steamed or chopped up and a little in soups, or other cooked foods, it makes a good, healthy green. Not a green to serve by itself, but with others greens, or just as one of many ingredients, it is quite useful. Leaves must be young and immature, or they will be stringy.


Planting Instructions for Herbs [seeds]

Name-Cilantro; Botanical name-Coriandrum sativum; ABP-Annual; height-1-2'; uses-leaf, seed; part sow-Direct sow in Spring ASAP; temp-60-65 degrees; days-7-14 days; cover-rake or scuffle into soil; sun-full or partial.


Herbs 101: Basil Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Soil: Tolerant of either loamy or sandy soil with good drainage
Sun: Full sun but out of the wind
Water: Keep evenly moist but not too wet
Annual. Easily started from seed indoors. Don't transplant until all danger of frost is past and the ground is relatively warm (usually about the time you put out tomatoes).
Keep basil flowers pinched back to avoid its becoming bitter.

Succulant basil is one of the highlights of a summer garden. Genovese is the type most often used for pesto. Thai basils are common to many Asian dishes.

Good container plant. Plant a 'Basil Red Rubin' for its beautiful burgundy foliage along with a lemon thyme.

Grow basil near tomatoes to deter bugs and enhance vigor. However, don't put basil and rue together.

Cilantro (Corinadrum sativum)

Cilantro Cilantro plants provide distinctively flavored leaves in early spring that are essential to Mexican and Thai cooking. Ripened coriander seed is a mainstay of Indian cooking.

Soil: Light, rich soil with good drainage
Sun: Full sun
Water: Ample moisture
Annual plant that prefers cooler temperatures. Look for varieties that will not bolt.

Keep cilantro away from fennel. They don't play well together.

Starting Seeds Indoors

Demesne: Starting Seeds Indoors

Pest Control

Video: Non-Toxic Pest Control - The Best Way To Control Pests Smiling Gardener. We tend to think insects and diseases are making our plants unhealthy, but actually, they are there because our plants are unhealthy.

This is one of the biggest shifts we need to make in our thinking when moving to organic gardening practices, and to me it’s absolutely fascinating.

While animals prefer healthy plants, insects and diseases prefer the opposite. They choose plants that have a nutritional imbalance of one or more nutrients. They literally do not possess the enzymes necessary to digest healthy plants.

In fact, they don’t even see healthy plants as a food source at all. Sounds crazy, right?

Well I'm going to explain it, because this is one of the most important concepts to understand when talking not only about non-toxic pest control, but organic gardening in general.

Baking Soda Can Help With Certain Fungal Diseases

For example, baking soda actually works to prevent and eradicate powdery mildew (Erysiphales), blackspot (Diplocarpon rosae) and a few others.

Organic Fertilizers Smiling Gardener


S.A. SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT Recycling pgm. ph. 207-6428.

To schedule compost deliver in bags, call Mr. Leonard Silva at 207-6437.

4410 W. Piedras Dr.
San Antonio, TX 78228

Free mulch giveaway at Nelson Gardens Brush Recycling center.

Bundle and throw plastic bags in blue recycling cart.

Covers garbage, recycling, organics, brush collection, bulky item collection, household hazardous waste, et al.

2 locations:

Note: In order for residents to use an HHW center or participate in the mobile events, customers must bring a recent copy of their CPS bill and a picture ID as proof of residency.

Frio City Road Center 1531 Frio City Road, 78226. Tuesday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

The Bitters Bulky Waste & Recycling Center is open. 1800 Wurzbach Parkway 78216. The entrance to the center is located off the new Wurzbach Parkway. Customers need to access the facility from Jones Maltsberger and Wurzbach Parkway. Bitters opens only on the first Saturday of each month during the months of February - August. Saturdays, 8am to 3pm.

Culebra Bulky Waste Collection Center. 7030 Culebra Road, 78238. Normal hours of operation Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Rigsby Road Bulky Waste Collection Center 2755 Rigsby Road, 78222. Normal hours of operation Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.

What to recycle:

In the Kitchen Aluminum & steel cans Cereal & cracker boxes (remove liner) Frozen dinner boxes Glass bottles & jars Meat trays Paper milk & juice cartons Paper towel cores Plastic bottles Styrofoam® egg cartons Yogurt & butter tubs
In the Office Ad circulars Catalogs Copy & printer paper Envelopes File folders Junk mail Magazines Newspaper Paperback books Phone books
In the Bathroom Plastic spray bottles (remove nozzle) Shampoo & lotion bottles Toilet paper tubes Toothpaste boxes (not the tubes)

Rainbow Gardens on Bandera 8516 Bandera Rd @ Guilbeau Rd. organic. Native and xeriscape plants. We have a extensive shade and ornamental tree selection, including natives and exotics that do well here. Most of our trees are in the 5 to 15 gallon size. Bandera Location (new phone): (210) 680-5734. Open M-Sat 9AM to 6PM, Sun 10AM to 6PM. Winter Stores Hours Nov-Feb Open M-Sat 9AM to 5:30PM, Sun 10AM to 5:30PM

Rainbow Gardens on Thousand Oaks. 2585 Thousand Oaks Dr San Antonio, TX 78232. East of 281 inside 1604. See Map.

Happy Gardener Blog

Month by Month Gardening Calendar



Ordered 2/8/16 planter tubs, seed potatoes. Order Number: 60390157200. (513) 354-1492 but don't call; they have foreigners answering calls and they can't do anything for you.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds huge selection

Red Yucca

Fanick's Garden Center 1025 Holmgreen Rd 648-1303 specializing in trees, shrubs, roses & organic fertilizers. Open 8:30-5 every day of week.
Gardening Calendar
Crepe Myrtle guide

LOCATION 26 minutes with no traffic. Take I10 south to downtown far left lane, Take I35 east to 410 intersection, but go south on N. Ww White Road. Take exit 162 from I35. Go south on 13. Will pass I10. Turns into South WW White Rd. Turn left on Holmgreen Rd. OR take 410 south. Exit Rigsby. Go west and turn right on South WW White Rd. Lung Fung Chinese Restaurant on right.. almost there. Turn right on Holmgreen Rd.

Foxfarm Products

Fanick's is fully stocked with a new shipment of Foxfarm products. Foxfarm is one of the leading manufacturers of biological enhanced potting soils, fertilizers and soil stimulants.

Foxfarm products

Fanick's Plant Database

Milberger's Nursery (210) 497-3760. 3920 North Loop 1604 East, San Antonio, TX 78247. Go to 1604 and turn right (east). Go past 281 Exit at Bulverde Rd. Go past Bulverde Rd on access road. Is behind Vulcan materials Co. Educational videos, photos, e-newsletter. Open M-S 9-6, U 10-5.


1 cu. ft. = app. 40 lbs

Peat moss = $9.99 for 1 cu ft
Vermiculite = $39.99 for 4 cu ft

Perlite = $29.99 for 4 cu ft

Milberger’s was voted the Best Plant Nursery in San Antonio because of what we offer you: year-around color for your garden beds, trees and shrubs for your landscape, turf grass and water features. Visit Milberger’s where the plant stock is always fresh and healthy and the gardening expertise is free.

Milberger's Newsletter Archive

Countryside Trees local SA nursery. 290 Meadow Glade San Antonio, TX 78227. see map 410 west to exit 151. Phone: 210-674-1693.

Whichever large shrubs you select they can be planted now [July 14] and will contribute to a balanced landscape.


Garden-Ville Ph: 210-651-6115. 7561 E Evans Rd, San Antonio, TX 78266. Take 1604 east to FM 2252 exit for Bracken. Go north, left. Turn left on E. Evans Rd.


Garden-Ville--closest Ph: 210-404-1187. 11601 Starcrest Dr , San Antonio, TX 78247. Take 410 east to 281. Turn left and go to E. Bitters Rd. Turn right. Bitters will turn into Starcrest. Just before Wurzbach Parkway, Starcrest will jag to the right for Texas Disposal and Garden-ville.

Native mulch is $3.79 for a 2 cu. ft. bag. OR Living mulch, mix of composte and mulch to replicate forest floor, $5.99 for a 2 cu. ft. bag.

Snowman Plant Cover, perfect for keeping your plants protected from freezing temperatures and frost bite.


** Davey Tree Services Recommended by TAMU Extension Agent and Angie's List. Phone 698-0515. Local Office. 210.764.3399 Tim Jackson. Called 11/11/14 and spoke to Diana. She made an appointment (free) for an arborist, Mark Mann, to come on Nov. 20th at 3pm to give us a bid. I also called 811, and CPS will be out at 3:45 pm on Nov. 13 to mark our front yard. Testing the soil costs $200 (Yikes!).


Schulz Nursery in Marion 2/3 of way to Sequin on I10 East [Houston Hwy]. Take FM 465 exit, turn left. / 100 W Huebinger St, Marion, TX 78124. Phone:(830) 214-1825. Hours: Open Sunday · 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

Schulz Nursery $100+ tree and they will plant it for you--Reviews: I did find my new favorite local nursery!... The service here is always great... Friendly staff. Lots of Everything you need... [Broadway location] The staff here is rude, unfriendly, and not helpful. I had 2 employees walk by us did not ask if we needed help. We tried to stop the women to ask her a question and she tried to walk off. So rude. The cashier lady made us wait, did not say hi, or I will be with you in a second... [Marion location] The employees are knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. This nursery also owns the Subway restaurant connected to it, so go get lunch after you are finished getting your plants... Everyone at Schulz Nursery, Marion, TX can assist you W/a wealth of botanical knowledge to protect your current garden plants as well as future planting purchases. They are eager to help you, help the environment. They only carry good, healthy plants...

Schultz Nursey on Broadway. 3700 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78212. Phone:(210) 804-0600. Hours: Open Monday to Sundary 9:00 am – 6:00 pm. Across from Witte Museum.

*Schulz Nursery on Broadway Are you looking to create your own garden paradise? Schulz Nursery has all the plants, landscape services and extensive knowledge to help you do so.

Schulz Nursery has been serving South Texas gardeners for over 50 years. We offer a wide selection of plants, trees, flowers and everything your garden needs. As avid gardeners ourselves, we understand the plants that flourish in South Texas. We pride ourselves on having a knowledgeable staff that is eager to share their knowledge with you.

In addition to our large selection of plants, trees, shrubs and flowers, we also offer landscaping services. Your trees and plants will flourish with the expert planting by our staff.

Learn How to Garden


Managing Caliche in the Home Yard Caliche is layer of soil in which the soil particles are cemented together by calcium carbonate (CaCO3). These layers may form at or below the soil surface. Caliche may appear as light colored concretions (lumps) which range in size from less than 1 inch to several inches across. Caliche may also appear as a solid layer, ranging from a few inches to several feet in thickness. Caliche layers range from relatively loose to highly consolidated, solid rock-like conglomerations.

Solid caliche layers may be impenetrable to plant roots. As a result, roots are restricted to a small amount of soil, and must extract nutrients and water from a reduced amount of soil. Plants with shallow rooting systems are subject to drought stress, and may be poorly anchored and subject to uprooting in strong winds.

Impenetrable caliche layers restrict water movement. Water applied to the soil can not move into or through soil with a tight caliche layer. Water perched on top of the caliche can contribute to problems associated with inadequate root aeration. In addition, soils with poor drainage due to the presence of caliche will have a tendency to become saline as salts can not leach out of the soil and build up in the rooting zone.

Calcium carbonate is a basic (high pH) substance, and where caliche is present the pH may be high enough to cause iron to be unavailable to plants. The symptoms of iron deficiency appear on the youngest, newest leaves, the area between the leaf veins becoming pale yellow or white. No physical deformity occurs, but in severe cases the youngest leaves may be entirely white and stunted. There are several methods for addressing iron deficiency, including reducing soil pH, or soil or foliar application of iron fertilizers.

Physical problems associated with caliche can be reduced or eliminated by breaking apart and removing as much caliche as practical when making holes for planting. Holes should penetrate completely through the caliche layer to allow water to drain rapidly.

If good drainage can not be attained by penetrating caliche, soil can be added to increase the depth of soil available for rooting. Sufficient soil should be added to provide two feet total depth over the entire rooting zone (one and a half to four times the mature plant canopy. Use soil that is similar in texture and set trees and shrubs several inches above grade to allow for settling.

Adding powdered or prilled (pelleted) elemental sulfur at the following rates will increase iron availability and may improve soil drainage: ½ ounce (14 grams) per cubic foot of soil in sandy soils, 1 ounce (28 grams) per cubic foot of soil in silty soils, and 2 ounces (56 grams) per cubic foot in clayey soils. Sulfur should be thoroughly mixed with the soil. Addition of sulfur is not recommended for cacti, succulents, or other desert plant species.

If lawns are to be established where caliche occurs, at least eight inches of topsoil can be placed over the caliche to provide an adequate medium for the grass.

Conquering Home Yard Caliche Try to keep plant roots out of the caliche zone. Successful home and horticultural plantings can be made by first removing the caliche and replacing it with a soil mix. The hole for planting should be large enough to accommodate the root zone system of the mature plant. It should be dug completely through the caliche layer so that water will drain from the planting hole.

If it is not practical to dig completely through the caliche zone, then dig a chimney drainage hole through the remaining portion of the caliche layer. This will provide a water drainage passage.

Check the planting hole for drainage before adding the plant and soil mixture. Partially fill the hole with water. If the water level drops four inches or more in four hours, the drainage should be adequate.

The planting hole can then be filled with a mixture of 1/3 wood residue product, peat moss, or compost and 2/3 good soil (do not use uncomposted manure). Discard the caliche that has been removed. Keep the consistency of the soil mix the same throughout the planting hole and drainage chimney.

Caliche: Bane of the Desert Homeowner Have you ever tried to dig a hole through concrete? It is doubtful that you have. The very idea is rather absurd. Really, who would try something that foolish? Surprisingly, many people have tried, usually in vain, to dig through concrete. However, the material is not called concrete: it is called caliche. Also known as hardpan, caliche is a naturally occurring concrete found in arid environments, and inexplicably, in many frustrated homeowners’ yards. But, what makes caliche so hard, what value does caliche posses, and what can a person do to get rid of the nasty stuff? Caliche is a very interesting material that can be hard to get rid of, but with the right tools and advice, anybody can stop caliche from ruining his or her backyard garden plans.

There are two major uses for caliche. The first use is the harvesting of the caliche for its lime content. Because caliche is an excellent source of lime, caliche is used to make cement. It is rather interesting that this naturally occurring cement is used to make synthetic cement. Besides being used to make cement, caliche has another economic use. Caliche is used in the refining process of sugar. Again, this is because of the high lime content in caliche. Even though caliche is not made exclusively of lime, it is cheaper to refine the caliche, rather than purchase other sources of lime, such as limestone (Caliche). Still, even though caliche does have some economic uses, what can a desert homeowner do to get rid of caliche in his or her yard and garden?

To any person who has dealt with caliche, the hardness of the material is fully understood. Because of the difficulty in removing caliche, it is not recommended that a gardener try to remove all of the caliche in the garden (Conquering). This is would be very time consuming and difficult work.

The best way to get rid of caliche is to do it in a scientific manner. This means that there should be a plan attack before ever picking up a pickaxe or crowbar. First, one should decide how large of a hole needs to dug (Conquering). After the planning stages are over, it is time to actually go and dig a hole. Depending on the depth of the top layer soil, digging a hole can be easy or difficult. For example, if the top soil is deep, then a gardener may only have to dig a chimney for drainage purposes. Digging a chimney simply means that a small tube like hole needs to be dug through the caliche. Placing the chimney close to the hole where the plant is will allow for proper drainage around the plant (Carefree Gardener). However, if the top soil is shallow, then the only option is to dig a hole into the caliche layer. It is very necessary to replace the caliche with good gardening soil. Reusing the broken caliche for planting would not be good for the plants (Conquering).

Q. about caliche This is an important subject to me because I have been trying to garden successfully in red clay in the Victor Valley along the 15 Fwy. You are going to get tons of advice about adding lots amendments and doing lasagna gardening which is fine if you have lots of stuff to shred or have the money to continually buy amendments. I live in the Mojave Desert, I don't have tons of leaves, woody matter to add enough to amend & keep my soil amended. I have short of a 1/4 acre. I have busted my back over the clay and caliche for a number of years and have just come upon a couple of things I'll share that will help you so that you don't run in circles for years.

First, buy the book The Hot Garden by Scott Calhoun. He is a landscaper in AZ. He knows the desert soil and knows caliche. Your reference to using a jackhammer is no joke & often used. His book will help you.

Also, see if you can find a landscapers supplier that will sell to the public. You want to buy a 50 lb bag +, depending on the size of garden, of Cal CM Plus made by the Art Wilson Co. This is an organic product. This is sold as Soil Buster at Lowe's and Home Depot in rather small bags last I checked. This will break up clay. Plus it unlocks the nutrients that get locked up in clay. You can read about it at [Cal-CM Plus Calcium Sulfate--This product is primarily comprised of anhydrite, a form of gypsum. This mineral provides a more concentrated source of calcium sulfate.. It is available regionally in mini and standard prilled pellets for ease of spreading.

If you have caliche, you likely have red clay soil. I just spread the Cal CM plus like a pelleted fertilizer on my backyard. I've done two deep waterings since, my plants are looking a brighter green, I don't expect the soil to loosen significantly until it has gone through several more deep waterings. Ideally, adding this product while creating a garden bed, as your turning over & tilling the soil is ideal.

Also another good solution that makes complete sense is to amend your soil with peat moss. It doesn't breakdown, makes the soil nice & light & once added it drains well.

Caliche and Gypsum I have used gypsum to break up caliche soild in So Cal. It's a really long process but the result is worth the long term investment in the soil.

Caliche Lawn Problems Often called hardpan, caliche is a four-letter word to Arizona gardeners. The pale layer is similar to concrete, poured by a whimsical giant with a twisted sense of humor. It spreads over large areas or remains localized to your backyard lawn. It often lurks inches or feet beneath the surface, only coming to light as your turf struggles against dehydration, waterlogged soil or nutrient deficiencies.

Gypsum is a mineral compound celebrated for its ability to break up dense clay soil. Caliche, however, is immune to gypsum. Gypsum is calcium sulfate, and adding this calcium salt to caliche's calcium carbonate may make matters worse. West Texas A & M University states, "Any soils with caliche will not benefit from the addition of gypsum, though in rare instances, sulfur might help." Sulfur acts slowly, however, and may take years to alter soil texture.

Solid caliche over a large area, however, is nearly impossible to remove, unless your landscaper has an arsenal of nuclear weapons at the ready. Instead, the Arizona Master Gardner Manual suggests adding 8 or more inches of topsoil over the soil before seeding or laying sod.

Gypsum from what I understand you have to keep re-applying the Gypsum to the soil if you want to break the caliche. It works by breaking the seal of the caliche

Caliche isn't clay. It is limestone, effectively solid limestone rock formed by rainwater dissolving and re-depositing limestone particles from an otherwise loose soil. I can't imagine gypsum would do anything to caliche, it certainly won't do anything to limestone rock. Some areas have both clay and caliche, and maybe gypsum could help them, but you'd still need a pickaxe to get through the caliche.

Desert Trees in Caliche Soils The Desert Southwest in particular has a unique problem not common elsewhere: caliche. Caliche is a layer of calcium carbonate (i.e., lime) that forms a solid stratum a few inches to a few feet below the soil's surface. If you have caliche, you may already be aware of the need to drill through that layer if you want to plant something taller than an opuntia.

Trees, in particular, often have deep tap roots that necessitate drilling. Sometimes, you can break through a layer of caliche with a pickax if it isn't too thick, however, it isn't uncommon for several strata of caliche to exist. Failure to ensure good drainage guarantees stunted plants in a best case scenario and more likely will result in death.

Removing caliche is the best guarantee of gardening success, especially where trees and larger shrubs are concerned, however that can be impractical in many cases. An alternative suggested by the Arizona Cooperative Extension is to drill "chimneys" through the caliche that allow improved drainage. Nevertheless, the larger the plant, the larger the area taken up by the mature root ball so caliche removal and replacement with an enriched organic soil may be necessary if you want to grow trees or larger shrubs.

Test for drainage
If you have caliche and have managed to create a hole big enough for your plant, you still need to test for drainage. Before placing your plant, pour water into the hole. If you've broken up the caliche enough, the hole will drain quickly. If not, you'll need to continue with the pickax or crowbar. If it still doesn't drain after working on it some more, plant something smaller and try in a different location.

Soils may also have an extremely high pH because of their alkalinity. Testing is essential so amendments can be added to mitigate the soil's inherent character and improve mineral absorption. In particular, iron deficiency can be a problem. If your plants have yellow leaves, but green veins, it's probably an iron uptake problem.

Raised beds with their rapid drainage don't work as well in the desert as bermed holes that have raised edges to contain and direct water toward the plant's root system. In addition, supplementing desert soils with water retainers such as Zeba Quench™ that, along with good mulch, may reduce the amount of water wasted and improve plant health. It doesn't hurt that Quench is corn-starch based and biodegradable unlike similar sodium-based products that may degrade more slowly and affect soil health.

Finding trees for a desert garden can be challenging. The best plants take the least water and are indigenous to the area. However, as long as the plant is reasonably drought tolerant, there is no reason not to experiment with additional plant materials. The following are drought-tolerant, relatively low maintenance, and some even produce something useful:

Pomegranate (Punica granatum)—deciduous, 12-15 ft. tall. Edible fruit. Useful as a hedge and for shade. Any soil type and light pruning to desired form.

Bottle tree (Brachychiton populneus)—evergreen tree that eventually can grow up to 45 feet tall. Fast growing with glossy green leaves. The bottle tree has interesting woody, brown pods. It requires regular water, especially in summer, but is low maintenance.

Fig (Ficus carica)—Big leaved trees that love the heat and produce sweet fruits. Figs can be espaliered to cool exterior south-facing walls. They grow fast to about 20 feet tall or more. Prune to shape and clean up during fruiting are regular chores.

Citrus (Citrus) like lemons, oranges, and limes do well especially around Phoenix with its expansive heat island. They need water, but can take some drought, and a good feeding schedule. Once upon a time the entire Valley was citrus from one end to another and the April breezes carried the scent for miles. If you are located in a higher altitude region, plant in pots and winter indoors.

Desert Ironwood (Olneya tesota)—This is a true desert scrub tree and essential to the desert ecosystem which is threatened by sprawl. It grows to about 20 feet in height and is extremely drought tolerant. With enough water, it's an evergreen and can be used as a shade tree. A member of the pea family, the tree blooms in April and produces seedpods with brown beans that can be ground into flour.

Sweet Acacia (acacia smallii)—The semi-deciduous sweet acacia reaches 15-30 feet in height, grows quickly, and provides an attractive small tree that provides filtered shade. In spring, it has ball-shaped, yellow flowers. Maintenance includes regular pruning of the trunk to maintain shape. Well-adapted to desert life.

How Do I Improve My Caliche Soil So That I Can Grow Lawn Grass? While no lawn grass will grow well in caliche conditions without proper soil amendment, it has been suggested that buffalograss may have a higher tolerance for these conditions and may be a good alternative, depending on your location

Hopernch mentions the desirability of improving the caliche soil with compost, while also acknowledging how hard it is to bring in enough compost to cover a space sufficient for growing a large lawn. There's a partial solution to this problem, but it means making the following compromise:

You'll still be able to grow something in this space....

It just won't be lawn grass.

Yes, I'm talking about growing xeriscaping plants. True, this solution does not furnish you with the lawn that you initially wanted. But there are two advantages in installing individual plants in this case, as opposed to a lawn:

You can "pocket plant," meaning that you'll require less compost. That is, instead of improving the soil across the entire space, you need to upgrade it only in the individual planting holes for the plants that you're using.

If you live in a desert area, you're fighting nature in your attempts at growing a lawn, due to the lack of water available. By growing, instead, plants that don't require much water, such as many cacti and succulents, you're making your life easier.

Lawn on Caliche Now, let's talk a bit about caliche. Those of us who grew up in West Texas thought that was what all dirt looked like, except for the sand in the sandstorms in the mid-1950's. "Caliche" is calcium carbonate, and the name comes from the Spanish word for lime. Read this Arizona Master Gardeners article on Conquering Home Yard Caliche. They recommend either putting down 8 inches of topsoil (for lawns) or digging chimneys out of the soil, replacing the caliche in the holes with topsoil and compost. In both cases, they recommend removing the caliche.

So, guess what? In our Native Plant Database Recommended Species section, there are 17 grasses or grass-like plants recommended for Central Texas, of which 10 are listed as growing in caliche soils or having high tolerance of calcium carbonate, or both. And, in the online Catalog of Native American Seeds, there is a Caliche Mix, specially composed to give good coverage in that type of soil. This, however, is a Full Sun mix, which we consider to be 6 or more hours a day of sunlight. Now you have your choice of how to put native grasses into caliche soil: dig out the caliche, cover the caliche, learn to live with the caliche.

Grasses native to Central Texas with high calcium carbonate tolerance and/or grow in caliche:

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) - high tolerance

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - medium tolerance

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) - caliche soil

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama) - high tolerance, grows in caliche

Dasylirion texanum (Texas sotol) - caliche soil

Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri (curly-mesquite) - caliche soil

Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly) - caliche soil

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista) - caliche soil

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - high tolerance

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) - high tolerance

See site for photos and much more info. on each grass.

Trees on Caliche Soil

John Dromgoole, Austin “What’s so exciting right now,” he adds, “is that we are learning all kinds new things about how microbial activity differs from one plant community to the next. The lady who discovered this is now traveling the world healing land where chemicals no longer work.”

Dromgoole is referring to Elaine R. Ingram, from Oregon, whose research on the ‘Soil Food Web’ has revolutionized the way that people are thinking about the soil and how to improve it. “What she has taught us,” says John, “is that fungal composts work best on trees and shrubs, plants from the forest. Bacterial composts work best for the grasses and shrubs from the prairies. We’ve always needed this university-style testing, and she’s got it.”

How does this translate in The Natural Gardener’s soil yard? “Well,” says John, “we’ve been able to craft our ‘Revitalizer’ blend as a 50-50 blend of the two kinds of composts so that it will work for everybody. It also contains granite sand, calcium, gypsum and other components. The soil is really the palette for the garden, we give our customers a complete palette.”

Jill Nokes, author of How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest, and a noted landscape designer, appreciates the commitment of both Dromgoole and Altgelt to organic soils, “I go all over the state” she says, “and I’m realizing how lucky we are to have folks like John and George here. You can’t believe how bad the stuff is they sell everywhere else. We’re really spoiled.”

Desert Gardening: Success with Southwest Soils Hardpan clay and caliche are tough to work with. Caliche is a white calcium carbonate soil layer that is so hard that gardeners new to the area often mistake it for cement. Hardpan clay and caliche soils share a common problem: poor drainage. You might need a pickaxe or digging bar to break them up.

Even though digging is tough, don’t get discouraged. Your desert plants have evolved to live in tough conditions. You’ll be surprised at how well they grow with just a little work breaking up the soil before you plant.

For really stubborn hardpan and caliche, use a digging bar (see photo) to make additional drainage slots at the base of the planting hole to drain water. You also can mound the soil to increase root depth. When irrigating in heavy soil, make sure you irrigate slowly and for a longer duration than you would in sand.

Unlike the desert-adapted landscape planting methods mentioned above, planting veggies and other edibles requires good, rich soil that drains well. In the desert that often means using raised beds.

As the old adage goes: There is nothing you can do after you plant your vegetables that has as much effect on how they grow as what you do to the soil before you plant.

MySA: Tom Harris: Living with Caliche From our previous article, option 3 is done quite a lot in our area. We call them raised beds. Usually they’re built of landscape timbers but other types and sizes of lumber are used all the time. Personally, I prefer concrete/cinder blocks to wood. Concrete blocks are just the right depth (8 inches), are easy to handle, don’t rot, aren’t affected by bugs, and come in short lengths (16 inches) so that you can make a bed as small as 32? x 32? or 48? x 48? — just right for kids or anyone who doesn’t want a larger garden.

A big plus in my book is that when you place concrete blocks on the ground with the holes up and fill them with a good potting mix, the size of the little-mini-garden in each hole is just right for two green onions, two radishes, or one marigold. Cool, huh?

If you build raised beds for veggie gardening, be sure to buy what’s known as “light garden mix” for soil in the bed. It’s mostly compost with some sand, topsoil and cedar flakes in it, holds moisture very well, is easy to handle with gardening tools, stays light and fluffy for a whole gardening season, and isn’t very expensive.

On the other hand, if you want to make your own soil for the garden, mix two parts compost, one part peat moss, and 1/2 to one part perlite or vermiculite … be sure to use the coarse perlite or vermiculite so that you don’t have to deal with a lot of dust. I call this “Tom’s mix” and I use it for my potting soil as well. This mix is even lighter in weight (because it has no sand) so you can use it in hanging pots and not have the weight to worry about.

Option 4 is the one which will probably have the best and longest-term effects. By that, I mean to learn which plants will actually grow in our caliche-cruddy soil. Those of you who have been in this area for generations know them as “native” plants, or possibly “adapted” plants. Native plants are the ones that have been here seemingly forever and have found ways to thrive somehow in caliche and have developed mechanisms to deal with the heat and dryness as well.

Adapted plants are those which came from other parts of the world that have similar climatic conditions and have “learned to love” South Texas like we do. Non-native and non-adapted plants that people try to grow here just have a really hard time making it because the gardener is constantly fighting with nature to keep the plants alive — let along blooming or setting fruit. You need to know, by the way, that Mother Nature is gonna win this one, no matter what.

Working with the native and adapted plants in your yard means that you usually don’t have to add amendments, such as manure and compost. In fact, adding these things to the caliche actually changes the soil structure from the surrounding soil and the chances of the plant surviving actually go down … reason being that the roots get through the amended soil fairly quickly and then reach the native stuff. And, since it’s easier to grow in the amended soil rather than venture out into the native soil, the roots start circling around in the hole and eventually girdle the new plant and it chokes and starves itself to death. About the only amendment that should be used is mulch on top as it will help conserve moisture, moderate the soil temperature, reduce weeds and over time provide some nutrients to the plant.

Plants growing in soils too alkaline for their needs may develop yellow areas between the veins on the newest leaves. The best way to avoid this is, of course, to plant only native or adapted plants. If/When you really NEED to grow tropicals or AZALEAS, plant them in containers with the right type of soil. But be forewarned, this can become expensive and time-consuming as it must be done consistently throughout the entire life of the plant. Controlling the environment like this is not easy, but can be done if that’s your passion.

Another word of caution here, if you see a white crust on the soil surface or on the outside of clay pots you’re using, it means that salt is accumulating due to the application of fertilizers and shallow or frequent watering. Leaves tend to turn brown and look somewhat burned due to the deposit of salt in the leaf tips and margins. Leaves may drop and plant growth slows down or may stop. The way to manage salt of this type is to water deeply enough that water runs through the pot and flushes the salt beyond the root zone. If you can do it, immerse the pot in a bucket or tub of water to leach out the salts.

Snake Herb

Dyschoriste linearis (Torr. & A. Gray) Kuntze / Snake herb, Polkadots, Narrowleaf dyschoriste Acanthaceae (Acanthus Family) Several erect stems, 6–12 inches tall, grow from the root of this plant, the branches and stems are covered with stiff, coarse hairs. The leaves are opposite, 3/4–2 3/4 inches long, attached directly to the 4-sided stem. The 2-lipped flowers are 1/2–1 inch long and up to 1 inch across, lavender to purple, with purple stripes in the throat. They grow in the leaf axils on very short stems and are somewhat tucked in between the leaves, scattered here and there on the main stem.

Pale lavender to purple, two-lipped bell-shaped flowers occur in leaf axils in late spring and repeats in late summer with sufficient moisture.

CTG Snake Herb This native perennial has delicate, hairy leaves and lovely petite, purple flowers that attract butterflies, not snakes. It’s amazingly drought-tough and requires little water after establishment. You may see it listed as full sun, where it does great, but it’s also very happy in shady spots, which can be trickier for many gardeners. The flowers stay tucked into the leaf axils, so you may barely notice them, but butterflies definitely will. Snake herb does spread a bit, making it great for areas in the garden that you may be leaving a little more natural.

Snake Herb (Dyschoriste linearis) This attractive groundcover is found in a variety of soil types throughout the state - from sand to clay. It is a stellar performer in sun or light shade situations. In Spring, the plant bursts forth with a continuous display of 1/2"- 3/4" lavender purple blooms that continue until the weather turns cold. Snake Herb fills dull flowerbeds with dependable color when other plants are struggling in the heat of our Texas summers. The plant is quite drought tolerant and spreads by stolonizing under the ground.

CREEPING SNAKE HERB Dyschoriste uniflora 1" purple flowers are born in the leaf axils over an extended period from late spring to fall. Creeping Snake Herb develops into a nice gray-green groundcover to about 8" high. A heat and sun loving perennial that has moderate drought resistance once well-established. Provide good drainage.


Meet skirret, the long-forgotten Tudor vegetable Similar to a parsnip or carrot, but much sweeter and more delicate, skirret was popular at the time of King Henry VIII, only to disappear for centuries. Now it is making a comeback.

Skirret or Mudflower

An old vegetable from Tudor times is making a comeback in Britain. There was a time when everyone from monks to kings ate skirret – a sweet, crunchy root vegetable related to the parsnip – but over time it lost its prominent status and became relegated to history. Now, according to an article in The Telegraph, this long-forgotten vegetable is enjoying a renaissance.

Sherck's Heirloom Vegetables, Plants & Seeds

Skirret: the forgotten Tudor vegetable

'The sweetest, whitest and most pleasant of roots,” raves gentleman gardener John Worlidge in his 1677 Systema Horticulturae, or, The Art of Gardening. “Pleasant and wholesome,” agrees Culpeper’s Complete Herbal. Yet the subtle sweetness of the modest skirret, noted by Pliny as the Emperor Tiberius’s favourite and a mainstay of Tudor tables, is all but lost today.

Unfussy in most soils, resistant to disease and relishing frost, this sweet, white root’s downfall was progress. “It’s just not a commercial crop,” explains Marc Meltonville, food historian at Historic Royal Palaces. Relatively low-yield, fiddly to harvest and fiddlier to prepare, poor little skirret’s delightful but skinny roots were overtaken by bold, brash, industrial-scale potatoes and parsnips. Dainty and delicate, skirret’s loss to the commercial world is a gift to the home gardener.

The kitchen gardens at Hampton Court Palace

“By physicians esteemed a great restorative and good for weak stomachs,” continues Worlidge.. In a world where sugar was prohibitively expensive, skirret’s sweetness was prized but it has a depth of flavour other roots lack. Meltonville describes it as having a sweet start, moving through a carrot-like flavour, with a peppery aftertaste.

Sium sisarum commonly known as skirret, is a perennial plant of the family Apiaceae sometimes grown as a root vegetable. The English name skirret is derived from the Middle English 'skirwhit' or 'skirwort', meaning 'white root'. In Scotland it is known as crummock. Its Danish name sukkerrod, Dutch name suikerwortel and German name "Zuckerwurzel" translate as 'sugar root'.

Skirret has a cluster of bright white, sweetish, somewhat aromatic roots, each approximately 15-20 cm in length. These are used as a vegetable in the same manner as the common salsify, black salsify and the parsnip.[

Gardening Articles

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Cover Crops, Planting & Growing Guide

Using Cover Crops as Green Manure

Keyhole Gardens

Video: How to Make a Keyhole Garden Bed

Starting a key hole garden Personally I just scatter small seeds of various kinds and push in larger seeds such as beans or squash. So each bed, or in my case the entire surface of the garden, is a mass of different plants.

Beware about planting too thickly, this is my weak spot - it's just so fun to sprinkle seeds around, I always over plant and things are too crowded!

Hugelkultur and keyhole in one Allowing many of natures processes to do their job for you, simply brilliant!

I'll never look at conventional gardening the same again as it seems so obsolete and almost backwards now.

Building two keyhole gardens

What you're seeing here is an experiment of sorts. A 'figure-8' (two circle garden beds side by side) separated by a central flagstone walkway.

Note the Japanese tomato tower

My initial idea was to have the one side be the traditional 'keyhole' design and the other be a typical flat bed with wood chips on top as a covering ('Back to Eden' method).


But, after learning about the amazing hugel beds I dug in and added the rotten logs beneath.

The plan

Concerning your design,
I personally would've used more wood if possible, for better water retention and longevity, especially in the spiral section. My understanding is that you want to make these hugel beds absurdly steep to minimize soil compaction. They will naturally collapse quite a bit over time and not be as steep later on.

The creater

Squash beside Japanese tower

Yardfarmers Trailer


Yardfarmers Show


hugelkultur: the ultimate raised garden beds It's a german word and some people can say it all german-ish. I'm an american doofus, so I say "hoogle culture". [Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole, most commonly made from egg noodles (Lokshen ... The name of the dish comes from the Middle High German kugel meaning "sphere, globe, ball"

raised garden beds on top of sod - the soil comes from somewhere else / Hugelkultur Application

I learned this high-falootin word at my permaculture training. I also saw it demonstrated on the Sepp Holzer terraces and raised beds video - he didn't call it hugelkultur, but he was doing it.

raised garden bed hugelkultur after one month

Hugelkultur is nothing more than making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood. This makes for raised garden beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, air pockets for the roots of what you plant, etc. As the years pass, the deep soil of your raised garden bed becomes incredibly rich and loaded with soil life.

As the wood shrinks, it makes more tiny air pockets - so your hugelkultur becomes sort of self tilling. The first few years, the composting process will slightly warm your soil giving you a slightly longer growing season. The woody matter helps to keep nutrient excess from passing into the ground water - and then refeeding that to your garden plants later. Plus, by holding SO much water, hugelkultur could be part of a system for growing garden crops in the desert with no irrigation.

raised garden bed hugelkultur after one year

I do think there are some considerations to keep in mind. For example, I don't think I would use cedar. Cedar lasts so long because it is loaded with natural pesticides/herbicides/anti-fungal/anti-microbial (remember, good soil has lots of fungal and microbial stuff). Not a good mix for tomatoes or melons, eh? Black locust, black cherry, black walnut? These woods have issues. Black locust won't rot - I think because it is so dense. Black walnut is very toxic to most plants, and cherry is toxic to animals, but it might be okay when it rots - but I wouldn't use it until I had done the research.

Known excellent woods are: alders, apple, cottonwood, poplar, willow (dry) and birch. I suspect maples would be really good too, but am not certain. Super rotten wood is better than slightly aged wood. The best woods are even better when they have been cut the same day (this allows you to "seed" the wood with your choice of fungus - shitake mushrooms perhaps?).

raised garden bed hugelkultur after 2 years

Another thing to keep in mind is that wood is high in carbon and will consume nitrogen to do the compost thing. This could lock up the nitrogen and take it away from your growies. But well rotted wood doesn't do this so much. If the wood is far enough along, it may have already taken in sooooo much nitrogen, that it is now putting it out!

Pine and fir will have some levels of tanins in them, but I'm guessing that most of that will be gone when the wood has been dead for a few years.

raised garden bed hugelkultur after twenty years

In the drawings at right, the artist is trying to show that while the wood decomposes and shrinks, the leaves, duff and accumulating organic matter from above will take it's place. The artist is showing the new organic matter as a dark green.

Hugelkutur in a nutshell:

grow a typical garden without irrigation or fertilization

has been demonstrated to work in deserts as well as backyards

use up rotting wood, twigs, branches and even whole trees that would otherwise go to the dump or be burned

it is pretty much nothing more than buried wood

can be flush with the ground, although raised garden beds are typically better

can start small, and be added to later

can always be small - although bigger is better

You can save the world from global warming by doing carbon sequestration in your own back yard!

perfect for places that have had trees blown over by storms

can help end world hunger

give a gift to your future self

Constructing them

I find I most often build hugelkultur in places where the soil is shallow. So I end up finding excess soil from somewhere else on the property and piling it on some logs. Presto! Instant raised garden beds! This is usually the easiest/fastest way too. Especially if you have earth moving equipment.

raised garden beds on top of sod - the soil comes from somewhere else

For those times that the soil is deep and you are moving the soil by hand, I like to dig up the sod and dig down a foot or two. Then pile in the wood. Then put the sod on top of the wood, upside-down. Then pile the topsoil on top of that. Even better is to figure out where the paths will be, and dig down there too. Add two layers of sod onto the logs and then the double topsoil.

raised garden beds dug in a bit - note the sod is put upside down on the wood and the topsoil is on top of that

I have discovered that a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of raised bed gardens. They have seen the large flat gardens for years and are sure this is the way to do it. Some people are okay with raised beds that are three to six inches tall - they consider anything taller than that unsightly.

So this is gonna sound crazy, but I hope to convince you that the crazy-sounding stuff is worth it.

raised garden beds dug in a bit - plus paths are dug on the sides and that sod/soil goes on top too

If you build your hugelkultur raised garden beds tall enough, you won't have to irrigate. At all (after the second year). No hoses. No drip system. Anything shorter won't require as much irrigation - so there is still some benefit. Imagine going on vacation in the summer without having to hire somebody to kill water your garden! As a further bonus, the flavor of everything you grow will be far better!

To go all summer long without a drop of rain, you need to build your hugelkultur raised bed gardens .... six feet tall. But they'll shrink! Mostly in the first month. Which is why I suggest you actually build them seven feet tall.

Hugelkultur raised garden beds can be built just two feet tall and will hold moisture for about three weeks. Not quite as good, but more within the comfort zone of many people - including urban neighbors.

Some people will start out with hugelkultur raised garden beds that are two and a half feet tall and plant only annuals. And each year they will build the size of the bed a foot. So that after a few years, they will have the bigger beds and the neighbors never really noticed. And if they've tasted what comes from it - they might be all for it without caring about the big mounds.

Besides, isn't this much better use of the wood than hauling it to the dump, or chipping it, or putting it in those big city bins for yard waste?

I usually build hugelkulture raised garden beds about five feet wide. This makes for some mighty steep beds. Just pack that soil on tight and plant it with a mix of heavy rooted plants to hold it all together. Quick! Before it rains! If you are going to build beds shorter than three feet tall, I suggest that you make the beds no wider than four feet wide. Unless you are doing keyhole style raised garden beds, in which case you should be able to get away with something wider.

I usually build hugelkulture raised garden beds about five feet wide. This makes for some mighty steep beds. Just pack that soil on tight and plant it with a mix of heavy rooted plants to hold it all together. Quick! Before it rains! If you are going to build beds shorter than three feet tall, I suggest that you make the beds no wider than four feet wide. Unless you are doing keyhole style raised garden beds, in which case you should be able to get away with something wider.

Comment: I have also really been interested in making a large hugelkultur bed where a portion of my property slopes off. This was a lot more work then I thought it would be and I still need to add another layer of wood, manure and compost to get it up to the 6ft that I want it at. I do think that after this is complete it will be a great system for retaining water during those long hot days of summer and provide another form of water catchment and retention.

Starting a key hole garden

Ruth Stout Potato Harvest! Then Using New Cover Crop Planting Method

No dig garden construction - workshop

All About Cast Iron Skillets

How to Make Hugelkultur Raised Beds The technique of making Hugelkultur raised beds has been in practice for probably thousands of years, though lately it’s becoming increasingly popular. Hugelkultur beds are created by putting compost or soil on top of rotting wood and using the small hill to plant.

Benefits of Hugelkultur Gardens

  • You can grow a typical garden without irrigation or fertilization.

  • No need to till once your garden is built.

  • This type of gardening works in a variety of environments, even the desert.

  • Improves the fertility of your soil.

  • Uses rotting wood that would otherwise be discarded, making it perfect for trees knocked down in storms.

  • Makes food more flavorful, especially fruit. Tomatoes and berries will be even more delicious.

  • Improves drainage.

Now that you know the benefits of this gardening system, let’s move into the labor part – actually building your raised beds. While it might seem like a hassle to put these gardens together, once they’re built they’re so low maintenance, it pays off in the long run.

How to Make Hugelkultur Beds

  • Gather wood. Ideal woods are things like maple, poplar, dry willow, birch, oak or cottonwood. Avoid wood such as black walnut, which is toxic to plants, or cedar which is full of natural herbicides and is antifungal/microbial. Hardwoods break down more slowly and will sustain your garden bed for longer.

  • Pick the site for your garden. If you’re growing vegetables, you want a spot that gets plenty of sun.

  • Mow the grass in your garden site; there’s no need to till, though.

  • Pile up your wood. You can choose whatever shape you want. You can start small and then add more later, or keep it small if you want – but I’d recommend a larger garden bed. If you plan to go really big, consider renting equipment to make the work easier.

  • If you want to have edges, you can build a border to define the bed. Use stones, logs or boards.

  • Cover your log wood base with whatever organic material you have. Compost, straw, soil and grass clippings are all good. Put nitrogen-rich things like fresh grass clippings nearest to the wood, to help it get started breaking down.

  • As the bed settles over time, the wood will break down, so add compost to the bed whenever you plant in the years to come. The wood acts like a sponge, retaining water. It may not be necessary to water your raised bed after the first year, unless there’s a long drought.

In a first-year Hugelkultur garden, you want to plant things like potatoes, tomatoes, beans, lettuces or berry bushes. Avoid planting squash, broccoli or corn your first year, since these plants have a high nitrogen demand. Unless there’s a large amount of organic matter on top of the wood, the breakdown of the wood the first year is very demanding on the nitrogen in the surrounding environment, so it’s necessary to add nitrogen, plant things that have a low nitrogen requirement, or use plants that add nitrogen to the soil.

The gradually decaying wood provides nutrients for the soil and plants, and the composting process produces a slight heat that leads to a longer growing season.

While the initial startup can be more labor intensive than a traditional garden, my hugel bed will be growing for the next 20 years. The hardwoods used as the base of my garden will provide nutrients and moisture for decades, while the soil around it grows more fertile.

The effort put into this will absolutely be repaid with abundant and delicious harvests. If low-maintenance, sustainable gardening is what you’re looking for, these raised beds are ideal for you. Plant your garden, sit back, and reap the rewards for years to come.

hugelkultur, nature’s raised garden beds Within a few days the bed will start to settle down–but Dave prefers to prep new hugelkultur beds in fall, well before spring planting. “I like them to spend the whole winter relaxing,” he says, “and get colonized by microbes and so on.”

KEEPING THE “biomass” of all that wood right on site does more than make a great raised bed. It also gives the little creatures—fungi, mycorrhizae, bacterium, insects and more—the food they crave, and an ideal environment to thrive in.

Using Pathways For Rain Catchment Here in the drylands of San Diego we need to be especially sure to catch whatever rain may fall. Building good soil is vital for the entire planet because humans are going through decent topsoil like nobody’s business.

Here at Finch Frolic Garden we’ve sheet mulched around trees to replicate decades of leaf drop, and on pathways to block weeds, prevent compaction and create good soil for shallow plant roots. We’ve also continued making our pathways work more for us by burying wood (hugelkultur) in the paths themselves.

Most of our soil here is heavy clay, so creating drainage for roots is imperative. In sandy soils, creating more fungal activity to hold together the particles to retain water is important. We also need to store rain water when we get it, but not drown the roots of plants. This all can be accomplished by burying wood, the older the better.


Paradise Lot: Food Forest Farm sell plants; but located in NE. Holyoke, MA.

Pawpaw Seedling 'improved' 14.95. Medium native tree, suckering to form colonies. Large, delicious fruit, sweet and custardlike with a tropical flavor. Delicious in cream pies and fruit desserts or out of hand. Fruit ripens late Septemer into October in Massachusetts. Very pest resistant. Need two for pollination. The seedings are from hardy, delicious, large fruiting stock. Light: Sun to Shade; Soil Composition: Loamy, well-drained; Soil Moisture: Prefers cool moist

Sea Kale $12.95 Clumping perennial vegetable, suckers if roots are broken by digging. Beautiful honey-scented flowers, fantastic edible broccolis. Ours are more than 10 years old. Tender tasty leaves can be harvested in fall without weakening plant.

Welsh Onion $8.95 This perennial scallion forms clumps, which can be thinned for harvest once or twice a year. Mild flavor with just the right amount of oniony zing. Lovely flowers too!

Korean Celery $11.95 Self-sowing perennial herb, attracts beneficial insects. Native to Korea. Celery-flavored leaves and stalk are tasty in soups, good for animal fodder too. Much more mild then it's cousin lovage.

Sunchoke $8.95 Very large native herb, running to form colonies. Produces sweet, nutty-flavored tubers, highly productive. Flowers attract beneficial insects. Cultivated by Native Americans for centuries. Soil Composition: Suitable for all soil types

Sweet Cicely $9.95 Medium-size perennial vegetable with beneficial insect-attracting flowers. Tender green seed pods taste like licorice jellybeans. Great for snacking. Roots traditionally used as sweetener. Leaves used as sweet potherb. Seeds disperse widely, deadhead seeds before ripening. Looks like a fern.

Turkish Rocket $9.95 Light: Full sun to partial shade; Soil Composition: Suitable for all soil types; Moisture: From moist to very dry, takes drought well. Robust, long-lived plant. Spreads by seed, roots will sprout when damaged. Beautiful yellow flowers, young broccolis are much like broccoli raab - nutty and mustardy.

Wild Leek (Ramp) $9.95 Native woodland wildflower, emerges in spring and then dies back for the summer. Leaves have a fantastic onion flavor and bulbs are strong like an onion-garlic mix. Great perennial vegetable for full shade. Popular vegetable for omelets, pastas - the sky's the limit! Light: Full shade to part shade; Taste: Sweet leek; Years to bear: 3 to 5

Temperate Climate Permaculture: Goumi goji berry

General insect (especially bees) nectar plant

Food source for wildlife... fruit may stay on the plant through the winter if not harvested.

Nitrogen fixing (i.e. it puts nitrogen back into the soil)

Hedges - leaves seem to shimmer in the breeze

Tolerates salt water, so can be used in maritime environments

Flowers are strongly scented... reminiscent of lilac

Used medicinally for hundreds (or more) years, but no reliable information

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9, not frost tender

Forest Garden Use: Shrub Layer

Cultivars/Varieties: Multiple varieties, but many are not available in the U.S.

Pollination: Typically Self-Sterile; should be planted with two selections for cross-pollination and best crop yields

Flowering: Spring (April-June)

Years to Begin Bearing: 3-4 years, Years to Maximum Bearing: 5-10 years

Light: Prefers full sun

Shade: Tolerates moderate shade

Moisture: Medium, however will tolerate dry soils

pH: tolerates a wide range of soil conditions (5.1 - 8.5)

Special Considerations for Growing: Goumi is an actinorhizal nitrogen fixing plant... it will grow best if inoculated with actinobacteria from the genus Frankia.

Maintenance: Minimal.

Temperate Climate Permaculture What's a Temperate Climate?

A Temperate Climate is often difficult to define, and then often, by default, it is defined by what it is not. It is not tropical. It is not polar. It is just in between. It is a place where there are typically four well defined seasons.

My name is John Kitsteiner. Please follow along as I share as much as I can about Permaculture, gardening, farming, homesteading, and self-sufficiency. This website is the product of a lot of research and some opinions.

I came across a book, “You Can Farm” by Joel Salatin. At first glace this was the exact book for which I was looking. However, as I read into it, I realized the author was anything but a typical farmer. As someone who never quite considered himself “ordinary”, I immediately identified with his anti-establishment attitude. But what I truly loved about Joel Salatin’s writing was that it just plain made sense. He wrote about minimizing work through intelligent design of farming systems, all with using almost no chemicals, and still producing a superior (e.g. better tasting) product.

This was my first exposure to alternative farming and food production. While he didn’t use the term, Joel Salatin was practicing Permaculture.

I continued to read as much as I could on the subject of alternative food production. This led me to books on hobby farming, self-sufficiency, and home gardening. My growing love of cooking dovetailed nicely with the growing options for superior tasting organic foods. Gone were the days of hippy, tree-huggers and their worm filled “organic” foods that tasted worse than what you got in the grocery store but weren’t “filled with no chemicals from the Man, man!” Organic food was being produced scientifically by people who were outside the norm but were not abnormal. And the food was better!

I had seen a few book titles for Permaculture during this time, but the covers of the books looked a bit odd. At first glance I dismissed these books, because they seemed a bit too hippy and “way out there” to me. There seemed to be an almost religious aura around these books that turned off my more logical mind. They also seemed to be dealing more with Australian agriculture, which it turns out they were since that is where Permaculture was developed.

Eventually, I read a book called “How to Make a Forest Garden” by Patrick Whitefield. This was truly the first Permaculture book that I read, although that term was rarely used in the book. The basic premise was designing a forest of plants (trees, shrubs, vines, etc.) that are useful to humans in a way that mimicked a natural forest. It was a simple concept, but it was, and still is, revolutionary to me.

From there I read the two textbooks on temperate climate forest gardening in North America, “Edible Forest Gardening” volumes I and II by Dave Jacke, then Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway, and finally “Introduction to Permaculture” by the creator of Permaculture, Bill Mollison.

I finally realized what Permaculture was not. It was not a tree-hugger, hippy, pseudo-religious idea. It was not about a militant, eco-fanatic approach to conservation. It is not “way out there”. However regretable, you will find many who treat Permaculture in this way.

Permaculture is truly a scientific approach to land, plant, and animal management that still treats the natural world with a sense of awe and respect. Permaculture is about practical sustainability on an individual as well as societal basis. The science of Permaculture has a lot of breadth and depth, but basically, I think it is how I expected God wanted us to treat the land back in the Garden of Eden.

New tcpermaculture site

Udo USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 4-9. However, there are a number of reports that this plant is only hardy to Zone 7 or 8. It is possible that there are some varieties that are more cold hardy. It is also possible that there is a lot of bad information being propagated on the internet and in books. There is not a whole lot of authoritative information available for this plant.

produce dark berries that are toxic to humans, but the birds love them! (note the ladybug/ladybird beetle on the stem)

Can grow in partial to full shade
Moisture: Prefers moist soils.
pH: 5.0-7.5

This is a great plant for the deep shade areas of your gardens or behind structures.

Many growers recommend wind protection for this plant as the large leaves are susceptible to wind damage.

Vetch Yarrow is a small herbaceous plant that is currently used decoratively for its pretty flowers; however, in traditional times Yarrow was used as a food source and a medicinal plant (hence the name "soldier's woundwort"). It also happens to be drought resistant, a great groundcover tolerant of foot traffic, an attractor of beneficial insects, and much, much more. One of the most versatile plants in the food and Forest Garden.

The genus (Achillea) is named after the Greek mythological character Achilles whose soldiers used yarrow to staunch their wounds.

Other names for Common Yarrow was herbal militaris, staunchweed, soldier's woundwort, knight's milefoil, carpenter's weed, nosebleed weed, and many more... a plant used to stop bleeding at home, in the shop, or on the battlefield.

Leaves - raw or cooked. The young, tender leaves are much more palatable and are a great addition to a mixed greens salad. Cooked leaves are also good, with a sweet and bitter flavor combined - a good spinach substitute

Secondary Uses:
General insect (especially bees) nectar plant - Plant for beneficial insects
Shelter plant for beneficial insects (bettles, lacewings, parasitic wasps, spiders)
Lacewings prefer to lay eggs on this plant
Aromatic Pest Confuser
Drought Tolerant Species
Groundcover (space plants 6-18 inches apart), quite tolerant of foot traffic
Dynamic Accumulator (Potassium, Phosphorus, Copper)
Liquid Plant Feed - soak leaves in water for a few weeks, dilute with water, apply to plants
Dye (yellow and green) from flowers
Aromatic oils from seeds used as fragrance
Flavoring/preserving component to beers - Part of the traditional herbal mixture, Gruit (sweet gale, mugwort, ground ivy, horehound, heather, and yarrow, plus additional local herbs), much more common before the widespread use of hops
Tea Plant - leaves and flowers
Traditional medicial plant

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-10

Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates moderate shade
Moisture: Can tolerate dry to medium moisture soils
pH: can tolerate a range of soils (5.1 - 7.5)

Special Considerations for Growing:
Spreads easily. Keep this in mind in choosing a location. Can often be planted in a grass lawn (on purpose!) as it can be cut low, tolerates foot traffic, and stays green later than most grasses.

Spreading habit - the roots are quite vigorous and can send up/out shoots extensively. Be sure to plant in an area where this is tolerable.
Poisonous (?) – Some people will develop an allergic rash, develop photosensitivity (skin becomes sensitive to sunlight), or can develop gastrointestinal discomfort when eating this plant or even coming into contact with it. I recommend sampling small amounts of this plant to determine personal tolerance first; if you can handle it, then enjoy!

Welcome to the Temperate Climate Permaculture Plant Index! Plants are categorized by their place in the Forest Garden and then listed alphabetically by common name. Please check back often as a new species is researched and added to the listing on about a weekly basis. To find out a bit more about Edible Forest Gardens, click here, and for more information on the nine layers of the Forest Garden, click here. I am also including links to my specific use listings of plants here:

Aromatic Pest Confusers for a Temperate Climate

Dynamic Accumulators for a Temperate Climate

The Facts Behind Dynamic Accumulators

Nitrogen Fixing Plants for a Temperate Climate

Pioneer Species for a Temperate Climate

Windbreak Plants for a Temperate Climate

Plants for Beneficial Insects

Trap Plant Species

Hugelkultur Permaculture Projects: Hugelkultur

Permaculture Sectors This is another core concept in Permaculture. A sector is a path of energy into or out of your Permaculture System. I mean energy in its true sense (not a quasi-spiritual one). There are many potential energies that can enter and leave your land. Let's look at a few of them:

Sun Energy
Consider the path of the Summer Sun and Winter Sun. The further from the equator you are, the bigger the difference in path, angle, duration, and intensity. Is your home facing the early morning sun? Does your garden get the western setting sun?

Wind Energy
Do you live in an area that has Summer Winds? Do you have Winter Winds that come from a different direction? How about a salty sea breeze? Do you have seasonal storms? Does the wind always/usually blow from east to west or from south to north?

Water Energy
From which direction does the rain come?

Where do vehicles enter and leave your property? Do you have trails accessing your land? Where does wildlife come and go? Where would a burglar try to enter and leave your property? These are paths that can carry energy on and off your land.

Not quite an "energy", but still important. Don't discount how much a view (positive or negative) impacts your mood and how some privacy can create a stronger sense of peace.

Designing with Sectors

Viewing sectors on a map can be a bit confusing at first. Just remember that the home is the center of the circle, and all the other sectors radiate out from it. For example, using the Sector Map below, from the 10:00 position to the 2:00 position is an "Undesirable View..." (this is also from WNW to ENE if compass readings are your thing). Some sectors overlap, for instance the direction of the Winter Sun and Summer Sun.

The map below also shows the Permaculture Zones overlaid in shades of yellow and orange.

Sector Design is a vital part of planning your Permaculture System. Every place is unique, so take some time to consider how energy enters and leaves your location.

What is an Edible Forest Garden? Picture yourself in a forest where almost everything around you is food. Mature and maturing fruit and nut trees form an open canopy. If you look carefully, you can see fruits swelling on many branches—pears, apples, persimmons, pecans, and chestnuts. Shrubs fill the gaps in the canopy. They bear raspberries, blueberries, currants, hazelnuts, and other lesser-known fruits, flowers, and nuts at different times of the year. Assorted native wildflowers, wild edibles, herbs, and perennial vegetables thickly cover the ground. You use many of these plants for food or medicine. Some attract beneficial insects, birds, and butterflies. Others act as soil builders, or simply help keep out weeds. Here and there vines climb on trees, shrubs, or arbors with fruit hanging through the foliage—hardy kiwis, grapes, and passionflower fruits. In sunnier glades large stands of Jerusalem artichokes grow together with groundnut vines. These plants support one another as they store energy in their roots for later harvest and winter storage. Their bright yellow and deep violet flowers enjoy the radiant warmth from the sky. This is an edible forest garden.

Ruth Stout

Before and After

French Intensive Gardening

Ordered from Seeds Now 5/24/16: Amaranth Seeds

Hyssop seeds very fragrant. likes full sun and heat. Woody perennial. Cut back after seeding.

caraway seed for poor soils. fragrant

lemon-balm The lemon balm plant produces beautiful lemon scented leaves.

- The leaves are typically used in teas, sauces, salads, soups, stews, and drinks.

- Lemon Balm tea is said to stimulate the heart and calms the nerves.

- A variety native of Europe.

- Perennial.

English lavender-seed Lavandula angustifolia fragrant. Lavender is used for restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, and depression. It is also used for a variety of digestive complaints, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, intestinal gas, and upset stomach.

- Some people use lavender for painful conditions including migraine headaches, toothaches, sprains, nerve pain, sores, and joint pain. It is also used for acne and cancer, and to promote menstruation.

- Lavender is applied to the skin for hair loss, and pain, and to repel mosquitoes and other insects.


Benefits of Growing and Eating Lovage You might not have heard much about lovage, but this herb has been long used to benefit skin health, lung and kidney function, allergies, inflammation and many other health conditions. All parts of the plant are safe to eat and can be used in cooking as a vegetable, herb or spice.

Lovage (Levisticum offinale) is easy to grow and inexpensive. The plant is originally from around the Mediterranean and was once widely grown throughout Europe. It’s time for this under-used herb to regain the attention it deserves.

Health Benefits of Lovage

1. Prevents Kidney Stones

A key way to prevent kidney stones is to drink and flush plenty of water through your body. Lovage is what’s called and aquaretic. It helps your internal flushing process by encouraging urination without electrolyte loss.

2. Lung Support

Lovage has been used traditionally to loosen and clear phlegm in the lungs and relieve coughing and sore throat. The plant also contains the chemical compound eucalyptol, which has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect in bronchial asthma.

3. Healthy Skin

It’s recognized that lovage can sooth or reduce swelling and edema. Lovage can be used to help skin conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis and acne. You can apply the fresh leaves directly to affected skin or make a salve out of dried lovage.

4. Antibacterial Properties

Research has found that lovage can be an effective treatment against bacterial infections. In a University of Birmingham study, lovage had the strongest antibiotic effect against bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and H. pylori compared to 21 other plant extracts.

5. Helps Digestion

One of the most common uses for lovage is to relieve gas, bloating, colic in children and other stomach and digestive disorders. It’s thought that the anti-inflammatory effect of lovage is what helps to ease and support the intestinal tract. For instance, lovage contains the anti-inflammatory compound limonene, which one study showed has a significant anti-inflammatory effect on colitis in rats.

6. Joint Health

The anti-inflammatory properties of lovage can also assist with joint disorders such as gout, arthritis and rheumatic swelling.

7. Inhibits Allergies

Lovage contains another important anti-inflammatory called quercin, which has been shown to be especially beneficial for allergy treatment. Quercin inhibits histamine release and reduces skin irritation caused by environmental sensitivities, as well as itchy eyes, runny noses and other potential allergy symptoms.

8. Menstrual Support

A traditional use of lovage is to help with issues around menstruation, such as cramps and bloating. It’s thought the high nutrient density in lovage may be partially behind its benefits during that time of the month.

How to Grow Lovage

Lovage is a low maintenance addition to your garden. It grows in clumps similar to celery that can reach up to 6 feet tall and wide. It prefers sun or partial shade and evenly moist soil, but is tough enough to handle a variety of conditions. Lovage will bloom in July and August with attractive yellow flowers in an umbel shape similar to carrots or parsley.

Lovage is a perennial that’s hardy to zone 3, so you can plant it in ornamental or vegetable beds and it will return every year. You can also use it as a container plant on a balcony or deck.

Start lovage from seed or take a division from a friend. It’s best to sow fresh seeds directly in the ground in fall and water them in well. If you’re sowing seeds in pots, this can be done in early spring.

How to Use Lovage

If you’re taking lovage for medicinal purposes, you can find lovage capsules or tinctures in many natural health stores or buy them online. Take lovage supplements as directed on the package, which is typically once or twice daily.

You can steep one tablespoon of fresh leaves or stems in 1 pint of boiling water for 7 minutes to make an infusion. It’s recommended to drink several cups throughout the day, or as advised by your health care provider.

Lovage also makes a great addition to various meals. You can use the fresh leaves and young stems like celery in soups, stews, sauces and salads. The roots can be shredded or steamed and used as a vegetable. The seeds provide a unique flavor similar to fennel or anise. They are excellent in breads or simmered into a curry or other spicy dish.

Give some of these tasty lovage recipes a try:

Apple-Lovage Chutney
Lentils with Lovage
Baby Greens with Roasted Beets and Potatoes
Fettucine with Tomato and Lovage Sauce
Lemony Lovage Pesto
Lovage and Lettuce Soup

Only one caution has ever been reported for lovage. The roots contain furanocoumarins, which are compounds that may lead to photosensitivity. If you consume lovage regularly and find that you’re becoming more sensitive to sun damage, discontinue using the herb.

Incompatable Plants

14 Plants You Should Never Grow Side-By-Side Onions [shallot, garlic] + Peas, Potatoes + Tomatoes [same pests], Peppers + Beans [same disease], Carrots + Dill, Cabbage + Grapes, Black Walnuts + Tomatoes, Lettuce + Broccoli [lettuce is sensitive to chemicals found in residues left behind by broccoli plants. Sowing lettuce near broccoli—or in the spot where it used to grow—may hinder seed germination and growth]

Malabar Spinach

Malabar Spinach

6 Reasons to Grow Malabar Spinach

Malabar Spinach Other names for Malabar spinach: Flowing water vegetable, Fallen hollyhock, Wood ear vegetable, Ceylon spinach, Indian spinach, East-indian spinach, Surinam spinach, Chinese spinach, Vietnamese spinach, Malabar nightshade, Malabar climbing spinach, Broad bologi, Buffalo spinach, Vine spinach, Pui saag, Valchi bhaji, Basale soppu, Bachhali, Spinach climbing

Malabar Spinach - a great plant for your garden and kitchen, video

How to grow Malabar spinach

Asian Garden videos

Amaranth good for hot summer

Introduce leafy mustard (Gai Choy) and how to grow

Introduce Yu Choi Sum and the varieties


Good companion plant for okra and Malabar spinach.

Tips for Sprouting Nasturtium Seeds Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum spp.) produce yellow, orange and red flowers, usually on the same plant. These annual flowers grow readily from large seeds, so you can plant plenty of them with minimal effort and cost. Encourage good sprouting by preparing and planting the seeds correctly.

Nasturtiums grow during the warm, frost-free spring, summer and fall season. Seeds can take up to two weeks to sprout, although they often germinate within seven days if prepared properly before planting.

Nasturtium, 'Jewel Mix' / Nasturtium, ‘Empress of India’

Planting time depends on your climate and whether you start the seeds indoors or outside.

Start the seeds indoors about four to six weeks before the last expected spring frost date in your area so the young seedlings are ready to transplant outdoors in spring.

If you sow directly in the garden, wait until after the last frost so the tender seedlings aren't killed by cold.

Seed Preparation

The hard, dry seed coating on large nasturtium seeds can slow germination because it's difficult for water to soak into the seed and force it from dormancy.

Nicking the seed coat and soaking it in water speeds germination.

To nick the seed, scrape one side of it with a metal file [or use a nail clipper] until the lighter interior seed coat becomes visible.

Soak it in a bowl of warm tap water overnight. The seed absorbs the water through the nicked portion and usually swells to up to twice its previous size. Nicked and soaked seeds require immediate planting; otherwise, they may rot or die.

Seed Scarification

It's possible to sow nasturtium seeds directly in the garden bed if you prepare the soil first. Nasturtiums have few soil needs. Choose a well-drained bed that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily and work up to 2 inches of compost into it first to improve drainage and quality. Once prepared, plant the seeds 1/2- to 1-inch deep and space them 3 inches apart. The soil will require watering so the top 6 inches remains moist. Once the nasturtiums sprout, thin the plants so they have 8 to 10 inches of space on all sides.

How to Store the Seeds From a Nasturtium Plant

Nasturtiums in Containers

Dragon Fruit

blog Kebun Malay-Kadazan girls dragon fruit--we grow our own food in Tropical Climate in a green zone 20 less kilometre away from the Malaysia capital city Kuala Lumpur.

Dragon Fruit pics from

The dragon fruit cactus like plant has been growing at the backyard since I was a teenager. But I have never had the opportunity to eat our own home grown dragon fruit. Not that it has not bear fruit. It just that I was never at home during harvest time. So very happy I was this week to have the opportunity to harvest and enjoy our own home grown dragon fruit. Dragon fruit plant in this tropical garden of ours does not require watering. They fare very well during the drought period with neglect and without any watering. What is important to this plant is they hate wet feet, so soil must be well-drained especially during wet season. Furthermore, a lot of sun is one of the important factor for this plant to thrive. The long dry spell and the return of the wet showers has probably triggered the plant to bear fruits again.

Dragon Fruit pics from

The dragon fruit flower buds are really huge like the size of a torch. When this variety of dragon fruit bloom produces white flower.

The young unripe fruit is in green in colour before it changes to red when ripen. We have never bought a dragon fruit in our entire life because it is consider exotic and pricely.

Cross-section of the harvested dragon fruit / dragon fruit plant
Dragon Fruit pics from

You can just eat the tiny tiny black seeds cos it is not hard, like eating strawberries when you never thought that you eat the seeds as well. The flesh is soft but not that mushy feeling similar like papaya. There are still some on the plant ripening.

Read Often

No Dig Gardening

The Vegetable Gardener

Scientific Gardener blog Fairfield, CA; moved from Tuscon

The Gardener [Jay]: I am an amateur organic garden enthusiast working in the desert climate of Tucson, Arizona. Though my hobby is gardening, the bulk of my life outside of work [teaching the deaf and hard of hearing] consists of spending time with my wife and raising four children.

As a gardener, I sometimes laugh at myself when I forget a very basic technique from one year to another. The water-filled plastic containers surrounding my plants have made a dramatic difference in speeding up growth. Before planting next year, I'll have to gather more plastic jugs.

Gardening Philosophy: The gardener is the steward of a living organism (the soil). Garden soil is akin to a stomach that needs plenty of quality organic matter to maintain the healthy bacteria that lead to healthy plants. The title of this blog originates from my desire to apply science and research to organic gardening.


Root Simple blog

Melissa Majora Vegetables blog

Radix: Root Crop Research and Ruminations


Weeds You Can Eat: Wild Amaranth Pigweed is one of the common names given to a clutch of Amaranth species that crash parties where they are not wanted. Including Amaranthus retroflexus (red root pigweed), A. spinosus (spiny pigweed), A. palmeri (Palmer’s pigweed), and A. hybridus (rough pigweed), these uninvited agricultural and garden guests are so ubiquitous

Amaranths / Callaloo

Amaranths are nutritious, stuffed with vitamins, folic acid (vitamin B9), minerals, and protein. The plant is edible from tender stems through leaves, flowers and seeds. The cooked leaves can be used variously as simple green side dishes, in quiches, green Mediterranean-style pies, bruschetta toppings, pestos, soups, and saags.

It was while we lived in Harlem that I was thrilled to discover huge bunches of callaloo at a farmers’ market on 125th Street, sold by an upstate New York farmer with a thick Caribbean accent. Then it appeared at a nearby supermarket, nestling between the beets and the carrots.

Germination--Starting Seeds

How To Grow Strawberries Year-Round For Free Instructables user lsadwdwadw recently shared their brilliant method of growing strawberries indoors.

All you need are a few materials that are likely lying around your house already, some sunlight, water and a little bit of elbow grease.

Ready to become a strawberry farmer? Keep reading for an easy tutorial!

Step 1: Extract Strawberry Seeds

What You’ll Need To Grow Strawberries Year-Round For Free

Cardboard toilet paper rolls
One fresh strawberry (from the garden, a shop, or from the wild)
A toothpick or similar “picking” object
Scissors or a knife
A container for carrying seedlings around
Transparent plastic bag or sheet of plastic
A digging implement (spoon, trowel, hands, etc)

Why spend money on strawberry seeds or seedlings when they come included with the fruit you love?

Using a toothpick or knife point, scrape at the seeds to dislodge them and remove them from the fruit.

“It is okay if a bit of the fruit’s flesh comes with the seed. I placed them on a piece of paper towel to help dry them out,” the author explains.

Step 2. Create Seedling Pots

Once your seeds are safely extracted, it’s time to build a place for them to germinate.

Rummage in your recycling bin for some clean, dry, cardboard tubes that are leftover from toilet paper or paper towels.

Cut the toilet paper roll in half using a scissor or knife. Then cut 1/2 inch long slits all along one edge of the roll. Fold each segment so that each one overlaps the previous segment, forming a small container that will hold dirt.

3. Add Soil

Loosely fill each seedling pot with soil.

“Once all the pots are filled, pour a little water in each pot, just so that the soil is wet, but not absolutely flooded with water. The soil will compact slightly as you water it,” explains the author.

Step 4: Germinate Your Seeds

Drop one or two strawberry seeds into each germination pot. Don’t cover them with soil, just leave them where they fall.

Place the seedling pots inside a small plastic container so that it’s easier to transport them, and place the entire container inside a see-through plastic bag or cover with a clear plastic dome. This helps keep the atmosphere around the seeds warm and humid while also allowing light to reach the soil.

Position your seedling pots in a place where they’ll get lots of sun, like a window sill. Water the pots lightly if soil gets dry to the touch.

“Varying greatly depending on the seed condition, variety, season and ambient temperature etc, your seeds will hopefully germinate and create small visible seedlings in around 2 to 3 weeks. The seeds that I sowed that are pictured actually created small visible seedlings in 11 days (UK, summertime),” explains the author.

Step 5: Transplant and/or Harvest

At some point, it’s best to transplant your strawberry seedlings into a bigger container where they can continue to grow all year round. You can plant the seedlings with their biodegradable toilet paper roll pots directly into a bigger pot, but be sure to carefully pull the pot apart slightly so it’s easy for roots to escape.

“When growing strawberries from seeds, the plant usually creates a crop of strawberries the following year. First the flowers will be produced, which then finally turn into strawberries. Patience is key!” explains the author. “A big tip is to pinch off the flowers (that eventually become strawberries) in the first year—this will allow the plant to become stronger and result in a significantly increased crop of strawberries in the following year.”


How to Get Better Germination From Your Seeds 1. Don't overwater your seeds.

Heavy, frequent watering can adversely affect the germination of your seeds. You want to make sure that the soil is moist to the touch but not soaking wet. Depending on the climate where you live, your watering schedule should be set up to ensure that you don't flood or overwater your newly planted seeds.

3. Protect the health of your seeds during storage.

Seeds that have been improperly stored from prior gardening seasons will lose their germination viability. Germination rates will go down if you do not store your seeds in a cool, dry place.

4. Protect your newly planted seeds by using bird netting.

Occasionally critters and birds will eat your newly planted seeds. Pay attention to the wildlife that you see frequently in your garden area and if you feel like the birds or squirrels could be eating your seeds once you've planted them, then secure the site of your planted seeds with some bird netting or fencing.

5. Don't plant your seeds too deep.

6. Protect your seedlings against "dampening off".

Dampening off is a disease that causes new seedlings to wither up and die. It is most likely caused by planting in non-sterile soil or overwatering your young seedlings. Make sure you use pots or trays with adequate air circulation.

7. Allow proper germination time for each variety planted.

All seeds germinate at different rates. Don't expect your lettuces and peppers to germinate at the same time even if you start them in the same tray. You may think a seed is no good if it doesn't germinate quickly, but just realize that some varieties can take a very long time before they sprout.

Jump Start Your Seeds Use these tricks to speed germination, then plant up some pots by Sally Roth

Maternal pride isn’t the only reward that I get from starting seeds. I’ve also gained a greener thumb and a fatter wallet—a packet of seeds provides 20 or more plants for the price of a single potted plant.

An overnight soak speeds the germination of all kinds of seeds. Avoid soakings longer than 24 hours to prevent rotting the seeds.

“Stratification” means supplying a period of moist cold to trick seeds into thinking that they’re experiencing winter. If you’re sowing indoors in spring, presoak the seeds, then place them in a zip-top, plastic, sandwich-size bag filled halfway with moist, seed-starting medium. Top off the seeds with another inch of moist medium, and then put the bag in an undisturbed corner of the refrigerator (at 34°F to 41°F). Check weekly for signs of germination. When the seeds begin to sprout roots, carefully transfer them to pots, fishing each seedling out of the bag with a spoon to keep soil around the new roots and to avoid disturbing delicate new growth. Then, care for them as you would any other seedlings.

“scarification,” means nicking the seed coat with a knife or sandpaper so that life-giving moisture can reach the seed’s embryo. If a seed is big, and I can’t dent it with a fingernail, I give it the knife. A small, sharp, pocketknife blade or a rat-tail file is ideal. Don’t go at it too zealously; you need to remove only a very small slice or section of seed coat. You can also line a jar with a sheet of sandpaper cut to fit, screw on the lid, and shake the jar like a maraca until the seed coats are abraded. Scarify seeds just before planting. Seeds nicked too long before planting may dry out and be worthless when they finally reach the soil.


I plant most of my seeds—especially slow-growing perennials and annuals— in pots. It’s easier to care for the seedlings and there’s no weeding. You can identify a slow-starting plant by checking the seed packet. If it advises starting the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date, you have a slow starter.

Traditional advice is to plant seeds thickly in a flat or tray, then "prick out" individual seedlings for repotting into larger containers. But I prefer to start just a few seeds in 2-1/4-inch or larger pots, eliminating the need for transplanting altogether. I thin the emerging seedlings with scissors or just plant the whole cluster in the garden.


Eliminate the need for transplanting seedlings by sowing just a few seeds per pot.

I use a commercial “soilless” seed-starting mix—a blend of milled sphagnum moss, vermiculite, and other sterilized components—so I rarely have trouble with damping-off disease, a fungal problem that causes seedlings to wither and die. To prepare for planting, I pour all but a small portion of the mix into a large bowl and moisten it thoroughly with warm water. Next I fill the containers—plastic pots saved from my periodic nursery buying sprees—to 1/2 inch below the rim and gently pack the medium to eliminate air pockets. Containers recycled from previous uses should be first sterilized by soaking in a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water.

carefully shake three or four seeds into each pot, allowing at least 1/2 inch between each of them. The tiniest seeds can slide out too quickly so, for better control, I fold a small piece of stiff white paper in half, pour the seeds into the strip, and dole them out by lightly tapping the paper strip. If the seeds are large enough to easily see, I use my fingertip (making sure it’s dry so seeds don’t adhere to it) to push each seed gently against the moist, soilless mix, so it makes good contact. Instead of burying the seeds, I use a sieve to cover them with a thin layer of the reserved seed-starting mix. If the seeds require light to germinate, I don’t cover them at all.

If I expect the seeds to germinate within a few days or weeks, I cover the pots with a sheet of plastic wrap, glass, or clear plastic to preserve moisture, and check daily. When sprouts appear, I remove the covering. I start a lot of seeds, and don’t worry about providing them with bottom heat to speed germination—I just try to keep things simple.

Once the pots are planted, I set them on a cookie sheet or other shallow tray for easy transport to a cold frame or other seed-starting area. The trays also make bottom watering easier. It’s important to keep the seed-starting medium moist to speed germination; I use a very fine mist to water the pots from above, or pour water into the tray and let the pots soak it up from the bottom.


Since seedlings need light, I place trays of pots on south- or east-facing windowsills..


As soon as the seedlings have two or three pairs of true leaves, they’re ready to go out to the garden. But before pampered seedlings go out into the big, wide world, they need toughening up. The aim is to gradually acclimatize plants raised indoors to the rigors of outdoor life. Without this step, known as “hardening off,” tender plant tissues may be damaged by the unaccustomed stresses of sun, wind, and weather.

Begin by moving the seedlings outside to a shady spot protected from the wind and leaving them there for no longer than a couple of hours on the first day. Gradually lengthen their outdoor stays and move the plants into a sunnier spot, if that’s the exposure that they will eventually be planted in. After a week or so, the plants should be ready to go in the ground. A drizzly, gray day is perfect for transplanting—plants will be protected from the desiccating effect of the sun and the moisture will help them settle in quickly. If the weather won’t cooperate, plant late in the afternoon so seedlings get their start in the cool of the evening.

Water your plants well before transplanting them, and water the garden soil until it’s well-moistened but not sopping wet. Slide the plants out of their pots and into place, firm the soil around each with your fingers, and water with a fine mist. Be sure to keep the soil moist until the plants start growing well.

10 Seed-starting Tips

The Dirt: All About Starting Seeds

Plant Propagation 101

Strawbale Gardening

The Importance of Knowing Your Bale Source

Organic straw I'm looking for organic Hay in central Texas. I am about 25 miles southest of Austin.

Not all hay is going to be strictly organic.
The main question to ask at your Farm and Ranch feed store is "has Piclaran (spl?) been used on this hay?"
To test, soak some of the hay in water to make a tea. Pour same on some grass or weeds and see if they die.

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Straw Bale Gardening Limited space? No soil? Toxic or rocky ground? Spare corner? Edge of drive or yard? Here's bales of advice for you on the straw bale gardening way.

The best straw bales for a garden are wheat, oats, rye or barley straw. These consist of stalks left from harvesting grain; they have been through a combine harvester and had the seeds threshed from them, leaving none or very few left.

Hay bales for gardening are less popular as they have the whole stalk and seed heads with mucho seeds. They also often have other weeds and grass seeds to cause trouble. Use what you can get locally — it may even be lucerne, pea straw, vetch or alfalfa bales.

Corn and linseed (flax) bales are not so good as they are very coarse, and linseed straw takes a long time to decompose due to the oil residue left on the stalks.

Hay bale gardening has one up on straw in that it is a nice warm and rich environment with enough nitrogen to continually supply growing plants. Straw is mostly carbon and so nitrogen must be added for plant growth (see further below).

If you are starting a no-dig garden and don't have enough filling to begin with before your compost, kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, mulch or whatever you have, are not ready, then a cheap way for the first year is to buy bales and with a little bit of compost on the top, and a few other ingredients mentioned here, you can get your garden going the first year.

Watering a Straw Bale Garden

Keep watered. That's going to be your biggest task — twice a day if necessary. Straw bale gardening uses more water than a normal garden, so set up a system now. It may be that swilling out the teapot on it each day is enough in your area, or you may need to keep the hose handy.

A soaker hose system set in place is perfect.

Straw bale Gardens Written by Joel Karsten

Straw Bale Gardening is simply a different type of container gardening. The main difference is that the container is the straw bale itself and is held together with two or three strings. Once the straw inside the bale begins to decay the straw becomes "conditioned" compost that creates an extraordinary plant rooting environment. Getting the straw bales conditioned is an essential part of the process, and should be started two weeks prior to your target planting date wherever you are located. This gardening technique works well anywhere in the country or the world for that matter.

Anne Hars’ Top Ramen Keyhole Veg. Garden /

Anne Hars’ Top Ramen Keyhole Vegetable Garden construction of a keyhole bed in Uganda. Keyhole beds are raised, circular vegetable gardens that contain a compost pile in the center. The compost pile provides nutrients and worm habitat. The keyhole form is said by permaulturalists to maximize space and ease of access.

the straw wattle she used to edge the keyhole. Straw wattle is a (mostly) biodegradable material made out of rice straw and plastic netting. You can find it at irrigation supply stores and on order at Home Depot. It comes in 25 foot lengths.

*Straw Bale Gardening: Start to Finish video

How Are the Straw Bale Gardens Doing? What have we learned?

The older the bale, the better. The plants struggled at first, so don’t expect too much too fast.

Feed frequently. I had to feed these plants with fish emulsion monthly to get them to look like this. Without the extra bump, they were having trouble with yellowing leaves and leaf burn. I am guessing this is due to the roots having broken through the volume of soil they were planted with and venturing in to the straw only. It’s a desert in there, they needed the extra nutrition until they could get established.

Start early. I started conditioning these bales in June, and that’s too late. I would roll the clock back two months on the whole process. That way, by the time the real heat of summer set in (late July/August for us), the plants have had plenty of stress-free time to get their roots established. When the heat sets in, they’ll be able to handle it.

Where’s the squash? I have gotten exactly one squash from the whole bale. The garden plants have already been yielding, but the bale seems to be behind. I see more female flowers now, but we’ll have to see if they make it to the dinner table.

How to grow your vegetables in a straw bale There are many published ways to condition a bale for vegetable gardening, take your pick. The idea is to accelerate the decomposition of the bale in order to create a perfect growing environment for the plant roots. One recipe for bale conditioning is available from the UF/IFAS Clay County Extension Office. It’s online at


**Open file at file:///C:/Users/cglass/Downloads/Haybale_garden.pdf

There are two ways to plant the conditioned ‘bale bed.’ One way is to make pockets or holes about three to four inches deep by gently loosening and carefully removing a small amount of the straw. The number of pockets can vary depending on what you plan to grow. The other method is adding or spreading two to three inches of soil materials on the top of each bale also called a flat straw/hay bale bed. For both methods, the growing medium can be compost or potting media.

Straw Bale Gardening: The Prep: Conditioning This process of composting or conditioning would happen normally, overtime, but there are steps the gardener can take to speed up the process so the bales will be ready for planting within a period of two weeks.

Straw is baled in fall. Farmers sell the straw they cut for a nominal fee since this is just a byproduct of their farming. The popularity of straw bale gardening has been a welcome bonus for the farmers who begin selling it as soon as it's baled in Fall. Most people I know buy their bales in Spring, however, as they're planning their summer gardens. The bales can be left out in the rain (or snow) until you're ready to condition them.

Before I start to condition the bales I prepare the areas I will install them and I tie two or three bales together to make a larger planting area, which will hold moisture more proficiently. See my blogs that detail those steps.

The week before I'm ready to start the composting process I begin watering the bales, if we're not getting a steady amount of rain. It helps that they are thoroughly saturated when you begin adding the nitrogen to start the process.

The bales begin to look a darken golden color when they're soaked with water.

Don't worry if a few seeds were left on the stalks when they were cut and they now begin to sprout. The heat of the composting process will kill them, as well as any unsprouted seeds deep in the bales.

Just keep watering them

When it is time to start conditioning the bales, the two main ingredients are nitrogen and water. Nitrogen is a chemical needed for the breaking down of organic matter to a level that is useable for plants.

Garden centers sell fertilizers that are a combination of chemicals or organic fertilizers, which are substances that are derived from the remains or byproducts of natural organisms which contain the essential nutrients for plant growth. The organic fertilizers take longr to break down but will result in nitrogen being added to the bales.

When using synthetic fertilizers the product is marked with the proportions of the chemicals, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (N-P-K: their chemical abbreviations) in numbers. The first number is the one you'll be most concerned about in this instance. Look for a fertilizer with teh highest number in the Nitrogen position. Here I have 32-10-10.

Mix your preferred fertilizer according to the package instructions. I use 3 gallons for a section of two or three bales that I've tied together.

Apply the fertilizer daily for the first 5 days and then every two days for the next 10 days. You should see the straw darken, feel it heat up and begin to smell it as it composts. Success!

Do not be alarmed if, during the process, your bales begin to sprout mushrooms like these inky mushrooms. They are actually helpful in breaking down the straw into a rich growing medium.

Straw bales are a new and effective way to garden

11 Pictures To Start Vegetable Gardening In Hay Bales

One Straw Bale at a Time

Straw Bale Gardening (Part 3 & Wrap Up)

Use a bale or two in your Straw Bale Garden to grow summer bulbs. Plant them full of dahlia, gladiolus, caladium, calla, canna, tuberous begonia, butterfly ginger or others.

About Straw Bale Gardening If you can, put your straw bale garden near a water source. Any garden takes a fair amount of water, and though I’ve found that the bales do a pretty good job of retaining water, it’s still great to be right near a hose.

Be careful of tall plants. While I have grown giant tomato plants in a straw bale garden successfully, by the end of the season, the bales had started to decompose and the tomato plants started to tilt. You can either grow smaller varieties of tomatoes or keep them pruned and have them grow on wider, rather than taller trellises.

Make sure you actually have full-sun. Don’t just guess because almost everyone over estimates sun exposure.

Straw Bale Gardening--Midwest Do not assume that you can just pop some plants into a straw bale. There are many stories about disappointed gardeners who did not follow just a few simple instructions to achieve a bountiful bale garden

Why would you want to straw bale garden? Well there are many advantages:

  • Easy, no digging, hauling soil and amendments and preparing soil
  • Eliminates the problem of poor, rocky, or clay soil
  • Eliminates the problem of no soil space
  • Inexpensive, you buy the bale but no soil. you buy conditioning fertilizer but no soil amendments and compost, you buy fertilizer to use through the season either way.
  • Your used bale is free compost or mulch at the end of the season bales can be placed anywhere you want and put in a different place every season if you want, you can plant extra early because the bales are much warmer much earlier than your soil


  • Direct seeding can be more difficult, but not a real problem
  • Cool season crops are not highly successful in straw bales

Do not buy your straw from a garden center unless you have discussed the origin and purpose of the bales with a knowledgeable employee.. It is often seeding hay or decorative hay and full of weed seeds, or full of chemicals. Hay is full of seeds, somewhat green, heavy and more expensive than straw. A straw bale will not contain seeds other than a stray here and there. I buy from a garden center that is familiar with bale gardening or the farm supply but you may be able to buy direct from a farm. The farm supply near me stocks the straw bales year round to accommodate bale gardening, so I can set up my bales in very early spring. I prefer not to put them out in fall to avoid housing mice or other critters.

When sourcing your straw bales, try to find bales that are bound tightly. some gardeners prefer a bio-degradeable jute twin holding the bale together. Some prefer something more weather sturdy like plastic baling twine since sometimes you can get 2 growing seasons out of a bale. The bales should have 2 or 3 strands of twine to hold the bale firm.

Bales butted up against each other, especially the long way, will help prevent moisture evaporation. There is a difference of opinion about whether the bales should be cut ends up or cut ends facing out. Both methods claim better water absorption and retention, Joel Karsten believes they should be placed cut ends up. The theories to consider: Cut ends facing up may decompose more quickly and prevent a second year’s use; and cut ends facing up with the twine on the sides will hold the bales together better and prevent cutting through one when you plant; and cut ends up will allow creating a planting pocket easier. I think I will defer to the guru Karsten.


When to start the conditioning process--I will start mine as soon as the sun feels warm and the nights come up above freezing.

The conditioning process can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to complete and allow for planting--Warm temperatures will speed the process, cool temperatures will slow it (In cool weather you can wrap the bales in plastic to accelerate the decomposition); and the bales may take as long as 2 or 3 weeks to cool enough for planting.

  • Apply fertilizer on days 1, 3 and 5, watering it into the bale. Use 3 cups of organic fertilizer per bale or ½ cup ammonium nitrate. A high nitrogen fish emulsion or blood meal would be good choices.
  • Water thoroughly on days 2, 4 and 6.
  • Apply fertilizer on days 7, 8 and 9 using 1 ½ cups of organic fertilizer per bale or ¼ cup ammonium nitrate. Water thoroughly. [Try using coffee grounds; they are very high in nitrogen... From Gator Nation: On the 4th day scatter evenly 2 cups of dolomite lime and ½ cup of ammonium sulfate over the top of the bale and water. On days 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, again evenly scatter ½ cup of ammonium sulfate over the top of the bale and water it in. Do not apply more lime! The ammonium sulfate activates rot bacteria and speeds composting. On day 10 apply 1½ cup of 8-8-8 or 1 cup 10-10-10 & water.]
  • On day 10 apply 3 cups of phosphorous and potassium (use half fish meal or bone meal with half potash)
  • The bales should be getting good and hot by now, keep them moist. You may start to seem little black specks from the decomposition. That’s a good thing! “Things” like mushrooms sprouting is good too!
  • Check the heat daily and as soon as you can stick your hand into the bale without feeling hot, it is time to plant. But only if all danger of frost has passed or you have a means of tenting the bales.

The size of straw bales can vary, but often they are about 15” x 30”. Plan ahead for the number of plants you can grow in each bale. Root crops like radish and carrots will not do well at all in straw bales. And extra tall plants like corn or giant sunflowers can topple the bale.

  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 4-6 lettuce plants
  • 4-6 cucumbers
  • 3-4 strawberries
  • 2-3 zucchini or summer squash
  • 4 peppers

Adding a few flowers around the perimeter of the bale or planted into the sides would be a nice touch.

If you generally use soaker hoses for your gardens, which you should, lay the hoses right over the bales. The bales should be kept moist just like your gardens. And although straw bales are a great medium for growing, there is not a lot of nutrients for your plants. So do fertilize weekly with a balanced N-P-K water soluble fertilizer, ideally one that also contains micro nutrients. Monitor your plants for yellowing leaves, the decomposition of the bales can cause nitrogen deficiency.

And after the harvest you will have soggy old gray bales perfect for composting or for mulching the rest of your gardens.

Grow a Straw Bale Garden Gardens made of straw bales are great for tomatoes, potatoes, and all your favorite vegetables.

Another consideration for organic gardeners: You’ll want to use bales of straw that are grown organically.

Tips and tricks for straw bale gardeners

Gardening with Straw

THE HIDDEN DANGER OF STRAW BALE GARDENING NO ONE IS MENTIONING Straw bale gardening can destroy your garden.

When I broke the story of toxic herbicides in manure back in August of 2012 via Natural Awakenings magazine, there were very few people that knew this stuff was around or how pervasive it really was. I wouldn’t have known either… if it hadn’t destroyed about $1000 worth of plants.

The soil beneath a pile of rotten hay or straw improves marvelously after a year or so, leaving a patch of humus-rich earthworm-populated earth.

Yet if that hay or straw came from a field that was sprayed with one or more persistent herbicides such as Grazon(TM) or CleanWave(TM), the vegetables in your straw bale gardens will be wrecked. Not only that, you can’t even compost the contaminated straw because the toxins (usually aminopyralid or its cousin clopyralid) stick around and will destroy whatever ends up with the resulting compost.

The reality of modern factory farming is that it’s farming based on poisons.

As the grains/grasses grow, they uptake these toxins without harm. Animals can also graze on the fields without apparent issue.

Yet the resulting straw and manure still contains a potent dose of plant-killing power – and the toxins can stick around for years.

I’ve been offered free manure for my gardens many times. I’ve even been told “We don’t spray anything on our fields.” Yet if those animals are eating hay from the feed store – or if there’s straw bedding in the stables – the chances of contamination are very high.

Unless you can verify that the fields from which your straw or hay was harvested weren’t sprayed within the last three years or so with persistent herbicides, you’re risking a lost gardening year… or more!

Accessible Gardening: Hay Bale Gardening Bale gardening is one way to garden if you do not have a lot of soil or space; or if your soil is hard to work. Bale gardening is also easier on your hands and wrists, especially if you have arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions.

General Method

Hay or straw bales need to be prepared for planting. Although bales can be used in place of soil, they do not have all the nutrients found in soil that plants need to grow. It will take about ten days to prepare your bales. There are a lot of different ways to prepare bales for planting. The steps below are a general guide.

Water and keep the bales wet for the entire ten days.

On the fourth day, pour five ounces (ten tablespoons) of ammonium nitrate fertilizer onto the bales. This fertilizer is often used by farmers and gardeners. Miracle Gro, Flurin, and Hibiscus are all brands that have ammonium nitrate in them.

On the seventh day, pour two and one half ounces (or five tablespoons) of ammonium nitrate fertilizer on the bales.

On the tenth day, pour 12 ounces (1 cup) of fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 13-13-13 on the bales and water. N-P-K stands for nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. These are nutrients that your plants need to grow. The numbers stand for how much of these nutrients is in the fertilizer by weight. You can find this information on the fertilizer's label. Some fertilizers that have this ratio are Spectrum, Jobe, Once-A-Year Plant Fertilizer, and Greenleaf.

If you want to grow your garden from seed, put three inches of potting soil or top soil on top of the bales. Plant your seeds in the soil.

If you are using seedlings to start your garden, you do not need to put potting soil on top of the bale. Plant seedlings by driving a trowel into the bale. Lever the trowel to force the bale slightly apart. Plant the seedling in the space you made between the flakes (sections that make up a bale). Let the bale spring back together again.

Tips and Tricks

Bales that do best as garden beds are tightly bound with synthetic twine. Bales that are bound tightly with synthetic twine are less likely to fall apart through the growing season. Bales that are loosely bound may fall apart faster.

Bales may need to be watered up to two times a day, every day. You cannot over water the bales. They will dry out quickly because bales do not store water or 'hold on to it' like soil does.

Both hay and straw bales have seeds in them. Grass may sprout if you use hay bales. Grain plants may sprout if you use straw. Sprouts can either be pulled out or trimmed.

The same spacing you use to grow plants in the ground is the same spacing plants need to grow in bales. In general, one bale can handle about three broccoli plants, three cauliflower plants, two pumpkin hills, or two tomato plants.

If you grow taller vegetables and flowers, like corn and sunflowers, then they may fall over. Bales will not give tall plants the support they need to stay upright. If you want to plant taller vegetables and flowers, think about using a strong and tall staking system. Even tomato plants will need to be staked in a more sturdy way than you would normally need to do in traditional gardening.

Wasps etc.

Help! I’ve got Paper Wasps The most popular nesting site for paper wasps around here is in the eaves of a house. When the nest is by a door people tend to get uneasy.

Take a chill pill

Don’t panic! Paper wasps are extremely docile and rarely sting. Most importantly, paper wasps are a beneficial insect. They eat beetle larvae, caterpillars, flies and nectar (making them pollinators). They are your friends in the garden.

About the only way you can get stung by a paper wasp is to grasp one. I did this inadvertently once when I reached behind a fence. Keeping bees, I’m well aware of what a honeybee sting feels like. The paper wasp sting was, initially, sharper than a honeybee sting but the pain dissipated quickly.

Paper wasp control

If you don’t want a paper wasp colony next to a door or window it’s best to get rid of the colony early in the season. You can knock it down with a stream of water from a hose or with a long pole. Make sure you have an exit route planned! They will no longer be peaceable after you do this.

Most importantly, after you knock down the nest (a good while after, of course, after they’ve calmed down), oil the location where they were with cooking oil or furniture oil so they can’t attach a new nest in that spot. You can also buy poison at the hardware store but who’s a fan of poison!? It’s really unnecessary. If you have a bee suit you can put it on and remove the colony with a gloved hand. But the best option is to leave them in place so that they can eat all those nasty flies, beetles and caterpillars. A wasp colony makes your yard a healthier, more balanced place.

Also, as you decide what to do with the nest on your house, keep in mind the fact that the colony will dissipate come winter. They will produce a young queen who will move elsewhere, and the remaining workers will die off. In other words, if you can wait until cold weather, your wasp problem will solve itself. Then you can knock down the old nest and grease the area so they don’t revisit that spot.

Epsom Salts

Ways to use EPSOM salts in the garden:

METHOD #1: When planting, add a little bit of EPSOM salts into the holes you've created for your plants.

METHOD #2: Try mixing one tablespoon of EPSOM salts into a one gallon container filled with water. Now water the roots of your plant, directly after planting. Avoid getting this mixture on the leaves.

How do You Use Epsom Salts to Fertilize Your Plants? One of the most inexpensive and readily available fertilizer you will come across is epsom salts. So what exactly are they made up of? Well, epsom salts are actually a chemical salt called magnesium sulfate. (Which means it contains both magnesium and sulfur, two VERY important elements required for healthy plant growth.)

When used in your garden as a natural source of magnesium... roses, tomatoes and peppers will thrive! You'll see your plants develop more "bushy", and deeper in color. Some gardeners boast their plants develop more blooms which will in turn provide larger yields of fruit especially on those tomato and pepper plants.

Here are some ways to use epsom salts in the garden:

-When planting, add one tablespoon of epsom salts into the hole you've created, or...

-Try mixing one tablespoon of epsom salts into a one gallon container filled with water. Now water the roots of your plant, directly after planting. Avoid getting this mixture on the leaves.

Cuban Oregano

my variegated Cuban oregano, here with potted patio peppers (a delicious combo!). Although I protected its container in winter, one harsh year I lost it anyway. This time, I’ll keep it in a sunny window until spring. From Fall into Winter Vegetables CTG

At the Travis County Extension demonstration gardens, it [variegated cuban oregano] strikes a delicious contrast against other bedded herbs. In the ground, consider it a warm weather annual, like basil. From Fall into Winter Vegetables CTG

Daphne tells us that its name derives from the fact that it’s commonly used in Cuban cooking, not from its native habitat, India.

Variegated Cuban Oregano Since it’s native to tropical regions, it will almost certainly be an annual in your garden, but I think it’s well worth the time. If planted in containers and brought indoors when there’s a potential for frosty temperatures, it may last a few seasons, but really, it will look better and be more robust if you replace it each spring.

The leaves of variegated Cuban oregano are large and bright, making it a striking addition to any area of the landscape. Its name derives from the fact that it is commonly used in Cuban cooking, not from its native habitat, India.

As with most herbs, good drainage is important, and a bit of compost in the soil is also good. Cuban oregano will tolerate light shade, but will thrive in full sun. Water well, but sparingly.

As with most herbs, Cuban oregano has soft, succulent leaves and will rot if it stays too wet. Getting about a foot and a tall and about as wide, Cuban oregano fills in nicely and makes a great addition along borders and beds.

Lasagna Method

Lasagna Gardening Lasagna gardening starts your garden with new soil that you make by layering yard and food waste. Where you make your soil is where your garden will be. This takes digging and tilling out of gardening. The layers of yard and food waste will break down, giving nutrientrich and easy to work with soil. This breaking down is also called composting. Lasagna gardening is also known as "sheet composting".

Just like the lasagna you cook, your lasagna garden has to be layered in a general order.

  • The first layer of your lasagna garden is either brown corrugated cardboard or three layers of newspaper. The space underneath the cardboard and newspaper will attract earthworms to your lasagna garden because it is dark and moist. Earthworms help make the waste into soil. Worms will also help keep this new soil loose.

  • Lay the cardboard or newspaper directly on top of the grass or weeds where you want your garden. The grass or weeds will break down fairly quickly because they will be smothered by the newspaper or cardboard, as well as by the materials you are going to layer on top of them.

  • Wet this layer down to keep everything in place. Water also helps waste break down.

  • Put a layer of browns (leaves, shredded paper) on top of the cardboard or newspaper. Put a layer of greens (vegetable scraps, grass clippings) on top of the brown layer. Layer until your lasagna garden is about two feet high.

In general, you want your "brown" layers to be about twice as deep as your "green" layers. There is no need to get this exact. Just layer browns and greens, and a lasagna garden will result. What you want at the end of your layering process is a two-foot tall layered bed. The layers will 'cook down' (compost) in only a few weeks.

One of the best things about lasagna gardening is how easy it is. You do not have to remove grass and weeds before placing your layers of yard and food waste. You do not have to double dig. In fact, you do not have to work the soil at all. Lasagna gardening composts lawn and food waste in place to make a new garden. Where you put your layers is where your garden will be.


  • You will have fewer weeds. The newspaper and cardboard underneath the garden will keep weeds from coming up from the bottom. The mulch you put on top of the garden will keep weeds from sprouting from the top.

  • You may not have to water as often. Compost, what you made by layering food and garden waste, holds water better than regular garden soil.

  • You will not need fertilizer. Your garden is almost pure compost, which is very nutrient-rich.

  • The soil made from building a lasagna garden will be easy to work because it is crumbly, loose, and fluffy.


The yard and food waste you use to make a lasagna garden are broken into two groups called the browns and greens.

Browns are: leaves, shredded newspaper, peat, and pine needles.

Greens are: vegetable scraps, garden trimmings, and grass clippings.

Food waste cannot be any meat product nor have oils in it. For example, leftovers from a stir fry cannot be used because they were cooked in oil.

However, if vegetable scraps were not cooked in oil, like leftover steamed vegetables or raw pieces like apple cores, they can be used. The following materials are all perfect for lasagna gardens:

  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves
  • Fruit and vegetable peels and scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea leaves and tea bags
  • Weeds (if they haven't gone to seed)
  • Egg shells
  • Seaweed
  • Shredded newspaper or junk mail
  • Pine needles
  • Dead flowers
  • Trimmings from the garden
  • Peat moss

Planting and caring for a lasagna garden

When it's time to plant, just dig down into the bed as you would with any other garden. If you used newspaper as your bottom layer, the shovel will most likely go right through it to the ground underneath. If you used cardboard, you may have to cut a hole in it at each spot where you want to plant.

A general rule of thumb is to add mulch to the top of the bed. You can use straw, grass clippings, bark mulch, or chopped leaves. Care for your lasagna garden just as you would a regular garden.

When to make a lasagna garden

You can make a lasagna garden any time of year. However, fall is thought to be the best time to make one. You are able to get a lot of browns all at once, for instance fall leaves, and general yard waste from around your yard. Your lasagna garden has all winter to break down. Fall rains and winter snow will keep your lasagna garden moist, which will help the waste break down faster. By spring, it will be ready to plant.

To make a lasagna garden in spring or summer, you may need to add peat or top soil. This is so you can plant your garden right away. If you make the bed in spring, layer as many greens and browns as you can, with layers of peat or topsoil mixed in. Put three or four inches of topsoil on the top layer, and plant. The bed will settle over the season as the layers underneath decompose.

Lasagna Gardening no dig bed prep. also called sheet layering.

Cut veg short. Lay down overlapping newspaper or cardboard. Water down so it doesn't blow away.

Add nitrogen: chicken manure. Or soybean meal, grass clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds, seed-free weeds, comfrey, green trimmings.

Lasagna Gardening

Lasagna Gardens

Lasagna Gardens

Lasagna Gardens & prep

Add carbon materials like pine needles, dried leaves, sawdust, straw, old corn stalks

Add water with each layer.

Alternate nitrogen [green layer] and carbon [brown layer] layers until the bed reaches 18 inches to three feet.

You can add to the bed over time as you get materials. End with a carbon mixture layer so the moisture is kept in and the flies kept out. Water at the very end.

Takes bed 3-6 months, sometimes a year to be ready. It is a slow composting method.

Can also be done in a raised bed.

To plant right away top with 3" of compost on top.

To maintain your bed, keep adding more layers.

Vertical Gardening

Vertical Gardening vertical gardening, also called intensive gardening. Growing your garden 'up' puts plants at eye-level. Weeding, watering, pruning, harvesting, checking for pests, and enjoying flowers are easier because you are not bending over or kneeling.

There are many things that can support plants growing vertically. Trellises, tripods, arches, gazebos, walls, wire cages, netting, and poles are commonly used.

Vining and sprawling plants do well growing up and off the ground. Cucumbers, tomatoes, pole beans, and melons do especially well. Some plants, like peas, will naturally attach themselves to structures. Other plants, like tomatoes, will need to be tied. Cloth strips are best to tie plants because they do not cut into plants like string can.

Where you place plants to grow vertically can affect other plants. Growing plants up can cast a shadow. Sun-loving plants may not grow well next to vertical plants or their support structure because of the casting shadow. Instead, shadeloving plants may do well in these areas.

You may find you have to water vertically growing plants more frequently. Plants growing vertically expose the soil underneath them, which causes the soil to dry 6/2011 out faster.


Growing plants vertically is not much different than letting plants grow along the ground. There are some things to keep in mind when deciding what type of support structure to use for your vertical plants.

What structure you use depends on what plant you want to grow. The structure has to be able to support the plant's weight. It must be anchored well into the ground to keep it from being pulled down by the plant. Otherwise, the structure may damage the plant.

You can make or buy trellises to fit any space. They can be staked into the ground or attached to a wall. Make sure to leave space between the wall and trellis for air circulation. Otherwise, mold can grow and spread diseases to your plants.

Arches are good for heavier plants, like grape and wisteria vines, climbing plants, and hanging baskets.

Think about sun and weather exposure, size, and plant care when choosing which plants to grow vertically.

[Left] for peas specifically / [right] method used for staw bale gardening

Match the supporting structure to the plant's characteristics.

  • Plants with tendrils do well growing on trellises and tripods, like pole beans.

  • Plants that twine need wire or string to twist around. An example of this is string hanging above a row of peas to keep the plants off the ground.

  • Some vines will hold onto any rough surface; but can damage wood, paint and mortar. Ivy often causes damage to brick walls.

  • Make sure plants do not grow where you do not want them to. Morning glories are well known for attaching themselves to gutters and pulling them off because of their weight.

  • Some plants must be tied; otherwise, they will only grow along the ground, like tomatoes.

Small-fruited varieties of squashes, melons and pumpkins also do well in vertical gardens. Squashes and melons may need to be supported by 'slings' to support their weight while maturing. Slings can be made with panty hose and rags.


Ergonomic Gardening excellent article for handicapped and elderly.

Accessible Gardening: Assistive Technology


10 Natural Homemade Organic Fertilizer Recipes Using natural organic fertilizer is nothing new. Years ago, people gardened because their backyard produce was better, cheaper and healthier than store bought. This is a universal truth and the trick behind this is the enrichment of soil with compost and homemade natural fertilizers.

Here the fertilizers used are organic matter and natural products without involving commercial fertilizers loaded with chemicals.

Making your own natural organic fertilizer is both easy, cheap and often uses components you already have at home. From left over food, lawn clippings to organic fertilizers made from plant or animal remains.

Plant based fertilizers include, compost, cottonseed, soybean, kelp, seaweed, wood ash alfalfa, or worm castings.

Fertilizers ratios are expressed in numbers of Nitrogen- Phosphorus- Potassium . These are vital nutrients for strength, aerial storage, root development and plant health.

Just as humans require carbohydrates and proteins, the plants require N-P-K [nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium,, Thus, a 5-10-5 mixture contains 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphoric acid and 5% potash] for survivial. Additionally, plants use calcium, magnesium, sulphur for photosynthesis. They break down water and CO2 with the help of sunlight into hydrogen, oxygen, carbon which they turn into food. Other micronutrients required for plant growth are:

  • Boron
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Molybdenum
  • Zinc

Compost Tea Recipe

Fill a 5 -gallon bucket 1/3 of the way with good quality finished compost.

Fill the bucket with water to a few inches from top.

Also mixture to steep for 3 or 4 days.

Stir mixture often

Strain mixture with a porous fabric, pour the remaining compost in the garden or sent back to compost bins.

Dilute the remaining liquid fertilizer to a ratio 10:1 of water to tea.

Spray mixture over leaves with a sprayer.

Grass and Weed Fertilizer Recipe

Fill 5-gallon bucket with 2/3 parts of fresh grass clippings.

Top off with a few inches of water

For 3 days, it needs to sit at room temperature and one needs to stir it at least once a day.

Strain the liquid and dilute this fertilizer with equal parts of water.

Spray this mixture over leaves for rapid growth.

Similar to grass fertilizers, weeds are also high in nitrogen. They easily grow below your feet and hence you need not grow them specially. Horsetail, chickweed, Nettles, burdock, comfrey are some examples of weeds which form excellent homemade compost. The procedure of making an organic fertilizer using weeds is exactly the same as grass fertilizer.

Fish Pond Water Fertilizer Recipe

Used fish tank water contains excessive nitrogen which is favorable for plants. However, here one should be careful of removing all new born fish from the water. Also, the contents should not come from a salt water tank.. Apply dirty and untreated water from the fish tank on plants.

Vinegar Fertilizer Recipe

Vinegar and acetic acid works very well for plants which love acid [like bouganvilla]. Use as a replacement for rose plant food or houseplant fertilizers.

  • Mix 1-gallon water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
  • Apply this mixture to your plants and repeat after every 3 months.

Banana Peels and Coffee Grounds

These are two different fertilizers very easy to prepare.

Recipe #1 Banana Peels

  • Banana peels contain potassium which is essential for plant growth. Roses love potassium.
  • Simply throw the peels in a hole before planting or bury the peels under mulch for facilitating them to compost. This is a method to get bigger rose blooms.

Recipe #2 Coffee Grounds

  • Tomatoes, blueberries and roses benefit from the nitrogen in coffee grounds.
  • Liquid version of the coffee grounds or powder sprinkled on top of the ground helps the plants to grow well.
  • Mix 6 cups of coffee grounds in 5 gallons of water.
  • The mixture should settle down for 3 -4 days before it is applied to the soil.

Worm Castings

Making worm castings or worm tea is very easy. The recipe:

  • Mix a handful of worm castings with kitchen scraps or cardboard scraps – aka compost.
  • This mixture should steep for a week and then applied to your soil.

Egg Shells

  • Wash the eggshells.
  • Crush them and work the crushed pieces into the soil especially near tomato or pepper plants.
  • The calcium in eggs prevents rotting of roots.
  • Eggshells contain calcium carbonate (93%).
  • These can be used as a replacement for lime and work better on saving plants' seeds.

Apart from these,

, tomato fertilizers even human urine can serve as very good organic fertilizers when used for the plants which can benefit from these for a better produce and healthy produce.

Epsom Salts to Fertilize

How To Tips On Using Versatile Epsom Salt: A Must-Have For Home And Garden There are many uses for Epson Salt and for many it is a must have for home and garden. I’ve used it for years to help “green up” palms.

Epson Salt is made of magnesium and sulfate, which is proven to help your health in many ways. This post gives you multiple ways you can use it from a hair conditioner to foot problems and more.


Epsom "Salt"...not really a salt at all but two minerals that our body actually uses and needs. "Epsom salt is made up of magnesium and sulfate, which can help improve health in numerous ways. A lack of magnesium—which helps regulate the activity of more than 300 enzymes in the body—can contribute to high blood pressure, hyperactivity, heart problems and other health issues, doctors warn. Sulfate is essential for many biological processes, helping to flush toxins and helping form proteins in joints, brain tissue and mucin proteins." - Epson Salt Council

Wow. Pretty amazing for such a humble crystalline substance. But this drugstore wonder is full of surprises. It's great as a hair conditioner, sore achy muscles, and even as a garden fertilizer?! Yes, it's true...and there's even more...


got a LARGE wood splinter in my foot. Yuck. I was horrified and did NOT want my parents to touch it. The splinter itself was not willing to come out either, so in came the Epsom Salt. Now, when you're a kid faced with a probing knife to extract a splinter, soaking your foot in some nice warm water was a perfect way to make me relax. My parents loved me, but a spa experience was not what they had in mind, but rather a way to draw the splinter out of my skin and Epsom came through! By the time my foot was done soaking, the splinter came out lickity-split (much to my surprise) and relatively pain-free. So, Epsom salt saved the day and was my hero.

As soon as I got married, I purchased my own carton (they sell it in bags now...way better idea!) and kept it for emergencies. We seem to use it for any foot problems, probably because of my previous memory of it, but it does SO much more! Here's just a few of its many uses: eliminates toxins by exfoliating and taking a bath in it - 2 cups in the tub, helps with athlete's feet and toe fungus (see, it likes feet), cleans bathroom tiles - use equal parts of Epsom with dish detergent to clean, is a fertilizer for houseplants and vegetables/flowers*, relieves constipation (!) and much more!! I will admit my experience with it is limited to the sliver incident (which by the way, is another thing on the list it does) and foot complaints...but it did a great job in these areas. However, after writing this post, I am going to be sprinkling my Epsom salt on all my houseplants!

Here's another great bonus for Epsom can buy it at the drugstore. No health stores, no fancy catalogs, no shipping charges; perfect. I love the simplicity of these types of home remedies and garden helps. After all, isn't that part of living simply?

Epsom Salt Council The health benefits of absorbing magnesium, sulfate through the skin

The benefits of Epsom salt aren’t just folklore. In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated the profound and wide-ranging benefits of magnesium and sulfate. Doctors and researchers say that when you soak in an Epsom salt bath, magnesium and sulfate can be absorbed through the skin. They recommend an Epsom salt bath as a safe, easy way to increase the body’s levels of both magnesium and sulfate.


15 Unknown Uses for Epsom Salt


The Vegetable Gardener: Summer Squash

Calvin Finch: A few tricks for growing corn, potatoes and summer squash

Frost Protection

Water Container Frost Protection If you live in the North Texas area as I do, you don't really concern yourself with the first annual frost/freeze threat until late October at the earliest. I am always thinking ahead to the upcoming season.

I happen to be doing this while I was at the grocery store. I have been looking for the best frost protection container for Spring transplants, and I may have found it. Ozarka makes a 3 Liter stackable water container. This one (and I've seen many different kinds used) seems to fit the bill in that:

1. It's the right size for most transplants;
2. It's completely clear to allow full sunlight in;
3. Has an opening at the top; and
4. Has a vertical side that you could anchor with a wooden stake for support.

Why would I be worrying about this now? Spring is several months away. Well, simple. Unless you plan on buying 2-3 dozen of these at once (how many shopping carts is that?), which is how many I will need, I figure you may want to start getting them early and gradually adding to your frost-fighting arsenal. That way you're not panicking when you see the weather report. Just a thought.

shacubb writes: Good Morning,
You have a great idea. Whats even better, which I have been using for the past ten or more years, is the large 5 gal jugs.
My husband,using his table saw, cuts about one inch off the bottom, they usually stay intact. You can use those as saucers for other pots.
I live in North Central Arkansas, using the jugs, I have had cucumbers & tomatoes in early May. I am from South Louisiana, there you do not need much protection against the cold, my Grandparents did well with only milk jugs to cover their seedlings.
I have accumulated about two dozen or more through the years from friends or finding them on the side of the highway. Also, they do get brittle when left exposed to the elements. I keep mine in a covered garage when not in use.

Water Container Frost Protection



How to Grow Garlic--a video seems very complete



Basic Mulching--a video Mulch benefits: Regulate soil temperature
Suppress weeds
Improve soil structure
Conserve moisture
Protect from frost heave
Improve water penetration & air movement

Compost is a common mulch. Add about an inch, then add another mulch material on top.

Re-apply as it decomposes. 2-3 in. thick for fine materials like compost or straw, 3-4 in. for coarse materials like bark or wood chips.

Leave 1-2 in. of clear space around stems, and as much as 6 in. around tree trunks. The moisture the mulches hold can cause rot around the stems and trunks.

Grass clippings are great. But be sure to put them down when they are dry or they can stop water penetration.

High carbon mulches like bark, wood chips and straw, as they decompose, pull nitrogen from the soil. Add a compost maker like one from EB stone. E.B. Stone Organics, horticultural sand, Pea gravel, At Amz, E.B. Stone Compost Maker

  • A blend of organic ingredients designed to supplement the needs of the home composter
  • In addition to providing the nitrogen necessary for proper composting, Compost Maker also helps to enrich the finished compost by supplying additional nutrients.
  • It is ideal for use when making compost with large amounts of dry, brown materials high in carbon.
  • Contains Blood Meal, Feather Meal, Bone Meal, Dried Chicken Manure, Bat Guano, Alfalfa Meal, Kelp Meal and Potassium Sulfate. Adding Chicken Manure will really get your compost going.

Sheet Mulching a great way to feed the soil. You'll need newspaper or cardboard, mulch, and water. Start in the Fall.

Wet the ground, and, if you like, put down a thin layer of compost.

Completely cover the area with newspaper or cardboard. Make sure there is overlap.

Water it down thoroughly.

Then add 4-6 inches of organic mulch. Water the mulch.

The winter rains will keep it moist so it decomposes by the Spring.

The Results of Sheet Mulching A Vegetable Garden Did in the Fall. Wet the ground.

Completely cover the area with cardboard. Two layers--Make sure there is overlap for the weeds to get through.

Water it down thoroughly.

Then add 4-6 inches of straw. Water the mulch.

Put compost on top... 3 inches deep.

Mulch on top of that 1-2 inches--dead leaves [it's Fall] The winter rains will keep it moist so it decomposes by the Spring.

When Spring comes, plant right into that compost. Everything was grown from heirloom seed.

In planting, mixed Japaleno plants in with tomatoes. Minnesota Midget cantaloupes. No luck with onions.

Green Manures--video Peaceful Valley Organic Compost (1 Cu Ft) $4.99... for two bags, the shipping total was $36.79!

Contains organic green waste compost... No Animal Products

Greg's Organics specializes in open pollinated heirlooms with Tomatoes as our specialty

No-Dig gardening - Use green manures effectively Beans are a great green manure... and you get beans!

Digging green manure into the soil is useless because the digging which causes soil erosion which washes away the green manure. The best technique is to take 3 types of green manures and you mix them together.

You take, for ex., crimson clover, which is a nitrogen fixer but has roots near the surface; celia (?) makes tap roots which make tunnels downwards; and winter grazing rye, which have really deep roots.

Then you cut it down, creating a mulch, causing the roots to decay. As they decompose they act as tunnels for all the life in the soil.

When you are ready to grow, make little birds' nests in the mulch and plant.

Let the green manure go to seed before cutting. The flowers draw bees and butterflies. And going to seed allows the plants to release all their nutrients when they are cut.

No Dig garden bed for Potatoes.. No Dig Potatoes.mp4 Stephen Harlow--Mr. Cundall, a master gardener from Australia, host of Gardening Australia, a bit of a gardening guru.

Put wet newspaper on the ground.

Place the potatoes right on the paper.

Cover with lots of straw. Add lots and lots of manure, dolomite, organic fertilizers, and lots of sawdust to keep out [?lice?].

Green potatoes are poisonous, the light has gotten to them. Don't eat.

How to Sheet Mulch Your Garden Creating a weedless garden in less than 7 minutes

Fun Green Guy

How to make activated effective microorganisms [EM] Cardboard Sheet Mulch Experiment to keep Weeds Down in the Alberta Urban Garden Salads: Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad - Natasha's Kitchen Natashas Kitchen

Betty's Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad

Fresh Cucumber Salad with Lime Dressing Recipe Yin and Yang Living, Thai.

How to Make Spicy Cucumber Salad using Chinese red chili oil.

13 Health Benefits of Cucumber You Must Know a superfood. Be sure to buy organic or grow yourself.

  1. Healthy Weight Management [make a great snack]
  2. Skin & Hair Care [use cuke skins like aloe vera for sunburns]
  3. Get fresh breath [place cuke on roof of mouth to control bacteriae]
  4. Reduce risk of cancer
  5. Stress busters [B vitamins]
  6. Hangover cure
  7. Antioxidants
  8. Reduce inflammation--can cool the inflammatory response system, like in your knees; use cuke extract
  9. Raises the stomach pH which helps with acid reflux
  10. Help digestive system
  11. Brain protection
  12. Help diabetes [contain hormones to help the pancreas produce insulin]
  13. Contain lots of potassium, magnesium, and fiber, help regulate blood pressure



"Gardeners often group broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kohlrabi together as "cole crops". Cole is the German word for cabbage, hence the term "cole slaw". Cole crops are hardy and grow best in cool weather. An easy way to remember this is to think how much "cole" sounds like "cold" or "cool"."

The Cole Crop Family Gardeners often group broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kohlrabi together as "cole crops". Cole is the German word for cabbage, hence the term "cole slaw". Cole crops are hardy and grow best in cool weather. An easy way to remember this is to think how much "cole" sounds like "cold" or "cool".

Sprouting Cole Crops

Cole crop seed is slightly more tender than the mature plant. In order to sprout, it must be planted in rich, moist soil with the air temperature about 60° F and the soil temperature at least 45° F. Germination occurs four to eight days after planting seeds.

Once a seed sprouts, it sends down the start of its taproot while the stem and first leaves develop. These first leaves are called seed leaves. True leaves appear next and the plant is on its way toward fulfilling its natural goal: to produce flower buds that will eventually open and give way to a seed stalk.

Cabbage and Brussels sprouts actually surround a seed case with their tightly folded leaves, forming a head. Broccoli and cauliflower heads, or "curds", are tight bunches of the buds themselves.

Once the heads have formed, they gradually loosen (unless you pick them, of course) to make room for the seed stalk to develop. This loosening action is triggered under certain temperature, daylight and growing conditions, causing the plant to bolt, or go to seed.

Broccoli - Sprouts with Clout!

When broccoli first came to this country from Italy, it was considered exotic. Now, it's as much a part of our gardens and kitchens as peas or carrots.

The bluish green mature heads of broccoli can be harvested from early summer to late fall, depending on your climate and growing conditions. Once the first large head is harvested, most broccoli varieties produce smaller side, or lateral, shoots that extend the harvest for weeks.

In the North, plant broccoli in the early spring and again in midsummer for a fall harvest. The only time the plants won't produce heads is during the hottest weeks of summer. Your fall crop, however, will keep bearing shoots after the rest of your garden is spent. In the South, plant in late winter for an early summer harvest or early fall for winter harvesting. In warmer areas, you might want to try overwintering broccoli varieties.

There are several dependable, early varieties of broccoli, among them:

'DeCicco' takes 55 days to the first harvest of large, tight, dark green center heads, followed by weeks of many side shoots.

'Green Comet Hybrid' is extra early, maturing in only 40 days. Its disease- and heat-resistant qualities make up for the fact that it only produces a single, large head with few, if any, side shoots.

'Italian Green Sprouting' broccoli is widely available and good for both spring and fall crops. The head reaches a five- or six-inch harvestable size about 70 days from transplanting and produces many light green, tender side shoots.

'Romanesco' is another, later, Italian variety that produces conical, creamy green heads covered with spears that rise in a spiral to the top. Matures in 75 days.

'Packman Hybrid' matures in only 53 days. This is a dependable, early variety with good side-shoot development.

'Premium Crop Hybrid' is a main-season variety that matures in 82 days. It produces large heads, but few side shoots.

'Green Goliath' matures compact, blue-green heads in 55 days. It produces an abundance of side shoots and freezes well.

Brussels Sprouts

Even though Brussels sprouts have been a mealtime tradition for hundreds of years, many people dislike them. You may change your mind, however, if you grow your own. The difference between frozen supermarket sprouts and your own, fresh from the garden, is unbelievable.

Growing Brussels sprouts is almost as much fun as eating them. They start out looking just like cabbage or broccoli, but as they grow, the stems become tall and thick and sprouts pop out above each large leaf along the main stems. They look like miniature palm trees. You add to this look by breaking off the lower leaves once the harvest begins. The stems can end up two to three feet high, loaded with sprouts.

This vegetable originated in Brussels, Belgium, and is still extremely popular in Europe. As more Americans try them, Brussels sprouts are becoming better known and enjoyed in this country, too.

'Long Island Improved' is the most popular variety of Brussels sprouts.

'Jade Cross' is desirable for its disease resistance and

'Rubine Red' for its red foliage and sprouts.

These varieties mature 80 to 90 days after transplanting, and they grow best as a fall and early winter crop. The sprouts not only withstand frosts, their flavor improves as the weather gets cooler.

Cabbage - King of the Garden

Cabbages of all kinds are a snap to grow and are one of the few salad vegetables you can have available from your garden well into winter. Raw cabbage is said to possess great healing power, and at one time it was prized by the Egyptians.

Cabbages can be either early, for spring planting, midseason, for planting anytime, or late for a fall crop. One thing to remember is that the late varieties need a longer growing season than the others, so you may end up planting your fall harvest earlier than a midseason variety. Check the seed packet for the days to maturity. Count back from the time you'd like to begin harvesting, and you'll have a handy planting and harvesting timetable.

Because cabbages are biennial plants, you don't have to worry about them going to seed in the garden. The main problem that gardeners have with cabbages is splitting heads, or no heads at all.

Following is a list of cabbage varieties, including red cabbage and Savoy cabbage, that should do well in most gardens.

'Stonehead' (65 to 70 days to maturity). Extremely solid heads; 6 inches in diameter; yellows resistant; early variety; short core.

'Early Round Dutch' (71 days). Heads are round and firm; slow to split or bolt; mature at different intervals for extended harvest; grow to average weight of 4 1/2 to 5 pounds.

'Late Flat Dutch' (90 to 100 days). Large, flat heads; good winter keepers; average weight 10 to 15 pounds. Great for kraut.

'Red Acre' (70 days). Early, sweet, uniformly ruby red colored, nonsplitting variety that averages 3 to 4 pounds.

'Early Jersey Wakefield' (60 to 75 days). Conical-shaped, two- to four-pound heads resist splitting and can be overwintered. Yellows resistant.

'Savoy Ace' (80 to 90 days). Vigorous, crinkly-leaved hybrid with dark green, semiround heads; heat resistant for summer growth; average weight of 4 to 5 pounds.

Cauliflower - "Cabbage with a College Education"

Many people are afraid to try growing cauliflower because they think it's finicky, or that it's a crop only experienced gardeners can have success with. Cauliflower, however, grows exactly like cabbage. To make the heads white or blanch them, you simply cover them with their own leaves for four or five days. Alternately, you can grow self-blanching varieties.

Cauliflower can be used in any recipe that calls for broccoli, or served raw with dips or in salads. Kids will often eat vegetables raw that they refuse to eat cooked. That's fine, because raw veggies have more nutrients in them than cooked ones, and are easier for you to prepare.

Unlike broccoli, cauliflower produces only one head per plant. The head is called the "curd" and your only concern is to keep light away from it as soon as it's three to four inches across. After that, it's just harvest and enjoy. It freezes well, so be sure to plant enough.

'Snow Crown' and 'Early Snowball' are both popular strains of early cauliflower, reaching maturity in 50 to 60 days. Both are white, self-blanching types and are heat tolerant, so will do well in the South.

'Purple Head' is an unusual cauliflower variety that doesn't need blanching. The head matures in 80 to 85 days, and it really is purple. It turns green when you cook it and is an interesting variety for freezing or pickling.

Chinese Cabbage

Oriental vegetables are showing up in gardens and kitchens all over America. They're nutritious and easy to grow. Chinese cabbage is a close cousin to the rest of the cabbage family.

The leaves of this vegetable form a loose, oblong head that grows 18 to 20 inches tall. It's sometimes called -- celery cabbage -- because it also resembles the tall, ribbed stalks of celery.

The flavor of Chinese cabbage is much sweeter than standard cabbage, with a nice nut-like aftertaste. The leaves are crisp and tender and can be used in any combination salad or stir-fry dish.

'Michihili' (72 days). Most common variety. Grows well in partial shade and will take a few autumn cold snaps. Can be harvested until November in the North, so in many parts of the country Chinese cabbage can easily become a fall, spring and even a winter delicacy.

'Jade Pagoda' (72 days). A hybrid Michihili type that grows 16" tall and produces slow-bolting, creamy yellow hearts.

Kohlrabi "Flying Saucers from Seed"

This strange-looking vegetable is sometimes called a "stem turnip" because the stem just above the ground forms a fattened bulb that tastes like a sweetened turnip. The name is derived from the German words kohl (cabbage) and rabe (turnip).

Kohlrabi is started from seed in the garden for both early spring and fall crops. The plants are very hardy, and will thrive in just about any kind of soil. Just be sure to time your spring planting so it matures before the temperatures reach above 80oF, or the globes will be woody or unpleasantly pungent. Kohlrabi is the one garden vegetable that seems to be insect and disease free, making it a popular plant!

Peeled and sliced, kohlrabi makes an excellent addition to the summer crudite and dip tray. It's also deliccious lightly steamed, and lends itself well to stir-fries and soups.

The two most common kohlrabi varieties are 'Early White' 'Vienna' (it's really pale green in color) and 'Early Purple Vienna', whose skin is bright purple and looks jazzy in the garden. Both plants mature in 50 to 60 days.

Growing Cabbage Cabbage is a cool-season vegetable suited to both spring and fall. It belongs to the cole crop family (Brassica oleracea), which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi. The trick to growing cabbage is steady, uninterrupted growth. That means rich soil, plenty of water, and good fertilization.

Savoy cabbage has pretty crinkled leaves and is among the most frost-tolerant cabbage / Cabbage needs fertile soil and adequate moisture from the time you set out the plants. Stunted plants won’t recover if stressed.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Video: Water the seedlings just before transplanting. Turn over and squeeze the of the planter, holding by the stem. Pinch off any really low leaves and plant 1" below surface.

Plant fall cabbage 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost. Growing plants that have been exposed to cool weather become “hardened” and are tolerant of frost. Cabbage that matures in cool weather is deliciously sweet.

Like most vegetables, cabbage needs at least 6 hours of full sun each day; more is better. It also needs fertile, well-drained, moist soil with plenty of rich organic matter. The soil pH should be between 6.5 and 6.8 for optimum growth and to discourage clubroot disease.

What Vegetables to Grow in San Antonio Cabbage: San Antonio gardeners can plant cabbage from mid January to mid March. Recommended varieties for San Antonio include Green Boy, Market Prize, Red Acre and Ruby Ball. Cabbage can be eaten either fresh or cooked and provides a high dose of beta-carotene, fiber and vitamin C.

Corn: Corn plants perform well in the summer heat. San Antonio gardeners should begin their corn from late February to mid April and can plant Calumet, Captain, Honeycomb, Silver Queen or Country Gentleman. Corn ripens in 65 to 85 days; gardeners can harvest the ears when the corn tassels dry out and turn tan.

Pepper: Both sweet or bell peppers and hot peppers enjoy the warm San Antonio climate. Texas A & M recommends jalapeno, hidalgo serrano, Hungarian wax and thin cayenne hot peppers; and Big Bertha or TAM Rio Grande Gold sweet peppers. Texas gardeners should plant peppers from transplant (not from seed) from mid March to early May.



Texas Gardener: The Secret to Great Spinach Time has indeed changed my opinion. They say as we age our taste buds change. But I think it is more than that. My childhood memories of spinach are of a heap of gray/green stuff on my plate, which had been cooked to death leaving only the vilest remnants of taste and, according to those promoting the idea of me eating it, invisible ingredients that built character and strength. Even the fact that Popeye ate it was unconvincing. I mean after all, have you taken a good look at Popeye. No thanks!

Now my thoughts of spinach are of properly cooked side dishes, fresh salads, and wonderful soups, quiches and soufflés. I swear it is not the same vegetable! But more on that later. Let's take a look at this unique vegetable and its place in our Texas gardens.

Spinach History
Spinach originated in the area of Persia (now Iran). It traveled to China soon after the time of Christ and then to Spain and other parts of Europe. From the early days of our country it was a part of American gardens.

Here in Texas spinach became a very popular garden vegetable. By the early 1900s, the Austin area had a significant commercial spinach industry. It was then discovered that the Winter Garden region (southwest of San Antonio) was a prime location for commercial spinach production. By the 1950s, Texas had become a not just national, but world leader in spinach production, with processed spinach far outweighing fresh market production.

The town of Crystal City lays claim to the title of "Spinach Capitol of the World." A handsome statue of the king of spinach, Popeye himself, stands outside city hall. For those of you trivia buffs, there is also a Popeye statue in Chester, Ill., birthplace of the cartoon character's creator, Elzie Segar. Other statues may be found in Alma, Ark., deep in the heart of that state's spinach growing area. Those folks also claim to be the "Spinach Capitol of the World," but they are sorely mistaken.

While Texas still produces a huge quantity of processed spinach, California has brought the vegetable to the culinary forefront by creating and supplying a fresh market product including baby spinach leaves and blends with other salad vegetables.

Texas growers and researchers are not taking this laying down however, as new programs are underway in cooperation with Arkansas growers to develop new varieties and to develop techniques to package and market fresh Texas spinach.

Growing Great Spinach
Spinach is not the easiest of vegetables to grow. It is one of the few that prefer a neutral to high pH. It needs dependable soil moisture but will not tolerate soggy soil conditions.

If you garden in the eastern parts of the state where soils tend toward the acidic range, some lime can help bring the levels up to spinach's liking. Have your soil tested to determine how much lime is needed. For a general guide, about 5 pounds of agricultural grade lime per 100 square feet is a good place to start if you know your soil is on the acid side. Sandy soils need some compost mixed in to increase their ability to hold water and nutrients. Spinach has a fairly limited root system and will benefit from an addition of quality compost or manure.

Clay soils can also use some compost mixed in deeply. Raised beds may be needed on clay soils and any areas with marginal drainage to keep the roots up out of soggy conditions.

To maximize garden space, plant several rows along or across wide topped raised beds. Space rows of plants 8 to 10 inches apart across or down the bed. Stagger plantings by 10 to 14 days to hedge your bet and to keep you in a good harvest all winter.

While spinach loves full sun, it will grow in considerable shade. In fact, I like to plant my spinach in a part sun to bright shade location near a deciduous tree. This helps cool the soil and get the seedlings off to a good start. By late fall the tree leaves are dropping, to allow the sunlight through to the growing plants.

Finicky Seeds
Spinach is most commonly direct seeded into the garden. If the soil is warm they will not germinate properly. This is where most Texas gardeners go wrong in establishing a planting of spinach.

The soil needs to be at around 75 degrees or lower for good germination. Again sun vs. shade can make a big difference at any time of the year. Placing a shade cloth structure above the planting row can help improve germination when conditions are marginal.

As a general guide, you can begin planting spinach about two months before the first fall frost [11/12 to 12/1] in your area. In central portions of the state we begin planting in about mid-September, although those early stands are often hit and miss. Northern and southern areas of the state may begin a month earlier or later respectively. Just remember that weather is a major factor in determining how early you can plant and shady areas may be ready a bit earlier.

If you will soak seeds in a glass of water in the refrigerator for 24 hours prior to planting, they will begin to take up water and initiate the chemical processes that lead to germination. Water the soil in the seed row prior to planting to soak it deeply. Then plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep. A rowcover fabric placed over the row can help hold in soil moisture and allow the seedlings to get off to a good start. Just remember, don't allow them to dry out. Seeds should germinate in about 7 to 10 days. When seedlings are about 2 inches tall, thin them out to about 6 inches apart.

Fall vs. Spring
Spinach definitely prefers the fall garden over the spring garden. The onset of hot weather in spring causes plants to bolt or send up a seed stalk, and quality plummets. This makes for a very short spring season in most of the state, although in north Texas spring stands may be acceptable. If you want to try spring planting make sure to choose a variety touted as bolt resistant and get it in as early as you can, providing cold protection from the late winter blasts.

Fall planting allows for harvest during cool weather and top quality spinach. In the southern two-thirds of the state, you can carry the fall plants on through winter and into spring. With some protection during cold nights you can even continue planting on into late winter. Spinach is quite cold hardy and established plants can take temps down into the low 20s. If you'll purchase a lightweight rowcover fabric you can keep a patch going all winter.

I have sometimes started spinach seeds indoors to get a bit of a jump on the season. This works fine especially if your plans are for a very small patch of spinach. Transplants are also great for gardeners wanting to grow spinach in containers or in ornamental beds. Spinach does quite well in containers and as green filler in ornamental beds. Choose a container that has a diameter of at least eight inches for best results.

To grow your own transplants use a quality seed starting mix. Wet the mix well prior to planting. Then cover seeds about one-quarter inch deep and lightly mist the tray again. Place the tray in a clear plastic bag (such as a dry cleaners bag) to hold in moisture until seedlings sprout. Then remove the bag and move the tray to a bright window or a bright shady outdoor location.

When seedlings have been up and growing for a week or two, begin to move them gradually into more sun. Fertilize them with a soluble fertilizer at the low constant feed rate. Give them another week to acclimate and grow stronger then you can transplant them into the garden. Make sure to keep the soil moist to help them survive the transition.

Fertilizing Spinach
A soil test is the best way to plan your garden fertilizing, but generalizations are helpful as a starting point. Assuming your soil is of moderate to good nutrient content your first fertilizer application can be made about two weeks after the plants are thinned (or about a month after planting).

Spread the fertilizer evenly around the plants and water it in well. You can also lightly "scratch" it into the surface with a garden tool, but take care not to dig deeply as spinach is very shallow rooted. Fish emulsion, seaweed, and cottonseed meal also make suitable fertilizers for your spinach crop. Continue to water as needed to keep the soil moist and encourage vigorous growth.

Varieties For Texas
Spinach varieties are grouped into 3 types: smooth (or flat) leaved, savoyed (the $2 word for crinkled), and semi-savoyed. Smooth or flat types are used primarily for canning while the savoyed and semi-savoyed are best for fresh eating.

There are many varieties of spinach that will grow in Texas. I have tried numerous ones in trials over the years and found most to do quite well if growing conditions are right. However, diseases are a limiting factor in spinach growing here in the south. Some of the old great varieties have fallen from favor as they just are too prone to disease problems.

Among the best currently recommended varieties for Texas gardens are Bloomsdale, Tyee, Fall Green, Melody, Hybrid 7 and Samish.

Pests & Diseases
Spinach is not immune to pest and disease problems. There are several fungal diseases that can deal a heavy blow depending on the part of Texas where you garden. The best way to deal with a disease problem is to plant resistant varieties. Thankfully we now have several that offer varying degrees of resistance to most diseases.

Insects can also be a problem. There are the general leaf feeding caterpillars and beetles. These can be "blocked out" by growing the crop beneath a lightweight rowcover fabric. They can also be controlled with a variety of low toxicity sprays. I have not had much of a problem with these chewing pests in my gardens and don't get too worked up over a hole or two in the leaves.

Aphids can also be a problem. The rowcover works if applied early. Pesticides are pretty much a wash on these pests as getting good coverage in the crinkled leaves is about impossible. Again, in my garden beneficials seem to keep the aphids in line and I just have not yet suffered a significant crop loss to them.

Garden To Kitchen
Depending on the variety, the plants will be ready to begin harvesting in 6 to 8 weeks. If you have a large patch or a succession of plantings, the simplest harvest method is to remove entire plants. I usually plant a smaller number of plants and simply remove the oldest leaves allowing the rest of the plant to continue to grow and produce.

Soil and grit tends to cling to the leaves making washing it free a challenge. I find it best to immerse them in a sink or bowl of cold water and swirl them around a bit to remove sand and grit. You may need to repeat the process once or twice until there is no longer grit in the bottom of the bowl. Pat the leaves dry on a towel, place in a plastic bag or sealed bowl, and store in the refrigerator to keep turgid and fresh.

Spinach is a wonderfully versatile vegetable. While the traditional boiled blob of spinach is still popular, I recommend you consider using it in one of a variety of ways. Fresh, it provides a substitute or complement for lettuce in salads or on sandwiches.

If you want to cook it as a side dish, keep in mind that spinach is about 90 percent water. The water that clings to the leaves after washing is all you need to cook it. You can also steam the leaves. Whatever technique you choose, don't overcook it. This destroys the texture and transforms this wonderfully tasty vegetable into the nasty blob.



Video: How to Grow Lettuce zone 8. Lettuce is a cool-season crop that even the novice gardener can successfully grow. In this video, Tricia will show you how easy it is to grow lettuce in your own backyard!

Greens easiest to grow. Can plant early and late. From easiest to grow to hardest to grow: loose leaf, romaine/cos, butterhead/bibb, crisphead.

About 4 weeks before last freeze date [transplant date], start lettuce in trays in greenhouse. Like temps 45 and 65 degrees. seeds 1/4 inch deep for lettuce and 1/2 inch deep for greens. Keep evenly moist.

Prep bed in full sun; in heat place in shade during PM. pH has to be between 6 and 6.8. Will not tolerate a pH lower than 6.0.

Arugula, mash, mustard and tatsoi have same requirements as loose leaf lettuce. For direct sowing, make sure you have a level and clean seed bed. Seeds are small and clumps in soil will give a low contact reducing germination rates.

Succession seed lettuce every 10 to 14 days for a continuous supply. Keep soil moist.

When seedlings sprout, thin to strongest by using clippers.

Slugs, snails and earwigs are the major pests.

When ready, harvest in the morning when the turgor pressure [like blood pressure for plants] is at its highest so leaves will be crisp. For loose leaf, break off the outer leaves and let the center continue to grow. After thirty to forty five days, cut off the entire plants 2 inches above the soil. They will regrow and you can get two to three harvests.

For romaine, harvest the entire plant when it is mature. Forty to fifty days from planting. Growing lettuce in the summer heat zone 8. Lettuce prefers the cool days of spring and fall with air temperatures in the 60s. When the weather warms up lettuce will often bolt right out of your garden bed. In the world of lettuce, bolting means that the plant sets a flower and grows a seed stalk—which makes the lettuce leaves bitter.

What causes bolting? A combination of more sunlight in the longer days, and the hot summer weather.

How to grow lettuce in the heat

First, alter your lettuce growing climate to make it cooler and shadier.

Second, grow heat tolerant lettuces.

Cool down the summer weather for your lettuce: plant summer lettuce where it will get morning sun and afternoon shade or use a shade cloth.

Heat Tolerant Lettuces:

Bibb: Buttercrunch, Speckles, Summer Bibb, Summer Bibb Blend

Crisphead: Michelle

Leaf: Black Seeded Simpson, Green Salad Bowl, Red Deer Tongue

Romaine: Little Gem, Parris Island Cos

Container gardening—an easy way to modify climate: Head lettuces like Romaine, Bibb and Crisphead need to grow about 50 days to harvest, so let them get on with it out in your vegetable bed. But the Leaf lettuces are ideal for containers—pick the outer leaves and let the center continue to grow. This is called a “cut and come again” method of harvesting.

Lettuce: From Seed to Harvest Texas Gardener.

Lettuce is one of our most common cool season vegetables. A close relative of artichoke, chicory, endive and sunflowers, lettuce is a sprinter from planting to harvest but can be a challenge. We'll take a look at some of the basic types of lettuce and discuss cultural techniques for success. But first a few words about the history of this leafy green.

Lettuce is actually a member of the sunflower family. It is a descendant of the weed Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce), which probably originated in the region stretching from Asia Minor into modern day Iran. This wild lettuce now may be found in many places around the world.

The wild form is quite bitter, a characteristic that may be attributed to its milky sap. This sap contains lactucarium which is similar to opium in that it has narcotic qualities. There are reports that the Romans ate lettuce to induce sleep. But don't dive into the salad bar looking for a high. Our modern lettuce doesn't contain any significant levels of this component.

From the original wild forms, gardeners in various regions selected and bred improved types of cultivated lettuce that was much less bitter. Reports of lettuce cultivation date back to Egyptian tomb paintings that predate 4,500 B.C. Greek writers in the 6th century B.C. spoke of it being served on the table of Persian kings. Chinese writings record its use in the 5th century B.C.

The Romans are credited with developing the characteristics of our modern lettuces that were improvements on the narrow leaved, bitter tasting wild version. This included broad leaves, non-spiny plants, resistance to early bolting, and decreased levels of the bitter milky sap. They also reported growing their lettuce for a brief time in dark conditions (blanching) to make it less bitter.

It was most likely Columbus who brought lettuce to the Americas. Also present in colonial gardens, lettuce has been a prominent feature of gardens in this country from the beginning of our nation to the present day.

Thanks to horticultural work from the Roman period on to the present we are now enjoying around 2,000 years of work in developing our modern improved types and varieties of lettuce. Modern lettuce is divided into 4 basic groups: Crisphead types of lettuce (also referred to as iceberg types) form large rounded heads of tightly overwrapping leaves. The exterior is green but the interior base of the head is white to creamy yellow. While crisphead types are popular, they generally don't do as well in Texas as some other types because they are pretty demanding in their growing requirements. We usually end up with loose, poor quality heads. Plus the hard, gnarly pale interior of head lettuce although crunchy is not all that appetizing in my opinion.

Cos types of lettuce (also referred to as Romaine types) are also heading lettuces. But rather than tight round heads they form tall, elongated heads. Romaine lettuce may be firm or rather loose compared to crisphead lettuce. Romaine lettuce has more green leaves and is thus a better source of calcium and vitamins A and C than crisphead types. Many varieties are rather slow to bolt, a good feature for our spring gardens here in Texas. Cos or Romaine types deserve wider use here in Texas.

Bibb types (also referred to as Butterhead lettuce) form a tight rosette of fleshy leaves but do not form a head. They do well in our Texas climate and are popular with gardeners. Most varieties are a medium green color.

Leaf lettuce (often called loose-leaf lettuce) is perhaps the best adapted choice for our Texas climate. It forms loose rosettes of leaves that come in a range of colors from various shades of green to burgundy including speckled types. Leaves may be harvested individually or as with other lettuce types you can harvest entire plants at one time. Another option is to "mow" the plants back part way with scissors and then allow them to regrow for a later harvest.

Lettuce can be started from seed or from plants. Some gardeners like to direct seed their lettuce but many prefer to start transplants and then move them into the garden after they get off to a good start.

Lettuce seed germinates best in moderate to cool temperatures with soil temperatures of 75 degrees being about ideal. The seeds are small and flat so some seed companies now offer palletized seed for easier more accurate seeding and germination.

Lettuce seed won't germinate well if buried too deep so cover them with about 1/4 inch of light sand or screened compost. Press them lightly on the surface to firm soil or growing media against the seed and then mist them well to thoroughly moisten.

One mistake many gardeners make when direct seeding lettuce out in the garden is to not prepare a fine textured, smooth seed bed. Scattered into chunky, crusty soil lettuce seed will seldom make a good stand.

Keep the seeds moist until they sprout and get off to a good start. If a seed dries out at any time during the germination process it will die. If you start seed outdoors it helps a lot to place a rowcover fabric over the seed row, suspended to prevent the rowcover from getting pressed into the soil surface with watering or rains. The rowcover helps to keep the seeds from drying out quickly in the sun and drying wind.

Remove the cover to water the seeds once or twice a day to keep them moist. Use a mister nozzle on the water hose to prevent blasting the seeds away.

Gardeners often tend to plant more lettuce than they need. Think about it. How many heads or plants of leaf lettuce do you eat a week? Plant enough to last a couple of weeks and a few extras to allow for some that won't make it. Scatter the seeds one half to an inch apart. It is really easy to plant them too thick. Then when you try to thin the seeds it's difficult not to do significant damage to the remaining plants.

I seed leaf lettuce across my wide garden beds in rows about 12 to 14 inches apart, putting about 15 seeds per foot with the plan to thin them later once I can assess the stand. If I'm setting out transplants a spacing of 6 inches is about right. Cos or Romaine types are often larger and can be set out 8 to 10 inches apart in rows 16 to 20 inches apart. If you are growing a patch of lettuce to "mow" or harvest young with scissors you can forgo the rows, scatter seed more densely over the area, and not thin nearly as much.

When the plants have two or three true leaves thin them to about 4 to 6 inches apart. If you like you can leave them at about 3 to 4 inches and plan on removing every other one later in an early harvest, allowing the rest to grow on to full size.

I prefer transplants to direct seeding. Out in the garden it is difficult to control growing conditions and germination is often erratic and the resulting stands poor. By starting your own seeds you can get them off to a good start in ideal conditions and then transplant the right number of young growing plants out into the garden.

In winter start the seedlings by a bright window or beneath florescent lights. After they get their first true leaf move them to a bright outdoor location on mild sunny days. That way they will grow into stocky, strong plants.

In fall start the seedlings in the outer shade of a large tree or beneath the eaves of your home so they will receive good light but be protected from the hot sun. Use a rowcover to slow drying and improve germination. When the seedlings start to get true leaves, gradually move them into more light beginning with the early morning sun.

By the time your early fall planted seeds are ready to go out into the garden the weather should be cooling off enough for them to take right off. Winter started transplants are also hardened off by their increasing exposure outdoors during a time when seedlings in the garden would have struggled with the erratic cold snaps of a Texas winter. Either way you'll be off to a good head start compared to direct seeded lettuce.

Stagger your plantings about 2 weeks apart to keep fresh lettuce coming on through the season. Lettuce prefers cool growing conditions for best growth and quality. When the weather heats up in spring the quality declines rapidly. The leaves become bitter and the plants begin to "bolt" as the stem elongates into a tall bloom stalk.

Leaf lettuce varieties take about 40 days from seeding to harvest while head types may take 70 days. This is another reason the head types are more of a challenge.

To get more from your garden space, consider interplanting your lettuce with slower maturing crops. Cabbage is slow to mature and makes a good interplanted vegetable with the fast maturing lettuce varieties in the fall. In spring you can start setting tomato transplants in where lettuce plants are being harvested to make double use of the bed area.

Another option is to include lettuce in ornamental beds. The colorful leaf types are downright pretty and make a great addition to any bed. Lettuce can even be grown in containers as long as the soil volume is at least one gallon. Larger containers are even better.

Plant Care
Lettuce performs best if you keep it growing well with adequate soil moisture and moderate fertilization. Water transplants in with a dilute solution of soluble fertilizer according to label instructions. Repeat this application twice weekly for a couple of weeks to ensure the new plants are off to a good start.

A light application of dry fertilizer when the plants have been in about two weeks should take them on through their harvest time. Sprinkle one half cup of a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio fertilizer per 10 foot of planting row. Then lightly scratch it into the surface and water it in well.

Lettuce is shallow rooted so avoid deep cultivation. Stay ahead of weeds so you don't disturb the lettuce plants later when removing large competing weeds. Light, shallow cultivation is best. You can mulch the best when plants are well on their way. This will also help prevent soil from splashing onto the leaves during rain or irrigation.

Lettuce actually gets sweeter in the refrigerator after a day or so. The milky sap can become bitter and refrigerating seems to improve things a bit. If you are planning on using the lettuce within a day or so you can wash the leaves or harvested plants before placing them in the refrigerator. Then shake off any excess water.

If it needs to keep longer go ahead and harvest it dry and store in a plastic bag where it will keep several weeks. Wait to wash it until you are ready to use it or the wet leaves will tend to decay faster in storage.

Feb. 27 Garden Tour 1: Out of Winter Hibernation, Green Growth and Using Lettuce Transplants zone 7, Maryland. Chinese cabbage. Lettuce crave nitrogen.

Feb. 26 lettuce Started on Feb. 5.

PLANTING, GROWING, AND HARVESTING LETTUCE Garden lettuce is far superior—in both taste and vitamin A content—to supermarket brands. Here’s how grow this cool-season crop—best planted in the spring and fall.

Lettuce grows well in the spring and fall in most regions. Lettuce seedlings will even tolerate a light frost. Temperatures between 45° F and 65° F are ideal.

Because lettuce grows quickly, the best approach is to plant a small amount at a time, staggering your plantings.

Before you plant your lettuce seeds, make sure the soil is prepared. It should be loose and drain well so it’s moist without staying soggy. To keep the soil fertile, feed it with organic matter about one week before you seed or transplant. Since the seed is so small, a well-tilled seedbed is essential. Large clods will reduce germination.

Direct sowing is recommended as soon as the ground can be worked. Plant seeds ½ inch deep. Snow won’t hurt them, but a desiccating cold wind will.

If you want an earlier crop, however, you may start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost date for an earlier crop. Harden off seedlings for about one week, and transplant outside between 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after last spring frost.

Leaf lettuce: Plant 4 inches apart.
Cos and loose-headed types: Plant 8 inches apart.

Cover the seeds with ¼ to ½ inch of soil. Water thoroughly at time of transplant.

Consider planting rows of chives or garlic between your lettuce to control aphids. They act as “barrier plants” for the lettuce.

You should be able to sow additional seeds every two weeks for a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.

Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting. Lettuce prefers soil that is high in humus, with plenty of compost and a steady supply of nitrogen to keep if growing fast. Use organic alfalfa meal or a slow-release fertilizer.

To plant a fall crop, create cool soil in August by moistening the ground and covering it with a bale of straw. A week later, the soil under the bale will be about 10° F (6° C) cooler than the rest of the garden. Sow a three-foot row of lettuce seeds every couple of weeks—just rotate the straw bale around the garden.

Make sure soil remains moist but is well drained. An organic mulch will help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and keep soil temperatures cool throughout the warmer months.

Lettuce will tell you when it needs water. Just look at it. If the leaves are wilting, sprinkle them anytime—even in the heat of the day—to cool them off and slow down the transpiration rate.

Weed by hand if necessary, but be careful of plant roots: They are shallow.

Planning your garden so that lettuce will be in the shade of taller plants, such as tomatoes or sweet corn, may reduce bolting in the heat of the summer.

Lettuce should be harvested when full size, but just before maturity. You want it young and tender.

Before maturity, you can harvest leaf lettuce by simply removing outer leaves so that the center leaves can continue to grow. Butterhead or romaine types can be harvested by removing the outer leaves, digging up the whole plant or cutting the plant about an inch above the soil surface. A second harvest is often possible this way.

Mature lettuce gets bitter and woody and it will go bad quickly, so check your garden everyday.

It’s best to harvest in the morning before leaves have been exposed to sun.

Keep lettuce in the refrigerator for up to 10 days in a loose plastic bag.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard: Underrated Star

Fall To Do

3 Things To Do In Your Garden Right Now [Fall]

10/4/16 email from "Phil (Smiling Gardener)"

1. Don’t remove annuals. What’s left over of your tomato, squash, potato plants, etc. in the fall doesn’t have to be removed from the garden. You certainly could move the stems and leaves into a compost pile if they’re just too darn ugly for you, but you can also let those things decompose right where they are over the winter. They’ll eventually become part of the mulch layer and the roots will continue to feed soil life throughout the winter.

2. Plant a cover crop. Pick a legume (like clover) and a grass (like oats), sow them both and make sure they have enough water for the first couple of weeks to improve germination. They’ll do a whole lot of good for you during the off season.

7 Things To Do In Your Garden Right Now [Fall] Smiling Gardener Most gardens are deficient in Calcium... Calcium Carbonate or gardening lime.



Clear Glass Round Serving/Mixing Bowl, large 10" x 5" high. by Red Co $15.99 Prime.

10 Vegetables That You Can Grow All Year Long!

How to Make a Worm Tower: by Morag Gamble add tissues, kitchen waste, shredded newspaper, coffee grounds

9" PCV pipe, 2.5 ft. long. Drill 5mm holes in bottom 2/3 of pipe [will be buried]. Dig holw and bury. Put compost at the base. Add big handfull of composting worms: red worms, tiger worms, blue worms.

Make sure the holes are below the soil. Backfill but don't compress it. Mulch the top of the soil. Put a handful of mulch on top of the worms. It helps to discourage flies and keep a nice stable temperature. Place a plastic pot on top of the pipe upside down to keep animals out and keep too much rain from getting in.

How To Make A DIY Worm Tower GreenShortz DIY. More, bigger holes. Use replair coupling for lid. Add a little grit, sand, on top of worms to help them process.

Three winter gardening shortcuts from Graham Ross

Graham Ross: Winter Vegetable Garden, Ep 22

Graham Ross: Vegie Garden Tips, Ep 16 Fall chores

Gardening: Vegie garden, Ep 1 Fall

Graham Ross: Graham's Vegetable Garden #2, Ep 7 (14.03.14) Fall

How To Build Beautiful Self-Sufficient Gardens For Any Climate: Keyhole Gardens | Amazing Earth

PERMACULTURE / high-yield production in limited space / The raised bed hugelkultur

Backyard Permaculture: Starting at home... Peter Cundall.

Permaculture and NoTill Gardening


Urban Agroecoloy: 6,000 lbs of food on 1/10th acre - Urban Homestead - Urban Permaculture

Secrets to a successfull urban garden with little work.


LearnHowToGarden youtube

Growing Winter Salads

HOW TO GROW FIGS IN A CONTAINER OR POT Morag Gamble : Our Permaculture Life youtube

10/7/16 email from "Phil (Smiling Gardener)"

Today I’m back to drinking tea... Earl grey - an oldie, but a goodie.

And yes, those white roses in the background are in a mason jar because mason jars are useful for almost everything, just like duct tape (which I used to think was 'duck tape' - don't lie, so did you :).

Along with the roses come 3 tips to simplify your gardening duties this weekend:

1. An alternative to composting. If you don’t have (or want) a compost pile, you can instead bury your food scraps directly into a different pocket of the garden each time your bucket gets full. Dig a little trench 12 inches deep, toss in the scraps, mix them with some of the soil you pulled from the hole and then cover them with the remaining soil. In 2-4 months the soil will be much improved and you can plant something there. Do this in a different spot each time and you’ll eventually have a garden with some nice organic matter going on.

2. Chop and drop weeds. Similar to above, whenever you pull weeds, just drop them back on the soil. They’ll become part of the mulch, and eventually, part of the soil. Many of them are loaded with minerals. A few of them may take hold again, but not most of them, especially when you’ve established a good mulch layer. I have a big comfrey plant right next to each of my fruit trees. Every single month I chop it down to make mulch. It’s definitely a happy-to-take-over-your-whole-garden type of plant, but if you keep on top of it, it’s a fantastic mulch maker.

3. Grow your own mulch. This year I left a few lawn areas unmowed (unmown?) right beside my garden. I dug an edge around them with a spade so they’d look like part of the garden design, and now when I need some mulch, I can mow/scythe/cut them down and then rake those clippings into the garden. I guess this is similar to a cover crop, but instead of doing it in the garden, I did it in the lawn and it stays like that year round. Personally, I'd like to allow the whole lawn to get a foot tall - less mowing, less watering, more biodiversity, more homes for beneficial insects and animals, more mulch, and in my view, much more beauty - but not everyone (ahem, dad)concurs. You can decide what works for you.

The Benefits of Growing Your Own Organic Greens – and How to Start

Grow Lights

How To Start Seeds A comprehensive guide to growing vegetables and flowers from seed By David Grist

Keep it simple
Because each plant has unique seed-starting requirements, it helps to start small by growing just a few varieties. Some seeds — such as tomatoes and marigolds — are especially easy to start indoors. If you're a beginner, choose those first, and then move on to more fussy seeds, such as petunias.

Other good choices for beginners:


Make sure you have lots of light
All seedlings require a considerable amount of light, so make sure you have a sunny, south-facing window. If seedlings don't get enough light, they will be leggy and weak.

If you don't have a sunny, south-facing window, invest in grow lights and a timer . It's the best way to ensure consistent, abundant light. Set the timer for 15 hours a day, water regularly and you're sure to get great results.

Grow lights are perfect for indoor seedstarting. You can also use them to grow light-loving houseplants, such as orchids.

Learn more in the article Gardening Under Lights.

Gardening Under Lights Efficient grow light stands bring the sunshine indoors.

WITH a set of grow lights, you can grow many plants indoors, including houseplants, orchids and some fruit and vegetable crops. Grow lights are ideal for seed starting because they help ensure stocky, green seedlings. A wintertime harvest of herbs and salad greens can also be grown under lights. By learning how plants use light and about the fixture options, you can select an indoor lighting system that is right for the plants you want to grow.

The Right Color

Sunlight contains the complete spectrum of light including all colors of the rainbow: red through yellow to blue and violet. Plants use the full spectrum for photosynthesis, although red and blue light seem to be most critical. Choose "full-spectrum" lights because they ensure that plants get the type of light they need.

Grow lights, such as this Compact 2-Tier SunLite Garden, are attractive enough to have in the kitchen. Our Vermont-made line of SunLite Gardens includes both standard (4 feet wide) and compact (2 feet wide) models.

The Right Intensity

The intensity of light that a plant receives is determined by the wattage of the bulb and by how close the plant is to the light source. Just as plants differ in their need for certain colors of light, they also differ in their need for light intensity. Typically, those plants that are native to tropical jungles or shady forests do not require as much light as plants that evolved in dry, sunny climates, such as the Mediterranean or southern Mexico.

Most flowering houseplants, such as African violets and begonias, are happy being 10 to 12 inches away from a light source. Foliage plants, such as ivy or philodendron, can be placed as much as 36 inches away from a light source. But many flowering plants, such as orchids, gardenias and citrus, as well as most vegetable plants, require a much higher light intensity to flower and produce fruit.

Vegetable seedlings need 14-18 hours of light a day.

The Right Duration

No matter what types of plants you are growing, you must give them a rest. When it's dark, plants respirate, which is an important part of their growth process. The balance of rest time to active growth time affects many biological processes, including the growth rate, and the setting of buds and fruit.

Botanists usually divide plants into three categories relating to their preferred day length: short-day, long-day or day-neutral.

Short-day plants, such as chrysanthemums, kalanchoe, azaleas and begonias, will thrive on less than 12 hours of light per day. In fact, these plants must usually go through a series of even shorter days before they will set buds and flower.

Long-day plants require at least 14 to 18 hours of light each day. Most seedlings for vegetables and garden flowers are long-day plants. When they don't receive enough light they get pale and leggy.

Day-neutral plants, including foliage plants, geraniums, coleus and African violets, are usually satisfied with 8 to 12 hours of light all year-round.

Using Fluorescent Bulbs

Fluorescents produce two to three times more light than incandescent bulbs for the same amount of energy. They are the most inexpensive lights for indoor gardening.

Full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs, such as our SunLite bulbs, produce a balance of cool and warm light that replicates the natural solar spectrum. These lights are excellent for seedlings as well as houseplants, culinary herbs and other plants.


The bulbs in our Grow Light Stands are some of the best full-spectrum bulbs on the market, replicating 98 percent of the solar spectrum. The bulbs use less electricity and last significantly longer than standard fluorescent bulbs. If you're looking for complete grow kits, we invite you to check out the products at Green State Gardener, another great Vermont gardening company.

Use XNET9488 for 10% discount at Gardeners' Supply.

Drip Tray, Small is 22-5/8" L x 15-1/2" W x 2" Deep $14.95
Drip Tray, Large $22.95
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Stack-n-Grow Light System [$169.00]
Light is 31" L x 15-1/2" W x 21" H
Dimensions between the posts are 28" L and 12 1/4" W
Lights are 36" L

or, compact [$159.00]
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Maximum distance between tray and light fixture is 17-1/8"
Fixture holds 2 full-spectrum T5 bulbs, included
Bulbs last up to 10,000 hours for years of use

and seed starter trays:
Organic GrowEase Seed Starting Success Kit $39.95

Self-watering seed starting trays prevent over- and under-watering
Includes two 24-cell seed starters, organic seed starting mix and seedling markers
This complete seed starter kit includes two 24-cell GrowEase Seed Starters, 6 quarts of Organic Seed Starting Mix and 24 wooden seedling markers. Just add seeds!
14-3/4" L x 9-1/4" W
Each cell is 2" square x 2-1/4" H
Germination dome is 2-3/4" H
Water reservoir holds 10 cups
Organic Seed-Starting Mix: Contains Bio-Blended Compost (composted manures and plant materials), sphagnum peat moss, perlite, mineral and nutrient amendments
GrowEase Seed Starter Kit, 12 Cells Item# 8589988 $9.95
Self-watering; prevents over- and under-watering
Dishwasher-safe so it's easy to clean between uses
12-cell seed starter is 14-3/4" L x 5-1/2" W
24-cell seed starter is 14-3/4" L x 9-1/4" W
Each cell is 2" square x 2-1/4" H
Germination dome is 2-3/4" H
Water reservoir holds 5 cups (12-cell kit) or 10 cups (24-cell kit)

and Heat Mat:
Heat Mat, 19” x 9” Item# 34-357 $39.95
Heat Mat, 20-3/4” x 20-3/4” Item# 39-421 $69.95

and Power Strip with Timer Item# 38-972 $34.95

4 timer-controlled outlets and 4 manual on/off outlets override on-off switch
36" power cord
Review: Timer is simple to setup but is restricted to only one time of day for all plugs. Not usErik for the tiered grow lights it came with. Using this timer, all three shelves would have to be on the same schedule.

See Green State timer below

Green State Gardener free shipping over $50

Heavy Duty Timer, 15A, 3600W, 240V $26.00
$28 at

6" Duct Fan, 160 CFM $52.33

Inline duct fans improve ventilation and temperature control without major system rework or expense. Can be installed at any angle, and engineered for quiet operation. Easy installation for metal or flex duct. The inline duct fans can be speed controlled using solid-state speed control.

8" Duct Fan, 210 CFM $60.01

Inline duct fans improve ventilation and temperature control without major system rework or expense. Can be installed at any angle, and engineered for quiet operation. Easy installation for metal or flex duct. The inline duct fans can be speed controlled using solid-state speed control.

7 Day Dual Outlet Digital Timer $18.00

encourages productive growth with consistent hours of light.
1 minute On/Off
Up to 8 On/Off cycles per day
Controls 2 outlets simultaneously
15 amps / 1725 watts

Active Eye Flashlight (green LED) $14.00

Choose a flashlight that is good for you-and your plants. The Active Eye flashlight shines a beam of green light through its 9 powerful, high-intensity LED bulbs. The benefit of green light over white is that green doesnt interrupt the essential plant photosynthesis process, whereas bursts of white light can be incredibly disruptive. The green bulbs, which burn for over 100,000 hours, are bright enough to be used for a number of other night light needs. Uses three AAA batteries sold separately.

Bug Shield $12.34

Block the bugs and so much more! Our Bug Shield plastic mesh bug screen catches insects of all kinds, as well as stopping potentially damaging fungal spores. Use it on your fans and ducting, as it is suitable for both intake and exhaust purposes. The Bug Shields feature washable materials, an elasticized opening, and an adjustable drawstring to seal off a perfect fit.

Diamond Foil $51.00 [4' x 26' white]

Diamond Foil reduces heat, evenly diffuses light, and offers thermal protection. It is PET coated and made of 4.5mil thick, 100% blackout material.

Digital Moisture Meter-LL01825 $15.79

Digital results from 0 to 9. 9. Printed instructions and extensive plant list.

Digital pH Meter-LL01845 $14.57

Digital results from 3. 5 to 9. 0. Instructions and plant pH preference list included.

Digital Soil Thermometer-LL01625 $18.02

Easy to read digital readout. Guidelines for germination and transplant temperatures included.

Rapitest Soil Test Kit $20.37

4 individual colour comparators for pH, N, P, K. 10 tests for each.

Hydrofarm Dual Outlet Analog Grounded Timer TM01015D $15.00

Using an analog timer to automate your lighting adds convenience and encourages productive growth with consistent hours of light.
15 minute On/Off
24 hour cycle
Controls 2 outlets simultaneously
15 amps / 1725 watts
Voltage 120

Electronic Water Timer-HGWT $25.63

The Hydrofarm Electronic Water Timer makes watering your plants a breeze. This single-station analog timer attaches directly to your garden hose and automatically controls sprinklers, drip systems or soaker systems. It two simple dials that allow gardeners to set the frequency of watering from 1 hour to 1 week, and the run time from 1 minute to 2 hours. This timer is easy to use and requires no wiring. Just attach it to your hose, set it, and forget it.

Horti Hood Pop-Up Greenhouse 90 $149.00

Extend your growing season in spring and fall with this easy-access greenhouse shelter. Use it in spring to start seeds, harden off seedlings and protect young plants from cold temperatures and harsh winds. Use it again in fall to protect plants from early cold spells. Install this wall-mounted dome over a collection of container plants or a garden bed that is placed against a wall. It covers almost 35 square feet! Lift for convenient access to plants. Made from UV-stabilized, reinforced material. Shock-cord poles make it easy to install. (Assembly easiest with two people.) Folds flat for storage. Two mesh-covered air vents help prevent heat build-up. Includes ground pegs; in high wind areas we recommend anchoring the Horti Hood to the ground with Earth Staples, sold separately.Wall mounting hardware not included.
Product Details
Wall-mounted half-dome protects plants from harsh weather
Covers almost 35 square feet!
Pops open in seconds and folds for storage
UV-stable, reinforced 95% PVC/5% polyester
5-1/2' L 8-1/4' W x 5-1/2' H

Mtl Film 1 mil 50" $26.95

This metalized plastic sheeting will reflect about 98% of the light that hits it. You should put it on the walls around your plants to reflect wasted light back to the plants. It comes in three different roll lengths and two different thicknesses, 1 mil and 2 mil (1 mil is 1/1000th of an inch). We recommend the 2 mil for the better workability and strength. It comes in 50'' wide rolls.

Motion-Activated Outdoor Night Lights, Set of 3 $29.95

Battery-powered lights for indoor and outdoor use; no wiring needed
Built-in photosensor, so light comes on only at night, extending battery life
Perfect for entryway, walkway, stairs or shed
Set of 3
These ingenious battery-powered lights are inconspicuous by day, indispensable at night. The three super-bright LED bulbs in each light are motion-activated so they provide light when you need it. Outdoors, use them to illuminate a stairway, deck or walkway; place one near the doorknob and there's no more fumbling to unlock. Add a second one just inside and you'll never have to enter a dark house. Perfect for hallways, staircases — any dark corner. Sensor detects motion up to 10 feet away. Light stays on for approximately 45 seconds from last motion detected.
Product Details
Plastic, rubber, stainless steel
3" W x 2-3/4" H x 1-1/4" deep
Requires 3 AA batteries, not included

ShrubJacket Covers $15.00

A Shrub Protector that Blends into the Landscape ShrubJackets protect your shrubs from winter wind, snow, sunscald, and hungry deer as effectively as burlap, but they're more attractive, easier to install and secure snugly without breaking branches. Made from breathable, non-woven polypropylene fabric with a leaf motif that blends into the landscape; drawstrings at the top and bottom keep the cover in place. Includes storage bag.
Nonwoven polypropylene fabric
Small ShrubJacket measures 28" H x 30" W and covers a shrub up to 2' H x 2' W
Medium ShrubJacket measures 42" W x 40" H and covers a shrub up to 3' H x 3 1/2' W
Large ShrubJacket measures 54" W x 50" H and covers a shrub up to 4 1/2' W x 4' H
The customizable 5' x 7' ShrubJacket Sheet is ideal for tall plants and roses with irregular shapes or sizes
Imported fabric
Protect shrubs from harsh winter weather and browsing deer
Easy to install without damaging branches
More attractive alternative to burlap
Secures snugly with drawstrings
Choice of four sizes

Power Strip with Timer Item# 38-972 $34.95
Heat Mat, 19” x 9” Item# 34-357 $39.95
Organic GrowEase Seed Starting Success Kit $39.95
Stack-n-Grow Light System [$169.00]
GrowEase Seed Starter Kit, 12 Cells Item# 8589988 $9.95
Total = $293.80

Green State Gardener

ntainer Plant Protection Cover $14.00

Spun-bonded polypropylene
Med. is 35-1/2" W x 43-1/4" H
X-Large is 47-1/4" W x 71" H
Approx 60% light transmission
Easy-to-install covers protects potted plants
Shield plants from extreme cold and winter winds
Ideal for shrubs growing in containers

Pop-Up Plant Protector $11.00
Active Eye Lighted Loupe, 30x $15.00

First Urban ‘Agrihood’ In America Feeds 2,000 Households For Free The agrihood is located in Detroit, Michigan, and feeds thousands of families in the area. Children and adults can learn about sustainable agriculture when they take part in the food forest's development.

Have you ever contemplated the fact that humans are the only species on Earth that pays to live on the planet? This continues, despite the fact that there is presently more than enough resources to care for every citizen.

As a matter of fact, enough food is produced around the world to feed 10 billion people. However, because 70% of the mono crops which are grown are feed livestock intended for slaughter, a distribution problem exists. In effect, 795 million people go to bed hungry each evening.

Cover Crops

Hess, Anna. Homegrown Humus: Cover Crops in a No-Till Garden. 2013, Kindle.

Buckwheat [Fagopyrum esculentum
The main cover crop I use. For Summer. Buy at feedstore.

Sweet Potatoes [Ipomoea batatas] summer [start slips early] Sun hemp grows well with it.

Oilseed Radishes [Raphamus sativus] (tillage radish, groundhog radish, fodder radish, forage radish) plant in late summer. Worms are attracted to the decomposing tubers in early spring. Winter-kill at around 25 degrees F.

Oats [Avena sativa] Fall cover crop, a straw-like mulch. Resemble tall grasses. Plant into the lawn in late summer.

Annual Rye [Secale cereale] Winter hardy, covers early spring gap. More winter hardy than any other cover crop. Rye stubble is high in carbon; apply nitrogen. Rye has allelopathic qualities; wait a full month before direct seeding veg.

Fall--Plant oats, rye and oilseed radishes. They will die midwinter. Then plant rye.

Summer--buckwheat, sweet potatoes Sunflowers Pull up nutrients from deep in the soil. Encourage arbuscular mycorrhizae. Stems too big; cut up and add to compost.

Annual Ryegrass [Lolium multiflorum] Will grow in worst garden soil.

Crimson Clover [Trifolium incarnatum] Not a good winter weed suppressor.

Recommends Johnny's Seeds for source. But feedstore cheaper.

Hess Blog on Cover Crops

Cover Crops

Covering the bases with cover crops "Cover crops are usually planted between the regular crop production periods," says Hanna Poffenbarger. Poffenbarger is a graduate student in the department of agronomy at Iowa State University. She researched cover crops in her graduate work at the University of Maryland. "They protect the soil from erosion and take up excess nutrients when the ground would otherwise be bare."

Instead of being harvested, many cover crops are returned to the soil. In this way their nutrients can be used by other crops. Legume cover crops, in particular, are an excellent source of nitrogen - a key nutrient for all plant life. Cover crops also control weeds and help to manage pests.

Once the cover crops' season is finished, they need to break down quickly as the next crop begins to grow. Working under the advisement of Steven Mirsky (USDA-ARS) and Ray Weil (University of Maryland), Poffenbarger examined mixtures of two cover crops, cereal rye (a grass) and hairy vetch (a legume).

Cereal rye decomposes slowly and provides long-lasting mulch. This controls weeds and conserves soil moisture. However, it leaves the soil without much nitrogen for any crop planted later. Hairy vetch decomposes faster and provides a more immediate supply of nitrogen, but it doesn't make a good mulch.

What is the perfect proportion of these two cover crops? "We wanted to determine how the composition of the cover crop mixture affects the rate of nitrogen release and the persistence of the mulch," Poffenbarger explains.

A second question was how another source of nitrogen, poultry litter (chicken manure mixed with bedding) affected the cover crop decomposition. Poultry litter is often added to agricultural fields in Maryland, and the study tested decomposition of cover crop mixtures with and without poultry litter.

In general, researchers found more hairy vetch sowed on the field resulted in more nitrogen. The amount of cover crops broken down also increased. Additionally, cover crops combined with poultry litter had even more decomposition and nitrogen release than cover crops alone. However, this result only applied if the cover crop contained at least 50 percent cereal rye.

The method by which scientists applied poultry litter also played an important role. Poultry litter mixed with cover crop residues increased decomposition and nitrogen release. In contrast, poultry litter applied under the soil surface did not affect these factors.

Poffenbarger's research will be used to develop decision-making tools to help farmers understand which benefits their cover crops can best provide. Some farmers might prefer cover crops that break down slowly, but others may want quick nitrogen release.

"Farmers can use our results to optimize cover crop management for their specific mulch and nitrogen goals," she says.

Poffenbarger notes that future work will provide more information about how cover crops break down in different locations. "The final step," Poffenbarger says, "is to make this information easily available through online resources."

Sweet Potato Slips

Growing Sweet Potato Slips for Containers & Beds Rob Bob's Backyard Farming & Aquaponics

Rob Bob's Backyard Farming & Aquaponics topic page.

How to Grow Turmeric in Containers & Cold Climate Growing Tips Rob Bob's Backyard Farming & Aquaponics

First Turmeric & Ginger Harvest of 2015, Lots of some & a little of the other.

How to Start Organic Sweet Potato Slips: All the Steps

Sprouting Ginger in Towels vs Water, Days 0-64

Two Ways To Plant & Grow Ginger California Gardening< P> How to Grow Lemon Tree from Seed Indoors FC Growing & Gardening Channel

How To Grow GINGER in Containers at Home FC Growing & Gardening Channel


Harvesting Rosella & Sowing Seeds on our Urban Farm Rob Bob's Backyard Farming & Aquaponics. Rosella/sorrel/edible hibiscus.

Roselle [Hibiscus sabdariffa] a species of Hibiscus native to West Africa,[1] used for the production of bast fibre and as an infusion, in which it may be known as carcade. It is an annual or perennial herb or woody-based subshrub, growing to 2–2.5 m (7–8 ft) tall. The leaves are deeply three- to five-lobed, 8–15 cm (3–6 in) long, arranged alternately on the stems. The flowers are 8–10 cm (3–4 in) in diameter, white to pale yellow with a dark red spot at the base of each petal, and have a stout fleshy calyx at the base, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) wide, enlarging to 3–3.5 cm (1.2–1.4 in), fleshy and bright red as the fruit matures. They take about six months to mature.

Rosella Growing Information Botanical Name:Hibiscus sabdariffa

Common Names: asam balanda, bissap, edible hibiscus, flor de jamaica, grosella, karkade, lumanda, luo shen hua, meshta, omutete, paya, queensland jam plant, rajeab, rosela, roselle, saril, sorrel, susur. Plant Family: Malvaceae.

Plant Description
A native of tropical West Africa, it prefers warm climates. Rosella is an attractive annual shrub to 1.5 m high with large, lobed reddish leaves and attractive yellow hibiscus-like flowers. Rosellas are easy to grow, with few pest problems, hardy and productive. Most soil types are suitable, provided they are rich and well-drained. Plenty of water is needed to maintain growth, flowering and fruit development, mulching is beneficial. Three to four plants is all that is needed to produce a good crop. Plants normally begin to crop when about 3 months old and cropping may continue for 9 months or until the first frost. The fruit is ready to pick about 3 weeks after flowering, when they'll be 2 - 3 cm across at their widest part.

Planting Details
Sow When: Sow in early spring in tropical areas, rosellas need at least 5 months frost-free to bear. Rosellas need a very warm soil to germinate, preferably over 25°C. In southern areas of Australia this would be as late as October outside. Some years the soil might take even longer to warm up. So gardeners in cooler areas need to start seed indoors using a small bottom-heat unit, or the top of the water heater.

Planting Depth: Cover seed with 12 mm of fine soil.
Spacing: Plant several seeds 50 cm apart and thin seedlings to the strongest.

Food: the fleshy calyx is used in salads, jellies, cranberry-like sauces, jam and cordial, syrups and wine. Dried the red calyx is used for tea and it is an important ingredient in the commercial Red Zinger, Hibiscus and Fruit teas. The tea is very similar in flavour to rose-hips and high in vitamin C. Seeds are roasted and ground into flour. Young leaves can be steamed or stir-fried and are known as Red Sorrel in the Pacific.

Hedge: Rosella is an attractive annual hedge or windbreak for the summer garden.

Available as seed: Rosella

How To Grow Rosella & Make It Into Jam?

Why We Should Be Urban Farming

HOW TO: Turn your lawn into an urban farm

Homegrown Revolution (Award winning short-film 2009)- The Urban Homestead
Urban Homesteading

Profile of an Urban Homesteader

Video: 10 Ways to Make your Vegetable Garden More Productive in 2017...and Beyond!

Video: My Secret For Great Container Tomatoes Jeff Bernhard, Houston: tomatoes are heavy feeders, you need 1) epsom salts helps the photosynthesis process & keeps leaves green, add some to soil mix, then every few weeks add a tsp. in a gallon of water and feed your plants. It will leach out of the soil after a month if have heavy rains.

2) Fish bone meal. Phosphorus. Cheap. [bat quano, rock dust or colloidal phosphate (also called “soft phosphate”), or from bone sources, such as steamed bone meal or fish bone meal. Mineral phosphorus sources are cheaper and last longer in the soil. Bone sources are more readily absorbed by plants. Phosphorus is needed for root development, stem formation, and fruiting in summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, melons, and cucumbers. Inoculating seedling roots with Endo-Myccorhizae increases their ability to absorb soil phosphorus. ] Mix a few tbsp. with your soil to encourage flowers for fruit. Add every 2-3 weeks after the first month since it can also leach out. Try Hydrofarm BGC1002 Guano Grow Crazy 5-1-1, 3 pounds 5* $15.95 prime. Powder form.

3) Calcium Nitrate or Kelp 4 [Organic Calcium Sources for Gardens Dried, finely ground eggshells--flour are a great source of calcium for vegetable container gardens. Or dolomite lime or calcite. Calcium is a component of plant cell walls, and it’s needed for enzyme formation and nitrate uptake. Organic calcium can also be used to help neutralize excessively acidic soils, which is especially important when you’re growing green, leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, or cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. Try Dolomite Lime - Pure Dolomitic / Calcitic Garden Lime (5 Pounds) 5* $9.95 & FREE Shipping] Blossom end rot from deficiency of calcium. Mix a few tbsp in your soil. Every 4-5 weeks a tsp in water and let absorb overnight.

These three are critical. He also uses LiquiFeed by Miracle Grow. 9-4-9. A tsp every week.

Uses chicken wire to support the vines. Uses mesh bags to protect them from rats, mice, birds.

The Benefits of Baking Soda in the Garden ~ Noreen's Garden Wash hands, clean and soft.

Brassicas call cabbage worms; mix 1:1 baking soda and flour and dust your plants: the cabbage worms will eat it and die.

BS is excellent weed preventer. Sprinkle in crack of cement and they won't grow back.

Make tomatoes sweeter by sprinkling BS on ground--top dressing. Don't get it directly on the plants. Will burn the leaves. Rabbiits, ants, silverfish, cockroaches, slugs don't like BS. Pour BS or salt directly on slugs.

Test the pH of your soil. Wet some soil and sprinkle BS on it. If it bubbles it is acidic.

Gardening With EPSOM SALT For A Greener & Healthier Plant--DO NOT USE TABLE SALT! IV Organic. Made from magnesium and sulfur. Will make leaves greener. Magnesium is crucial to cell wall development and aids plant uptake of essential nutrients. Sulphur corrects soil alkelinity. 1 tbsp per gallon of water. Once every three months, but not in winter.

Citrus care notes: citrus trees tend to get sun burned.

Why & How to Use Epsom Salt in Your Vegetable Garden Gary Pilarchik. Hard to over-fertilize with ES. Use it on all plants. Container plants tend to suck the life out of your soil. Add 1 tbsp for every 5 gal of soil; mix thoroughly. Then weekly spray leaves with 1 tsp in a quart of water. Or 1 tbsp in a gallon and soak the plant leaves and soil every two weeks. When you water or rain a lot of nutrients get leached out.

In ground, add 1 tbsp ES into planting hole. Mix well; don't leave a pile of chemical. Really disperse it through the hole. Add 1 tbsp in 1 gallon of water makes a leaf drench; a foliar feed. Soak the leaves. Do when the flowers come on veg. Also add 1 tbsp to the soil. Then scatter 1 tbsp around the base of the plant, 3-4 inches from the stem. Repeat mid-season or sooner if the plant is struggling.

Square Foot Gardening (SFG): Growing More in Less Space GrowVeg. SF Gardening Foundation, founded by engineer.

How to Make a No-Dig Garden: Morag Gamble's Method for Simple Abundance - Our Permaculture Life Put newspaper or cardboard under the mulch layer. Weeds in compost defeated by cardboard or newspaper. In hot climates it also acts as an insulator. Also, the compost then adds nutrients to the life of the soil. Quickly improves soil.

Step 1 Open up the soil to allow air and moisture to penetrate down and deal with any compaction. Leave the weeds which add to organic matter. Throw any fresh green stuff on top. Use a fork and just gently open the soil leaning fork about 45 degrees. Don't fork in the pathways. Won't damage the earth worms. Important not to step on it after opening. Adds air and moisture without ruining the soil structure.

Step 2 Add in extra food for the soil organisms. Coffee grounds, tea leaves, worm liquid or castings, comfrey tea plus the sludge, compost, biochar, leaves. Do after watering the site; capillary action helps it get down into the soil. For sandy or clay soil add cocoa peat, cocoanut fiber: adds structure and fiber to the soil. Comfrey greens: just break off and it will grow back in a week. Pigeon pea, cannas, greens available.

Step 3 add compost. About 10 centimeters thick [1/2 inch]. Wet everything down really well.

Step 4 is newspaper to stop weeds. If a slope, start at the top to catch water. Soak the newspaper. About 10 sheets thick. Overlap about 10 centimeters [1/2 inch] in every direction. Keeps soil temp more stable, keeps the moisture in. Water it in to make sure it doesn't suck any moisture from the soil; also check for holes.

Step 5 mulch heavily. Use seed-free hay, sugarcane mulch, straw. Break up and spread 1-2 inches thick at least. If the sun hits the newspaper it will break it down quickly. Wet down so it doesn't blow away if there is wind.

To plant, make a bird's nest down to the newspaper. Consider the newspaper the new topsoil. Use a pointed trowel to make smallest possible hole through the newspaper. Make hole, wiggle around, add handfull of compost. Plant and add another handfull of compost around it. Bring mulch around but not touching it. Firm in. Level to plant: remember your newspaper is the new topsoil. Use seedlings or large seeds.

For seeds, make a line in the mulch and add compost or potting soil and plant the seeds in that. Carrots, beets grow really well in these beds. Check out society garlic. Stems and flowers are edible. Garlic chives. Comfrey; grow it all over the garden: makes tea, compost activater, scatter on new beds, plant around fruit trees to improve the soil.

Morag channel site

Blogspot: Morag Gamble: Our Permaculture Life

Potting Soil Mix

Mel's Mix [from one foot gardening} is 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 vermiculite or coir. Add epsom salts, calcium [dolomite lime or eggshell flour], Phosphorus nitrate [bat guano].

Every month, fertilize with worm castings and epsom salt water.

Landscaping with Edibles

Video: Organic Edible Landscapes Common toxic landscape plants are oleanders, azaleas, Rhododendrons, hydrangeas, privet, daphne, and laurels. Tomatoes, potatoes, and rhubarb all have toxic leaves.

Pomegranate is a great small tree. Also Spice Zee Nectaplum, olive trees, or dwarf fruit trees, like Mandarins. Citrus, esp. lemons, can replace laurel as a hedge. Plant the trees 8' feet apart and train in a hedge shape. Crabapples are good. Persimmmon trees have gorgeous fall color. They can be grown tall as a shade tree, or prune to keep small.

For mid-size plants, green globe artichokes: silver foliage, edible flowers, super bee attractor. Rhubarb has huge leaves, and pink or red stalks. Does pretty well in the shade.

Currants and gooseberries are nice woody shrubs. Will produce berries in part shade. Roses are also edible, the flowers and hips.

Low growing plants: violas, snapdragons, marigolds for salads. Nasturtiums mounding or vining. Chard and red lettuces add pizazz. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, lavender, sage, and oregano are perfect.

Ground covers: cranberries look like creeping bearberries, alpine strawberries, mint is great but invasive. Creeping thyme. Prostrate rosemary for hanging over walls or beds. Landscaping with Edible Plants article with details.

Every landscape should have anchor plants, either edible or ornamental. Some common edible anchor plants are apple, citrus, pear, persimmon, fig, plum, olive, pomegranate, Spice Zee nectaplum, crab apples, or cherry (dwarf variety for limited space). If you want to mix it up, you can use an ornamental tree as an anchor. Great choices are maples, crepe myrtles, dogwood, redbud, or ornamental plums.


Video: Planting & Growing Rhubarb zone 8. Beautiful border plant. Great in pies and sauces. Perennial. H ardy to zone 4; deer resistant, easy to care for. Need one square yard of space for a rhubarb plant. Like sun; will tolarate some shade. Do not do well in the deep south.

Rhubarb in Texas I have read more that once that you can’t grow rhubarb down here because it is too hot! Well folks that just ain’t true. You can grow rhubarb in Texas. It won’t be foolproof, but it is very do-able.

First for those gardeners who are not at all familiar with rhubarb, let’s get to know this new-to-us vegetable. Rhubarb is a cousin of buckwheat and garden sorrel. It is native to China where historical records dating back to about 2700 B.C. detail its use as a medicinal herb for various ailments. Marco Polo brought it to fame in the West as a medicinal plant. For a period of time in the late 1700s through early 1800s, as a result of political conflicts, Chinese emperors forbade its export to the west.

It is not until the late 1700s that we find reference to rhubarb as a food plant. By about the 1800s, it had made its way to America where it began to become a popular vegetable in northern gardens. Most rhubarb production now is centered in the states of Washington, Oregon and Michigan, although it is a popular home garden vegetable across the northern tiers of states.

In these northern gardens, it is grown as a perennial and harvested from late spring through summer, depending on the location.

Southern gardeners who have purchased plants (dormant roots) or otherwise tried to grow this vegetable as a perennial have failed dismally as the infernal heat of summer combines with fungal rot organisms to deal it a fatal blow.

The key is to rethink the plant’s traditional culture and to grow it as an annual. What we call winter here in most of Texas, rhubarb calls sporadic cold snaps. It can be grown in most of the state from August to May and then discarded to make room for a heat-loving vegetable. You can also purchase roots and plant them as soon as the companies will dig and ship them, but this is much more expensive as they still will be only annual plants for us. So here are the basics of how to grow rhubarb from seed in our southern climate.

In mid- to late August plant seeds of rhubarb indoors. Most rhubarb varieties are vegetatively propagated and sold as dormant roots, but one called ‘Victoria’ is readily available from seed. I have also grown a variety called ‘Glaskin’s Perpetual’ but found ‘Victoria’ to be just as good or perhaps a little better. Soak the seeds in warm water for a few hours prior to planting. Then fill 4-inch pots with a good potting or seed starting mix. Place two seeds in each pot (to hedge your bet) and cover them about 1/4 inch deep with the mix and moisten. Keep them indoors at room temperature until they sprout, when they will then need to be placed in a very bright window.

Once the seedlings are up and on their way they can be moved to a bright shady outdoor location. Keep the soil moist but take care not to keep them soggy wet. When they are a week old, start fertilizing with a dilute liquid solution each time you water them. Soon afterward move them to a brighter location with some morning sun.

Prepare the garden soil well prior to setting the transplants out into the garden. Rhubarb is fairly tolerant of a wide soil pH range. I have seen it do well in the acid sands of East Texas and the high pH clays of Central Texas. It is beneficial, however, to mix several inches of compost into the soil and to plant in raised beds to facilitate drainage.

The plants respond well to fertilization, so select a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio product (such as 8-2-4 or 15-5-10) and mix in 2 to 4 cups (depending on strength of the product) per 100 square feet of garden bed area prior to planting.

After the young plants are about 4 inches tall or have three to five leaves you can plant them out into the garden. This will be in about late September or early October.

If the weather is still hot, a makeshift shade structure over them will help a lot to get them through the transition.

One easy technique is to cut a bamboo shoot or a small juniper branch with leaves attached and stick it into the ground on the west side of the plant, leaning over it a bit, to provide filtered shade. Within a few weeks as the heat begins to ease up a bit, the plants will be acclimated better and ready to take off on their own.

During this transition time watering is critical. The plants need to stay fairly moist, but not soggy wet. Rhubarb is susceptible to several fungal rots and if you overwater the plants, they will quickly succumb to stem and crown rots, and die.

Local Rhubarb in San Antonio Studies have shown that locally sourced and organic foods have more nutrients, including antioxidants, than traditionally grown foods. Studies also show that people who have allergies to foods or preservatives often find their symptoms lessen or go away all together when they eat only locally sourced and organic foods! Find locally sourced Rhubarb and more at local farms in San Antonio today at

Get Rhubarb From One of These Local Sources:

HUGHEY FARMS LLC, Boerne TX out I10 Farming Practices: Naturally Grown Sustainable (830) 331-2543

Queendom Farm, Round Mountain TX just north of 1604 west of I10 Farming Practices: Naturally Grown Practicing Organic Sustainable Vine - Ripened (512) 226-3297

Jenschke Orchards, Fredericksburg TX out I10, right at Kerrville. (830) 889-0756 Farming Practices: Naturally Grown Sustainable

Shady Creek Farm, Spicewood TX NW of Austin(512) 965-0504 Farming Practices: Naturally Grown Practicing Organic Vine - Ripened

Cooley Acres Farm, Meyersville TX halfway between Cuero and Victoria (361) 649-8310 Farming Practices: Practicing Organic Sustainable CSA delivering to Victoria

Quality Natural Foods, LLC, San Antonio TX just north of Wurzbach Parkway halfway betweeen 281 and I10 (210) 764-6016 We grow and process organic certified strawberries, blackberries and mangoes. White dry organic corn. We pack for wholesale, foodservice and retail markets (polybags). STRAW listed as produce!

Koch Ranches, Inc., San Antonio TX past 281 just north of I10. (210) 213-8688 Koch Ranches, located in Medina and Frio Counties, Texas is currently run by brothers Anthony and Charles, as well as Anthony’s son, Bret, and his daughter, Cheryl. Angus ranch.

Thunder Heart Bison, San Antonio TX east of 281 in Terrell Hills (210) 930-0841 also sell vegetables and gin.

Gardenville Health Foods, San Antonio TX (210) 654-7728 northeast off 410/35 other side of Windcrest.

Farmer's and Artisan's Market at the Legacy, San Antonio TX directly west outside 410, north of 90 (830) 832-6431 Farmer's Market

Circle H Orchards, Fair Oaks Ranch TX east of I10 2/3 way to Boerne (830) 755-6440 fruits, cider, pecans, farmers' market

Ragels Ziegenhof, New Braunfels TX on 35 west of 35 between Selma and New Branfels Bunker Rd. (830) 620-5980 We are a goat farm that sell cheese, kefir, and registered dairy goats.

Hill Country Fresh Harvest Farm & CSA, Pipe Creek TX northwest of SA west of Boerne between I10 and 173 just south of FM 16 (830) 688-0560 our local Farmer's Market areas in the towns of Boerne, Helotes, and Bandera Tx. In addition we are offering CSA's for folks who are interested in developing a wonderful healthy relationship with their farmer food provider.

Naegelin Farm, Lytle TX southwest on 35 halfway between 410 and 173 no phone listed. Oats

For Goodness Sake, New Braunfels TX east of 35 just south of New Braunfels (830) 606-1900

Markley Family Farm, Canyon Lake TX south of New Braunfels on FM46 (830) 629-4877 U-Pick We are an outdoor hydroponic U-pick farm that grows in a unique vertical stacking system allowing you to pick without bending and kneeling. Our main crop is strawberries. We also have other seasonal vegetables available year round, such as lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, cucumbers, eggplant, greens, broccoli, and spinach. You are always welcome to call before you come out to check on availability of produce.

Harvest Time Farm Stand, Canyon Lake TX between 281 and 35 twice as far as 1604 (830) 935-3159 compost. Sell at SFC Austin Farmers Markets on Wed & Sat year round.

McCall Creek Farms, Blanco TX out 281 3/4 way to Austin no phone Fruits and vegetables through the fall.

EIEIO's Organic Farm, Wimberley TX northwest of San Marcos(512) 847-2463 a growing CSA program open for new members.currently cultivating 3 acres of organic produce just above the creek using a drip irrigation system with well water.

Uncertain Farms, Seguin TX east on I10 well past Sequin (830) 832-6431 Straw vegetables, canned goods.

Wholesome Harvest Farm, Seguin TX east on I10 well past Sequin(210) 387-0635 fruits and vegs grown using organic methods. Our goal is to specialize in crops you can't find anywhere else. We especially enjoy raising unique heirloom fruit and vegetable varieties. a family farm

Kerrville Health Foods, Kerrville TX northwest I10 past Boerne and Comfort. Almost as far as Austin. (830) 896-7383 a small health food store. grains, deli, rum, rye

Vital Farms, Austin TX halfway from Buda to Austin turn right on 45, left on 183 (512) 632-1200 flagship farm at Onion Creek in Austin Texas and a number of independent family farms that uphold the Vital standards. certified organic pasture.

Sweet Berry Farm, Marble Falls TX northwest of AUstin almost as far as San Marcos (830) 798-1462 STRAW Farmer U-Pickstrawberry farm, which also offers other fruits and vegetables in season.

Countryside Family Farm, Cedar Creek TX southeast near Austin (512) 363-2310 barley, Farmer Farmers Market

Munkebo, Manor TX east of Austin as far as Buda (512) 278-0908 We grow produce using organic and Permaculture methods. We use organic red winter wheat mixed with Coyote Creek admix and local spent grain for our flock and pigs. We sell Muscovy ducks at any stage of development for starting your own flock.

Bradshaw Farm, Smithville TX northeast of SA out I10 then north distance to Austin (513) 360-4799 fruit and veg.

Hickory Lake Ranch,, La Vernia TX east on 87 two thirds distance to Seguin [25 miles southeast of San Antonio]we can meet you within a 60 mile radius. We do not ship. (210) 607-6943 no chemical fertilizers. to build healthy, living soils, growing healthy grasses. grains, meals, compost.

Twin County Lamb, Harper TX off I10 about as far as Austin (830) 864-4717 grains, oats, rye

Acadian Family Farm, Moulton TX east on I10 about as far as Austin (361) 596-4603 naturally grown and chemical-free.

Bin 555, San Antonio TX east of 281 before Thousand Oaks (210) 496-0555 meats and pork

Fresh From Texas, San Antonio TX off Wetmore Rd north of I10 past 281 (210) 654-3963 STRAW Certified Organic fruits and veg

SA Farms, SAT south on I10/35, west on 90 north on 151, left on Old Hwy. 90 (210) 431-2409 Certified Organic

Farmer's and Artisan's Market at the Legacy, 1902 North Loop 1604 E. ( Next to the Amusement Center), San Antonio TX 78259 / (830) 832-6431 arm Type: Farmer Farmers Market fruits & veg.

Hardie's Fruit And Vegetable Co - South Lp, San Antonio TX out I10 east just past 410 (214) 217-4126 Farmer Certified Organic

Bulverde, Bulverde TX (830) 935-3159 Thursday & Saturday, 10:00 A.M.-3:00 P.M.

Texstar Produce LLC, San Antonio TX south 281 near 1604 (210) 626-3281 Certified Organic veg & potatoes

Melissa's Farm, Castroville TX due west on 90 distance equal to center to 1604 outside (210) 737-4298 certified organic farmer. corn, veg, fruits

Custom Ingredients, New Braunfels TX (830) 608-0915 Certified & practicing Organic

Eugene Martinez Farm, Pleasanton TX south off 281 (830) 569-4354 Certified & practicing Organic grains, corn, veg, fruit

Millberg Farms, Kyle TX 2/3 to Austin (512) 667-0776 Certified Organic veg, buckwheat, fruit

McKemie HomeGrown Farm, Dale TX just past San marcos no phone, no list of products

Monocot, Manor TX east of Austin (512) 761-2778 Certified Organic grains and wheat

Tecolote Farm, Manor TX east of Austin (512) 276-7008 Certified Organic fruit, veg, more

Texas Agri Life Research And Extension Center, Uvalde TX west of SAT (830) 278-9151 Certified Organic grains, wheat

PJ Madison's, San Antonio TX 7824 Jones Maltsberger Rd, San Antonio TX 78216 / (210) 789-3354 farmer, no phone, no list

Gary Dutton Farm, Gorman TX northwest SAT near AT&T Center (254) 893-5038 farmer

Texas Natural Organics, Buda TX (512) 282-6103 farmer

Kinzer Farms, Uvalde TX west of SAT (830) 591-7817 farmer

Dr. Dirt Organic Productions, Austin TX (512) 784-5987

As the weather moves into the mild days of fall, rhubarb plants will slowly start to take off. Fertilize them monthly from September through April with 1 cup of the same product used prior to planting per 100 square feet.

While the plants can take considerable cold, a hard freeze will damage the aboveground leaves and petioles. For this reason some protection on very cold nights is worthwhile. Milk jugs for small plants or clear plastic tunnels for larger plants in rows can protect the above ground parts and give you a head start on the spring season.

By late winter to spring the plants will resume rapid growth. This is the time when harvest may begin. In Texas, rhubarb reaches a respectable size by about March or April and can be harvested on through May. The edible portions of the plant are the elongated and thickened leaf stalks. Grasp a leaf stalk and pull sideways. They break off easily. Or if you wish, you can cut them off. Immediately trim off the leaves leaving just the stalk. Then take the stalks inside to wash and refrigerate them. I prefer to harvest in the morning as the leaves wilt rapidly in the heat of the day.

I should note here that only the stalks are to be eaten, NOT the leaves on the end of the stalks. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid at levels that can be poisonous. However, while the leaves contain high concentrations of this compound, the levels found in the stalks are very low and not considered hazardous. For that matter, oxalic acid is also found in low levels in many other vegetables we eat including spinach, cabbage, beet greens, and to some degree potatoes and peas. Some references indicate that stalks with cold damage (soggy soft areas) or those with significant frost damage to their leaves should also be avoided, but this situation is more common on fall harvested rhubarb in the north and is generally not seen here in Texas during our spring harvest time.

Our Texas-grown rhubarb will generally be more green than red in color. This is partially due to our warm climate, partially because the reddest varieties are not available from seed, and also because our Texas plants are seedlings and therefore have considerable genetic variability. But they are quite productive and the quality is fine.

Rhubarb is not eaten fresh but rather is cooked in pies, tarts and sauces. The most famous dish of course is strawberry rhubarb pie. By a fortuitous coincidence only explained as Divine design our Texas rhubarb season and strawberry season run concurrently. So you can plant a strawberry-rhubarb patch this fall and enjoy a great harvest in spring.

For a wealth of information on using rhubarb in great culinary creations and many wonderful recipe ideas, check out the following Web site:

Local Farms [closest to furthest, straw first]

Quality Natural Foods, LLC, San Antonio TX just north of Wurzbach Parkway halfway betweeen 281 and I10 (210) 764-6016 We grow and process organic certified strawberries, blackberries and mangoes. White dry organic corn. We pack for wholesale, foodservice and retail markets (polybags). STRAW listed as produce!

Fresh From Texas, San Antonio TX off Wetmore Rd north of I10 past 281 (210) 654-3963 STRAW Certified Organic fruits and veg

Sweet Berry Farm, Marble Falls TX northwest of AUstin almost as far as San Marcos (830) 798-1462 STRAW Farmer U-Pickstrawberry farm, which also offers other fruits and vegetables in season.

Uncertain Farms, Seguin TX east on I10 well past Sequin (830) 832-6431 Straw vegetables, canned goods.

Koch Ranches, Inc., San Antonio TX past 281 just north of I10. (210) 213-8688 Koch Ranches, located in Medina and Frio Counties, Texas is currently run by brothers Anthony and Charles, as well as Anthony’s son, Bret, and his daughter, Cheryl. Angus ranch.

Thunder Heart Bison, San Antonio TX east of 281 in Terrell Hills (210) 930-0841 also sell vegetables and gin.

Gardenville Health Foods, San Antonio TX (210) 654-7728 northeast off 410/35 other side of Windcrest.

Farmer's and Artisan's Market at the Legacy, San Antonio TX directly west outside 410, north of 90 (830) 832-6431 Farmer's Market

PJ Madison's, San Antonio TX 7824 Jones Maltsberger Rd, San Antonio TX 78216 / (210) 789-3354 farmer, no phone, no list

Quality Natural Foods, LLC, San Antonio TX just north of Wurzbach Parkway halfway betweeen 281 and I10 (210) 764-6016 We grow and process organic certified strawberries, blackberries and mangoes. White dry organic corn. We pack for wholesale, foodservice and retail markets (polybags). STRAW listed as produce!

Bin 555, San Antonio TX east of 281 before Thousand Oaks (210) 496-0555 meats and pork

SA Farms, SAT south on I10/35, west on 90 north on 151, left on Old Hwy. 90 (210) 431-2409 Certified Organic

Farmer's and Artisan's Market at the Legacy, 1902 North Loop 1604 E. ( Next to the Amusement Center), San Antonio TX 78259 / (830) 832-6431 arm Type: Farmer Farmers Market fruits & veg.

Hardie's Fruit And Vegetable Co - South Lp, San Antonio TX out I10 east just past 410 (214) 217-4126 Farmer Certified Organic

Texstar Produce LLC, San Antonio TX south 281 near 1604 (210) 626-3281 Certified Organic veg & potatoes

Circle H Orchards, Fair Oaks Ranch TX east of I10 2/3 way to Boerne (830) 755-6440 fruits, cider, pecans, farmers' market

Hickory Lake Ranch,, La Vernia TX east on 87 two thirds distance to Seguin [25 miles southeast of San Antonio]we can meet you within a 60 mile radius. We do not ship. (210) 607-6943 no chemical fertilizers. to build healthy, living soils, growing healthy grasses. grains, meals, compost.

Melissa's Farm, Castroville TX due west on 90 distance equal to center to 1604 outside (210) 737-4298 certified organic farmer. corn, veg, fruits

Custom Ingredients, New Braunfels TX (830) 608-0915 Certified & practicing Organic

Ragels Ziegenhof, New Braunfels TX on 35 west of 35 between Selma and New Branfels Bunker Rd. (830) 620-5980 We are a goat farm that sell cheese, kefir, and registered dairy goats.

Texas Agri Life Research And Extension Center, Uvalde TX west of SAT (830) 278-9151 Certified Organic grains, wheat

Hill Country Fresh Harvest Farm & CSA, Pipe Creek TX northwest of SA west of Boerne between I10 and 173 just south of FM 16 (830) 688-0560 our local Farmer's Market areas in the towns of Boerne, Helotes, and Bandera Tx. In addition we are offering CSA's for folks who are interested in developing a wonderful healthy relationship with their farmer food provider.

Naegelin Farm, Lytle TX southwest on 35 halfway between 410 and 173 no phone listed. Oats

For Goodness Sake, New Braunfels TX east of 35 just south of New Braunfels (830) 606-1900

HUGHEY FARMS LLC, Boerne TX out I10 Farming Practices: Naturally Grown Sustainable (830) 331-2543

Bulverde, Bulverde TX (830) 935-3159 Thursday & Saturday, 10:00 A.M.-3:00 P.M.

Gary Dutton Farm, Gorman TX northwest SAT near AT&T Center (254) 893-5038 farmer

Queendom Farm, Round Mountain TX just north of 1604 west of I10 Farming Practices: Naturally Grown Practicing Organic Sustainable Vine - Ripened (512) 226-3297

Jenschke Orchards, Fredericksburg TX out I10, right at Kerrville. (830) 889-0756 Farming Practices: Naturally Grown Sustainable

Shady Creek Farm, Spicewood TX NW of Austin(512) 965-0504 Farming Practices: Naturally Grown Practicing Organic Vine - Ripened

Cooley Acres Farm, Meyersville TX halfway between Cuero and Victoria (361) 649-8310 Farming Practices: Practicing Organic Sustainable CSA delivering to Victoria

Markley Family Farm, Canyon Lake TX south of New Braunfels on FM46 (830) 629-4877 U-Pick We are an outdoor hydroponic U-pick farm that grows in a unique vertical stacking system allowing you to pick without bending and kneeling. Our main crop is strawberries. We also have other seasonal vegetables available year round, such as lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, cucumbers, eggplant, greens, broccoli, and spinach. You are always welcome to call before you come out to check on availability of produce.

Harvest Time Farm Stand, Canyon Lake TX between 281 and 35 twice as far as 1604 (830) 935-3159 compost. Sell at SFC Austin Farmers Markets on Wed & Sat year round.

McCall Creek Farms, Blanco TX out 281 3/4 way to Austin no phone Fruits and vegetables through the fall.

EIEIO's Organic Farm, Wimberley TX northwest of San Marcos(512) 847-2463 a growing CSA program open for new members.currently cultivating 3 acres of organic produce just above the creek using a drip irrigation system with well water.

Uncertain Farms, Seguin TX east on I10 well past Sequin (830) 832-6431 Straw vegetables, canned goods.

Wholesome Harvest Farm, Seguin TX east on I10 well past Sequin(210) 387-0635 fruits and vegs grown using organic methods. Our goal is to specialize in crops you can't find anywhere else. We especially enjoy raising unique heirloom fruit and vegetable varieties. a family farm

Kerrville Health Foods, Kerrville TX northwest I10 past Boerne and Comfort. Almost as far as Austin. (830) 896-7383 a small health food store. grains, deli, rum, rye

Vital Farms, Austin TX halfway from Buda to Austin turn right on 45, left on 183 (512) 632-1200 flagship farm at Onion Creek in Austin Texas and a number of independent family farms that uphold the Vital standards. certified organic pasture.

Sweet Berry Farm, Marble Falls TX northwest of AUstin almost as far as San Marcos (830) 798-1462 STRAW Farmer U-Pickstrawberry farm, which also offers other fruits and vegetables in season.

Countryside Family Farm, Cedar Creek TX southeast near Austin (512) 363-2310 barley, Farmer Farmers Market

Munkebo, Manor TX east of Austin as far as Buda (512) 278-0908 We grow produce using organic and Permaculture methods. We use organic red winter wheat mixed with Coyote Creek admix and local spent grain for our flock and pigs. We sell Muscovy ducks at any stage of development for starting your own flock.

Bradshaw Farm, Smithville TX northeast of SA out I10 then north distance to Austin (513) 360-4799 fruit and veg.

Twin County Lamb, Harper TX off I10 about as far as Austin (830) 864-4717 grains, oats, rye

Acadian Family Farm, Moulton TX east on I10 about as far as Austin (361) 596-4603 naturally grown and chemical-free.

Eugene Martinez Farm, Pleasanton TX south off 281 (830) 569-4354 Certified & practicing Organic grains, corn, veg, fruit

Millberg Farms, Kyle TX 2/3 to Austin (512) 667-0776 Certified Organic veg, buckwheat, fruit

McKemie HomeGrown Farm, Dale TX just past San Marcos no phone, no list of products

Monocot, Manor TX east of Austin (512) 761-2778 Certified Organic grains and wheat

Tecolote Farm, Manor TX east of Austin (512) 276-7008 Certified Organic fruit, veg, more

Texas Natural Organics, Buda TX (512) 282-6103 farmer

Kinzer Farms, Uvalde TX west of SAT (830) 591-7817 farmer

Dr. Dirt Organic Productions, Austin TX (512) 784-5987


Grow the Best Cucumbers with These 12 Steps

Green Beans

Green beans Beans are perhaps the easiest veggie of all to grow. They are among the fastest of veggies from seed to table.

Green beans, also called snap beans and string beans, are grown to harvest the fleshy pods before the seeds inside develop. Green beans originated in Central America. By the time Columbus arrived they had spread through Mexico and into North America.

Beans like sunlight. While they will tolerate a little shade, like most fruiting vegetables they need at least six hours of sunlight to do their best. They also like good drainage. The most significant nutrient problem for beans is excessive nitrogen in the soil. High nitrogen levels stimulate top growth and will delay and reduce production. Beans are legumes and therefore are able to produce their own nitrogen

Beans love warm temperatures and will not perform well at all if planted too early in the spring. For you scientific gardeners, they need the soil temperature to be at least 65 degrees to sprout quickly and grow vigorously. In cold soil they will just sit there and never amount to much of anything. Wait until at least about a week after your last average frost date before planting.

You can get in a second planting or two about 10 to 14 days apart. This will extend the harvest season. However, when temperatures heat up, beans will fail to set very well and those that do will form smaller pods and be of poorer quality.

In late summer there is another planting window for the fall crop. This is truly the prime bean season. Pods that ripen in the cooler days of fall are at their peak of quality!

If you are growing beans in a new garden spot, it may be worthwhile to purchase a seed inoculant to make sure the symbiotic bacteria are present. Wet the seeds and then place them in a small paper sack. Then pour the black, dusty inoculant powder into the sack and shake it around a bit. This will get some of the powder on the seeds. Plant the inoculated seeds immediately.

Once you have grown beans in a garden spot, these inoculants are not really needed as the soil contains plenty of the symbiotic bacteria. I have planted and grown beans quite successfully in a new garden area without inoculants. The nitrogen-fixing bacteria are often present from other legumes which grew in the area.

To plant the seeds, open a trench about an inch or so deep with the corner of a hoe. Drop the bean seeds in the trench about 2 inches apart. No thinning will be necessary at that spacing. Cover the trench with about an inch of soil and tamp it down gently to firm the soil around the seeds. Then water the planting row well to moisten the soil deeply. I usually plant beans in two rows spaced about a foot apart down the length of the bed.

Keep the soil moist while waiting for the seedlings to emerge. This will reduce crusting and help get the seeds off to a fast start. Wait to mulch until the seedlings are about 6 inches tall. Unmulched soil warms up faster and mulch may attract certain pests that will feed on the emerging seedlings.

Once the new plants are about 6 inches tall, it is time to add mulch.

After that, simply keep the plants moderately moist to prevent drought stress. They really do not need a lot of supplemental water, especially if well mulched; soggy conditions are very detrimental.

I group green beans into four basic types: standard round-podded beans, flat-podded “Italian” beans, French filet beans (haricot verts) and pole beans.

The most common type in our Texas gardens is the standard round-podded types. One that is an old standard with Texas gardeners is ‘Contender.’ This bean consistently produces nice crops of good quality pods and does well in many different soils and climates.

Other great bush beans include ‘Jade’ (my personal favorite), ‘Derby’ (1990 All-America Selections), ‘Florence,’ ‘Topcrop’ (1950 All-America Selections), ‘Provider,’ ‘Espada,’ and ‘Dorabell’ (yellow wax type).

Flat-podded Italian or Roma type beans produce large crops of large, flat, full-flavored green beans. Great varieties include ‘Roma II,’ ‘Romano,’ and ‘Romanette.’

Pole beans are a great way to take advantage of tight garden space and to spread the harvest season out a bit. My favorite pole bean is ‘Kwintus’ (formerly called ‘Early Riser’), a very early bean with flattened pods that speed from seed to harvest in just 45 days. Three other proven pole varieties in my gardens are ‘Northeaster’ (another favorite with large, flat pods), ‘McCaslan’ (slightly flattened pods) and ‘Rattlesnake’ (round pods). I have grown all four and found them to be outstanding yielders of quality beans and much superior to the pole types ‘Kentucky Wonder’ and ‘Blue Lake.’

Pole beans climb by twining around a support. Bamboo poles, wire mesh fencing, livestock panels, lattice work and even twine dropped from the eaves of your home to the soil line will make a great support for pole beans. Just make sure that they, like bush types, are in an area that receives plenty of sunlight.


Calvin Finch: A few tricks for growing corn, potatoes and summer squash

What Vegetables to Grow in San Antonio Cabbage: San Antonio gardeners can plant cabbage from mid January to mid March. Recommended varieties for San Antonio include Green Boy, Market Prize, Red Acre and Ruby Ball. Cabbage can be eaten either fresh or cooked and provides a high dose of beta-carotene, fiber and vitamin C.

Corn: Corn plants perform well in the summer heat. San Antonio gardeners should begin their corn from late February to mid April and can plant Calumet, Captain, Honeycomb, Silver Queen or Country Gentleman. Corn ripens in 65 to 85 days; gardeners can harvest the ears when the corn tassels dry out and turn tan.

Pepper: Both sweet or bell peppers and hot peppers enjoy the warm San Antonio climate. Texas A & M recommends jalapeno, hidalgo serrano, Hungarian wax and thin cayenne hot peppers; and Big Bertha or TAM Rio Grande Gold sweet peppers. Texas gardeners should plant peppers from transplant (not from seed) from mid March to early May.


What Vegetables to Grow in San Antonio Cabbage: San Antonio gardeners can plant cabbage from mid January to mid March. Recommended varieties for San Antonio include Green Boy, Market Prize, Red Acre and Ruby Ball. Cabbage can be eaten either fresh or cooked and provides a high dose of beta-carotene, fiber and vitamin C.

Corn: Corn plants perform well in the summer heat. San Antonio gardeners should begin their corn from late February to mid April and can plant Calumet, Captain, Honeycomb, Silver Queen or Country Gentleman. Corn ripens in 65 to 85 days; gardeners can harvest the ears when the corn tassels dry out and turn tan.

Pepper: Both sweet or bell peppers and hot peppers enjoy the warm San Antonio climate. Texas A & M recommends jalapeno, hidalgo serrano, Hungarian wax and thin cayenne hot peppers; and Big Bertha or TAM Rio Grande Gold sweet peppers. Texas gardeners should plant peppers from transplant (not from seed) from mid March to early May.


Rodale's Organic Life: Onions: A Growing Guide There's no reason not to plant this indispensable ingredient.

You can try mixing in radish seeds both to mark the planted rows and as a trap crop to lure root maggots away from the onions. Thin seedlings to 1 inch apart, and thin again in four weeks to 6 inches apart.

For transplants or sets, use a dibble to make planting holes 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart.

Dried or fresh, raw or cooked, onions are a foundational part of in a variety of soups, salads, breads, and casseroles. Onions are easier to grow than you might think, and they're a great plant for tucking into spare corners and along the edges of garden beds.


Onions come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. The white, yellow, or red bulbs range in size from small pickling onions to large Spanish cultivars; they can be globe, top, or spindle shaped.

Most onions can be pulled young as green onions called scallions, but there is also a perennial bunching type, Allium fistulosum, that produces superior scallions and is practically disease and insect proof.

Each bulb of the multiplier or potato onion (A. cepa Aggregatum group) multiplies into a bulb cluster, so with every harvest, you'll have bulbs to replant for a continual supply.

The Egyptian or top onion (A. cepa Proliferum group) produces a bulb cluster at the end of a long stem with a second cluster frequently forming on top of the first. It also has an underground bulb, which is often too pungent to eat.

Other tasty plants include chives (A. schoenoprasum), garlic chives (A. tuberosum), and shallots (A. cepa Aggregatum group). For information on other onion relatives, see garlic.

You can grow onions from transplants, sets, or seeds.

Transplants, which are seedlings started in the current growing season and sold in bunches, are available from nurseries and by mail order. They usually form good bulbs over a short period of time (65 days or less), but they are subject to diseases. Choice of cultivars is somewhat limited.

Sets are immature bulbs grown the previous year and offer the most limited cultivar choices. They are the easiest to plant, the earliest to harvest, and the least susceptible to diseases. They are, however, more prone to bolting (sending up a flower stalk prematurely) than are seedlings or transplants.

If you plant onion sets, the sets may be identified only as white, red, or yellow, rather than by variety name. Most growers prefer white sets for green onions. When buying sets, look for 1/2-inch-diameter bulbs, because they're the least likely to bolt.

Growing onions from seed offers the great advantage of a wide choice in cultivars. The challenge with starting from seeds is that your crop will take up to 4 months to mature—gardeners in cold-winter areas will need to start their onion seedlings indoors.

1015Y Texas Super Sweet [very sweet] - Red Candy Apple onion [sweetest]

Always check a cultivar's daylength requirement or recommended latitudes before you buy, because daylength affects how and when onions form bulbs. Short-day onions, such as 'Red Hamburger', will form bulbs as soon as days reach 10 to 12 hours long. They're suitable for southern latitudes only.

Onions like cool weather in the early part of their growth, so plant them in spring, except in mild-winter areas, where onions are grown as a fall or winter crop.

Generally speaking, onions grow tops in cool weather and form bulbs when the weather warms.

Plant onion seeds 4 [3/1] to 6 weeks [2/15] before the last average frost—or even earlier indoors or in a cold frame. When indoor seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall, harden them off by exposing them to above-freezing night temperatures.

Outdoors, sow seeds thickly in rows about 1/2 inch deep. You can try mixing in radish seeds both to mark the planted rows and as a trap crop to lure root maggots away from the onions. Thin seedlings to 1 inch apart, and thin again in four weeks to 6 inches apart.

For transplants or sets, use a dibble to make planting holes 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. Use the closer spacing if you plan to harvest some young plants as green onions.

For sets, open a furrow 2 inches deep and place the sets stem (pointed) end up 4 to 6 inches apart, and then fill in the furrow. One pound of sets will plant about 50 feet of row.


The practices you use will depend on the specific crop you're growing. In general, onions grow best if you keep them well weeded. Use a sharp hoe to cut off intruders; pulling or digging weeds up can damage the onions' shallow roots.

Once the soil has warmed, put down a mulch around and between the plants to discourage weeds and to hold moisture in the soil.

Dry conditions cause bulbs to split, so water when necessary to provide at least 1 inch of water each week; keep in mind that transplants require more water than sets do. Onions can't compete well with weeds, so it's important to direct water right to the onion roots. Two good watering methods for achieving this are shown below.

If you've prepared your soil well, no fertilizing should be necessary. Always go easy on nitrogen, which can produce lush tops at the expense of bulbs. New growth from the center will stop when the bulbs start forming.

Egyptian onions, chives, and shallots require slightly different cultivation from regular onions. Here are some guidelines for growing these onion relatives:

Egyptian Onions

Plant Egyptian onions in fall throughout the country; harvest some in spring as green or bunching onions. In midsummer or fall, miniature bulbs will form at the stem tip, where most onions form flowers. Pick these tiny bulbs when the tops begin to wilt and dry. Use them fresh or store in the freezer.


Plant chives and garlic chives in early spring in rich soil. They will tolerate partial shade put prefer full sun. Seeds are very slow to germinate, so most growers prefer to plant clump divisions, which can be harvested after 2 months. Space the clumps, each of which should contain about six bulbs, 8 inches apart.

Cut the grasslike, hollow tops frequently to maintain production. The pom-pom-like lavender flowers are very attractive, but always remove the spent flowers to reduce the chance of rampant self-seeding. Dig up, divide, and replant every third year. Transplant to containers and move indoors for winter harvests. Chives are almost as good frozen as they are fresh.


Shallots, a favorite of French chefs, have a blue-green stem that's used when young. In addition, it has a gray, angular, mild-flavored bulb that's related to the multiplying onion and is used like a mild-flavored garlic.

Shallots will tolerate all but the most acid soils, but dig the earth deeply because the plants put down 8-inch-long feeder roots. However, they have no lateral roots, so space them just 2 to 3 inches apart.

Propagate shallots by dividing bulb clusters. Each clove, in turn, will produce four to eight new bulbs. In February or March, plant them 1 inch deep, barely covering the tip of the clove. Keep the soil weed free and slightly moist, but don't fertilize.

In early summer, draw the soil away from the bulbs. Harvest shallots as green onions at any time. Cutting the tops off near soil level will produce new tops, and such harvesting actually increases bulb production. Bulbs mature in about 5 months. Pull and store like onions.


To water onions efficiently, extend soaker hoses along the row close to the plants. Or open a small trench between rows and fill it with water. This keeps the roots supplied, while leaving most of the soil surface dry, inhibiting weed seed germination.


You can generally expect a disease-and insect-free crop.

One possible pest is onion maggots: 1/3-inch-long white, legless larvae that travel in line from one bulb to the next and burrow upwards to feed on the stems.

To reduce the chances of extensive damage, scatter-plant onions throughout the garden. (This interplanting can also benefit other garden plants; many Allium species will ward off pests—such as aphids, Japanese beetles, and carrot flies—from roses, lettuce, carrots, beets, parsnips, and members of the cabbage family.) Placing a thin layer of sand around onion bulbs may discourage adult flies from laying their eggs at the bottoms of the plants.

Barely visible onion thrips tend to attack during hot, dry weather in July or August. They produce deformed plants with silvery blotches on the leaves. Thrips overwinter in weeds, so reduce pest populations by keeping the garden clean.

Try spreading a reflective mulch, such as aluminum foil, between rows to confuse the thrips. If you catch the problem early, you can spray plants with Beauveria bassiana or spinosad to combat thrips. As a last resort apply neem to control a serious infestation.

A disease called smut causes a swelling or hardening of leaves just about the neck, which eventually bursts and spills powdery black spores over the plant. Downy mildew, a purplish mold, shows up in midsummer during warm, humid weather. Onions are also subject to pink root, which causes roots to turn various colors and then shrivel, and neck rot, which causes tissues to form a hard, black crust.

All these problems are caused by fungi in the soil and can be avoided by rotating crops and by working humus into the onion bed to provide good drainage.


Once onion tops turn yellow, use the back of a rake to bend them over horizontally. This stops the sap from flowing to the stems and diverts the plant's energy into maturing the bulb.

A day or so later, when the tops turn brown, pull or dig the bulbs on a sunny day, and leave them to dry in the sun. Lay the tops of one row over the bulbs of another to help prevent sunscald.

When the outer skins are thoroughly dry, wipe off any soil and remove the tops—unless you intend to braid them. Store in a cool, dry place; hang braided onions or those kept in mesh bags in an airy spot. Such dried bulbs will keep for about 4 months to 1 year.

Rodale: 3 Different Ways To Plant Onions

Dixondale Farms Great source for onions. Recommended by Rodale. watch video

Map showing short, intermediate and long days

1015Y Texas Super Sweet Texas's most famous onion is also one of the sweetest! It's called the 1015Y in honor of the ideal date to plant the seed (Oct 15th), and Y stands for yellow. Whether you are a novice or beginner, the Texas Super Sweet is the perfect onion to add to your garden. They have an off-white flesh and are very sweet and flavorful, excellent for salads, slices, grilling, and cooking. Known for its great flavor and large size, disease resistance, and very little pyruvate (which is that substance in onions that makes you cry like a baby when you are cutting them up).

Candy--Our most popular variety! Works almost everywhere in the country as a large mild onion that keeps well. This onion is great for anyone that has never had much success growing onions. It is so easy to grow due to its strong root system and disease resistance.

Red Candy Apple onion Red Candy Apple is absolutely the most beautiful red onion on the market. When planted in short and intermediate day areas it produces larger bulbs. It will not size to jumbo onions in long day areas.. It is the sweetest variety available.


Chicory [Cichorium intybus]

Chicory Common chicory, Cichorium intybus, is a somewhat woody, perennial herbaceous plant of the dandelion family Asteraceae, usually with bright blue flowers, rarely white or pink. Many varieties are cultivated for salad leaves, chicons (blanched buds), or roots (var. sativum), which are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive. It is also grown as a forage crop for livestock. It lives as a wild plant on roadsides in its native Europe, and is now common in North America, China, and Australia, where it has become widely naturalized. "Chicory" is also the common name in the United States for curly endive (Cichorium endivia); these two closely related species are often confused.

Common chicory is also known as blue daisy, blue dandelion, blue sailors, blue weed, bunk, coffeeweed, cornflower, hendibeh, horseweed, ragged sailors, succory, wild bachelor's buttons, and wild endive.

Wild chicory leaves usually have a bitter taste. Their bitterness is appreciated in certain cuisines, such as in the Ligurian and Apulian regions of Italy and also in southern part of India along with coffee, in Catalonia, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

In Ligurian cuisine, wild chicory leaves are an ingredient of preboggion and in Greek cuisine of horta; in the Apulian region, wild chicory leaves are combined with fava bean puree in the traditional local dish fave e cicorie selvatiche. in Albania, the leaves are used as a spinach substitute, mainly served simmered and marinated in olive oil, or as ingredient for fillings of byrek.

By cooking and discarding the water, the bitterness is reduced, after which the chicory leaves may be sautéed with garlic, anchovies, and other ingredients. In this form, the resulting greens might be combined with pasta[14] or accompany meat dishes.


The chicory plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: "Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae" ("As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance").

In 1766, Frederick the Great banned the importation of coffee into Prussia leading to the development of a coffee-substitute by Brunswick innkeeper Christian Gottlieb Förster (died 1801), who gained a concession in 1769/70 to manufacture it in Brunswick and Berlin. By 1795 there were 22 to 24 factories of this type in Brunswick. Lord Monboddo describes the plant in 1779 as the "chicoree", which the French cultivated as a pot herb.

In Napoleonic Era France, chicory frequently appeared as either an adulterant in coffee, or as a coffee substitute.

Chicory was also adopted as a coffee substitute by Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War, and has become common in the United States. It was also used in the United Kingdom during the Second World War, where Camp Coffee, a coffee and chicory essence, has been on sale since 1885.

The cultivated chicory plant has a history reaching back to ancient Egyptian time. Medieval monks raised the plants and when coffee was introduced to Europe, the Dutch thought that chicory made a lively addition to the bean drink.

In the United States chicory root has long been used as a substitute for coffee in prisons. By the 1840s, the port of New Orleans was the second largest importer of coffee (after New York). Louisianans began to add chicory root to their coffee when Union naval blockades during the American Civil War cut off the port of New Orleans, thereby creating a long-standing tradition.

A common meal in Rome, puntarelle, is made with chicory sprouts.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that Chicory is a native plant of western Asia, North Africa and Europe.

Cichorium intybus has been declared an invasive species in several states in the USA.

Information On How To Grow Chicory Chicory plant (Cichorium intybus) is an herbaceous biennial that is not native to the United States but has made itself at home. The plant can be found growing wild in many areas of the U.S. and is used both for its leaves and its roots. Chicory herb plants are easy to grow in the garden as a cool season crop. Seeds and transplants are the primary means of growing chicory.

There are two types of chicory plant. Whitloof is grown for the large root, which is used to make a coffee supplement. It can also be forced to use the tender white leaves called Belgian endive. Radicchio is grown for the leaves, which may be in a tight head or a loosely packed bunch. Radicchio is best harvested very young before it turns bitter.

Planting Chicory

Seeds can be started indoors five to six weeks before they are moved outdoors.

In warm climates, sowing outdoors or transplanting occurs September through March.

Planting chicory in cooler climates should be done three to four weeks before the danger of frost has passed.

Sow chicory seeds 6 to 10 inches apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. You can always thin the plants if they crowd each other but close planting discourages weeds.

The seeds are planted ¼ inch deep and thinning is done when the plants have three to four true leaves.

You can also sow a crop for fall harvest if you choose a variety that has an early maturation date. Planting chicory seed 75 to 85 days before anticipated harvest will ensure a late crop.

Chicory herb plants that are to be forced for blanched leaves will need to have the roots dug up before the first frost. Cut the leaves to 1 inch and store the roots for three to seven weeks in the refrigerator before forcing. Plant the roots individually after chilling to force the leaves to grow in a tight, blanched head.

How to Grow Chicory

Learning how to grow chicory is similar to learning how to grow most lettuces or greens. The cultivation is very similar. Chicory requires well drained soil with plenty of organic matter.

It performs best when temperatures are below 75 degrees F. (24 C.).

Extended care of the chicory crop requires vigilant weeding and a mulch to prevent moisture loss and further weed growth. Chicory plant requires 1 to 2 inches of water per week or enough to keep the soil evenly moist and reduce the chance of drought stress.

The herb is fertilized with ¼-cup of nitrogen based fertilizer such as a 21-0-0 per 10 feet of row. This is applied approximately 4 weeks after transplant or once the plants have been thinned.

Herb to Know: Chicory Hardy perennial. Chicory, also known as succory, blue-sailors and ragged-sailors, is a hardy perennial native to Eurasia but was transplanted and now grows naturally throughout North America, south to Florida and west to California. It is common along roadsides and in other wild, untamed areas, especially in limestone soils. All species in the genus Cichorium are native to Eurasia. The words chicory, succory, Cichorium and intybus are all derived from Greek or Latin names for the herb.

Chicory resembles dandelion in its deep taproot and rosette of toothed basal leaves; unlike dandelion, it puts up a stiff, hairy flower stalk clothed sparsely with small, clasping leaves. Stalks may grow 2 to 5 feet tall and branch several times. Stalkless flower heads 1 1/2 inches wide form singly or in twos or threes in the axils of the stem leaves in midsummer. They are clear blue (or, rarely, pink or white) and consist of 16 to 20 strap-like, toothed ray flowers.

Blossoms are primarily bee-pollinated and open early in the morning and close about five hours later.

Linnaeus, observing this tendency, planted chicory in his floral clock in Uppsala, Sweden. (There, the flowers opened at 5 a.m. and closed at 10 a.m.) Flowers may stay open longer on cloudy days. The herbalist Mrs. C.F. Leyel has observed that “the lovely blue color of the petals is changed into a brilliant red by the acid of ants, if placed on an ant-hill.” The plant tops make a dyestuff that produces a variety of colorfast yellows and greens, depending on the mordant used. In the language of flowers, chicory symbolizes frugality.

The second-century physician Galen called chicory a “friend of the liver,” and contemporary research has shown that it can increase the flow of bile, which could be helpful in treating gallstones. Laboratory research also has shown root extracts to be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and slightly sedative. They also slow and weaken the pulse and lower blood sugar. Leaf extracts have similar, though weaker, effects.


How to Grow Mache (Corn Salad): Spring's First Green When I was a child, our family celebrated the year’s first garden salad of nutty, dark-green rosettes that we called feldsalat. Back then, my mother had the seeds mailed from Germany. These days, I share my love for those thick, emerald leaves all winter long with my husband, who calls them la mâche. He grew up in France, where this humble weed with its elevated gourmet status graces bistro menus and markets alike.

Found growing wild in grain fields in Europe, la mâche was once available only in early spring. Commercial greenhouses in Europe now supply improved cultivars year-round. In North America, this easy-to-grow green is some­times called corn salad or lamb’s lettuce.

Mâche has a delicate flavor, which resembles a nutty, concentrated butterhead lettuce. The leaves provide a nutritious boost of vitamins and minerals, especially iron. Producing attractive and tasty fare at a time when little else is available, mâche is a hardy survivor, requiring little care and remaining free of pests and disease.

Choose from small- or large-seeded varieties--About 60 varieties of mâche have been developed from the original wild plant, with differences in leaf size, shape, and flavor. Of these, only a few are available in North America, and fall into two categories: large-seeded and small-seeded.

Small seeded varieties boast more flavor than the larger-seeded varieties, and do best grown in the winter. The small-seeded varieties produce plants 2 to 5 inches in diameter, with rounder and darker-green leaves. Though more finicky to pick and clean, small-seeded choices such as ‘Coquille de Louviers’, ‘D’Etampes’, or ‘Verte de Cambrai’ are definitely more flavorful. In general, large-seeded types resist heat better; small-seeded types prefer cool, moist conditions, and do best when grown only in winter.

Large-seeded vartieties are highly productive plants that are resistant to heat. The large-seeded varieties produce 4- to 8-inch rosettes, with a light green color, and narrow, elongated, spoon-shaped leaves. Highly productive, easy-to-harvest large-seeded cultivars include ‘Grosse Graine’, ‘Piedmont’, and ‘Valgros’.

Sow seeds around Labor Day--Like many weeds, mâche grows vigorously in almost any soil, although it will produce more foliage with the addition of nitrogen-rich compost or manure.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, I generally sow the seeds shortly after the Labor Day weekend. Some seed catalogs recommend planting in spring and then spacing the sowings throughout the summer for a continuous harvest. I find, however, that the seeds germinate poorly and bolt quickly in hot weather. Ideally, seeds should be planted after mid-August, when temperatures are beginning to drop, and before the end of September.

Mâche is remarkably hardy. The only gardeners who must forego this winter treat are those living in zones where the mercury dips below 5°F. A cold frame or mulching with straw or coniferous branches can provide significant protection in colder climates. Alternatively, cold climate gardeners can enjoy a late spring harvest from seed planted as soon as the soil can be worked, in late winter.

Leaves can be plucked well into April, when the plants bolt to seed; they remain tender, with no hint of bitterness or spice. When the plants are mature, I shake the flower stalks into a paper bag and have no trouble gathering an ample supply of next year’s seed. A light hoeing then turns the remaining stalks and stems into the soil as green manure.


Mizuna Mizuna, "water greens", qian jing shui cai, kyona, Japanese mustard greens, or spider mustard, is a cultivated crop plant from the species Brassica juncea var. japonica a dark green, serrated leafed plant.

The taste of 'mizuna' has been described as a "piquant, mild peppery flavor...slightly spicy, but less so than arugula."[5] It is also used in stir-fries, soups, and nabemono (Japanese hot pots).

A vigorous grower producing numerous stalks bearing dark green, deeply cut and fringed leaves. They have a fresh, crisp taste and can be used on their own or cooked with meat. The Japanese are fond of them pickled. Highly resistant to cold and grown extensively during the winter months in Japan.

Not only is it good to eat, it's also quite decorative, with glossy, serrated, dark green leaves and narrow white stalks, looking good in flower beds and as edging. It's vigorous, adaptable and easy to grow in most soils. Mizuna greens have a mild mustard plant flavour.

The usual sowing time, outside, is from early to late summer, but it can be sown in late spring or early summer, when it may have a tendency to bolt. Another alternative is to sow in early autumn

Mustard, Mizuna Bright green, serrated leaves of Japanese mustard add welcome pizzazz to gourmet salads... This Japanese mustard, reputedly Indian in origin, has a mild, slightly peppery taste. The heirloom's leaves add pizzazz to gourmet mixed-green salads, and are delicious sauteed or stir-fried. Bright green and heavily serrated, the leaves have a picturesque feathery look that adds interest to the garden bed. Heat-tolerant.

Mustard Greens

Mustard plant Mustard plants are any of several plant species in the genera Brassica and Sinapis in the family Brassicaceae. Mustard seed is used as a spice. Grinding and mixing the seeds with water, vinegar, or other liquids, creates the yellow condiment known as prepared mustard. The seeds can also be pressed to make mustard oil, and the edible leaves can be eaten as mustard greens.

Representative Species: Mustard Greens----Barssica nigra----White Mustard----Rapeseed

The Benefits of Growing Mustard My fall garden is always bursting with greens, many of which are sharp-flavored mustards. Along with a little plot of mustard greens grown for use in the kitchen,

I also use mustard as a late-season cover crop to suppress weeds and soil-borne diseases.

Fast and easy to grow, mustard dresses up the fall garden with its frilly or colorful leaves.

Mustard is always best as a fall crop, unless you want to grow seeds for grinding into spicy condiments. Growing mustard for seeds is best done in spring, because lengthening days trigger mustard plants to produce flowers.

Technically, many popular Asian greens including mizuna and tatsoi are mustards, but varieties with broader leaves are synonymous with garden mustard. The ‘Southern Giant’ or ‘Green Wave’ mustard varieties are popular for their beautifully curled leaves, while ‘Florida Broadleaf’ has a strong track record of out-producing other mustard varieties grown for greens. And then there are the red mustards like ‘Red Giant’ and ‘Osaka Purple’, which are among the best edible ornamentals for the fall garden.

Mustard seed germination is fast and sure, so you can simply scatter the seeds over a renovated bed and then pat them in with your hand or the back of a rake.

Within two weeks the planted area will be transformed into a sea of green, with very few weeds. I thin plants being grown for greens to a hand’s distance apart, and use the young greens pulled while thinning in stir-fries if they pass my taste test.

Mustard greens that grow in warm weather usually have very strong flavor, which gentles down considerably as nights become longer and cooler in the fall.

Fortunately, mustard plants are very willing to regrow should you opt to lop off and compost huge handfuls of summer-grown mustard greens. Within two weeks, a flush of tender new leaves will emerge from the plants’ centers.

Mustard greens have no problem with light frosts, but temperatures below 20°F (-7°C) usually kill plants back to the ground. Before this happens, I chop down the old plants and mix the chopped roots and greens into the soil, because

Rotting mustard tissues suppress nematodes and several common soil diseases. If this is the main benefit you want from mustard, simply grow your mustard as a cover crop.

Growing Mustard as a Cover Crop

A few weeks ago, one of the last things I did before leaving on vacation was to sow mustard in the beds where I had just harvested spring carrots and early potatoes. Less than a month later the beds are wall-to-wall mustard greens, with hardly a weed in sight. When sown in late summer, mustard grows so vigorously that weeds are smothered into submission.

Rather than eat all those mustard greens, I will chop them up using a sharp lawn edger, and then quickly turn them under using a digging fork.

Numerous studies have shown that live mustard plant tissues, both seeds and roots, contain compounds that work as soil biofumigants by killing nematodes and pathogenic fungi. Reaping this benefit requires handling mustard like a green manure, because the beneficial compounds are released within hours after the plants are chopped down.

But if you wait two weeks after turning under chopped mustard and then plant lettuce, you can expect a very productive crop with very few weeds.

Potato and vegetable farmers have begun using special mustard varieties as part of their rotation practices to suppress weeds and diseases. The method involves planting selected strains of mustard bred to produce high levels of glucosinolates in spring, and quickly chopping them up and turning them under in summer, when they reach full bloom. Used this way, mustard has a cleansing effect on soils that are carrying heavy pathogen loads. Mustard varieties to try for this purpose include Caliente, IdaGold and Kodiak.

Growing Mustard Greens Mustard greens are fast growing, nutritious leafy greens. They’re perfect for gardens and containers in both spring and fall. Although not quite as cold hardy as their cousins, collards and kale, piquant mustard greens do tolerate a light frost, which makes their leaves sweeter. In areas where there are no killing freezes, gardeners enjoy growing mustard greens all winter long.

The mustard patch is a pretty sight in the cool season garden. The leafy plants are easy to care for and good companions to fall flowers such as pansies.

Mustard greens grow in a rosette of leaves up to about a foot-and-a-half tall. You can simmer the big peppery greens or pick smaller, young leaves to eat raw in salads and sandwiches.

Mustard leaves grow fast and most tender in moist, rich soil. Sun is ideal, but because they make only leaves and not fruit, they are a little more tolerant of shade than fruiting vegetables like tomatoes.

Enrich the soil by spreading 3 to 6 inches of compost over the area you plan to plant. Then turn it into the ground or raised bed with a digging fork. For pots, use a premium quality potting mix.

It always seems early when it’s time to plant mustard, but it pays to plan ahead.

For fall harvests, set plants in the garden 4 to 6 weeks before the first expected frost [11/12]. In spring, you can start about 4 weeks ahead of the last frost date [3/1] and continue planting a little after.

Before you plant the seedlings from our pots, separate them into a few clumps to get stronger plants faster.

How to Grow Mustard Mustard is an ancient plant that’s full of appeal for contemporary gardeners. The plants are easy to grow and produce seed in as few as 60 days. The greens are edible, the flowers attractive, and

if the seeds are allowed to mature on the plant, they will self-sow and still provide plenty for mustard making.

Is making your own mustard worth the effort? Considering that a small jar of good Dijon can cost up to $6, it is indeed. About a dollar’s worth of seed will produce a pantry shelf full of fine and fancy mustards and more greens than you can shake a salad spinner at.

Mustard in all its forms—shoots, leaves, flowers, whole seed, powdered, or prepared—is a flavorful, low-fat way to punch up any savory food. I’ve used the whole seed in pickling and cooking, tossed the tender greens in fresh salads (garnished with mustard flowers, of course), stewed mature leaves as a southern-style side dish, and crushed spicy seed to make a variety of pungent mustards.

If you’ve ever traveled to California’s wine country in early spring, you may have seen the vineyards awash in yellow flowers. Those are mustard plants, the winemaker’s friend. Many vineyard owners plant mustard deliberately as a cover crop or let field mustard (Brassica kaber) run rampant. When plowed back into the soil, the plants act as a green manure and release nitrogen. Mustard also repels some insects (the seeds are that hot) and attracts syrphid flies, beneficial predators that attack vine-chewing insects.

Leaf mustard contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin B. The calories are negligible in most basic prepared mustards, so you can feel free to indulge.

Over the years, mustard has been imbued with curative powers. It’s been called an appetite stimulant, a digestive aid, and a decongestant. Because mustard increases blood circulation, it’s often used in plaster form to treat inflammation. Folklore has it you can even sprinkle mustard powder in your socks to prevent frostbite.

All mustards come from the Cruciferae, a family that includes broccoli and cabbage. Brassica nigra, B. alba, and B. juncea produce black, white (really a yellowish-tan), and brown seeds, respectively. The black seeds of B. nigra are used for moderately spicy mustards. French cooks use them to make Dijon-style mustard—it can be called true Dijon mustard only if it is certified to come from that city, which has the exclusive right to produce it. In West Indian dishes, black seeds are fried until they pop. The black variety produces less-desirable greens, and is really intended to be grown for seed.

Planting Time References

White Flower Farm See plant descr. then click on Growing guide

West Coast Seeds see plant descr. then go to Growing Guides

Johnny's Select Seeds


Plant Hardiness:

By Zip 1st freeze 11/12... last freeze 3/20

USDA 8b 1st freeze 12/1... last freeze 3/1

Rainbow Gardening by the Month


Plant Hardiness:

By Zip 1st freeze 11/12... last freeze 3/20

USDA 8b 1st freeze 12/1... last freeze 3/1

Rainbow Gardening by the Month

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Tips for Growing Artichokes Just About Anywhere Artichokes plants are perennial flowers and members of the sunflower, or Compositae, family. Still extremely popular in their native Mediterranean region, artichokes can be hard to find in the United States. California is the only state with a large commercial artichoke industry. There, peak growing season is from March to May, but you can have artichokes maturing in your home garden throughout the summer.

Even in areas where artichoke plants are not hardy, gardeners can successfully grow them as annuals and still get plenty of delicious buds.

Artichoke buds, flowers

Much of the artichoke plant is edible, but the portion generally eaten is the immature flower bud. The unopened bud has overlapping rows of spine-tipped green bracts enclosing the actual flower parts. At the base of the bud is the tender, flavorful artichoke "heart", which is the part that is cooked and eaten.

Leaves: The silvery-green leaves are long, arching and, although they look soft, they can be quite prickly. Stems are thick and fleshy.

Flowers: The flower buds are what are sold in produce aisles. The bracts are tightly folded over the enclosed flower parts. If allowed to open on the plant, mature artichoke flowers open into large, dome- or muff-shaped, purple thistles that are surprisingly fragrant.

Botanical Name: Cynara scolymus. Common Names: Artichoke, Globe Artichoke, French Artichoke, Green Artichoke

Hardiness Zones: Artichoke plants are only reliably hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 - 11. Artichokes favor coastal areas with mild winters (50 - 60 degrees F.) and cool (70 - 80 degrees F.), moist summers. Gardeners in colder zones can still grow artichokes either by choosing varieties that have been bred to produce buds in their first year, by tricking the plants into thinking they are in their second year, or by over-wintering plants to grow as perennials.

Artichokes in Thomas Jefferson's Garden, Artichoke plant

Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade. The plants can handle a little partial shade, especially in hot, dry areas, but they set buds best when grown in full sun.

Mature Size: Artichoke plants can get quite large and bushy, especially when grown as perennials for several years. Expect them to reach 5 - 6 ft. (h) x 4 - 5 ft. (w)

Days to Harvest: In ideal conditions, like coastal areas of the Mediterranean and California, established plants will produce buds periodically throughout the year. However, in most areas, buds begin forming in early summer. The center bud will mature first and can be harvested as soon as it has reached about 3 inches in diameter. Harvest while the bracts are still tightly folded and the bud feels firm. You can cut a 1 to 3 inch portion of the stem with the bud, to make it easier to work with.

Artichoke Plant, Flower

After the center bud is cut, side shoots will begin producing smaller buds. Harvest when they are firm and reach about 1 to 3 inches in diameter. Small buds can be extremely tender and flavorful, requiring only a slight heating through before eating.

Once all the buds on the stem have been cut, the stem can be cut off at ground level.

Frost free coastal areas may get a fall harvest. Perennial plants should continue to produce for up to 5 years.

Suggested Varieties:

Big Heart - a thornless variety that can handle some heat

Green Globe - the variety most often grown commercially in California, but it does not adapt as well to non-ideal growing conditions

Imperial Star - widely adaptable, easy to grow from seed and bred to be grown as an annual. ?Imperial Star' is the variety recommended for gardeners in Zones 6 and colder

Purple of Romagna - tender Italian heirloom favored by chefs

Violetto - an Italian heirloom favored for producing dozens of small side shoots

If artichokes sound like more work than you're up to, consider growing their cousin, the cardoon. Cardoons taste very similar to artichokes, but you eat the stem of the plant, rather than waiting for the buds to form.

Gail in front of huge artichoke, closeup of artichoke blossom

Artichoke Growing Tips::

Soil: Artichokes grow well in a neutral to slightly acidic soil pH of between 6.0 to 7.0. They need a well-draining, loamy soil with a good amount of organic matter. Good drainage is crucial to prevent the roots rotting during cool, damp winters, however, the soil must also be able to retain water long enough to allow the roots to take it in, during hot summers. It is especially important when you are growing your artichokes as perennials, to take the time to amend your soil before planting, to ensure they will grow well in future years. If your garden soil is poor, consider growing your artichokes in raised beds.

Growing Artichokes from Seed: Start seed indoors, at least 8 weeks before your last frost date. Harden them off before planting outside, but don't wait until all danger of frost has passed. Artichokes need to experience a slight chilling (not freeing) before they will set buds. This can be accomplished by putting your plants out in mid-spring and exposing them for a week to 10 days to temperatures of about 50 degrees F. or a little lower.

Artichokes do not often grow true to seed and you will get plants that vary greatly from your original plant if you try saving seed from your own plants. You will have better success with purchased seed that has been grown under controlled conditions.

Planting: Artichokes are often grown from crowns. It's quicker than growing from seed and you won't need the pre-chilling period. In zones 9 - 11, artichokes can be planted in either the spring or fall. Gardeners in cooler climates should do their planting in the spring.

Make sure you leave plenty of room for the plants to spread out, as they grow. Perennial plants can branch out 5 - 6 feet. Artichokes grown as annuals, or where the tops will be killed back by frost, can be spaced a little closer.

Caring for Artichoke Plants

Keep the planting bed weed free. Adding a 3 to 4 inch layer of mulch will cut down on weeds and keep the roots cool and the soil moist.

Since these are large plants that flower and produce over a long season, they will benefit from periodic feeding. Apply a balanced fertilizer labeled for edible plants, every 2 to 3 weeks.

Winter Care:

Zones 8 and Higher: After the last harvest in fall, cut the plants to soil level and cover with 2 - 4 inches of an organic mulch, like straw.

Zones 6 - 7: After the last harvest in the fall, cut the plants down to about 12 - 18 inches. Cover the plant with organic mulch, like straw, leaves or even compost and then cover that with a large basket. Mound another layer of straw or leaves over the basket and cover everything with a waterproof tarp.

Zone 5 and Cooler: You can try the method given above, for Zones 6 - 7 or you can pot up your plants, move them to a dark spot that stays cool, but above freezing, and water occasionally throughout the winter. Move pots outdoors, after all danger of frost and either replant in soil or continue to grow in containers.

Whatever your zone or method, remove all the covering in spring, as soon as the soil has thawed and no hard frosts are expected.

Artichoke plants should produce for about 3 - 5 years. At that time, you should notice side shoots at the base of the plant. You can lift, divide and replant the new shoots.

Using Artichokes

Artichokes are best when cooked lightly and prepared simply:

Introducing Nancy Klehm With Tips on Growing Jerusalem Artichokes zone 5

Thomas Jefferson's Vegetable Garden

Looking for Artichoke Plant Enthusiasts I have eight years experience growing artichoke plants and artichokes from seed and am looking for other artichoke plant enthusiasts! Gail


PLANTING, GROWING, AND HARVESTING GARLIC Garlic is easy to grow and produces numerous bulbs after a long growing season. Plus, it’s frost tolerant! Beyond its intense flavor and culinary uses, “the stinking rose” is good in the garden as an insect repellent and has been used for centuries as a home remedy. Here’s how to grow garlic in your garden.


Garlic can be planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked, but fall planting is recommended for most gardeners. Plant in the fall and you’ll find that your bulbs are bigger and more flavorful when you harvest the next summer.

In areas that get a hard frost, plant garlic 6 to 8 weeks before that frost date. In southern areas, February or March is a better time to plant.

Break apart cloves from bulb a few days before planting, but keep the papery husk on each individual clove.

Plant cloves about one month before the ground freezes.

Do not plant cloves from the grocery store. They may be unsuited varieties for your area, and most are treated to make their shelf life longer, making them harder to grow. Instead, get cloves from a mail order seed company or a local nursery.

Ensure soil is well-drained with plenty of organic matter. Select a sunny spot.

Place cloves 4 inches apart and 2 inches deep, in their upright position (the wide root side facing down and pointed end facing up).

In the spring, as warmer temperatures come, shoots will emerge through the ground.

PLANTING GARLIC IN THE FALL Fall is traditionally the time to plant garlic in many regions. Just like onions and other plants in the allium family, garlic is sensitive to daylength and matures during the longest days of summer. Fall planting gives it a jump start on the growing season and it will be one of the first things to come up in the garden next spring.

Garlic is extremely easy to grow but good soil preparation is necessary if you want to produce the best and biggest bulbs. They need deeply cultivated, well-drained, rich soil with a pH of 6.4-6.8. Add 2-3 inches of compost and well-rotted manure to the bed before planting.

Use quality seed garlic and plant several different varieties just in case one does poorly. Separate the cloves no more than 48 hours before planting to keep them from drying out. The largest cloves will produce the biggest bulbs. Plant individual cloves, peels intact, pointy end up, 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart.

Mulch 5-8 inches deep with seedless straw. It will pack down over the winter to about 2 inches by spring and help to keep the weeds down during the growing season. Your garlic will form roots but little or no top growth before the ground freezes solid.

Early next spring it will be ready to grow, sending up tiny green shoots as soon as the ground thaws.

Not too many pests bother garlic but don’t plant it where you have had trouble with wireworms or nematodes. Disease is more of an issue in poorly drained soils.

Feed the plants every other week with a liquid fish emulsion fertilizer from the time shoots emerge in early spring until June 1. Water is critical during the bulb forming stage in early summer so try for an inch a week, including rainfall.

If you are growing hard neck garlic - the best type for the northeast - around the time of summer solstice your garlic will send up a seed stalk called a scape. This should be cut off to encourage the plants to put all their energy into bulb formation.

These stalks curl into a loop and are delicious. Chop them and add to salad, stir fry, soup, scrambled eggs, or any dish you want to enhance with a little garlic flavor. Buzzed in the blender with a little olive oil and parmesan cheese, they make especially good pesto. Leave one or two flower stalks standing to help you decide when to harvest your garlic. About four weeks prior to harvest the outer wrappers on the garlic bulbs start to dry so stop watering in July. Too much water at that stage can stain the wrapper or even cause mold.

Harvest your garlic around the end of July or early August, when the lower third to half of the leaves have turned brown and wilted but the upper leaves are still green. It can be tricky deciding exactly when to harvest so that is where the flower stalks can come in handy. If the leaves are starting to turn brown and the scapes uncurl and stand up straight it is time to harvest.

Hang bunches of newly harvested garlic to dry in a cool, well ventilated, shady spot for 3-4 weeks to cure. After the leaves, roots, and outer wrappers are completely dry, brush off any loose soil, trim the roots to 1/4 inch, and cut the tops back to an inch or two above the bulb before storing. Under optimum conditions of near freezing temps and 65-70% humidity, hardneck garlic will keep for five months and softneck for 8 months.

Save your biggest cloves to replant for next year. Old timers say that garlic “learns” because it adapts to your growing conditions and improves each year. Grab life by the bulbs and plant some garlic this fall!


Video: How to Plant Organic Okra loves the heat along with melons and corn. Presoak the seeds for 12 hours before planting.

OKRA: PLANTING, GROWING, AND HARVESTING OKRA Okra is traditionally a southern U.S. plant that thrives in warm weather. Okra is easy to grow and use and looks great throughout the growing season due to its beautiful flowers. It’s also rich in vitamin A and low in calories, which makes it a great addition to your diet.


You can start okra seeds indoors in peat pots under full light 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date.

You can also start okra directly in your garden 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date as long as you cover the plants with a cold frame or grow tunnel until the weather warms up. Make sure that the covering is 2 to 3 feet tall so that the plants have room to grow.

If you do not start your okra plants early, wait until there is stable warm weather. You can plant okra in the garden when the soil has warmed to 65° to 70°F.

Plant okra in fertile, well-drained soil in full light about ½ to 1 inch deep and 12 to 18 inches apart. You can soak the seeds overnight in tepid water to help speed up germination.

If you are planting okra transplants, be sure to space them 1 to 2 feet apart to give them ample room to grow.

Okra plants are tall, so be sure to space out the rows 3 to 4 feet apart.


Eliminate weeds when the plants are young, then mulch heavily to prevent more weeds from growing. Apply a layer of mulch 4 to 8 inches high. You should also side-dress the plants with 10-10-10, aged manure, or rich compost (½ pound per 25 feet of row). You could also apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly.

When the seedlings are about 3 inches tall, thin the plants so that they are 10 to 18 inches apart.

Keep the plants well watered throughout the summer months; 1 inch of water per week is ideal, but use more if you are in a hot, arid region.

After the first harvest, remove the lower leaves to help speed up production.

PESTS/DISEASES: Aphids, Corn earworms, Stinkbugs, Fusarium wilt


The first harvest will be ready about 2 months after planting.

Harvest the okra when it’s about 2 to 3 inches long. Harvest it every other day. Cut the stem just above the cap with a knife; if the stem is too hard to cut, the pod is probably too old and should be tossed.

Wear gloves and long sleeves when cutting the okra because most varieties are covered with tiny spines that will irritate your skin, unless you have a spineless variety. Do not worry: this irritation will not happen when you eat them.

To store okra, put the uncut and uncooked pods into freezer bags and keep them in the freezer. You can then prepare the okra any way you like throughout the winter months. You can also can okra to have it throughout the winter.


‘Annie Oakley’, which takes 52 days to mature and has spineless pods. It grows to about 5 feet tall.

‘Park’s Candelabra Branching’, which is a base-branching okra plant. This type of branching makes picking easy.

‘Louisiana Green Velvet’ is good for big areas; it is vigorous and its plants grow to be 6 feet tall. It is also smooth and spineless.

Okra can be consumed in a number of ways—raw, pickled, stir-fried—you name it!

WIT & WISDOM: Okra is sometimes called “lady’s fingers” thanks to the vegetable’s long, slender shape.

Garden Planting Guide Most soil mixes consisting of peat, perlite, and vermiculite are excellent seed sowing media for bedding plants. Besides light and moisture, seeds need warmth to germinate well. A soil temperature of 70°F is sufficient for most crops. Please see the planting depth of most seeds for optimal conditions. Some seeds prefer growing just below the soil including most vegetables, herbs and flowers. Although some flower seeds need light to germinate and should be placeon top of the so

Direct Sow Seeds Sow these seeds directly into the garden and watch them take off. Direct sow seeds are easier to start outdoors than other seeds. Known for high germination rates and fast growing habits. These warm-season vegetables take little effort to start and produce high yields of lettuce, beans, cucumber, squash, peas and more.

Lazivore Gardening

5 Labor Saving Tips for the Lazivore Gardener Some time ago, I wrote a Lazivore Manifesto—a thinly-veiled self justification for the fact that while I like home grown produce, I really don't like doing too much work to get it. After years of over reach and under achievement, I am finally achieving some success with my gardening efforts. So I thought I'd run through a few techniques that can help fellow lazivores to grow more while doing less.

CC BY 2.0 Richard Patterson/Sterling College

Here are some of my favorites.

1. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

I've already talked about mulching as a no-cost way to grow more from your garden, but it's a gardening technique that simply can't be emphasized enough—especially when it comes to reducing your workload too. It reduces evaporation, meaning less watering. It suppresses weeds, meaning less weeding. And it protects soil biodiversity, meaning healthier plants and less trouble shooting.

Sami Grover/CC BY 2.0

As an added bonus, as the mulch breaks down it adds organic matter to the soil, further feeding the soil beasties and improving moisture retention for future crops too. From leaf mulch to shredded newspaper, there are plenty of different mulching options available. I'm a big fan of pine straw, at least here in North Carolina—it's cheap, plentiful and doesn't involve chopping down trees. It's also great for us lazivores because it's super light and easy to haul around. (And no, it doesn't make your soil significantly more acidic.)

2. Grow What Grows Best

I'd love to grow bussels sprouts, but they don't seem to like the humidity here in NC—and I've never had much luck with strawberries either. Garlic, on the other hand, seems to grow for me without trying.

Sami Grover/CC BY 2.0

So I grow a lot of garlic. Yes, I do grow a few crops that require a little more care and attention—tomatoes, for example—but I am constantly weighing up relative effort versus reward. Not to mention how cheaply and easily I can get that crop at the local farmers' market or grocery store. (Some things are best left to the professionals.)

3. Eat What Grows Anyway

Yesterday, I found these oyster mushrooms growing in my compost heap. They were the sprouting from the now composting remnants of a (so I thought) failed attempt at growing mushrooms in coffee grounds. This year, I've also eaten potatoes I never planted - courtesy of a previous owner I guess - and lettuce and parsley which has self seeded and gone wild. Learning to keep an eye out for the unexpected edibles is a great way to take the "grow what grows best" principle a step further toward "grow what grows without even trying".

Sami Grover/CC BY 2.0

It's worth noting that it is sometimes worth giving volunteers a helping hand—I transplanted the lettuce I found self-seeding, for example, into a vacant section of my plot, and I was also sure to leave it to self seed in case I get the same gift next year too.

4. Ignore the Weeds of August

Some weeds will grow, no matter how much you mulch. So it's worth establishing a selective strategy for how to deal with them. Above all else, at least for the lazivore, it's worth remembering that a weed infestation in April is a much bigger problem than some overgrown weeds in August.

Sami Grover/CC BY 2.0

Fully grown crops better equipped to compete with weeds than tiny seedlings, and it's also simply too darned hot to be spending much time in the garden. Let them get a little unruly. Pull back the ones that get out of hand. And then sit back, drink a beer and worry about something else instead.

5. Go Perennial

It should be pretty obvious that perennial crops require less work than annuals. You don't need to sow seeds each year. You don't need to water them religiously because their root systems are already developed. And it's easy to mulch them heavily at the start of the season and pretty much forget about weeding for the rest of the year. (Did I mention that mulching is a great strategy for lazivore gardening?)

© Umbria

From malabar spinach to asparagus to blueberries, there are plenty of perennial crops you can incorporate into a traditional veggie garden—or you can go whole hog and plant a perennial permaculture food forest too.

Lazivores Unite: A Manifesto for Lazy Gardening Sami Grover (@samigrover) Living / Green Food April 1, 2011

Image credit: Ewen and Donabel, used under Creative Commons license

Food has become the front line of the battle for sustainable living. Yet while I appreciate the proliferation of blog posts, videos, and books about locavore diets and backyard farming they have, I fear, created a certain ethic around self-sufficiency and the idea of returning to the hard, honest task of working the soil. In principle, I have no problem with that... except that I don't really like hard, honest work.

It's time that the lazy gardeners among us rise up and take an explicit stand. So, for all the folks who find weeding a chore, who would rather be reading TreeHugger than thinning their lettuce, and who never really understood the point in double digging anyway, I offer you a manifesto for lazy gardening. Read on, if you have the energy.

Even a Small Harvest is a Step Forward

There is, of course, little doubt that growing a significant proportion of your own food is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint. But it is going to take time, effort, and skill. By starting small, and by picking your battles, even the most inexperienced and/or simply lazy gardener can enjoy a harvest without breaking their backs.

From easy methods for growing potatoes to three easy vegetables, TreeHugger's own Colleen Vanderlinden has already done an awesome job of making gardening both unintimidating and accessible. It's my sincere hope that by adopting the principles laid out below, or at least starting the discussion, the lazy gardeners and foodies among us can take both our philosophy and our practice to the next level. It may even make us better gardeners in the process.

This sucks. Next year I'm leaving the leaves where they fall, and saving on mulch... Image credit: Jenni Grover


HOW TO WATER VEGETABLES FOR BETTER TASTE Improve the flavor of tomatoes and other vegetables just by the way you water your garden. Here’s how.

Tweaking your watering can have a dramatic impact on the flavor of your crops. Soils rich in added organic matter are naturally more moisture-retentive. This minimizes the amount of added water the crops need, and keeps those all-important sugars from being diluted too much.

Peaches, cherries and other tree fruits, plus fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers have better flavor when not over-watered. Reducing irrigation just one week before fruits are picked can help enhance the flavor of these crops.

Container-grown fruits such as blueberries or strawberries can also benefit from this approach to watering.

Keep tomato plants well watered while they establish. Water heavily two to three times at week, depending on your weather, climate and soil conditions. Then, once you start to see fruits developing, reduce the volume of water you give your plants at each watering to a minimum. Don’t go so far as to allow plants to wilt though! Yields may be a little smaller, but the flavor is more intense.

Carrots, beets and other root crops have improved taste levels in drier soils. As their roots reach deep into the soil looking for moisture, they will also source minerals that contribute to a better flavor. Water root crops regularly for the first three to four weeks after sowing or planting, then taper irrigation to a minimum.


Treating leafy crops benefit to plenty of water helps to dilute very spicy or bitter tastes. You can tame the spicy flavor of leaves such as arugula by keeping them well-watered.

Keep other leafy salads and greens moist to encourage lots of succulent, leafy growth.

Send comments to, Colby Glass, MLIS, Professor Emeritus