Successfully Growing Carrots in the Home Garden

Carrots can and should be part of a healthy diet and they can be used in many dishes; from salad to stew. This is a vegetable that is also quite easy to grow in a home garden and most varieties grow well in cool climates. If you know how to grow carrots, you will most likely be successful with a minimum of effort. Knowing how to grow them also isn’t very hard to learn. This humble vegetable can be traced back to its origins in Afghanistan, though it has been grown in home gardens throughout Europe and the world starting about 600 years ago. Soil Like many root crops, carrots grow best in loose soil that doesn’t compact easily, but which drains easily. If your dirt is clay, it should be amended by tilling in a large¬†quantity of finished compost and/or well-rotted manure. This gives the carrots plenty of food during growth while also improving the tilth of the ground. Sunlight Carrots are sun-loving plants. However, they struggle when temperatures get high. If you have summers that get extremely hot, it can be helpful to these plants if they are furnished with some shade late in the afternoon and evening, when temperatures tend to be at their highest and the sun is the most intense. This can often be accomplished by planting heat-loving plants that grow taller than carrots, on the west side of the row of carrots. The taller plants function as a sun break against the afternoon 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)¬†is 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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The Health and Nutritional Benefits of Potatoes

In most developed countries, potatoes are among the most important staple crops. However, many people in those nations think of potatoes as simply something that are tasty and filling. Potatoes are a lot more than just comfort foods, though. The following information is regarding the potato tuber. All other parts of the potato, including the stems, leaves and flowers are inedible. This is understandable since this plant, which originated in Central America, is a member of the deadly nightshade family. Potatoes for dieters Potatoes are well suited for helping people lose weight. A medium sized potato (about a third of a pound) has no fat, no cholesterol and no sodium, yet it only has 110 calories. That is with the potato skins included. About a fifth of the nutrition of a potato comes from the skin. Potatoes for vitamins and minerals According to the self nutrition data website, 2 cups of baked potato (about 2/3 pounds) contains almost 100 percent of the vitamins C and B6 that an average adult requires each day. Potatoes are also very good sources of Niacin, Thiamin, Folate and Pantothenic Acid. Potatoes are also packed with minerals. They are high in iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc and potassium. In fact, potatoes contain more potassium than spinach, bananas or broccoli. Additionally, potatoes are high in fiber, so they help the digestive system. This vegetable may even help fight cancer or prevent it. This is in part because of the amount of fiber found in potatoes 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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Tips for Finding Wild Asparagus

A lot of people know by now that asparagus is very good for you and that there are a lot of tasty recipes for it. The plant grows well in many areas and wild asparagus is common in many locations. This plant is also native to Europe, Asia and Africa, and it is now naturalized through most of North America. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were all fond of asparagus. Many people are surprised to learn that there isn’t a great deal of difference between wild asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) and the kind that is grown in gardens and flower beds or sold at the store, though. The flavor is virtually the same, the look and health benefits are the same and they are harvested in the same manner. There is one major difference however. Wild asparagus is grown by nature, so the only expense and effort is usually in finding and harvesting it. Growing locations Wild asparagus tends to grow near rivers, streams and irrigation ditches, primarily in places where it can also get plenty of sunshine. It can grow profusely if the conditions are right. Wild asparagus also likes the same conditions that garden asparagus does. For instance, there is a huge amount of the plant growing along ditch banks near the Oregon towns of Redmond and Bend, both of which are known for having bitter and snowy winters and hot, dry summers. This area is at the edge of the Oregon High Desert. These conditions are nearly Continue Reading →

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