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Strawberry

Strawberries - Mignonette

  • These tiny seeds can take up to 6 weeks to germinate (be patient!)
  • Use a shallow tray with a well-draining soil mix
  • Keep your tray in a sunny area or grow indoors under a grow light
  • Sprinkle seeds across the top of the soil - if putting outdoors, lightly cover with soil
  • Allow plants to grow strong roots Before transplanting
  • Easy to take care of once it is well established!
  • Small but tasty fruit
  • Unlike most strawberries, this plant has very few runners, making it ideal for containers
  • A disease hardy plant
  • Like most strawberries, use mulch to keep berries out of the soil and their roots protected

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BEANS

Beans - Bush

  • Bush beans will not climb like pole beans
  • Beans can be planted directly about 1/2in deep
  • Beans can be up to 3 feet wide, so keep your plants at least 1 foot apart
  • Plants can take about 50-60 days to mature, then will produce regularly
  • Pick beans when they are 5-7in long
  • Pinch beans off the stalk or pull the stem to ensure you get the full bean
  • Do not pick or handle bean plants when wet as this can spread "rust", a common fungus
  • If your bean plant starts to lean, you can use a pole to give it support

Buy Royal Burgundy Bean Seeds

Buy Organic Midori Giant Edamame Beans

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Beans - Pole

  • Pole beans climb and require a trellis or fence (they will also climb other plants, such as corn and okra
  • Beans can be planted directly about 1/2" deep
  • Vines can be up to 10 feet long, so Make sure your trellis is large and your plants are at least 1 foot apart
  • Plants can take about 60-70 days to mature, then will produce regularly
  • Pick beans when they are 5-7" long
  • Pinch beans off the stalk or pull the stem to ensure you get the full bean
  • Do not pick or handle bean plants when wet as this can spread "rust", a common fungus
Buy Blue Lake Pole Beans

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Beans - Hyacinth

  • Hyacinth Bean is actually a member of the Pea/Peanut family, so it is a nitrogen fixer AND almost completely edible! Fresh pods, leaves, flowers, and roots are all able to be eaten, HOWEVER, if the beans have dried/matured (they are hard) THEY MUST BE COOKED THOROUGHLY - mature/dried Hyacinth Beans develop a high amount of cyanogenic glucosides, which is toxic. You must soak the seeds/beans overnight, then boil them for hours in fresh water (or boil twice with a water change) - basically, if the seeds have become hard, just save them for planting or prepare for long cooking times
  • Do not plant until all danger of frost for your area has passed
  • If you decide to start your seeds indoors, begin them 4-6 weeks before the last frost date and use a seedling germination mat for better growth
  • Find a sunny area with lots of available vine support, such as a fence or large trellis, and prepare the soil with compost
  • Ensure that your area has good drainage
  • Soak the seeds overnight for best results
  • Plant beans 6-8” apart
  • Germination can take 2-3 weeks to occur (be patient!)
  • Vines will find their own way up the trellis, but if needed, can be guided
  • Hyacinth Beans are known for being lush and dense vines, so they are often used to cover eyesores
  • The beautiful lavender flowers smell great and attract butterflies - don’t be surprised if you find caterpillars munching your vines (like milkweed, they will grow back!)
  • If left to mature, Hyacinth Bean seeds may fall to the ground and regrow next season (just make sure that no pets or small children find and eat those fallen seeds)

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WATERMELON

  • Watermelon need 70-90 days to fully mature, so if your summers are short, start seeds indoors up to 2 weeks before your last frost date. Wait until the soil is at least 70ºF to help seed germination (or use a heat mat).
  • Watermelons are heavy feeders, so amend your soil with compost, seaweed, manure, or a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen level. Your soil should be on the slightly acidic side.
  • Pile your soil into hills, and plant 1-2 seeds in the top of each hill. Each plant needs 2-6’ around it to spread vines - as a side note, watermelon vines can be trellised, but the fruit will need support as it gets heavier (we use old pantyhose), or let the vines stay on the ground.
  • Watermelons are 90% water, so consistent watering is key, make sure that your soil is well draining, and water 1-2” per week - be sure to only water at the base of the plant.
  • Watermelon flowers come in male and female flowers, like other squash varieties. Male flowers appear first and will be just a normal flower. Female flowers will have a tiny melon at the flower base. If there are nutrient problems or watering issues, blossom-end rot or weirdly-shaped fruit can occur. Blossom-end rot will make the fruit unusable, and the affected fruit should be removed before disease sets in.
  • Try to keep the fruit off the soil by putting cardboard or mulch underneath. Knowing when a melon is ready takes some practice.
  • A few signs we look for:
  • the little tendril CLOSEST to the watermelon stem will turn brown and shrivel up
  • the light mark on the bottom of the melon is yellow/cream colored (NOT white)
  • the stripes of the watermelon should start to blend together
  • gently knock on the watermelon, if it sounds hollow, it should be ready
  • Watermelons do not sweeten off the vine. When ready to harvest, use a knife and cut the stem closer to the fruit.
  • One final note, since watermelon is a form of squash, it can be susceptible to squash vine borers (the bane of the squash grower’s existence), but if you’re growing any kind of squash, your watermelon should be fine.

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CABBAGE

  • Cabbage seeds can be started indoors and transplanted outside, which is ideal if your area is still too hot, or if you’re saving for a spring planting.
  • For spring, start your seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. For fall, start your seeds 10-12 weeks before the first frost date. Cabbage seeds need the average temperature to be between 65-75ºF to germinate.
  • Plant your seeds only 1/4-1/2” deep. You can also soak the seeds overnight in tepid (lukewarm) water to give them a head start germinating.
  • Keep seedlings moist, but be sure that your soil drains well. Greens with wet feet tend to rot.
  • Cabbage seeds (and most greens) will have initial leaves, but need 2-3 sets of true leaves before they can go outside. If starting indoors, you’ll transplant the cabbage 6-8 weeks before the first frost date in fall or 2-3 weeks before the last frost date for spring plantings.
  • You’ll need an area with 6 hours of full sunlight, and be sure not to plant near other brassicas, like cauliflower and broccoli, and strawberries and tomatoes. Good companion plants are cucumbers and beans.
  • Plant cabbages 2’ apart and do the transplant on a cloudy day to prevent shock to the seedlings. Add mulch - ground leaves, finely ground bark, or compost, then water deeply (mulch usually sucks up water, so you need to water more to penetrate the extra layer).
  • Keep your seedlings well watered, you’ll water them about 1.5”/week until they approach maturity.
  • Stop watering about 3 weeks before harvest to prevent splitting.
  • Add a nitrogen rich fertilizer when the head begins to develop. You’ll determine if the head is ready to harvest with a squeeze test. The head should be between 4-10”, and when squeezed, it should be firm. If it is soft or loose, it needs more time.
  • Once you harvest the main head, if you remove it carefully and leave the stem in the ground, they can regrow new, smaller heads which will mature sooner. Chinese cabbage grows upright and will only make one head.
  • Extra cabbage heads can be stored for later use. Clean the heads from dirt and bugs and let dry. You can wrap it in plastic and store in the fridge for 2 weeks, store it in a cellar for up to 3 months, dry or freeze it, or make sauerkraut!
  • Days to maturity: Red Acre: 75 days, Golden Acre: 62 days, All Seasons: 87 days, Pak Choy: 75 days

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COLLARD GREENS

  • Great for spring or fall, but not in 90°+ weather
  • Plants can be 2-3 feet tall and wide
  • Grow in full sun
  • Soaking for 24 hours can improve germination
  • For microgreens, harvest in 7-10 days
  • For full leaves, harvest in 85-95 days

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LETTUCE

  • Easy and quick to grow - We do NOT recommend starting lettuce and transplanting it, while it is possible to do, it will likely never grow the full head, and the leaves will be skinny.
  • Scatter seeds along the surface and tamp down. If you can avoid covering them with soil, they will germinate faster, but if birds are prevalent, cover with a very thin layer of soil, no more than a 1/4”.
  • Once seedlings are at least 2-3” tall, thin to 6-8” apart. Because lettuce has very shallow roots, use scissors to cut the seedlings off at ground level and utilize the cutting in salads or sandwiches as microgreens.
  • Lettuce can be harvested as growing occurs, by taking off outer leafs and leaving the hearts in place, however, this will not produce a proper head like you see in the store. To get this, you must leave the plant until the head has formed and harvest the whole thing.
  • You can also stagger your growing to harvest leaves from some plants while others are left to grow the whole head.

Buy White Boston Lettuce

Buy Red Romaine

Buy Buttercrunch Lettuce

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ARUGULA

  • Prefers shade to full sun
  • For microgreens, harvest in 7-10 days
  • For baby leaves, harvest in 24 days
  • For mature leaves, harvest in 35 days
  • Does not form a head like other lettuce varieties
  • Slow bolting unless grown in too much heat

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RADISH

  • When to plant - Planting in late summer for fall harvest, or very early spring for spring harvest
  • Root vegetables typically do NOT transplant well, so it is recommended to start them in place to avoid root damage.
  • Work your soil VERY well - remove all clumps and rocks to ensure proper vegetable development.
  • Spread your seeds, usually placing them no closer than 6-12” apart, and plant them 1/4-1/2” deep.
  • Once the plants are about 2-4” tall, thin your plants to 12” apart - cut the leaves off at the soil, rather than pulling the plant, so as not to disturb neighboring roots! If you’re only growing them for greens, there is no need to thin them! Once they are thinned, add mulch to help insulate the roots.
  • Use a fertilizer that is higher in potassium to help regenerate the soil - root vegetables don’t need a lot of fertilizer, but they can feed on soil nutrients fairly heavily during development.
  • Even-watering is crucial for proper root development. Your vegetables will need 1” of water each week, and will do better with more alkaline soil.
  • Vegetable greens are edible, and can be harvest when they are large enough to use - only harvest a few leaves from the plant to allow it to continue root development.
  • Once your root is large enough to use, you can harvest it. Just check the top edge of the bulbous root for its approximate size. To harvest, you can usually just pull it straight up and out of the soil, but some prefer to gently dig up the roots - make sure not to damage them if using tools as they will go bad more quickly.
  • If your root vegetables get too large, they can be tough, younger vegetables tend to be sweeter. Be sure to harvest everything before the first frost, as this can damage the roots.
  • Also, do not allow your plants to bolt (go to seed) as this will make the vegetables taste bitter - this isn’t often an issue in the fall, but can be in the spring if the weather gets warm quickly.
  • If storing your vegetables, keep them in a cool place and DO NOT wash them until ready to use.
  • A note about Daikon Radishes - These radishes can grow to be quite large - so they make a great aerator for your soil. If using your Daikon in this way, you can scatter it pretty much anywhere, and let the plant go through its full cycle (go to seed), as this will produce the largest vegetable. Once the plant has reached this point, it can be pulled and tossed in the compost.

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CACTUS/SUCCULENTS

  • Tiny seeds, almost as fine as dust can be difficult to handle. Sometimes, in fact, the packet seems to contain nothing except a trace of dust-sized particles.
    1. Use a small pan or pot for sowing, about 4 or 5 inches is adequate.
    2. Fill the pan or pot to overflowing with the seed compost, then firm it first with your fingers, then with a wooden presser (if you have one).
    3. Pour a bit of fine sand into the seed packet and shake to mix sand and seed. If you do not have sand, you can use a fingertip to swirl and pick up the tiny seeds, or tap bag gently over pot.
    4. Sow the seed direct from the packet, tapping it slowly to release the sand-seed mixture evenly over the compost.
    5. Do not cover the seed with compost, simply press them into the surface with a wooden presser or your finger.
    6. Water the compost from underneath by standing the tray or pot in a bowl of tepid water.
    7. Cover with a piece of glass, cling film or seal inside a polythene bag to keep the compost moist and the atmosphere slightly humid.
  • Remember that very fine seeds have a lower germination rate than normal-sized ones and the correct temperature for germination is very important.
  • Sowing: Sow indoors at any time of year. Fill small pots or trays with a light and well-aerated compost. Do not firm the mixture down too much. Stand the pots in water, moisten thoroughly and drain. You can stand the containers on a tray of damp sand, so that they do not dry out. Scatter the seed onto the top of the compost. Do not cover seed as they require light for germination, but avoid direct sunlight by shading the seeds after sowing.
  • If possible, germinate in a propagator otherwise, secure a polythene bag around the pot or cover the container with glass and place in a warm shaded place. Care should be taken to prevent the pots drying out from below. The majority of seeds germinate best at a temperatures of 68 to 72°F. Germination will usually take 30 to 180 days, patience is required, don't throw away the tray too soon.
  • Once germination has taken place, remove the glass or plastic and move into a good light. Be careful to keep the top of the compost damp. As soon as the first seeds have germinated, remove the plastic or raise the lid slightly to permit some circulation of air. From now on, the tiny seedlings need to be in a good light, but must be protected from direct sun. Shading from all but winter sun is desirable for the first 12 months.
  • Cultivation: Growth is slow, 6 to 8 weeks after sowing, transplant to single small pots (2-3in). Keep the temperature 64 to 77°F during daytime and 59 to 65°F during night. Cooler temperatures at night are better for the foliage pigmentation. Temperatures below 59°F will result in leaf deformation. After 12 to 14 months, transplant into a bigger pot. Avoid over-head irrigation, because wet leaf rosettes rot rapidly. Moderate fertilization levels are required during the spring and summer, but don't fertilize after mid-September.

Buy Prickly Pear

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TOMATOES

  • Tomatoes are easy to grow, and should be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost
  • Once there is no more danger of frost, you should have fairly large seedlings to transplant to containers or your garden
  • Tomatoes need temperatures between 55 and 85 to properly set fruit
  • Mulching helps to maintain moisture and soil temperature
  • If you grow your plants in containers, be sure to add nutrients to your soil every few weeks, or you’ll end up with small fruits (or blossom-end rot)
  • For Determinate Tomatoes: These are great for a container, or use a tomato cage to offer support to your growing tomatoes
  • For Indeterminate Tomatoes: These are vining tomatoes and need some room to spread out
  • Water your plants in moderation! Too much water, and they crack or develop blossom-end rot, while too little water will cause the fruit to sag and possibly fall off the plant
  • Tomatoes and peppers can be planted close together, but they are the same family, so diseases and pests can affect them both
  • Watch for Tomato Horn Worms (or related caterpillars) which can strip your tomato plants in days and are practically invisible!

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PEPPERS

  • Follow the same instructions as Tomatoes

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POTATOES

  • Potatoes are some of the easiest plants to grow! Have you ever gotten a potato from the grocery store and it started to sprout on your countertop? That’s how easy it is to start a potato plant!
  • What’s the difference between store bought potatoes and seed potatoes? Not a lot, except that store bought potatoes can come from anywhere. There is no way to be sure that a store bought potato is not from a field that contained a disease. Potato diseases compound year after year when using potatoes from the same original source, so the longer you continue to use a family of potatoes, the more likely disease will propagate in future generations, which can lead to smaller yields. We purchased our seeds from Colorado’s certified seed potato program, which actually grows potato plants in vitro (in test tubes) and tests them for diseases while in the plant stage!
  • Saving Your Own Seed Potatoes
  • 1. Select seed from only the healthiest plants and healthiest potatoes
    2. Choose medium size tubers, (the size of a hen egg), that are well-shaped, uniform and typical of the variety you planted.
    3. Select seed potatoes that are free from scab, cuts, bruises or blemishes
    4. Store them in a good cellar with constant 40º F and high humidity
  • Growing in the garden:
    Dig a hole that is at least a foot deep in an area with good drainage. Use acidic soil (around a 5 on the pH scale) and only partially fill the hole. Let the potato plant break through the soil, then add more acidic soil. Continue this pattern, even after the plant reaches the surface (you’ll need to hill dirt around the potato plant). Once the plant on top dies, your potatoes are ready to harvest. Carefully dig up the entire plant and separate the potatoes from the roots. Try to avoid washing the potatoes until you are ready to use them, as this cuts down storage time
  • Growing in a container:
    Add a drainage layer of rocks/loose soil to the bottom of the container. Add 1-3 potatoes depending on the size (5 gallon buckets/containers can take 1-2 easily). Only add enough acidic soil to cover the potato and any shoots. Continue to add soil as the shoots push through until you reach the top. Hilling isn’t recommended for containers. If you have a potato container (with a flap or opening on the side), you can harvest potatoes as they grow. Otherwise, ensure that your container maintains good drainage. Once the plant on top dies, simply dump out the entire container. Separate the potatoes from the roots. Try to avoid washing the potatoes until you are ready to use them, as this cuts down storage time

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MARIGOLD

  • Marigolds are great companion plants that will protect your garden from many pests. Utilize them around your potato plants as they provide benefit both to the top of the plant AS WELL as the roots and tubers below!
  • Marigolds need lots of sunshine
  • Though they grow in almost any soil, marigolds thrive in moderately fertile, well-drained soil
  • Sow them directly into the garden once the soil is warm, or start seeds indoors about a month to 6 weeks before the last spring-frost date
  • The seeds germinate easily, but watch out for damping off if you start them inside
  • Separate seedlings when they are about 2 inches tall. Plant them in flats of loose soil, or transplant them into the garden
  • Space tall marigolds 2 to 3 feet apart; lower-growing ones about a foot apart
  • If planting in containers, use a soil-based potting mix
  • Germination from large, easily handled seeds is rapid, and blooms should appear within a few weeks of sowing
  • If the spent blossoms are deadheaded, the plants will continue to bloom profusely
  • When you water marigolds, allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering, then water well, then repeat the process
  • Do not water marigolds from overhead. Water at the base of the plant
  • Do not fertilize marigolds. Too rich a diet stimulates lush foliage at the expense of flowers. Marigolds bloom better and more profusely in poor soil
  • The densely double flower heads of the African marigolds tend to rot in wet weather
  • Marigolds will grow quickly, so thin as needed. If handled carefully, they can be transplanted elsewhere and will bloom through the summer

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COSMOS

  • Plant seeds in moist, well-drained soil about ¼-in deep and 12–18 in apart after the danger of frost has passed. If you still have 4-6 weeks before your frosts are done, you can start them indoors. Move them to larger pots when they are 3-4 inches tall.
  • Cosmos like soil that is not too rich, as rich soil will encourage foliage at the expense of bloom.
  • They can tolerate warm, dry weather.
  • Depending on the type of flower (you're getting a variety), cosmos can grow anywhere between 18–60 in tall.
  • When growing cosmos from seeds, it takes about 7 weeks to first bloom. After that, your flowers should continue to bloom until the next frost.
  • If you let the seed heads blow away during the fall, cosmos might sow themselves throughout your garden.

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CARROT

  • Make sure your soil is free of stones; carrots need deeply tilled soil that they can push through.
  • Plant seeds using seed strips or individually. If planting individually, plant seeds about 2 inches apart, with about a foot between rows.
  • Gently mulch to retain moisture, speed germination and block the sun from the roots.
  • Soil should be well drained and loose to prevent forking and stunting of the root growth.
  • Once plants are an inch tall, thin so they stand 3 inches apart. Snip them with scissors instead of pulling them out to prevent damage to the roots of remaining plants.
  • Water at least one inch per week.
  • Fertilize 5-6 weeks after sowing. Manure can cause carrots to fork and send out little side roots. Don’t use it before you plant your seeds.
  • For the Fall: Carrots taste much better after a couple of frosts. Following the first hard frost in the fall, cover carrot rows with an 18-inch layer of shredded leaves to preserve them for harvesting later.
  • 2 varieties available: Rainbow and Parisian

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SUNFLOWER

  • Sunflowers are fairly easy to grow, as long as they get sunshine, water, and occasional fertilizer. They are not usually bothered by pests (except for birds eating freshly planted seeds
  • IMPORTANT: Sunflowers leach a chemical into the soil that will prevent some plants from growing near them. Keep them in a separate area of the garden and rotate your sunflower location to prevent chemical buildup
  • Sunflowers need to be planted somewhere that gets about 6 hours of sun each day
  • Mammoth variety can get up to 10 feet tall - these will need support of some kind, dwarf varieties are usually about 2 feet tall
  • 2 varieties available: Mammoth Grey-striped and Sunspot Dwarf

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SQUASH

  • If you are experiencing freezing temperatures, start your seeds indoors in a tray
  • Use compost or soil additives to feed squash - this will help to avoid blossom-end rot
  • Most summer squash varieties tend not to spread, but it's best to plant seeds about 1" deep and 2-3 feet apart
  • Water consistently - soil should be moist about 4" down
  • Squash vines are usually hollow to allow water to travel freely - this makes them especially susceptible to Squash Vine Borers (see our blog for more details)
  • Squash have 2 flower types, male, which appear first and look like a normal flower, and female, which have a bulb/baby squash starte. If your squash still has a flower on the end, it is not ready for harvest and can still suffer blossom-end rot
  • Harvest squash when they are large enough for your use (when squash gets too large, it can be tough/woody and the seeds will need to be removed when cooking)

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EGGPLANT

  • Eggplant is a variety of nightshade (related to Tomatoes and Peppers) - keep away from other nightshade plants, potatoes, and corn, rotate crop placement each season
  • Eggplant germinates best at temperatures above 75 degrees F
  • Use a heat pad to help germination
  • Plant only 1/4-1/2" deep and 1-2 seeds per cell in a seed starter. If directly planting in the garden, plant at least 18" apart
  • Eggplants will flower throughout the summer (unlike tomatoes)
  • Plant in partial shade if temperatures regularly reach 100F
  • Eggplants are heavy feeders, and need consistent watering
  • Add fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK), to add magnesium, use Epsom salt
  • If planting in containers, be sure to fertilize every few weeks
  • To harvest, cut the eggplant just above the cap. Long Purple Eggplants should be harvested between 8-10" long. Black Beauty should be 4-6", but can be up to 8"
  • Harvest eggplants when they are glossy and have no brown streaks. If the eggplant turns dull, it is overripe
  • Companion plants: bush beans or southern peas
  • Common pests: flea beetles, aphids, spider mites, and hornworms

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NASTURTIUM

  • Nasturtium is an odd duck plant. It does better in bad soil
  • If you fertilize or have good soil, your Nasturtium will not produce as many flowers
  • Plant in an area that gets plenty of sun
  • Plant 1/2" deep and 10-12 inches apart
  • Nasturtiums can spread out as they grow
  • Nasturtiums take 10-12 days to germinate - to speed up this process, scratch the out covering of the seed (scarification) and soak the seeds in warm water overnight
  • Water consistently and ensure the soil does not fully dry out
  • If planting in containers, you may need to trim them back a few times over the season
  • Common pests: flea beetles, aphids, slugs, and caterpillars
  • Special note: Nasturtium flowers are edible!

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OKRA

  • Plant okra in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun about ½ to 1 inch deep and 12 to 18 inches apart
  • You can soak the seeds overnight in tepid water to help speed up germination
  • Okra plants get tall, space out the rows 3 - 4 feet apart (by the end of the season they can be well over 7 feet!)
  • Add mulch to reduce nearby weeds
  • Use a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 NPK
  • Thin plants when they are 3" tall to 10 to 18 inches apart
  • Keep well watered throughout the summer months 1"/week, use more if you are in a hot, arid region
  • Okra are usually ready to harvest in 50-60 days
  • After the first harvest, remove the lower leaves to help speed up production
  • Harvest okra when small (2-3" long), and the tip is flexible, these are the best for eating/pickling/canning
  • Cut the stem just above the cap with a knife or shears
  • If your okra get too large, is too hard to cut, or the tip has become rigid, leave these to develop seeds for next year
  • Wear gloves/long sleeves when cutting the Burgundy okra, the tiny spines can irritate your skin
  • To store okra, put the uncut and uncooked pods into ziploc bags to freeze, or can/pickle them.

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SAGE

Sage Flowers

All Sage flower seed species benefit from being started indoors, but they grow fairly reliably
if sown outdoors in warm soil where summers are hot.
  • Plant Sage seeds outdoors after frost danger has passed and prepare soil by weeding it and loosening it
  • Lightly rake seeds into the soil and keep the seeds and young seedlings moist until well-established
  • If you want to save your seeds for spring, start these seeds indoors 10 weeks before last frost. Sow in starter trays, press the seed
    into the soil and barely cover. Sage needs light to germinate. When the frost season has passed, transplant the seedlings
    into the garden 12 - 18 inches apart in a sunny location
  • Give them plenty of water in dry weather
  • Seeds will fall into the soil and germinate continuously all year except during freezing temperatures
  • Great for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds!

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Sage Herb

  • If growing indoors, start anytime. Do not move outside until there is no danger of frost
  • Plant in loose/well-drained soil
  • Water regularly, to ensure the plants do not dry out
  • Plants can grow up 30" (outdoors)
  • If planting outside, keep away from cucumbers
  • Harvest sparingly during the first year until the plant is established
  • Prune any heavier/thicker stems in spring
  • Use sage fresh or dried (fresh is best!)

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SWISS CHARD

Swiss Chard does well in practically every season!
Did you know: Swiss Chard is actually a type of beet that doesn't produce a bulbous root!
  • You can soak the seeds in water for 15 minutes to help speed up germination
  • Start your seeds as soon as possible, or if waiting til spring, be sure that the soil is at least 50°F
  • Swiss Chard needs loose, well-draining soil with full sun to partial shade (they like shade)
  • Keep your Swiss Chard well spaced (they can get quite large, but need a minimum of 6-12")
  • If you're expecting early frosts, use a hoop house or row covers to protect your plants and extend your season
  • Swiss Chard can be harvested when it is 9-12" tall, but can grow up to 2 feet
  • Plant near tomatoes, cabbage and brassicas, alliums, beans, radish, lettuce, mint, and celery
  • AVOID planting near most herbs, potatoes, corn, cucumbers, and melons
  • Swiss Chard is a perfect plant for containers and can be grown indoors for a year-round supply (just give extra water)
  • Swiss Chard is super hardy - it tolerates summer heat, poor soil, neglect, and light frosts (not frozen ground)
  • When harvesting, remove no more than half the stems and leaves, use fresh or cooked
  • If the plant bolts (goes to seed), the leaves will taste bitter

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CONEFLOWERS

  • Plant in an area of your garden that will get at least 6 hours of sun each day
  • If your area has cold winters, plant in the fall so that the seeds can chill, in warmer areas,
    put your seeds in the fridge about 3 weeks before planting in early spring
  • Coneflowers are fairly drought resistant and thrive in dry summers, so avoid overwatering
  • Coneflowers don't need a lot of fertilizer, but if your flowers are small, work in some compost to the roots
  • Cut back coneflowers to rejuvenate them and grow new blooms until the first frost
  • Coneflowers reseed themselves year after year and are great pollinator attractors

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SPINACH

  • Prepare the soil with aged manure or Blood Meal about a week before planting - if you live in an area with mild winters, fall is the best time for planting. Spinach is hardy so it can last through some frosts, but if your area gets very hard frosts early, it may be better to wait until spring
  • It is better to start spinach wherever you will grow it (transplants are hard on leafy vegetables)
  • Spring plantings can be made as soon as the soil can be properly worked. It’s important to seed as soon as you can to give spinach the required 6 weeks of cool weather from seeding to harvest. As the weather warms, spinach can start to become bitter
  • Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil.
  • Sow seeds ½ inch to 1 inch deep, covering lightly with soil. Sow about 12 seeds per foot of row, or sprinkle over a wide row or bed
  • Soil should not be warmer than 70º F in order for germination. For fall planting in warmer areas, you can still put your spinach in the ground now, but you may not see any germination for another few weeks
  • In northern climates, you can harvest early-spring spinach if you protect the plants with thick mulch or a fleece cover through the winter, then remove the protection when soil temperature in your area reaches 40º
  • When seedlings sprout to about two inches, thin them to 3-4 inches apart - Beyond thinning, no cultivation is necessary. Roots are shallow and easily damaged
  • Keep soil moist with mulch and water regularly
  • Spinach can tolerate the cold; it can survive a frost and temps down to 15ºF
  • Fertilizer is mostly unnecessary for spinach, unless it is growing slowly
  • Watch for Leaf Miners (they make squiggly trails all over the leaves) - Radishes attract leaf miners away from spinach. The damage that the leaf miners do to radish leaves doesn’t prevent the radishes from growing underground
  • Harvest when leaves reach your desired size - Don’t wait too long to harvest, or wait for larger leaves; bitterness will set in quickly after maturity
  • The whole plant can be harvested at once, and cut at the base, or leaves may be picked off plants one layer at a time, giving inner layers more time to develop

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MUSTARD GREENS

  • In warmer areas, plant Tatsoi Mustard for another leafy green to add to your salad. They should be planted by the end of October at the latest. For cooler climates, save your seeds for next spring and sow them as soon as the soil is workable
  • Prep the planting site by tilling down 6-12 inches to loosen any compacted soil
  • Incorporate 2-4 inches of compost or manure prior to seeding or add a balanced organic fertilizer
  • In spring: Sow tatsoi seeds directly into the garden two to three weeks prior to the last expected frost. If frosts are expected to go longer, this can cause the plants to bolt. Start seeds inside six weeks before the last frost and then transplant the young seedlings no earlier than three weeks before the last frost
  • In fall: Sow tatsoi directly in a sunny, well draining area. Tatsoi does very well next to other leafy greens, like spinach and lettuce
  • Thin young plants to at least 6 inches apart when they are about 2-4 inches tall
  • Water your tatsoi with 1 inch of water each week
  • Laying a 2- to 3-inch layer of hardwood mulch will aid in water retention and regulate soil temperatures
  • Tatsoi can be harvested as early as three weeks from planting for baby greens, or wait the full seven weeks to harvest the mature outer leaves of the rosette. Leave the rest of the plant to continue growing or cut tatsoi off at soil level to harvest the entire rosette
  • Watch out for flea beetles - they are less likely to cause damage in the fall due to the weather becoming colder
  • 1 variety available: Tatsoi

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MUSTARD GREENS

  • In warmer areas, plant Tatsoi Mustard for another leafy green to add to your salad. They should be planted by the end of October at the latest. For cooler climates, save your seeds for next spring and sow them as soon as the soil is workable
  • Prep the planting site by tilling down 6-12 inches to loosen any compacted soil
  • Incorporate 2-4 inches of compost or manure prior to seeding or add a balanced organic fertilizer
  • In spring: Sow tatsoi seeds directly into the garden two to three weeks prior to the last expected frost. If frosts are expected to go longer, this can cause the plants to bolt. Start seeds inside six weeks before the last frost and then transplant the young seedlings no earlier than three weeks before the last frost
  • In fall: Sow tatsoi directly in a sunny, well draining area. Tatsoi does very well next to other leafy greens, like spinach and lettuce
  • Thin young plants to at least 6 inches apart when they are about 2-4 inches tall
  • Water your tatsoi with 1 inch of water each week
  • Laying a 2- to 3-inch layer of hardwood mulch will aid in water retention and regulate soil temperatures
  • Tatsoi can be harvested as early as three weeks from planting for baby greens, or wait the full seven weeks to harvest the mature outer leaves of the rosette. Leave the rest of the plant to continue growing or cut tatsoi off at soil level to harvest the entire rosette
  • Watch out for flea beetles - they are less likely to cause damage in the fall due to the weather becoming colder

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ASPARAGUS

  • Usually, you will find asparagus for sale as crowns (bare root plants). When starting asparagus’s from crowns, you can expect it to be about 3 years before your asparagus reaches the expected thickness you find at the store (when starting from seed, just add one more year)
  • Asparagus is easy to grow, and once it is in place, should never be moved, so when you plant it outdoors, make sure it’s a forever home with decent drainage. Asparagus can last up to 20 years, so make sure you can easily access the site!
  • Asparagus is very easy to start from seeds, you just have to have some patience!
  • Soak the seeds for several hours
  • Plant your seeds 1/2” deep in either individual pots or a seed tray
  • Soil temperature needs to be between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit, so either start them indoors or wait until your soil warms up if you’re going to plant them outdoors
  • Sprouts can take 2-8 weeks to appear (so be extra patient and keep the soil moist, but not overly saturated)
  • If transplanting, wait until the seedlings are 10-12 weeks old and there is no danger of frost
  • Placement depends on your eventual desired thickness of the baby shoots
  • For thin spears, plant 8-10 inches apart
  • For thick spears, plant 12-14 inches apart
  • **Side note - Asparagus repels nematodes that attack tomato plants, and tomatoes repel the asparagus beetle - consider keeping these near each other (but avoid planting tomatoes in the same bed/area year after year)**
  • Asparagus comes in male and female plants (dioecious). These plants need to “mate” to help with root development that will lead to larger spears. For the first 3-4 years, you will watch the asparagus grow tiny little sprouts, that will then “fern”. Once this occurs, the stem becomes very woody. The ferns will get large and fluffy and start to lean on each other. This is when the mating occurs. Leave the plant alone until the fern turns brown/yellow and dries out, then cut it to the soil level
  • In winter, areas with milder winters don’t need to do anything further. In colder areas, it’s a good idea to mulch your asparagus bed. It will slow down your sprouts showing in the spring, but it will add nutrients and protect the crowns, so the benefits outweigh the cost
  • Upkeep on asparagus is very low once it is established. Check your shoots as they come up, as this will tell you when your asparagus is ready to harvest. Once the shoots are the desired thickness, cut when they are about 8-10 inches tall. You will need to watch your plants to see how fast the shoots are coming up. Something that is too short to harvest in the morning may actually be too large to harvest by noon. When the top of the shoot starts to separate from the spear, it is usually too late and the stem will be too woody

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HOLLYHOCK

  • Hollyhocks are beautiful flowers and can be started now or in the spring (starting now will usually cause the plant to make flowers its first growing season)
  • Starting your plants in the fall
  • If your area is experiencing temperatures under 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you can sow your hollyhock seeds directly in the ground (if your area is still having warmer temperatures, please wait a few weeks)
  • Sow the seeds in an area with good lighting. Hollyhock is a tall flower, and doesn’t transplant very well, so try to place it along a fence line or in an area where it will not be disturbed for the winter
  • Ensure the area has good amendments and compost
  • Soak hollyhock seeds for 12 hours in 60-70 degree water
  • Lightly cover seeds with soil (to prevent them from being eaten by birds) - hollyhock needs light to germinate
  • Hollyhock will germinate in the spring and, because of the cold, may flower in it’s first year
  • Starting your plants in spring
  • If you decide to wait until spring, you can directly sow outdoors or start indoors
  • Outdoors, the temperature needs to be around 60-65 degrees for germination
  • Indoors, start hollyhock about 9 weeks before the last predicted frost date. Be sure to use individual pots, and peat/biodegradable pots are better, as hollyhock can develop a long taproot
  • When starting hollyhock in the spring, it will very likely not flower the first year, unless you force it (we don’t recommend this)
  • When transplanting outdoors, be sure to play them in a sunny location with fertile soil
  • Plant maintenance
  • Keep the young plants moist. After a few weeks, when their roots are established, the hollyhock plants will need little care
  • If blooms develop the first growing season, the stalks may need to be staked to prevent them from falling over under the weight of the plant's full, heavy flowers
  • Hollyhock will cross pollinate, so if you save seeds year to year, your flowers will change! To prevent cross pollination you can plant one type of hollyhock at a time
  • When saving the seeds, allow the flower to die and the pods to form. You can pluck the pod and allow it to dry out, then break open the pod and harvest your seeds

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BEETS

  • Beets are a great cool weather crop (they don't like heat), so the further south you live, the sooner you need to plant them! In more northern areas, do not plant until your soil has reached about 40ºF
  • Beets should be planted 2-3 weeks after the last frost
  • Use a well-draining, deep soil. Sandy, soft soil is best
  • Amend the soil with organic matter and a balanced fertilizer prior to sowing
  • Check soil pH - root vegetables do best in more alkaline soil - add calcium or garden lime to acidic soil
  • Plant the seeds between ¼ - ½" deep and 1-2" apart
  • Once sprouted, thin the seedling to 3" apart in rows spaced 12-18" apart
  • Seeds germinate between 55-75ºF in 7-14 days - for a continuous supply, plant new beets every 3 weeks
  • Keep beets in partial shade to keep them cooler - don’t plant them where they might run into tree roots
  • Beets need several weeks of cool weather and don’t like temps over 80ºF - this will cause the plants to bolt (flower and go to seed)
  • Avoid any water or fertilizer stress which affects the root growth (consistent watering is key)
  • Fertilize with a nitrogen-based fertilizer once sprouts have emerged and weed as needed
  • Harvest beets 7 - 8 weeks after planting
  • When the beets have reached the desired size, gently dig them up from the soil
  • Beet greens can be harvested as well - while the beet is young and the root is small

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Hyacinth Bulbs

IMPORTANT: Hyacinth Bulbs can cause itching and skin irritation (they contain oxalic acid) - this is only caused by handling the bulbs for an extended period of time - handle bulbs as little as possible!

Hyacinths can be grown indoors or outside, depending on when you would like to see flowers!

Planting indoors/Using a Hyacinth Glass

  • Place your hyacinth bulbs in the fridge for 5-6 weeks - keep them away from produce
  • If you want to skip the fridge and it is still cold outside, leave your bulbs in the garage instead
  • A side note - chilling is important for flower development, if you skip the chilling period, your flowers may be stunted or not grow at all
  • Once your chill period has ended, fill your glass with water to just below the top cup where the bulb sits
  • Make sure to place the bulb pointy end up, and that the base is just barely touching the water
  • For initial growth, keep your bulb out of direct sunlight and change the water every few days during initial root development - once the roots are hanging down into the water, you won’t need the water to be touching the bulb (they don’t like wet “feet”)
  • Once the shoots are 3-5” tall, place the glass in a bright window
  • After the bloom has started, you can move the bulb out of direct sunlight to prolong the flowers
  • Forced bulbs are often discarded into the compost bin, however you can potentially get use from them in the garden if you care for them. Trim the flower head and move to a regular pot of soil with fertilizer until the foliage turns yellow and dies back. Then you can plant the bulbs deep in the ground (follow the below instructions for outdoor planting) - it may be a few years before your forced bulbs have the energy to bloom again
  • Planting Hyacinth bulbs outdoors

    • Hyacinths can survive most winters in the US. If you live very far north, you’ll need to plant them deeper and offer some winter protection, and if you live further south, you may need to dig up your bulbs and chill your bulbs in the fridge over the winter
    • Hyacinths are early bloomers, so plant them as soon as possible!
    • Add compost to soil prior to planting
    • Plant bulbs 7-8 inches deep (they may still need staking once they bloom as hyacinths can be top heavy)
    • Be sure to put the pointy end up - if you plant a bulb upside down, it will right itself, but this taxes root resources and slows down growing time
    • Water thoroughly after planting to settle soil
    • Hyacinths may not bloom the first year if planted outdoors without enough chill hours
    • Remove flower stalk after flowers are spent
    • Leave foliage until it turns yellow
    • Every few years, you will need to dig up your bulbs and separate the babies (off shoots) from the main bulb
    • When replanting baby bulbs, make sure to space the bulbs about 6 inches apart

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SNAPDRAGON

  • When to plant - Late fall when the soil is cool (around 65º or less) - seeds need a cold period (stratification), or if you don’t want to wait, put seeds in moist (not damp) potting soil in a bag and put in the vegetable crisper drawer of the fridge for 2-3 weeks
  • Snapdragons can also be grown indoors but need well regulated temperatures between 60-70º
  • How to plant - Since they need light to germinate, snapdragon seeds are best scattered over an area and lightly pressed into the soil. If planting in late fall for a spring showing, add compost or fall leaves over the area and keep the area watered through winter (1x/week unless there is rain).
  • Since snapdragon seeds are very small, they are easily mixed with wildflower mixes and broadcasted over your growing area.
  • If you do want to place individual seeds, or transplant seedlings, make sure that they are 6-12” apart in a well-draining area. It’s a good idea to have drip irrigation in place for snapdragons, as they can be vulnerable to rust, rot, and mildew, all which can occur if there is not proper spacing for airflow between plants, watering from overhead, overwatering, and lack of evaporation (ie, watering at night).
  • If you do notice any signs of disease, it is best to remove this to prevent spreading the disease to other plants. Depending on severity, this could be a few leaves, up to the entire plant (it’s also NOT recommended to compost any diseased plant parts that you have, as these fungi can remain in soil for years to spread to other plants - instead, burn or throw them in the regular garbage).
  • Once you see sprouts, wait until the plants have 6 leaves before pinching the tip of the stem - this will encourage a bushier plant and more flowers. Also, once flowers start to show, it’s always a good practice to remove dead flower heads (aka dead-heading) to encourage more blooms.
  • Snapdragons do well as a year-round plant if kept in shade for summer and brought inside for winter (we had snapdragon blooms all year because they were kept next to a heater in the shed).
  • If growing snapdragons in a container, just be mindful of spacing (you can only fit so many in a pot) and watering, as potted plants can dry out more quickly.
  • Snapdragons do not require fertilization, but adding a bloom promoting fertilizer (one with a higher Phosphorous amount) will promote blooming. Nitrogen is good for initially growing a plant, but if added later can cause the plant to grow more foliage than blooms.

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KALE

  • Kale can be started in any weather, though it does best between 20-80ºF. Below 20ºF, it will die, and above 80ºF, it will turn bitter and tough.
  • Seeds can be planted directly or indoors, about 1/4” deep, but sprout best in acidic soil at temperatures around 70ºF. Once the seedlings are a few weeks old, thin to 8-12” apart.
  • If planting in fall, put your seeds in full sun, but if planting in spring or summer, go for partial shade. Keep kale well watered to make sure the leaves stay sweet.
  • Your kale will be ready to harvest when the leaves are about the size of your hand. Only pick about a handful of leaves with each harvest, and avoid picking the bud that’s at the top center of the plant/stem, as this will keep the plant producing.
  • Extend your harvest with row covers and mulch. As your kale gets older, the stem gets longer and can “wander” out of its row. If your kale plant gets too large, consider pulling the plant.
  • If you’re wanting to harvest seeds, kale is a biennial, meaning it takes two years for the plant to go to seed. You would be better off planting in a container that you can move it if there is a hard freeze.
  • Kale can be eaten raw or cooked, but the small, tender leaves are the best for raw. Be sure to thoroughly clean your kale. Insects can get caught in the crinkles of the leaves.

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KOHLRABI

  • Kohlrabi is a brassica, like cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower. Purple varieties tend to be more insect resistant.
  • Kohlrabi should be planted in full sun, close to other roots, like potatoes, beets, onions, and away from pole beans, tomatoes, and strawberries.
  • Kohlrabi are big drinkers and feeders, which means they'll need a good amount of water and fertile soil. Kohlrabi does better in acidic soil with good drainage.
  • Because kohlrabi is a “root” vegetable, it is usually better to plant them directly in your garden, but like cabbage, they need temperatures around 65ºF to germinate.
  • If starting them indoors, transplant the same way you would cabbage. Weed carefully and often, as kohlrabi can be choked by weeds early on. Wait until the seedlings are about 6” tall to thin.
  • Space them 8” apart and add compost. You’ll want to have compost all around, but especially at the base of the seedlings to help support the above ground bulb.
  • Kohlrabi need lots of water, but keep the watering to the base to decrease the possibility of rot. If your plants are not kept well watered, the bulbs can become woody.
  • To help with some pest and disease problems, you can make a barrier around your small plants. Cardboard or foil is a good barrier, and needs to be buried into the top inch of soil. This is really only needed for when the seedlings are under 6-8”.
  • After the plants are larger, you can “collar” or tie up the leaves to keep them up off the ground and prevent more pests and rot. If any plants do show signs of rot or other diseases, remove the entire plant to prevent spread.
  • Kohlrabi are ready to harvest when they are of a usable size, usually that of a tennis ball (2-3”), which is between 45-60 days. You will pull the entire plant up for harvest.
  • You can cook or eat kohlrabi raw. The entire stalk, leaves, and globe are all edible!

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RUTABAGA AND TURNIP

  • When to plant - Planting in late summer for fall harvest, or very early spring for spring harvest
  • Root vegetables typically do NOT transplant well, so it is recommended to start them in place to avoid root damage.
  • Work your soil VERY well - remove all clumps and rocks to ensure proper vegetable development.
  • Spread your seeds, usually placing them no closer than 6-12” apart, and plant them 1/4-1/2” deep.
  • Once the plants are about 2-4” tall, thin your plants to 12” apart - cut the leaves off at the soil, rather than pulling the plant, so as not to disturb neighboring roots! If you’re only growing them for greens, there is no need to thin them! Once they are thinned, add mulch to help insulate the roots.
  • Use a fertilizer that is higher in potassium to help regenerate the soil - root vegetables don’t need a lot of fertilizer, but they can feed on soil nutrients fairly heavily during development.
  • Even-watering is crucial for proper root development. Your vegetables will need 1” of water each week, and will do better with more alkaline soil.
  • Vegetable greens are edible, and can be harvest when they are large enough to use - only harvest a few leaves from the plant to allow it to continue root development.
  • Once your root is large enough to use, you can harvest it. Just check the top edge of the bulbous root for its approximate size. To harvest, you can usually just pull it straight up and out of the soil, but some prefer to gently dig up the roots - make sure not to damage them if using tools as they will go bad more quickly.
  • If your root vegetables get too large, they can be tough, younger vegetables tend to be sweeter. Be sure to harvest everything before the first frost, as this can damage the roots.
  • Also, do not allow your plants to bolt (go to seed) as this will make the vegetables taste bitter - this isn’t often an issue in the fall, but can be in the spring if the weather gets warm quickly.
  • If storing your vegetables, keep them in a cool place and DO NOT wash them until ready to use.

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MORNING GLORY AND MOONFLOWER

  • Morning glories need plenty of room to spread and grow (some vines can grow 15 feet) and can self seed, so choose your area wisely - you may have morning glories taking over the area for years to come! Morning glories make great ground cover or can vine on fences/arches
  • A special note: Morning glory seeds can be toxic if ingested - they have similar properties to hallucinogenic drugs like LSD
  • Choose an area that gets a lot of sun, but is sheltered from hot afternoon sun - the flowers will close faster if the sun is too hot
  • Use a file or knife to gently break the outer seed coat (chipping), then soak the seeds for 24 hours in tepid water before planting
  • Make sure that the soil temperature is at least 64ºF
  • Place your seeds about 1/4” deep and 6” apart and water them in
  • Fertilize with a liquid plant food for better growth and blooms
  • Mulch to retain moisture and reduce weeds
  • Morning glories don’t need a lot of upkeep - just water during dry periods!
  • If you want the vines to go somewhere specific, try training them using garden ties until the vines have taken hold
  • Moonflower blooms at night instead of the morning, Dwarf varieties will not vine and only get about 8” tall

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CORN

  • Corn is fairly easy to grow. Corn seeds can be planted in place without any preparation, but soaking them gives a head start germinating.
  • Corn are heavy feeders, so work in compost and fertilizers before planting (and possibly side dress later)
  • The pollination of corn is special (no pollinators needed). Corn stalks grow and the flower happens at the top. The pollen is then blown by the wind to pollinate the corn nearby - to achieve this, your corn needs to be planted in blocks, rather than rows. If you have two long rows of corn, your pollination chances will go way down, however, if you have 4 short rows, your pollination will be much better. Each kernel of corn corresponds to a pollinated tassel
  • Be sure to start your corn in place (corn does not transplant well) in well-draining soil, preferably with mostly sun/partial shade
  • Corn has very shallow roots, so it can be planted in a raised bed, a garden with little tilling, or a container - if you go the container route, make sure that your container is large enough to accommodate multiple stalks (these can then be roped close together in order to help pollination)
  • Plant seeds no earlier than 2 weeks after your last spring frost date, when soil is between 60-65ºF (you can also put down black plastic with holes for the seeds to grow through - this keeps the soil warm AND cuts down on weeding)
  • Plant seeds 1” deep and 4-6” apart, with your rows 1-3’ apart (make sure you can reach all of your plants for easy harvest)
  • When your plants are 3-4” tall, thin stalks to 8-12” apart
  • Because corn has shallow roots, be care when weeding not to damage the roots - try snipping weeds with scissors, or use mulch once the corn is knee high
  • Keep corn well watered - mulch helps to retain moisture
  • Pick when silks turn brown and ears are firm. Test by piercing a few kernels with thumbnail. The skin should be tender and the juice should look “milky” - to get the best taste, pick, cook, and eat the same day
  • Some important things to note: Ears of corn grow on the bottom half of the plant - this means that they can be susceptible to rodents and other small animals stealing your harvest. Most corn varieties will only produce 1-2 ears per stalk, and sweet corn has a fairly short harvest window before they become starchy - you want the kernels to be completely filled out, then utilize the ears right away. If using the corn for meal, popping, or seed, harvest as late as possible and dry the corn on the cob before storage
  • Corn is one of the “3 sisters” (corn, beans, and squash) that goes well when planted together. Pole beans are great to start between corn plants, as the beans will climb the corn, and will fix the nitrogen (and feed the corn plants as they grow). You can also plant other climbing plants, such as morning glories, with corn and use the corn in place of trellising

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BASIL

  • Start basil seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before transplanting, after all danger of frosts have passed, or start your seeds outdoors after this time.
  • Scatter the seeds across the surface of the soil and gently press the seeds down. Basil seeds can be lightly (no more than 1/4”) covered with soil.
  • Basil needs to be in a sunny location with well-draining soil, as it is prone to mold/fungus. Keeping basil dry will remove the majority of issues.
  • Seedlings need to be 4-6” tall to transplant. Basil will get quite large, so thin plants to be about 2 feet apart. Basil leaves are usable almost immediately, but the plant should have at least 5-7 leaves before harvesting.
  • Never harvest more than 1/3 of the plant at a time.
  • Save basil leaves by freezing them, rather than drying, but it tastes best when fresh.
  • Once the plant starts to flower, the taste may change, but basil will attract bees and butterflies with the flowers. Basil will also self seed if the flowers are left in place.
  • Basil usually dies back in winter. It’s better to pull the plant and start fresh in spring, rather than saving the same plant. Multi-year growth causes taste changes that can be unpleasant.

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BRUSSELSSPROUTS

  • Brussels Sprouts can be started from seed directly in the garden - 1/2” deep and 2-3” apart. Once they are 6” tall, thin them to 12-24” apart
  • Add mulch and keep well watered (follow similar watering schedules as above)
  • Brussels Sprouts taste even better after frosts and can be grown into the winter
  • The sprout grows in the joint of the stem and the leaf
  • Harvest from the bottom up as the small cabbage-like heads reach about 1” in diameter. The bottom sprouts will be more mature, and if they get too large, they can crack and turn bitter
  • A second crop may even begin to grow from the bottom
  • The leaves are also edible and cutting off the top of the plant will speed sprout development of those near the top at the end of the season

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CALENDULA

  • Where to plant:
    Grow in full sun, or partial shade if your summers are hot. Calendula will self seed, so make sure that you’re happy with the long term placement. Well-draining soil is always recommended. Calendula will get up to 2 feet tall, so be sure that they won’t shade other plants that need sun!
  • When to plant:
    You can start Calendula seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your last frost date, or they can be directly sowed into the garden. Calendula are decently hardy and can take light frosts. Seeds germinate in 5 to 15 days.
  • How to plant:
    Loosen your soil 6-8” down, mixing in compost and removing rocks from the soil. Initially, you will plant Calendula about 12” apart and about 1/2” deep. Thin plants to 18” apart when they are larger. Mulch will help to retain water, and calendula can be hungry feeders. Use liquid fertilizer a few times throughout the season to promote blooms. Once the flowers are spent, pinch off the heads to extend the flowering season.
  • How to use/harvesting Calendula
    Calendula can be considered both an herb and a flower and has MANY uses! Calendula has edible flowers and leaves - the leaves tend to be spicier like dandelion or arugula, and the flower petals provide pops of color to salads and other items. Calendula are often added to stews (hence their nickname of “pot” marigolds). Calendula also have anti-inflammatory properties. You can collect resin for salves, use in teas, dry the flower heads for tinctures or to add a fragrant smell to baths or potpourri.
  • Last, but certainly not least, Calendula have similar insect repellant properties as marigolds. You can plant Calendula near other plants to help ward off harmful pests.

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CUCUMBER

  • Where to plant: Full sun to partial shade - The more sun, the better they will produce
    Because cucumbers are vining, you will need a trellis on a fence or stand-alone panel
  • When to plant:
    Indoors - 4-6 weeks before your average last frost date
    Outdoors - 1-2 weeks after your average last frost date
  • How to plant:
    Indoors: Use shallow seedling trays with coco coir or sterilized potting soil. You will need grow lights that need to be raised as the seedlings grow. Cucumbers grow fast, so you will need to repot as they outgrow the seedling tray. It’s a good idea to use peat/biodegradable pots to make planting outdoors easier.
    Outdoors: Plant seeds 1” apart and 1/2” deep. Make sure to have your trellis in place once you plant, since the young plants will have tendrils that will grasp as they grow.
  • Cucumbers, like most plants, need well-draining soil. They need to be kept well watered for proper fruit development, but over-watering can lead to more problems, such as Powdery Mildew, Root Rot, Yellowing Leaves, or Uneven Fruit Development.
    Powdery Mildew - This is a fungus that can quickly overtake your plants AND can remain in your soil, which re-infects future plants that are grown in the same area. Powdery mildew can be avoided by watering less, checking your soil drainage, and watering at the base of your plant, rather than overhead. If you do develop powdery mildew, you can make or buy an anti-fungal spray to treat it early.
    Yellow Leaves/Uneven Development/Root Rot - Over-watering leads to fewer soil nutrients, less oxygen in the soil, and fewer spaces between soil particles for roots to spread. Yellowing or curling leaves is your first indication of a problem, and if over-watering continues, it will stunt your fruit production, and may even lead to root rot, which will kill the plant. Check the top 1” of soil for moisture before watering, and keep up a regular watering schedule when no rainfall occurs. Ideally, you should water about 1-2 times per week, depending on your climate. Mulch will help to retain soil moisture, prevent the spread of fungus from the soil, and provide nutrients and oxygen.
  • Cucumber flowers:
    Cucumber flowers come in male and female flowers, like other squash varieties. Male flowers appear first and will be just a normal flower. Female flowers will have a tiny cucumber at the flower base. If you don’t have a lot of pollinators available, or it’s raining, you can remove male flowers and paint the female flowers with the pollen.
    As the cucumber develops, the flower will eventually fall off the end - if there are nutrient problems or watering issues, blossom-end rot or weirdly shaped fruit can occur. Blossom-end rot will make the fruit unusable, and the affected fruit should be removed before disease sets in.
  • When to harvest cucumbers:
    Harvesting depends partly on your variety and also on your intended use. For example, pickling cucumbers need to be fairly small in order to fit into a pickle jar whole, but need to be large enough to be viable. Once the flower falls off, the cucumber can be harvested, or can grow bigger. If the cucumber gets too large or starts to change color, seeds will harden and are not considered “as good” for eating. Softer seeds that can be eaten are preferred. Harvest often to promote steady fruit production.

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ZINNIA

  • Plant your zinnia seeds directly in the garden, as they do not like to be transplanted. Choose a location with at least 6 hours of sun. Zinnias are annuals, so they are great to grow from now until your fall garden, as they will die when the first cold snaps occur.
  • Prepare your bed, then scatter your zinnia seeds and press them into the soil, barely covering the seeds. Zinnias grow quickly, and you may see sprouts in 4-7 days. Space your plants 12” apart, thinning to 18” once they are about 3-4” tall.
  • Zinnias can be prone to fungal issues, so use drip irrigation or water at the base of the plants to avoid wet foliage. Zinnias are also deer-resistant, so they can be planted in the front yard and can help protect nearby plants and flowers.
  • Zinnias are beautiful cut flowers, but to keep them flowering outdoors, they should be deadheaded (picking spent flower heads to prevent seeds). Save some flower heads at the end of the growing season to provide seeds for next year as the seeds may not over-winter well where they fall.

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DILL

  • Where to plant:
    Plant dill in an area where the soil won’t be disturbed much and your dill will re-seed itself year after year. Plant near cabbage and onions but AWAY from carrots. If you grow fennel, keep it away from dill as well, as they can cross pollinate and seeds will produce oddly-flavored hybrid seeds.
  • When to plant:
    Dill can be planted when soil temperatures are between 60 and 70ºF. Because dill doesn’t like to be transplanted, it’s best to start it in place. If you’re going to keep it in a container, use a larger pot (10-20 gallon) so that it can grow.
  • How to plant:
    Dill can be considered a weed, as it grows very easily and a single plant can take quite a lot of space. However, once dill grows, it’s useful and is a great attractor for pollinators.
    Dill can be free sown (scattered around), or you can space dill seeds 12-18” apart. Dill can sit at the surface, but to avoid birds taking your seeds, lightly cover with dirt. Germination takes between 10 and 14 days. Once the plants appear, wait another 2 weeks to thin plants to 18” apart.
  • When to harvest: Dill produces 2 separate crops: leaves and seeds.
    Dill leaves can be harvested once the plant has 4-5 leaves. Cut or pinch leaves as needed! If you need a larger portion of dill weed, such as for pickling, be sure not to harvest more than 1/3 of the plant. To prolong leaf harvest, you will deadhead (remove) any flowers.
    For dill seeds, you need to let the plant fully flower. Allow the flowers to stay in place and for the seed heads to ripen. This usually occurs during the summer. You will cut the heads into a large paper bag and allow to dry out completely. Then you can give the paper bag a few good shakes to separate the seeds from the rest of the plant.
  • How to use dill:
    Dill seeds can be used in pickling, or to infuse oil or vinegar. Young dill leaves can also be used for pickles, or as herbs in soups, sauces, or salads. Use the leaves fresh or dried!

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GLADIOLUS BULBS

  • Where to plant:
    Gladiolus bulbs can be planted in the garden or in pots - if you use pots, be sure that they are deep, or you will need to include some sort of support once they are over 2 feet tall. Gladiolus can get quite tall, up to 6 feet, so they often do best at the back, or at the center of a garden where they won’t block other plants. Gladiolus likes full sun, but can grow in partial shade, especially if summers are hot.
  • When and how to plant:
    Wait until all danger of frost has passed and the soil has started to warm. You will need to loosen your soil at least 12” to allow lots of root space. Your gladiolus bulbs will go down about 4” deep with the pointy end up. Space bulbs 3-6” apart. Water thoroughly after planting. You’ll need to consistently water, but if the soil doesn’t drain, your bulbs can rot - keep watering to once a week, except during the summer.
    Once the flowers start to fade, remove them to continue growth. Once all flowers are gone, remove the stalk and leave the leaves/plant to allow the bulb to gather energy for next year.
  • Continuing Bulbs:
    If you live in zone 7 or colder, dig up your gladiolus bulbs in the fall before the first frost. In warmer areas, you can leave gladiolus bulbs in the ground over winter, though an extra layer of mulch/hay/straw ensures more bulbs come back. Bulbs will make tiny baby bulb offshoots - these can be left attached to the larger mother until their second season (or the third year) - then separate and plant the bulbs on their own.
    Storing your bulbs: If digging up your bulbs, carefully dig around the plant and gently pull up the plant still attached to the bulb. Cut off the stalk within 1” above the bulb. Allow your bulbs to dry outside for a day or 2, then shake off excess soil. Cure your bulbs in a warm, airy spot for 2 weeks at a temperature of 80-85ºF - if any bulbs are squishy, throw these away to remove potential disease. Bulb dust can also be helpful to avoid disease/fungus. Store your bulbs in paper bags/boxes that can breathe - and store in a cool, dry area, such as a basement or garage (DO NOT allow the bulbs to freeze) - replant your bulbs in the same way next spring!

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PUMPKIN AND WINTER SQUASH

  • Winter Squash are similar to Summer Squash, with one main exception: the outside skin, or rind, on winter squash is thicker and harder, making them perfect for long-term storage. The thicker skin does mean that the squash have to be on the vine longer than summer varieties. Winter squash can be started indoors either in the early spring, or for a second planting in midsummer. If your area has high heat indexes in July, starting winter squash indoors can be better for the seedlings.
  • If starting indoors, plant 2-3 seeds in small pots (3” pots are good). Plant the seeds 1” deep. Place the pots in a warm, sunny location, covering the pots with plastic or on a heating pad if additional warmth is needed. Keep the soil moist until they have several true leaves and are ready to transplant.
  • Prepare the soil, turning it and mixing in a 3-4” layer of organic compost or well-rotted manure. Winter squash often need full sun (6+ hours of light, if your area gets more, afternoon sun screens may help).
  • For sowing outside, plant 2-3 seeds 1” deep, leaving about 12” of space between seed groups, and hill the soil around the seeds. Seeds sprout in 7-10 days. If transplanting, follow the same spacing, but if your seedlings are strong, they can be separated. Water the plants or seeds immediately after planting.
  • Once the squash have multiple leaves, thin them so there is about three to five feet between each one (if trellising, less space is required, as you’re growing up instead of along the ground). This spacing can encourage the plants to bear more fruit and grow larger. Pull weeds regularly. Water your squash plants regularly, especially when the weather is hot and dry. Check the top 6-8” of soil for moisture. Water the plants at the base and near the soil so the foliage remains dry.
  • Guide the vines as they grow to help prevent spacing issues or overgrowth. In small gardens, use trellising or corn for the squash to climb. For trellises, tying the vines and supporting the squash is helpful. The squash plants have tendrils that will grasp as they climb, but they need to be guided initially, and potentially as the squash grows, to ensure it goes where you want it!
  • Avoid leaving squash on the ground, place cardboard underneath each gourd to prevent rot. If the squash are hanging, support the fruit with old panty hose.
  • Butternut squash - Requires 110-120 days, so if you have a shorter season, consider growing butternut squash indoors on a trellis. Roots are fairly shallow so you don’t need a large pot to maintain them.
  • Spaghetti Squash - Ready in 60-90 days
  • Hubbard Squash - Often used as a trap crop for squash vine borers, can take up to 120 days to grow, depending on the size
  • Pumpkins - Small sugar pumpkins take about 100 days, larger varieties can be up to 120 days
  • All winter squash is ready to harvest when the rind passes the scratch test, if you can easily scratch or pierce the rind, your squash is not ready for harvest. All squash should be harvested before a hard freeze, but may survive a light freeze with covering. If the stem leading up to the squash has dried out, that squash is ready for harvest.
  • If using squash right away, no curing is needed, but if storing squash for the winter, store at a temperature of 50-55ºF and high humidity (around 70%). Proper storage can keep winter squash up to 6 months

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BROCCOLI

  • Broccoli can germinate in soil with temperatures as low as 40oF
  • Requires full sun and moist, fertile soil that’s slightly acidic. Work in 2 to 4 inches of rich compost or a thin layer of manure before planting. If your soil is alkaline, you’ll need an acidic amendment
  • For growing in Fall: start your Broccoli as soon as possible. In warmer climates, it is easier to grow broccoli in the fall than the spring
  • Plant seeds 1/2” deep and space your plants 12 - 24” apart with 36” between rows
  • Fertilize three weeks after planting
  • Provide consistent soil moisture with regular watering, especially in drought conditions. Some varieties of broccoli are heat tolerant, but all need moisture - Be sure to avoid getting developing heads wet when watering
  • Roots are very shallow, do not cultivate. Suffocate weeds with mulch. Mulch will also help to keep soil temperatures down.
  • Broccoli produces a main head, as well as side shoots, and the entire plant is edible (greens, stems, etc)!
  • Harvest broccoli when the buds of the head are firm and tight before the heads flower. If you do see yellow petals, harvest immediately (For best taste, harvest in the morning before the soil heats up) -Cut heads from the plant. taking at least 6 inches of stem and cut at a slant

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CAULIFLOWER

  • Similar to broccoli, however, cauliflower only forms a single head
  • Be sure to select a site with at least 6 hours of full sun
  • Soil needs to be very rich in organic matter; add composted mature to the soil before planting. - Fertile soil holds in moisture to prevent heads from “buttoning” (making small heads instead of one large head), also consider mulching
  • Test your soil - pH should be between 6.5 and 6.8
  • For Fall, start the seeds as soon as possible in containers in rows 3 to 6 inches apart and up to half an inch deep. Water the seeds during their germination and growth. Once they become seedlings, transplant them to their permanent place in the garden, about 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost, but after the daytime temperature is below 75oF
  • Make sure that the plants have uninterrupted growth. Any interruption can cause the plants to develop a head prematurely or ruin the edible part completely.
  • Cauliflower requires consistent soil moisture. They need 1 - 1.5” of water each week; with normal rainfall, this usually requires supplemental watering.
  • For best growth, side-dress the plants with a nitrogen fertilizer.
  • When the curd (the white head) is about 2 to 3 inches in diameter, tie the outer leaves together over the head with a rubber band, tape, or twine. This is called blanching, and it protects the head from the sun and helps you get that pretty white color (this is unnecessary with colored varieties) - harvest 7 to 12 days after blanching.

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IRIS

Iris Seeds

  • Iris seeds are best sown after a few frosts have occurred
  • It is recommended to scar these seeds to break through their shell (as soaking may not always penetrate) - to do this, use a nail file or light sand paper to scratch through the outer seed layer. Be careful not to cut the seeds too deeply
  • Soak your iris seeds for 3-5 days - add a small amount of bleach to prevent any mold or fungus growing on your seeds - when ready to sow, put on a paper towel for about 20 minutes -Use larger pots (at least 6 inches) and use a soil mixture of: 1/2 sterilized compost, 1/3 peat, and 1/6 perlite. Sow 1 seed per pot for best spacing
  • Place your pots outside under light shade (they should get around 6 hours of light per day at least)
  • Keep your seeds thoroughly watered (dry seeds don’t germinate!) - test the top 1/4” of compost for dryness. Be sure to still maintain good drainage, as too much water can cause the seeds to rot
  • Germinations of seeds can take at least 2-3 months due to seed dormancy periods, so be patient! Even if they don’t germinate in this time, don’t give up on them.
  • Once growth is seen, move them to a bit sunnier location and allow the top 1/2” of soil to get drier before watering
  • Move to a sunny part of the garden with well-draining soil in mid-late spring (6 weeks after the last frost)
  • Irises will spread and grow for years to come! You can cut them to just above the rhizomes when the foliage dies back. Rhizomes should be exposed along the top of the soil, and new buds will form (in a similar fashion to bulbs)

Iris Rhizomes

  • September is the ideal time for planting, except where temperatures are still higher. If it hasn’t cooled off in your area, wait until early October to plant - if storing them, keep them in a cool dry place, preferably in a brown paper bag
  • Prepare your soil: Irises like loose, well-drained soil - this is keep to keep them from having “wet feet” Soil needs to be closer to neutral (6.5 - 6.8 pH) and avoid clay soil bases. Use compost to break up the soil and feed your plants, but avoid adding nitrogen additives to your iris bed, as this can promote rotting if it gets too wet
  • Plant your iris bed in full sun to partial shade (it’s recommended that they get a minimum of 6 hours of sun each day). In areas with hot summers, shade can be beneficial, especially in the afternoon
  • To plant your rhizomes, dig a small hole that will allow the top part of the rhizome (with leaves still attached) to stick out of the soil. Fan out the roots and press down on the rhizome gently to ensure that there is good soil contact underneath. Cover the rhizome with dirt - if you will have harder freezes this winter, cover more of the rhizome - it’s better to have the rhizome too high in the soil rather than too deep. If your area will get snow, mulch with straw or other non compacting material before the first snow, BUT when it starts to warm up (after the last hard frost) REMOVE THE MULCH. Mulch promotes moisture which will cause rotting
  • Fertilize your irises in the spring once you start to see new growth. Use a phosphate promoting additive, such as bonemeal. Again, avoid adding nitrogen heavy additives unless your soil is low in it. Ideally, you will use a 5-10-15 general fertilizer or even something with no nitrogen added
  • Keep your irises weeded and remove old leaves. When the blooms are finished, you can cut the flower stalk down close to the ground. Irises do not need a lot of attention once they are established, and will start to clump as new off shoots and rhizomes are developed. Once you notice this clumping, or at least every three years, dig up and divide your irises. Then replant as above
  • To divide your irises, wait until 6-8 weeks after they’ve bloomed (around July/August). Carefully dig up the whole clump. You can gently pull most of the clump apart, but if you need to cut any part, be sure to dip your tools in a 10% bleach solution to prevent rot. Discard any rhizomes that are not healthy, are soft or feel hollow, as these are signs of rot or disease. Be wary of any white grubs, as these are potentially iris borers. Spread out your new rhizomes and replant
  • One thing to note is that if you recover seeds from your iris, the new plant will often look nothing like the parent plant.
  • If you want to grow in a container, depending on your Iris type, you’ll need a 6” (Dwarf) - 12” (Tall) pot for a single rhizome
  • Be sure that your pot has good drainage
  • It is recommended to use soil that is 45% fir bark, 20% pumice, and 35% peat moss
  • Leave an inch of space between the soil and the rim and the top of the rhizome exposed above the soil
  • Only water when the top 2” are dry - more than this can cause rot
  • Leave the pots outdoors year round or bring in for blooms (and keep it in a sunny window)
  • Each year you can divide the rhizome buds into more pots

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PEAS

  • As with other legumes, pea roots will fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available for other plants (practice good crop rotation, avoid planting nitrogen fixers in the same bed season after season, as this can lead to diseases)
  • Sow seeds outdoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost, when soil temperatures reach 45F
  • Plant 1” deep (deeper if soil is dry) and 2” apart - pick a sunny location
  • Get them in the ground while the soil is still cool, but do not have them sit too long in wet soil. It’s a delicate balance of proper timing and weather conditions. For soil that stays wet longer, invest in raised garden beds!
  • A blanket of snow won’t hurt emerging pea plants, but several days with temperatures in the teens could - Be prepared to plant again if there are any late storms
  • Peas are best grown in temperatures below 70F (If you live in the south, be sure to plant before the end of January)
  • Make sure that you have well-drained, humus-rich soil
  • Poke in any seeds that wash out
  • Though adding compost or manure to the soil won’t hurt, peas don’t need heavy doses of fertilizer - They like phosphorus and potassium
  • Water sparsely unless the plants are wilting. - Do not let plants dry out, or no pods will be produced
  • Establish poles or a trellis at time of planting - there are many different types of trellises to try!
  • Do not hoe around plants to avoid disturbing fragile, shallow roots
  • Keep your peas well picked to encourage more pods to develop
  • Pick peas in the morning after the dew has dried - They are crispiest then
  • As with beans, DO NOT HANDLE/PICK when plants are wet or soon after rain, this can cause rust fungus - rust spreads easily to other plants and the soil and can be hard to get rid of
  • Always use two hands when you pick peas - Secure the vine with one hand and pull the peas off with your other hand
  • Peas can be frozen or kept in the refrigerator for about 5 days - Place in paper bags, then wrap in plastic
  • You can pick snap and snow peas at any time but they are tastiest when the pods still have some play around the peas when you squeeze the pods (snow peas need to be picked before the actual peas get too large)

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SWEET PEAS

  • What is a Sweet Pea? Sweet Peas are from the same family as Peas, Beans, and Peanuts (legumes), but the seeds are inedible and TOXIC (so don’t plant them near your other peas as the flowers look the same!)
  • Soak your sweet pea seeds in tepid water to rehydrate them (helps them get off to a quicker start but it isn't essential as they will still germinate well in moist compost)
  • Start by soaking the seeds overnight, most seeds will swell up, get softer, and may even lighten in color, if there is no change, you may need to try “chipping”, removal of a very small part of the hard outer seed coat. This is done on the side opposite the ‘eye' (dark little spot on the seed) and you’ll need a blade or file to cut through the outer shell (without damaging the seed underneath). Try soaking again for a few hours after chipping
  • Plant your seeds between January and March. Some early protection will be required, especially if the temperature drops below freezing
  • Keep the seeds in temperatures above freezing but below 50F, if your area is windy, use a cold frame, or colder greenhouse
  • If you prefer to start your seeds indoors, you’ll need to keep them in a spare, unheated room or cold windowsill. You can start your seeds in damp paper towels or seed trays
  • When planting, be sure to choose a sunny area, with well draining soil. You can choose an area that is low on nitrogen, since legumes produce nitrogen, they will enrich the soil wherever they are planted. This is why crop rotation is SO IMPORTANT!
  • Sow 1/2” deep and at least 6” apart, cover with compost, and water well
  • Keep an eye on your new shoots for slugs (they love sweet pea shoots)
  • After the first two leaves have shown and are properly developed, you can pinch the tip to promote side shoots and a bushier plant - Simply nip off the top of the stem just above a set of leaves - the more shoots there are, the more flowers will be produced!
  • Once your sweet peas are growing well and the main risk of frost has passed, you can remove any cold frame or covering
  • Sweet peas are climbers and will need a suitable support - put your plant support frame into position from the beginning (you may need to guide the plant up the support)
  • Keep plants well watered, dry soil will make them go to seed more quickly
  • Remove any faded sweet pea flowers or seedpods as soon as possible to encourage more blooms
  • The more that you cut, the more sweet peas flowers you will get

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STRAWFLOWER

  • Strawflowers can be sown directly in the garden, or can be started indoors.
  • Tiny seeds need light to germinate, so scatter the seeds lightly on the surface of the soil, pressing them in to the soil and just watering. Don’t cover them!
  • Because strawflowers are susceptible to rot if they are in too wet of an area, ensure their soil is well-draining and avoid watering too often. Drip irrigation is good for these flowers.
  • Thin your plants when they are about 3” tall to 10-12” apart for good air circulation.
  • Strawflowers don’t need a lot of fertilizer, but benefit from initial fertilization and compost.
  • Otherwise, strawflowers can do without much tending besides deadheading spent flowers.

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OREGANO

  • Start indoors any time (for transplanting outside, start in February-April - direct sowing outdoors can be difficult)
  • Spread seeds thinly across the soil surface (seeds are tiny and can be difficult to handle)
  • Do NOT cover seeds - they need light to germinate - also try to give bottom heat/use a heat mat for soil temperatures around 60ºF
  • Germination should occur in 7-14 days
  • Grow in a warm/sunny area - Oregano spreads easily, so keep plants around 10” apart
  • Pick leaves whenever needed - Oregano can be dried or frozen without affecting flavor - store in an airtight container away from bright light
  • A great plant that can be grown indoors/on a window sill
  • Plant near brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, etc) to prevent cabbage loopers!

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LEMON BALM

  • Start indoors any time or sow outdoors in late March to Mid-April
  • Barely cover seeds - they need light to germinate
  • Germination should occur in 10-14 days
  • Grow in a shady area (lemon balm does not like overhead sun) in a cool/moist part of the garden - growing them in the shade also results in larger leaves for use
  • Pick leaves throughout the summer for fresh use (drying/storing results in lost aroma)
  • A great plant that can be grown indoors/on a window sill

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MELON

  • If your area is still cold, wait until all danger of frost has passed. Your soil needs to be warm and dry. You can use landscape fabric or black plastic to warm your soil, as well as keep weeds and ants at bay. It’s not a good idea to continue using the plastic if you live in an area with very hot summers, as it can overheat the soil, which will kill the plants and sterilize the soil. Melons can be started indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost date, and use peat pots that can be directly planted to avoid disturbing the roots.
  • Plant your melon seeds in a mound of dirt that is 6-12” high, planting 2-3 seeds around the top of the mound, with at least 2” between the seeds. The vines will grow down the mound, so your mounds should be 2-4’ apart to allow plenty of vine room. Melons need fertilizing and plenty of water. Unless your vines are dropping support roots (this usually happens if there is a break, or if you bury the vine), only water and fertilize at the base of the actual plant. Water about 2” per week. Trickle irrigation systems are the best, but if you don’t have an irrigation system in place, just keep the watering to the base of the plant in the morning to prevent fungal diseases.
  • Melons have the same male and female flowers, and can experience the same blossom-end rot issues as watermelon. Use pots, pantyhose, or cardboard to keep the fruits off the ground to help prevent fruiting issues. If you decide to use a trellis for your melons, pantyhose or other slings will be your best bet since the fruit is hanging and will start putting pressure on your vines.
  • You’ll be harvesting your fruit in the late summer or the fall. Usually you get 2-3 melons per vine, and watering is key to getting sweeter melons. If you water less during the 3 weeks leading up to your harvest, your melons should come out sweeter. Harvest your melons in the later morning.
For cantaloupes:
  • Check the melon for fragrance (why it is called musk melon)
  • The stem will separate easily from the fruit
  • The “netting” will change from green to a tan-yellow color
  • If your cantaloupe is hard, it will soften off the vine, but will NOT sweeten
For honeydews:
  • When the rind turns a creamy color
  • The blossom end will be slightly soft
  • Honeydews don’t slip from the vine, they must be cut
  • Once picked, let it ripen on the counter for a few days (keep them at room temperature)

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MINT

  • Start your seeds 8-10 weeks before you wish to transplant them outdoors. Use a propagation tray with sterilized potting soil or rooting plugs in seed cells. Mint seeds require light for germination, so leave them on the surface of the soil and press them down gently. Do NOT cover the seeds! Use a seed heat mat for best results, as the seeds require an average temperature of 65-70ºF.
  • The best setups have a grow light that starts just above the tray, and can be lifted higher as the plants grow, this reduces the plants stretching themselves to reach for the light, or becoming “leggy”. Use a spray bottle or carefully water to keep soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Mint tends to germinate in 7-15 days.
  • Mint can be considered invasive, so it’s usually recommended to keep mint in a container and pinch any runners (shoots that try to escape the pot) before they can root. If you are going to plant it, be prepared to keep it well trimmed or it will take over.

  • How to maintain, use, and propagate Mint
  • Mint doesn’t need a lot of fertilization, though it needs regular watering (about 1”/week). Mint can be susceptible to pests, but any plant with strong odors is a deer deterrent, so if you’re looking for plants that have to withstand deer, fragrant herbs are a good choice. Use mint fresh or dried, prune regularly, and propagate from cuttings if you need more plants quickly.

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RASPBERRIES

  • Raspberries are from the same family as roses, so they need a similar cold stratification. Soak your raspberry seeds in tepid (room temperature) water for 24 hours before planting. For raspberries, it is probably easiest to start them in separate containers with moist soil - these can be individually bagged to retain moisture. Keep the seeds in the fridge UNTIL you see sprouts, then the container can be moved to a warm and sunny location until the seedling is large enough to be transplanted outdoors. The seeds may be in the fridge for 4-6 months, so if you’re in the middle of the summer heat, wait until fall to plant your seedlings outdoors.
  • Outdoor planting location depends on a variety of factors. Raspberries do not do well in high heat, but if they are shaded through the summer and get sun in spring and fall, you can get two crops if you live in the south. Where summers are not so harsh, full sun year round is necessary. Ensure that your planting location is a) permanent (unless you plan on keeping them in containers) and b) that your location has not been used to plant anything from the nightshade or rose family within the last few years - this is mostly to prevent cross contamination of common diseases, funguses, etc that would spread to your new plants.
  • Raspberries will often not produce fruit their first year due to not enough “chill hours” - a chill hour is when the temperature is between 37-50ºF, and most varieties of raspberries require at least 800 hours. If you experience an extremely mild winter, your plants may flower, but won’t have the stored energy to actually produce fruit that year.


  • How to Maintain Raspberries
  • Make sure to clean your tools before and after use, and make your cuts at 45º angles. Always cut back broken, dead, dying, or diseased branches. Also prune at the base to allow air to the base of the plant and to make it easier to water only at the base of the plant. Prune just before dormancy periods end, when the leaf buds begin to swell. Get your pruning done once the swelling starts but before they break open. If you wait too long, wait until the next dormancy to prune. Consider a drip irrigation system to help prevent fungus. Keep the largest thorns trimmed back to help you when working around the plants. Raspberries have lots of small thorns as well, so wear gloves. If your canes bore fruit the previous year, they usually will not bear fruit again and can be pruned, especially if they have turned grey. Keep your raspberry as a bush so that it’s more manageable. Be aware of suckers that can grow from the roots. Raspberries can be considered invasive if they get away from you.
  • Raspberries are actually an aggregate fruit, this means that all of the ovaries must be fertilized to have a properly developed fruit. If the fruit is improperly formed, it may not ripen. To harvest raspberries, you can either snip the berry with the cap, and remove those later, or you can hold the stem in one (gloved) hand and gently twist the berry to remove it from the receptacle. Be sure not to squeeze the berry or you could break some of the fruit.

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ROSES

  • Growing roses from seed can be difficult and requires patience!
  • Start your seeds by stratifying them - exposing the seeds to temperatures of about 35-40ºF for a long period of time. The easiest way to do this is in the refrigerator. Use a large freezer bag (1 gallon bag will fill a 10x10 tray), and fill it a little over halfway with moist - not soggy - soil. Make sure that the moisture in the soil is evenly distributed and add the seeds to the soil. Seal the bag with air, give it a good shake, and leave it in the fridge for 10-12 weeks.
  • Once the stratification period is complete, warm the seeds by placing the soil into a tray or containers on a heat mat. If your seeds were jumbled up, once they start sprouting, you can VERY gently adjust them around - just be sure not to touch their roots, or wait until they are larger to transplant them. Rose seeds can have a low germination percentage, but once warmed, should only take 2-3 weeks to sprout. When transplanting, use a spoon or small shovel to ensure the roots are undamaged.
  • Rose seedlings can be very fragile and are prone to disease. Do not over water, and keep water only to the base of the seedling. Over watering will lead to fungus, which can kill the seedling and spread to the other plants easily. Use a fungicide on rose seedlings to help prevent the development of disease. Use grow lights and have good separation and air flow around your seedlings, and they should grow well.
  • Roses from seed will spend the majority of their first year developing proper root structure. Once they are larger, at least 6-8”, they can be repotted as they grow. When growing from seed, be wary about planting directly. Most nursery roses are grafted onto a heartier root stock that can handle the environment. Plants started from seeds could be just as suited to your winters and summers, but need more time to settle, so if you do plan on planting outdoors, keep the roses potted for the first full year, and plant in early spring once all danger of hard freezes has past.


  • How to grow Roses from cuttings
  • Roses are easiest to propagate from cuttings. There are many methods available, such as the potato method, but the best method is straight into soil. Clean your shears with rubbing alcohol before and after use to prevent transfer between plants. Trim your rose cutting just above the cut tip, but not above the bottom set of leaves, then dip your cutting into rooting hormone powder. Tap off any excess powder. The bottom leaves can be trimmed at the stem.
  • If you are planting your cutting in a container, you’ll need to make sure that the soil stays moist. If the cutting dries out, it will not root. Use a container that is at least 6” deep. If planting outdoors, pick a sunny area. Poke a hole into your soil with a pencil that is about 3” deep and wide enough to not scrape off the rooting hormone powder.
  • Keep the roses well watered, but only water at the base of the plants. You may need to water several times a day, especially if it gets warm in your area. If you have a mini green house, this can help retain the moisture. You can also make your own with a plastic bag - just make sure that none of the plastic is touching the plant.
  • If the cuttings are kept moist, they should start to form roots within 3-4 weeks. If you give the cutting a gentle tug and feel resistance, roots have formed! Feed your roses with fertilizer to ensure their development and remove any spent blooms to promote new growth. Roses grown from cuttings will develop flowers faster than those grown from seeds, and you may get flowers in the first year.


  • How to Maintain Roses
  • Make sure to clean your tools before and after use, and make your cuts at 45º angles. Always cut back broken, dead, dying, or diseased branches. Also prune at the base to allow air to the base of the plant and to make it easier to water only at the base of the roses. Prune just before dormancy periods end, when the leaf buds begin to swell. Get your pruning done once the swelling starts but before they break open. If you wait too long, wait until after flowering to prune. A drip irrigation system will help prevent fungus. Keep thorns trimmed back to help you when working around the roses - if you have deer, consider leaving the thorns.

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WILDFLOWERS

  • Wildflowers can be sown at various times of the year, depending on when you want to see the flowers.
  • Planting in Fall: Wait until after a “killing frost” (a hard frost) to plant your wildflowers - this will keep them from germinating too early
  • Planting in Spring: Wait until all frost danger has passed, then plant right away In areas with a milder summer climate, you can plant wildflower seeds in summer for fall blooms - areas with high heat & drought will not allow the seeds to sprout. Wildflowers can grow almost anywhere, including among among grass, but if you want a good, thick bed of flowers, prepare a space. Clear away plants and grass, till the ground down just a few inches. Make sure that your area gets plenty of sun and has good drainage.
  • We do NOT recommend fertilizing the soil unless it is lacking in specific nutrients (you can get a soil test to tell you exactly what is lacking). When you spread your wildflowers, broadcast them over your area. To prevent seeds from blowing away, you need to press them down into the soil. If you are planting in the fall, cover lightly with soil and a light layer of mulch - you do NOT need to water this over the winter. If you are planting in the spring, you’ll want to avoid too much covering, so no mulch and water in the seeds.
  • Once you see sprouts, keep the area well watered in the first 4-6 weeks until all the plants are well established. After this period, the area can be watered much less frequently, unless conditions are dry and your plants start to look limp. Wildflower mixes contain annual, perennial, and a few biennial varieties.
  • Annual - These plants will grow, flower, go to seed, and die in one season. The seeds will usually spread themselves, so you will see the same flowers come back from new plants.
  • Perennial - These plants come back year after year. They develop deeper roots and will spread out more and more each year. They are also a bit slower to sprout/bloom than the annuals in the mixes.
  • Biennials - Sprout and make plants one year, then will bloom the next year. Then they will self-seed and come back to start over again the next spring.

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