Growing Crops: Currants

Most people are only familiar with the dried version of the black currant, sold in boxes alongside raisins in the supermarket. Smaller and a little more tart/tangy than raisins, they make a flavorful addition to baked goods and hot cereals. The fresh fruits are a tasty alternative to grapes and are ideal for making preserves.

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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 Crops: Beans (Bush and Vine)

…as opposed to growing shelling beans. These are the green (or yellow, or purple) beans you steam or sauté as a nice side dish, or put in that holiday green bean/mushroom soup/fried onion casserole every year.

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Growing Crops: Artichokes

Artichokes, also called Globe Artichokes, can be grown as an annual or a perennial (ideally as part of an edible landscape feature), depending on how much space you have available and how you prefer to grow them. Annual artichokes require a minimum of 100 days without frost, are planted in the Spring and harvested in the Fall. Perennial artichokes can be planted in Spring or Fall and harvested during either season, as well. Every 3 or 4 years carefully pull them out of the ground with the help of your garden fork, divide them, and then replant.

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Growing Crops: Cucumbers

A salad isn’t a salad without cucumbers, in our opinion. Thin-sliced, skin-on. There are a number of varieties to choose from, depending on the space you have available and the purpose for which you are growing your cucumbers. After all, pickles are simply puckered up cucumbers.

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Growing Crops: Cress

Cress is a catch-all term for three very different delicate yet spicy little salad greens. Despite the name, all three are entirely different species. Watercress (nasturtium officianale) is probably the one you’re most familiar with. It requires an aquatic environment to properly grow (such as the banks of a stream or pond), therefore is not recommended for the urban organic garden. Winter Cress (barbarea verna) – also called Upland Cress – will grow in regular soil and is a cool-season plant that can be harvested clear through the winter.

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Growing Crops: Chicory, Radicchio, Endive, Escarole…and Frisee, too!

Why so many different plants in one post? Well, they’re all members of the same family (asteraceae) and genus (cichorium) and have remarkably similar planting requirements and growing conditions. Chicory belongs to the species intybus, and radicchio is a chicory variety. Endive belongs to the species endivia, and escarole and frisee are endive varieties. All of them are cool weather vegetables that tend to bolt during the heat of summer. They make it possible to enjoy salad all year long.

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Growing Crops: Blackberries

Do yourself a favor and go to your local nursery that specializes in organic fruits and vegetables, and purchase blackberry canes that have already been propagated from seed. How many canes you buy depends on how fond you are of blackberries. You could also visit Nature Hills Nursery, as they have a selection of live blackberry cane varieties; click on the banner below to see your choices:

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Growing Crops: Broccoli and Calabrese

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.

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Growing Crops: Corn

Corn is an impressive crop to grow, particularly in an urban or suburban environment, as it’s such an unexpected sight to see outside of rural farm country. You can grow corn for eating, or the multicolored varieties for Fall decorating, or popcorn varieties that are harvested after they have dried on the stalk. Not all at once, however, as different varieties need at least 100 yards between them to avoid cross-pollination.

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