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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Saving Money With a Homemade Drip Irrigation System

Flowerbeds filled with attractive flowers and other plants can add beauty to the outside of homes and buildings. Once everything is growing, though, it needs to be watered in order to stay alive and keep adding beauty to the home and yard. Many people invest in a garden hose and a sprinkler, or a soaker hose, to do the watering. While these work well, this isn’t the most efficient way to keep the flowerbeds watered. A drip irrigation system is inexpensive to make, it takes less effort to water the flowerbeds, it is better for the plants and it uses less water to get the job done. That last should be explained. In the heat of the summer, especially during the daytime, when you use a sprinkler a huge amount of the water evaporates before it even hits the ground. This is the reason people should water at night or in the early morning, before temperatures reach their hottest. Also, being watered from above, particularly when the sun is shining on the plants, can cause the leaves to burn as the rays of sunlight are intensified. This is the same principle that causes swimmers to sunburn easily if they get wet and then lay out in the sun to dry off. Watering plants from below is much better for the plants, because the sun’s rays aren’t intensified, but more of the water is able to sink down to the roots, where the plants can use it. Making a drip irrigation 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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How to be Successful When Growing Stevia

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a plant that has become well-known for its sweetness. It is now grown commercially and the sweetness is refined and sold as a sugar substitute. Right now, most of the stevia extract comes from China. The good news for gardeners is that it isn’t hard to grow and it will even flourish in a big pot. General stevia information The plant is native to South America. It is a perennial, but isn’t tolerant of bitter cold temperatures. Gardeners in the north are advised to either grow it in pots or dig it up and put it in a pot when the temperatures get very low. The sweetness comes from compounds known as steviol glycosides. The two most important are rebaudioside and stevioside. For a time, stevia was banned in the US because of health concerns, but the FDA lifted the ban in 2008, with Europe following suit three years later. The plant has actually been used by tribal people in South America for well over 1,500 years now. There is a good reason for this. Pure stevioside is 100 to 200 times sweeter than sugar, varying a little depending on growth factors. Using the leaves without refining doesn’t result in this level of sweetness, however they are still sweeter than sugar, even unrefined. Planting stevia Stevia needs rich soil that drains well. It also likes to have plenty of space, so they should be placed a foot and a half away from other plants in all Continue Reading →


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