Weeding your vegetable garden is a necessary evil. Healthy soil that supports healthy vegetables will also support weeds, and your job is to stop them cold. Not only do they compete with your vegetables for space and soil nutrients, they also attract pests and disease to your garden.
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.
Compost is the absolute best fertilizer or soil amendment you can use in an organic fruit and vegetable garden. It helps create loam from sandy/silty or clay soils, prevents soil from becoming too acidic or basic, and is an excellent source of the proper balance of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
Don’t rely on computer records for this. By all means, if your handwriting is atrocious and you prefer to type up your notes, go right ahead. But print them out. Do you really want to have to run to your computer, covered in soil and bug remnants, to look up something in your garden journal on the fly? We didn’t think so. Buy a three-ring binder. Preferably a sturdy, thick one, because the journal will only grow over time. Sheet protectors are a good idea, too, as they keep things nice and clean. Keep all of your records – handwritten or printed out from your computer – organized for quick and easy reference.
Going back to our high school biology lesson, wherein everything under the sun is classified according to kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species, we find that broccoli and calabrese both belong to the same family, Brassicaceae, as well as the same species, Brassica Oleracea.
Even within the same state, climates are different. For example, Flagstaff, Arizona has about a 2-month growing season due to the altitude (7,000+ feet). During the summer it rarely gets above 82 degrees F and the daily rain during the monsoon season (between Independence Day and Labor Day) is cold and often contains ice pellets. Winters are cold and harsh, and they’ve seen blizzard conditions in early June. We’ve lived there, we know! Two hours south (and 5,000 feet lower) in Phoenix you can grow vegetables pretty much year-round and 112 degree temperatures during the summer are fairly common. Winter there means maybe having to put on a pair of socks or long pants for a couple weeks.
Cauliflower is rather polarizing vegetable – either you love it or you hate it, there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. It always seems to be the last vegetable left on the veggies-and-dip platters. There’s the “brainy” appearance, the odd texture…however, we like it – with plenty of Ranch or Blue Cheese dip, thank you very much.
Grapefruits, Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Tangerines…they’re like little balls of sunshine, particularly during the Fall and Winter months, when a great many varieties produce fruit. Contrary to what you may think, you don’t have to live in California or Florida to grow citrus trees. Did you know that citrus trees are evergreens? No? Well…you do now.
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.
The Sweet Bay or Bay Laurel tree is…well, a tree. Not your typical herb, it is an evergreen whose leaves are used as an herb in cooking, often added two at a time to sauces, soups, and stews for a slightly bitter edge. The Latin name for the Sweet Bay/Bay Laurel tree is laurus nobilis, not to be confused with any other entirely different species commonly referred to as “bay.”