Growing Soil – Soil Is Not Just Dirt!

Soil is a living, breathing, organism that can make or break your garden. If it is too sandy or silty, it will drain too quickly and your plants will die of thirst. If it is too hard and clay-like, it will take too long to drain, if it drains at all, and your plants will suffocate.

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Growing Crops: Celery and Celeriac

Celery and celeriac are not the same thing – but they are closely related. Celery is grown for its stalks and leafy greens, while celeriac is grown for its root ball (discarding the stalks and greens). If high-maintenance crops are what you’re looking for, then look no further! Celery and celeriac are the vegetable world’s version of the Drama Queen.

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Cover Crops

Green manure is not fresh out of the horse. In fact, it’s not even manure. It’s another name given to cover crops, or crops that are planted for one reason only: to benefit garden soil. Think of it as a grow-your-own organic fertilizer, literally. Cover crops also stabilize soil and attract beneficial bugs, providing them with food and shelter.

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Garden Pest Control – Organic Pesticides, Homemade

When should you use an organic pesticide? If and when everything else has failed. Start with homemade and work your way up to commercial if you have to.

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Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is perhaps the single best way to fight disease and pest problems that can plague your vegetable crops. Ideally, you will have several separate areas, beds, patches, or sections in your garden so that you can rotate your crops around in order to prevent the same crops from being repeatedly grown in the same place. This also gives your soil a chance to recover each season.

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Growing Crops: Broccoli Rabe

What, exactly, is broccoli rabe (or raab, or raap)? Well, it’s not broccoli, for a start. It got that nickname due to its florets that resemble those of green calabrese (what we call broccoli here in the U.S.).

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Growing Crops: Bok Choy

Also known as Pak-Choi, this vegetable is a staple of Asian stir-fry dishes. It is frequently referred to as Chinese Cabbage (several varieties of which we will cover as well), though it is a stalk-forming plant much closer to celery in appearance and use. The leaves and stalks of the Bok-Choy plant are both edible, and more flavorful than celery.

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Growing Crops: Brussels Sprouts

Mini-cabbage-on-a-stick pretty much sums up Brussels sprouts. There are several varieties to choose from, including Jade Cross, Long Island Improved, Prince Marvel, and Rubine. Lightly steamed with a bit of butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper, they are a surprisingly tasty vegetable.

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Planting Vegetables – Hardening Off and Transplanting

You cannot simply take your seedlings from their warm, protected place indoors and put them in the ground outside. They’ll die. They need to be introduced to the outdoors gradually.

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Growing Crops: Corn Salad

Also called Lamb’s Lettuce, Mache or Rapunzel, this cold-hardy green helps make it possible to enjoy salad year-round. The flavor is quite mild.

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