How to Grow Big Cabbages

Cabbage is a vegetable that is eaten around the world, in many dishes. It isn’t particularly difficult to grow, however, if you want the biggest heads of cabbage that you can get, there are some gardening tips that can help you along. Choosing a cultivar Not all cabbages are types that grow large heads. This should be obvious to people who buy cabbage in the store, where the heads are rarely over nine inches in diameter. Thus, if you want to have large heads of cabbage, the first step is to select cultivars that are likely to produce the largest heads. It is difficult to recommend specific kinds of cabbage since different plant nurseries are likely to use their own general name. However, many will have ‘giant’, ‘mammoth’ or similar descriptive words in the name. Start with seedlings Cabbage seeds can be directly sowed into the garden. However, for the largest heads, it is worthwhile to start with healthy seedlings. Brassica plants, the cabbage family that includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, and collards, are among the vegetables that don’t mind being transplanted. Starting the plants as seedlings can give them an early boost and since cabbage is a cold-hardy plant, they can be among the first to go into the garden. Soil preparation The soil should be prepared to a depth of about two feet. The root structure of cabbage normally only reaches about a foot, however by preparing the soil to twice this depth, you allow for Continue Reading →

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About growing blueberry bushes in your yard

There are few fruits that are as packed with anti-oxidants than blueberries. They are also quite delicious. Fresh blueberries are also tastier and better for you than frozen ones, though the same could be said about most fruits. They aren’t particularly hard to grow, but the conditions need to be right and it can be a bit of a trick to make those conditions right. Blueberries are bushes that grow best in climates that have cold winters, because the plants require a period of dormancy each year. While there are a number of different cultivars, there are also two main types of blueberries: Low bush and high bush. As the name implies, low bush blueberries don’t get very tall, usually less than three and a half feet. High bush blueberry bushes can grow five to seven feet tall and occasionally taller. The first consideration before growing blueberries is to decide which type is going to be grown. Regardless of which is chosen, plenty of space will be needed for the plants. Additionally, though they do require winter temperatures that are cold enough to allow them to become dormant, blueberries are also sun-loving plants. They can tolerate some shade, particularly in the afternoon when the sunshine tends to be the most intense, but they do need lots of sunshine. Perhaps the hardest part of growing blueberries is that they thrive in very sour soil that has a pH that is low enough to kill most garden plants. Most fruit trees and Continue Reading →

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Successfully Growing Rhubarb Plants

In both the Oregon Cascades and the Montana Rocky mountains, two plants that are among the first to start vigorously growing in the United States are strawberries and rhubarb. Both are extremely hardy perennials that seem to breeze right through even bitter cold temperatures. In fact, most of the rhubarb produced in the US comes from Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado and Michigan. It seems appropriate somehow that strawberries and rhubarb combine so well in strawberry-rhubarb pie. Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)┬áis quite easy to grow. That said, it should also be mentioned that rhubarb can’t survive anywhere that doesn’t get cold enough for the plant to become dormant. For the plant to do this, the daytime high temperatures in the winter need to be 40 F or less for at least several weeks. Most of the growth is also when the temperatures are below 70 F. Thus, it is a plant that is most at home in places that have a harsh winter and a cool spring. The rhubarb plant doesn’t do very well when the temperatures become very hot. In part, this is because the leaves are very large and when it is hot, they release a great amount of water in a process called transpiration. When the temperatures are such that more water is transpired than the amount taken in by the roots, the leaves begin to wilt. In fact, this is the cause of wilting leaves for virtually all plants and it is the reason squash and pumpkin leaves Continue Reading →

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Growing Beautiful and Colorful French Marigolds

French marigolds (Tagetes patula) are plants that have a place in the flowerbeds, borders and gardens. They add a cheerful yellow, orange, to orange-red color around homes, businesses and even churches. French marigolds are easy to grow and they are a particularly forgiving and hardy annual. The seeds can also be found in a lot of seed stores. These marigolds didn’t originate in France, despite the name. They are actually native to Southern Mexico and Guatemala. The flower petals aren’t just for show, however. All marigold flowers, Tagetes genus, can be eaten, but some aren’t very good tasting. French marigolds do have a good, spicy and somewhat lemony flavor, though. The petals also yield a yellow dye that can be used to color everything from food to fabric. The plants also deter many insect pests, so they are great companion plants in the garden. They are particularly useful when grown near tomatoes or plants that suffer from aphids and nematodes. The plants grow from a half of a foot to two feet tall, so they aren’t very big, even though they are sometimes bushy. They usually bloom within weeks of being planted and if the flowers are dead-headed (clipped off when the blossom is beginning to fade), they will often keep blooming throughout the late spring, summer and into fall. French marigolds do best in full sunshine. They will grow in soil that is clay, sandy or loamy, so they can be planted in most kinds of dirt. They do Continue Reading →

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Deer Resistant Herbs for the Garden

  In North America, one of the biggest problems that gardeners face every year is deer. Annually, deer destroy more garden plants than any other four-legged creature. There are deer resistant plants that can help to lessen the problem, but it needs to be understood that they aren’t really “deer-proof” plants. That should be a clear disclaimer. There is very little that is ‘proof’ from deer. For instance, having seen a deer jump an eight foot chain-link fence with very little effort, it is pretty clear to me that a deer-proof fence is either a matter of wishful thinking or extreme cost. Likewise, deer-proof garden plants are virtually a contradictory term. A hungry deer will eat nearly any plant, including cactus and plants that would be poisonous to humans. All that said, there are plants that deer don’t particularly like eating and a few that they find offensive, primarily because of the aroma, provided that they aren’t really hungry. Interestingly, there are several of these that are aromatic herbs that are commonly used for seasoning food or making tea. Here are a few. Oregano Deer don’t care for the flavor or aroma of this plant. The plant isn’t hard to grow, but it normally is low growing and not the best ground cover. Most people won’t grow enough of it to be a major deterrent for deer. Sage Garden sage is another plant that deer will usually bypass, if there are other plants growing nearby that they can eat. Sage Continue Reading →

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Understanding what an organic vegetable actually is

People are becoming used to the term, “organic gardening” or “organic vegetables” probably more than ever before in history. This isn’t a bad thing. However, many people have different ideas about what the terms mean. Genetic manipulation and organic gardening To many people, an organic vegetable is one that has never been genetically manipulated in any way. What most people don’t understand is that this would exclude most vegetables and fruits. To name just a few vegetables and fruits that have been genetically manipulated; tomatoes, corn, wheat, carrots, radishes, peppers, squash, pumpkins and other gourds, lettuce, and a great number of others. This doesn’t necessarily mean gene splicing. Genetic manipulation may be simply breeding plants together to get the traits people want. The resultant plant didn’t originally occur in nature however. It came about with a bit of tweaking by man. Use of chemicals Many more people think of organic vegetables as plants grown without man-made or synthesized chemicals. This includes fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. The problem here is that this doesn’t define “organic.” If people don’t know this, they are likely to be misled by totally legal statements on product packages in stores. Organic tomatoes or lettuce in a store are not necessarily what people are thinking they are getting. Original meaning At one time, organic really did mean something that was totally natural. However, the chemical term has to do with carbon. Carbon dioxide is touted as the current big evil in the world. Yet, without CO2, very Continue Reading →

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Learning Where Morel Mushrooms Grow

Like many mushrooms, morels can grow at different altitudes and in different places. However, the key to finding them is often in knowing where they are most likely to be abundant. Armed with this knowledge, a person is more likely to find them, though they may also grow in other places. The morel and forests Morel mushrooms are primarily forest mushrooms, and they prefer mountainous terrain. While they can occasionally be found growing in low altitudes near deciduous forests of oak and maple, they are more abundant in coniferous forests of fir and pine, or mixed forests that include such trees as aspen and cottonwood. They are also more likely to be found at elevations above 3500 feet and especially those around 4000 feet. Optimum growing conditions A great deal of this has to do with the optimum growing conditions for the fruiting body of the morel; what most people think of as a morel mushroom. The hair-like roots are also morel mushrooms, however they are hard to see, and they won’t always send up the morel we are used to picking and eating. These mushrooms need a lot of good nutrients in order to send up the mushroom stalk. This doesn’t mean that the soil needs to be rich, and in fact, morels are often known to grow in poor and rocky soil. The nutrients come from the natural breakdown of pine needles, fir needles, and leaves, laid down through the year. The tiny roots of morels actually aid Continue Reading →

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