Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

Three Sisters Garden

What is a Three Sisters Garden?

It is an ancient method of gardening using an intercropping system which grows corn, beans, and squash crops simultaneously in the same growing area that is typically a rounded mound of soil, often called a hill.

Corn is the oldest sister. She stands tall in the center.

Squash is the next sister. She grows over the mound, protecting her sisters from weeds and shades the soil from the sun with her leaves, keeping it cool and moist.

Beans are the third sister. She climbs through squash and then up corn to bind all together as she reaches for the sun. Beans help keep the soil fertile by coverting the sun’s energy into nitrogen filled nodules that grow on its roots. As beans grow they use the stored nitrogen as food.

How do I grow a Three Sisters Garden?

In mid-Spring clear a sunny garden area of grasses, weeds, and large stones. The area should be roundish in shape and at least eight feet across. Cover the area with a few inches of compost or well rotted manure. Turn the compost in to loosen the ground and create a moisture retaining growing medium with increased fertility. Water it well. Check the growing area frequently over the next few weeks to remove any sprouted weeds.

In late-Spring sow about seven or eight corn seeds in the center of the growing circle, in a ring pattern, spaced out about six inches from each other. Plant the corn seeds an inch under the soil, firm the soil above by patting it down with the palm of your hand. Water the growing mound well. The corn will sprout and begin to grow in about two weeks.

After the corn has grown to about ten inches high, using a hoe or hand trowel, pull up some soil from the growing mound around the base of the corn stalks. The corn should not be buried entirely, it’s upper half should be above the soil that has been mounded around it’s stems. The corn will send roots into the mounded soil to hold it steady and upright in the wind.

After mounding soil around the base of the corn stalks sow about a dozen pole bean seeds in a ring pattern six inches outside the corn stalks. Push the bean seeds about an inch under the soil and firm the ground above them by patting it down with your hand. Water the growing mound well. The beans will usually begin to sprout in about 7-14 days.

About a week after the beans sprout, sow six or seven squash seeds in a ring about 12-15″ outside the beans. Push the squash seeds about an inch under the soil and firm the ground above them by patting it down with your hand. The squash seeds will sprout in about a week.

As the corn grows the beans will begin to climb, you can help them early on by wrapping the bean vines around the corn stalks. The squash will begin to grow it’s vines and the large squash leaves will soon cover the growing mound and shade its soil. On occasion help the squash continue to cover the mound by turning the ends of it’s vines towards the center of the mound. Water the mound well during weeks where there has been little or no rain.

When can we harvest our Three Sister’s Garden?

Corn may be harvested while in it’s green corn stage, but tradtionally it is left to ripen and is harvested in Autumn. The cob is sun dried and stored for winter use. To harvest green corn observe the silky threads coming from the tops of the ears, when the silk is dry and a dark brown color the corn may be harvested. To remove an ear of corn, hold the stalk a few inches below the ear. Pull the tip of the ear toward the ground until it snaps off.

Beans may be eaten fresh or allowed to mature and dry on the vine. Fresh beans can be harvested when the pods are firm and crisp, but before the seeds within the pods have begun to swell. Pick beans in late morning after the night-dew has dried from the plants. This helps to prevent the spread of bacterias which can harm the plants. Pick the beans carefully to avoid bruising or snapping the growing vines. Bean plants will continue to flower and more bean pods will develop if they are harvested before bean seeds can mature.

Squash should be picked only after its skin has hardened thoroughly. Be careful to not damage or break off the stem of the squash…this can wound the squash and it will begin to rot. Cut the stem 3-4″ from the fruit with a sharp knife. Allow the squash to sit in the sun for a few days to cure and the stem to dry. Store squash in a single layer and not touching each other, which can foster rot. Squash can last at least two months, depending on the variety.

Enjoy growing your Three Sisters Garden!

Make a bean pole teepee

 

A bean teepee creates a wonderful hiding hole for young kids during the summer months at the same time as providing a perfect support for growing pole beans!

You can locate your bean teepee either in the vegetable patch or in a spare corner of the garden – it adds the dimension of height and is not only useful and fun, but quite ornamental too. Just bear in mind that the teepee will cast a fair bit of shade once the beans have grown.

How to Make a Bean Teepee

You will need: 7 – 9 long bamboo poles, some twine, string or even masking tape, and runner or pole beans.

circular shape for bean teepee Start off by finding a suitable spot in your garden and dig the earth over in a circular shape. A circle with a diameter of 3-4 foot is usually perfectly adequate.Beans like well-drained soil, so add some compost and fertiliser if needed – like in this example!
positioning poles for bean teepee Firmly push the ends of the bamboo poles into the ground by about 3 inches on the outside of the circle.Leave a gap between two of the poles to act as the entrance to the bean teepee.
tieing bamboo poles together Tie the bamboo poles together firmly near the top using twine, string, a bit of old rope or even masking tape.There is absolutely no fine art in tieing the poles together – the main and only aim is to ensure they are all VERY firmly held in place, as no matter how careful kids are, they are likely to knock the poles when going in and out of the teepee!
planting pole beans Plant the runner or pole beans about 2 inches deep. Plant them on the inside of the teepee rather than the outside, as this makes it easier to hoe and keep weeds down – anything growing on the outside of the bamboo poles are weeds!It is usual to plant two beans per pole. That should ensure at least one healthy plant per pole.
bean teepee ready to grow Water generously.Beans usually take between 7 to 14 days to germinate. Once the seedlings appear, protect them from slug attacks.

When the beans are a few inches high, loosely tie them to the poles. From then on, they should find their own way up.

When the plants reach the top of the teepee after about 7-8 weeks, nip the growing ends off. Keep them well watered during a dry patch, especially once the pods have started forming.

Once the dense foliage of the runner or pole beans has climbed up the bamboo poles and provides a cover, your bean teepee is ready for it’s inhabitants. Pop a blanket inside for the perfect private hide-away!

Tips

Once the first bean pods are ready to be harvested, keep picking them every few days to ensure the plants keep flowering and producing more pods. Once a pod reaches full maturity, the flowering process is shut down.

Beans can be planted outside once the risk of frost is over, usually late May or the beginning of June in the more northern areas.

For an even more colourful display, interplant climbing flowering plants too, such as climbing nasturtiums or black-eyed Susan.

Cats love these shady hide-aways too!

How to build a planter box

Step 1: Build the Frames

Build the top and bottom frames out of the 1×2 cedar strips. You’ll be butting the ends together, so no mitering will be necessary. Fasten two 26″ strips to two 13″ strips to form each rectangular frame. (You’ll need to ensure that the length remains 26″; to do this, butt the ends of the shorter strip against the longer strips. The thickness of the two longer strips will add an inch to each end of the shorter strips, increasing their length to 16″. Do this at each end of the longer strips to form a rectangular frame 26″ long and 16″ wide.) Apply a bead of wood glue to the junctions of the strips; then nail together with a single nail in each junction in preparation for inserting screws to hold them more securely. Predrill the ends prior to screwing them together; this helps keep the ends from splitting. Then insert a screw in each corner.

Step 2: Attach the Side Panels

Stand the two frames on their sides and apply a bead of wood glue to the inside face of the bottom side frames (the long sides). Attach four side panels to each long side, smooth sides out, and nail from the inside to hold them in place. Make sure the frames are flush with the panel ends on at least one side, or the bottom panels won’t fit properly. If the panels are jagged on the other side, you can always smooth them with a trim saw later.
Because you’re nailing from the inside, you may have to drive the nails at a slight angle. The advantage of this is that it conceals the nailheads from the exterior face of the window box. Repeat on the other side of the box.

Step 3: Attach the End Panels

Stand the half-completed box on its end and apply a bead of wood glue to the inside face of the bottom end frames. Attach two panels to each end in the same manner that you used to attach the side panels, once again ensuring that the ends are flush on the bottom. Repeat the process on the opposite end.

Step 4: Attach the Bottom Panels

Check and adjust your box for square if necessary. Attach three bottom panels to form the base of the planter box, using wood glue and screws. The base will reinforce and brace the box. Drill several holes in the panels so that water can escape, or simply leave a gap between the panels.

Step 5: Finish the Box

Lightly sand any rough edges and corners to smooth out splinters. If you wish, you can stain, seal or prime and paint your planter to suit your home’s decor. Because you used cedar, however, it can stay unfinished: cedar is one of the best lumbers you can use for exterior applications. This planter is a good size for potted plants, but you may wish to add a plastic liner and fill it with soil (add a layer of gravel first). If you do, don’t forget to cut holes in the liner to line up with the drainage holes in the bottom of the planter.

Preparing a Vegetable Garden for Winter

To prepare a vegetable garden for winter, you’ll want to do a great cleanup job in the fall. This garden care will make it easier to start the new growing season in the spring.
Winter squash
After a big harvest of
winter
squash
, prepare the vegetable
 garden for winter. See more
pictures of vegetable gardens.
You may be tempted to skip some of these last-minute chores, but they’re worth doing because they can make a big difference to the success of next year’s garden. While these tasks can be put off until the start of the growing season, you can expect to be busy with the vegetable garden in the spring. You’ll find it useful to have some of the work out of the way ahead of time.

As you finish harvesting crops and rows of garden space become available, it’s a good idea to plant a cover crop, or green manure, as part of your preparation for the following year. This is a crop that you don’t intend to harvest. It’s simply to provide protection for the soil underneath. When you prepare for your spring planting, you dig the whole crop into the soil. A cover crop will keep your precious topsoil from blowing or washing away, and tilling it into the soil in the spring will provide valuable organic matter to enrich the soil.

The cover crop will also shade the soil, preventing many cool-season weeds from germinating. It’s not necessary to plant the whole cover crop at one time to cover the entire garden; you can plant in each area of the garden as space becomes available.

Cover crops are not exclusively used over the winter. If you have a space in the garden that will be vacant for several weeks between plantings, a summer cover of buckwheat makes an ideal green manure. The buckwheat germinates quickly and covers the soil, preventing summer weeds from germinating. It’s hollow-stemmed and easy to turn into the soil when you plant your next vegetable.

Vegetable Garden Cover Crop Types

 

Variety Season to Grow
Amount of Seed/ 1000 Sq. Ft.
Rye
Winter
1 to 2 lbs.
Crimson Clover
Winter
1 lb.
Soybeans
Summer
3 to 5 lbs.
Hairy Vetch
Winter
3/4 to 11/2 lbs.
Winter Wheat
Winter
1 to 2 lbs.
Buckwheat
Summer
2 to 3 lbs.
Rape
Winter
2 to 5 oz.
Cowpeas
Summer
3 to 4 lbs.

As an alternative to planting a cover crop, you can prepare the vegetable soil

ahead of time. Tilling your soil in the fall can save you a great deal of time and help you get an earlier start in the spring because the soil is often too wet in early spring to use a spade or a rototiller. If you do till your soil in the fall, make sure to cover it with mulch to keep it from blowing away and to prevent massive winter weed germination. Consider soil preparation for the area of your garden where you plan to grow next season’s cool-season vegetables.

If you’re growing perennial vegetables, fall is the time to prepare them for winter survival. Remove old stems and foliage that have been killed back by frost to prevent the spread of disease organisms and insects that winter on old debris.

In cold climates, perennial vegetables should be protected with a blanket of mulch to prevent root damage from extreme cold temperatures. In mild climates, a coating of mulch will protect plants from the alternating freeze-and-thaw and prevent plants from heaving from the soil.

 

Growing a Vertical Garden

Vertical garden

 

 

1

  • Start any gardening project in spring, when air temperatures rise to 60 degrees F. Vertical garden vegetables don’t need warm soil, but do require frost-free nights.

  • 2

    Choose your wall for the garden. Put the vertical garden in a spot that gets full sunshine all day, with good air circulation and protection from any drying winds.

  • 3

  • Use deep, sturdy rain gutters for the vertical garden, to give vegetables room for growth and support. Cut the rain gutters to fit on the wall you choose, and build at least three to four “stories” of gardening space. Drill holes every 10 inches in the bottom of the gutters, to ensure drainage.

  • 4

    Secure the gutters to the wall with eye hooks, screws or nails every 6 inches. Leave 2 to 3 feet of space between each layer of gutters to give the plants room to grow.

  • 5

    Mix organic compost, peat moss and potting soil in equal parts as your planting mix. This mix gives the vegetables plenty of nutrition and drainage. Fill the gutters full of your mixture, then turn starter fertilizer such as 6-24-24 or 8-32-16 into the top 4 inches of soil to provide more nutrition.

  • 6

    Plant small, compact vegetables in a vertical garden to minimize space usage and avoid stressing the structure. Plant lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, herbs, beets, peas, carrots, garlic, onions and radishes. Choose only small tomato, cucumber, bean and pepper cultivars. Also plant flowers in with vegetables to make the garden more attractive.

Home Canning 101

So, you’ve planted seeds or seedlings and then watered and weeded all summer. Now it’s time to harvest, and while much of your garden’s bounty ends up on your dinner plates, baked into goodies and eaten fresh as your pick it, there is generally an excess of fruits and vegetables. After all, you can only eat cucumbers at every meal for so many days in a row before you start to feel like you are, in fact, a cucumber.

This is where food preservation and canning comes in. Canning is a wonderful way to store your fruits and vegetables from the garden or the farmer’s market while they are in season and make the harvest last through winter when local and seasonal foods are scarce.

Canning in both water baths and pressure cooking heats the food, killing any microorganisms that may grow, and also creates a vacuum seal in the jar. The vacuum seal will prevent any air from coming in contact with the preserved food that could encourage cell growth and cause the food to spoil.

1. Start by sterilizing your jars.

Wash your lids and jars in hot soapy water. Then move them to a boiling water bath for ten minutes to sterilize. Remove jars from the water bath, but leave the lids in the hot water until you’re ready to use them to ensure they don’t come in contact with anything before you seal your jars.

2. Fill your jars.

There are a few things to remember when filling your jars. First, be sure not to fill them completely. Produce expands during the boiling process, so leaving adequate space at the top prevents the jar from leaking and making a mess.

After filling your jar with produce, unless canning jams, jellies and preserves, you’ll be pouring liquid to submerge the fruit or vegetables. Pour the boiling water, pickling solution or juice to cover up to the top of your produce.

Make sure there are no air bubbles along the sides of the jar and that the produce is submerged in the liquid. Wipe the rims of the jars down with a clean cloth and cap with the flat sealing lids and rims.

3. Process your jars.

Preheat water in your pot or pressure cooker. For hot produce, water should be preheated to 180º F, and for cold produce, it should be around 140º F. This will help prevent the jars from cracking when they are placed in the pot.

Water should be an inch or two above the top of the canning jar when they are placed in the pot for a water boiling process. Use a pressure canner according to the manufacturer’s directions to determine the amount of water needed in the bottom prior to adding the jars.

Add the jars using your tongs or jar lifter, and place them in the vessel so they are not touching. Place the lid on your pot or pressure canner. With water bath canning, bring the water to a slow boil and then start your timer to process for the length of time dictated by which vegetable you’re canning and the altitude at which you live. For pressure cooking, you’ll want to check for the length and temperature needed for your region as well.

4.  Remove your jars and let them cool.

Place your jars on a flat wood or cloth-covered solid surface to let them cool. Let them sit for a day to completely cool. While cooling, your jars will start to pop, creating the vacuum seal.

After they have cooled, press down on the center of your jars to ensure they have sealed completely. Any lids that spring back have not sealed and can be placed in the refrigerator and eaten first.

5.  Label and store your preserved food.

Label your jars with the contents and the date. You can write directly on the lid with a Sharpie or download and print or purchase specialty labels for your jars.

Once you have them labeled and have wiped off any food pieces or water from the outside of the jar, store your food in a dark, dry place until you’re ready to enjoy.
 

 

Tips for Harvesting

Allow plenty of time. You’ll need time to pick as well as to put food in the fridge or prepare it for dinner.

Be strategic. Pick either the ingredients for tonight’s meal or a large single harvest for preserving. Then you won’t be faced with two jobs after you’ve brought the produce inside. Helpful tools include durable scissors, a small serrated knife and a basket with a handle.

Keep it cool. Produce wilts quickly after it is picked, so harvest during the cool part of the day – early morning or late evening. Set up a processing bench outside to sort and clean vegetables. Keep produce fresh by propping cut stems in water.

Get ready. What will you do with produce after it lands in your kitchen? Harvest smaller amounts, more frequently, so everything fits in the fridge and can be eaten at the peak of freshness. Have a supply of plastic bags for storing leafy greens, cucumbers, beans, peas, and anything that wilts quickly after picking.

Stagger your plantings. If you are inundated by too much lettuce or summer squash, it may be an indication that you’ve planted more than your family can consume. Plant just a few seeds every three or four weeks in succession so that the greens never stop coming and you can keep up!

Extend the harvest. City farmers preserve bumper crops by dehydrating, freezing, pickling, and canning. Not all methods work well for all produce so match the preservation technique to the food. Learn about various food preservation techniques by taking a class.

Give it away. Many people in our community have little or no access to fresh produce. They would love extras from your garden. Area food banks will gladly accept donations of fresh, high quality produce. Check with your local food bank about particulars.

Harvesting your garden

Use these guidelines to tell when to harvest your garden vegetables.  Common garden vegetables (and a couple of fruits) are listed alphabetically.
 

Asparagus Begin harvesting the third year after planting. Harvest when the spears are 6 to 10 inches above the ground but before the heads open. Cut or snap spears off at the soil line. Stop harvesting if spears show a marked decrease in size. Maximum harvest period is 6 to 8 weeks
Bean, Snap Bean Harvest before pods are full sized and when seeds are tender and about one-fourth developed. Harvesting usually begins 2 to 3 weeks after first bloom. Don’t allow beans to mature on plants or bean production will decrease.
Bean, lima, broad Harvest when pods are fully developed and seeds are green and tender.
Beet Harvest when roots are 1 1/4 to 2 inches in diameter. Some cultivars may maintain quality in larger sizes.
Broccoli Harvest when flower head is fully developed, but before the flowers begin to open. Cut 6 to 7 inches below the flower head. Side heads will develop after the main head is cut.
Brussels sprouts  Harvest the lower sprouts (small heads) when they are about 1 to 1-½ inches in diameter by twisting them off. Lower leaves along the stem may be removed to hasten maturity.
Cabbage Harvest when heads are solid, but before they split. On early cabbage, cut just beneath the solid head. Small lateral heads will develop from buds in the axils of the older leaves.
Carrot Harvest when ¾ to 1 inch in diameter or smaller when thinning. For storage, leave carrots in soil until a light frost occurs. Use care when harvesting, since bruising favors the development of soft rot during storage.
Cauliflower Cover curds when they are 2 to 3 inches in diameter by tying the outer leaves loosely about the head, or using leaves from other plants in the garden. Check for developing curds every 2 to 3 days, and retie if further development is necessary. Harvest when the heads are full sized but still white and smooth.
Celery Harvest when plants are 10 to 12 inches tall.
Cucumber Proper harvesting size is determined by product use. Pickles: Sweets are 1 1/2 to 2 inches long; dills are 3 to 4 inches long. Fresh slicing are 7 to 9 inches long and a bright dark green. Leave a short piece of stem on each fruit. Harvest daily and don’t allow fruit to mature.
Eggplant Harvest when fruit is firm and bright purple to black in color.
Jerusalem Artichoke Harvest tubers after a hard frost. Tubers can be stored in the ground over winter and harvested early in spring or, with mulch protection, during most of the winter.
Kohlrabi Harvest when the thickened stem is 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
Lettuce Harvest the older, outer leaves from leaf lettuce when they are 4 to 6 inches long. Harvest heading types when the heads are moderately firm and before seed stalks form.
Muskmelon Harvest when a crack appears completely around the base of the fruit stem. The fruit will readily separate from the stem.
Okra Harvest when 3 to 5 inches long and tender.
Onion Correct harvesting stage is determined by the type and product use. Harvest onions grown from sets when they are 6 to 9 inches tall for immediate table use. Onions grown from seed for fresh use should be harvested when the bulbs are 1/4 to 1 inch in diameter. Harvest seed grown onions for boiling when the bulbs are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Harvest for storage (seed or set grown) when the tops have weakened and fallen over and the bulbs are 2 or more inches in diameter. Harvest before hard frost.
Parsnip Harvest after a hard frost or in early spring before new growth starts. To harvest in spring, place a 3- to 5-inch soil mulch over the parsnips. Parsnips are not poisonous if harvested in early spring.
Pea Harvest when the pods are fully developed and still tender, and before seeds develop fully.
Edible Pod Pea Harvest when the pods are fully developed, but before seeds are more than one-half full size.
Peanut Harvest when plants turn yellow at season’s end or before the first early frost.
Pepper, green Harvest when fruits are full sized and firm.
Pepper, red Allow peppers to remain on the plant until they become completely red. This usually requires an additional 2 to 3 weeks.
Potato For storage, harvest when full sized with firm skins. Tubers continue to grow until the vine dies. For new potatoes, harvest at any early stage of development. This is usually when tubers are 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Pumpkin Harvest pumpkins when they are fully colored and the skins have hardened enough to resist the fingernail test. Harvest before a killing frost.
Radishes Harvest when the roots are ½ to 1 ½ inches in diameter (Chinese radishes grow much larger). The shoulders of radish roots often appear through the soil surface when they are mature. If left in the ground too long, they will become tough and woody.
Rhubarb Do not harvest the first year after planting; harvest only a few stalks the second year. Established plantings can be harvested for approximately 8 weeks. The quality of the stalks decreases toward the end of the harvest period. Harvest only the largest and best stalks by grasping each stalk near the base and pulling slightly to one direction. Note: there is no evidence to show that stalks harvested from frost damaged plants are poisonous, so they should be considered safe to eat.
Rutabaga Harvest when the roots are full sized but before a heavy frost.
Soybean for fresh use, shell out just before pods begin to dry. For dried use, harvest when pods turn brown but before shattering occurs
Spinach Harvest by cutting all the leaves off at the base of the plant when they are 4 to 6 inches long. New leaves will grow, providing additional harvests.
Squash, summer type Harvest when fruit is young and tender. Your fingernail should easily penetrate the rind. Long-fruited cultivars, such as zucchini, are harvested when 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 4 to 8 inches long; scallops are taken when 3 to 4 inches long.
Squash, winter type Harvest when mature. The rind should be firm and glossy and not easily punctured by your thumbnail. The portion that contacts the soil is cream to orange when mature. Leave a portion of the vine (2 to 3 inches) attached to the fruit to help prevent storage rot. Harvest squash before a heavy frost.
Sweet corn Harvest when kernels are completely filled and in the milk stage. Use your thumbnail to determine this. The silks are dry and brown at this stage.
Sweet potato Harvest in late fall before the first early frost.
Tomato
 
For peak quality, harvest 5 to 8 days after fruits are fully colored. Tomatoes lose their firmness quickly if they are overripe.
Turnip Harvest when roots are 1 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.
Watermelon Harvest when full sized. The portion in contact with the soil is cream to yellow when mature.

Growing lettuce

Lettuce is one of the most popular vegetables in culinary arts and is used in salads and several other dishes. Hence, wouldn’t it be great if you could simply harvest one from your own garden? This will ensure the freshness of the lettuce while also saving you cost from having to buy them from the grocer.

Varieties of Lettuce

There are four basic varieties of lettuce and it is important to recognize each one of them since it requires different growing conditions. Each one are listed and described briefly below:

   

*Butter head: This variety of lettuce possesses a creamy center to it. It also has a milder flavor as compared to other varieties but takes a lot more time to mature. This is the type of lettuce often used in making salads.

     

*Romaine: This variety comes with crunchy leaves and is characterized by its upright cluster of leaves. It takes between 70 to 85 days in order for this variety of lettuce to fully mature. Like the butter head, this is also popular ingredient for salads.

   

*Crisp head: This is another familiar variety and requires cool weather for growing. Of all varieties of lettuce, this one takes the most time to grow and requires specific conditions. You know when it’s ready if the outer leaves possess a yellowish green color.

    

*Leaf Lettuce: This one requires less restriction in order to grow fully well. Unlike the romaine lettuce, this one comes with loose bunches of leaves. It is most suitable in warm weather.

Soil Requirements

Summer is the best time to grow lettuce because of the rich, humus-laden soil quality. The ideal soil condition is at pH 6.5, so you can test the soil before growing the lettuce to produce a better quality lettuce. It is often grown alongside other slow growing plants, such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Since lettuce thrives in moist conditions, make sure to regularly water the lettuce to moisten up the soil.

There are also different varieties of lettuce according to the season in which it is grown:

*Summer varieties – This refer to lettuce plants that are grown under hot conditions. However, make sure you choose an area for growing lettuce that is well shaded.

*Spring lettuce – This is more challenging to grow than the summer varieties. If you are living in a mild area, make sure to sow the lettuce seeds in an area that gets adequate amount of sunlight. Make sure to have proper drainage to the soil surrounding your lettuce plants.

Process of Sowing Seeds

An important thing to take note when sowing lettuce seeds is to sow at the position where you intend to grow them. Avoid moving lettuce plants, when possible. You can plant these seeds at seedbeds or boxes, ideally 2.5cm above the ground.

Observe proper distance between plants, roughly around 8-16 inches apart. This will provide enough room for each plant to grow without any disruption.

Time Periods

Take note of the following information to avoid harvesting lettuce immaturely:

*Expected germination time for lettuce: For hot weather conditions, it can happen around 6 to 12 days.

*Time between sowing and harvesting: It depends on the variety of lettuce you are trying to grow. For butter or crisp head lettuce, they take the longest amount of time from 8 to 14 weeks. For loose-leaf varieties, it takes about 6 to 8 weeks in order to be ready for harvest.

Other Growing Tips for Lettuce

Additional information when caring for your lettuce plants to ensure they grow healthy:

  • Moist soil is important in allowing the lettuce plant to grow fast and healthy. Therefore, make sure to water regularly. The best time for watering your lettuce plants is during the morning or midday. Watering at night can increase the risk of your plant developing diseases.
  • In order for the lettuce seeds to germinate, temperature must not exceed 80 degrees. If you are sowing during summer, make sure to employ proper shading devices on your plant bed. Or better yet, find a cool spot indoors to grow your lettuce.

Home grown potatoes

          Potatoes are relatively easy to grow,

and taste great when grown in your garden. While potatoes are a root crop, they still require full sun to produce the best potatoes. Potatoes will grow best in a slightly acidic soil that ranges between 5.9 and 6.5. Since potatoes grow underground a soft loamy soil will produce the best results. Potatoes can be planted in the early spring once the soil can be worked and reaches a temperature of about 45 degrees. Make sure that the soil is not too wet when you plants your seeds, or you face the risk that your seeds will rot before they sprout. While you might be tempted to try to use potatoes you bought in the supermarket as seeds, do not use them. First you don’t know if they are disease free, and second they may not give the best yields. About one week before you are ready to plant your potato seeds place them in an area that is at least 60F and receives plenty of light. This will help get the seeds started sprouting. The day before you are ready to plant use a knife to cut the large potato seed into smaller seeds. Make sure that each seed contains at least one eye. Potatoes will grow best if they are planted in rows. They should be spaced about one foot apart between plants, and the rows should be about 3 feet apart. The seeds should be placed under about three inches of soil. In approximately two weeks the seeds will sprout, and you should cove them with about four inches of soil. After another two weeks the stems will be about eight inches high, at this time you should add another four inches of soil. After this you will need to add one to two inches of soil per week. You must make sure that the potatoes are covered and aren’t exposed to light. If the potatoes do get exposed to light they turn green, and this green part has the potential to be toxic. Alternatively rows you could use large mounds that are about three feet in diameter and this will allow for about 8 plants. The same method of covering the growing potatoes with soil should be followed with this technique as well. Be sure not to use too much organic material in the soil where you are growing your potatoes, as this will increase the likelihood of potato scab. Therefore it is best to put any organic materials deep into the soil so the roots of the potato can grow into the rich nutrients. Potatoes should be watered frequently especially when they are flowering. When the plants begin to create a new tuber that is when watering is very important. It is best to water potatoes early in the morning so they are not wet overnight, and thus less susceptible to potato diseases. Potatoes are ready to harvest about two to three weeks after they are done flowering. You can harvest some potatoes now and leave others to keep growing and getting larger. If you want to store your potatoes they should be kept in a dark, well-ventilated location at about 40F. They can be stored for up to six months. It is important to rotate your potato crop from year to year as many diseases and insects will over winter, and cause trouble the following season if you don’t move your crop.

   

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