Growing Crops: Borage

A beautiful and tasty annual herb with an ugly name, borage is also a low-maintenance herb. Perfect for those would-be gardeners with the proverbial brown thumb. You have to really try to kill this herb off. So, why not give it a try?

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Growing Crops: Caraway

Caraway seeds, so prevalent in rye bread the world over, are not the only part of the caraway plant that can be eaten. The leaves and shoots make a tasty addition to salads, and the roots, much like carrots or parsnips, can be slivered or diced and added to soups.

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Garden Tools You Will Need – Harvesting

Simply yanking your vegetables off the branch or out of the ground is not the proper technique for harvesting your crops. Unless we’re talking about corn. Then it’s pretty much twist and yank the ear off the stalk. The rest of the time, however, using the proper tools is the safest way to harvest your crops with minimal damage to not only the remaining plant but to what you just harvested. You don’t want to bruise or crush your produce.

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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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Garden Seeds – Sowing Indoors

If you live in a colder climate with a shorter growing season, starting your vegetable seeds indoors will not only extend the growing season, but will also protect your plants from harsh temperatures while they are still extremely vulnerable. If you live in a warmer climate, starting your vegetable seeds indoors will give you a head start on the growing season so that you will end up with a larger harvest. Keep in mind that you don’t want to start the seeds too far ahead. 6-8 weeks before the projected date of the last frost for your area is ideal.

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Garden Pest Control – Barriers

While companion planting, introducing beneficial insects, and attracting pest-killing birds to your vegetable garden will certainly help control garden pests, you may need to go a step or two further and install some barriers for plant protection.

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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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Growing Crops: Cranberries

Most gardeners do not realize that they do not have to live waist-deep in a bog in order to grow their own cranberries. Highbush cranberries (viburnum trilobum) come in several varieties, including Alfredo, Early Black, Howes, Stevens, and Wentworth, that have been specifically bred as shrubs, some of which can grow as tall as 15 feet. Hand-picking is all that’s required, rather than flooding a field and floating the berries like logs in a boom.

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Growing Crops: Chard

Leaf beet (or Perpetual spinach), Rainbow chard, Ruby chard, Seakale beet, Spinach beet, Swiss chard…’tis all a variation of the same vegetable, a close relative to the beet. It is a sturdy, savory green that tastes equally delicious raw in salads as it does wilted as a side dish – or baked into a particularly delicious strata dish involving eggs, cheese, sausage, and bread.

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Growing Fruit 101

With all the emphasis on organic vegetable gardening here there and everywhere, growing fruit often gets ignored. Maybe it’s the thought of all that pruning, or the patience factor: it can take 2-3 years for a fruit tree or bush to actually produce any fruit. So you have to wait. But, if you are a patient and tenacious fruit lover, you are perfectly capable of planting a thriving fruit garden as well as a vegetable garden.

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