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: Apricots

Apricot propagation, like that of apples, is done by grafting different varieties onto specific rootstocks that will determine how they grow. Apricots are susceptible to brown rot, canker, and silver leaf diseases. Do not attempt to grow apricot trees from seed; instead purchase young, healthy, disease-resistant varieties from a reputable nursery to transplant into your garden.

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Growing Crops: Basil

Basil is an annual herb that is widely used in Mediterranean cuisine – you would be hard-pressed to find a pasta sauce that doesn’t have basil in it. Not to mention it is one of the staple ingredients in pesto (the others being garlic, olive oil, and pinons or walnuts).

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Growing Crops: Cauliflower

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.

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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: Collards

Collard greens are a staple in the Southeastern U.S., appearing alongside everything from fried chicken to BBQ ribs to Brunswick Stew. They are a member of the Brassica family, which makes them yet another cousin to the cabbage plant.

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Growing Crops: Apples

Apple trees are tricky things. They often fall victim to diseases such as apple scab, powdery mildew, and fireblight. Apple tree propagation is done by grafting particular varieties onto specific rootstocks that determine the disease resistance, growth rate and eventual size of the adult trees. We do not recommend that you plant from seed – you may put in a lot of effort for nothing. Instead, buy live trees that are at least 2 years old, the more disease-resistant the variety the better.

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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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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: 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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