Category Archives: vegetable

Wildflower In My Garden Or Is That A Damn Old Weed?

Xeriscape™ Zeroscape, Permaculture and Sustainable agriculture {Gardens and Landscapes} are popping up every where. What they all have in common is getting the most bang for your $buck. They are also nothing new! It is re-learning what our parents and grand parents knew from child hood.

In my childhood living in the country. No one had nice green grass lawns. Front yards were reserved for a few wildflowers, maybe a hollyhock or two and an assortment of native fruit bearing vines, bushes and trees. Many plants, both native and those developed, improved and planted for flowering gardens and for a food supply, vegetable gardens can be eaten raw or cooked.

When is a weed a wild flower? Well that all depends on the eye of the beholder. When it is growing where you want it to grow and produces a flower that you like seeing it’s a wild flower. Other wise it’s a weed. Almost all weeds produce wildly colorful flowers and will freely reseed and come back in greater masses next growing season.

A word of caution. Know what you are harvesting Before You eat of feed native wild plants to your family. Some native {weeds} are not fit for human consumption and some plants are out and out poisonous!

Wildflowers will grow and even thrive with little or no attention from you. You need not worry about watering, fertilizing or tilling around them. After all they were a weed before you planted it in your landscape!

Wild Sand Cherry in bloom

Wild Plum mid July

Small native bush fruiting plants like Sand Cherry and Native American plums are a great addition to your land scape. Many farmers and ranchers consider these plants to be weeds and go to great lengths to kill them out of their pastures.

After their first year or so in your land scape they will need no special care, water or fertilizers to provide a flashy show of flowers in the spring and then a nice crop of fresh fruit in late summer or early fall.

Be a good boy and eat your weeds. Many of the plants we call weeds are eatable in salads raw or cooked like Spinach. They are a healthy and free addition to any salad or home cooked meal.

Edible Weeds a PDF file By Bobbi Gustafson and Corrina Marote.

Edible Weeds and Native Plants by Healthy Home Gardening.

Edible Weeds by

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Bath your Vegetable Garden Weekly For Safe And Easy Insect Control

The Real Know How Blog
Here is a informative video on using soap and oils to control insects in your garden.
Controlling Insects with Soaps and Oils{Video}
Oils are generally reserved for use on trees and bushes where as soap’s are better suited for use on garden vegetable crops.

Not all soap is created equal for soap to most effective it must contain Detergent. Many of the dish washing soaps no longer contain detergent and are far less effective in cleaning grease off dishes and pans and killing / removing insects from your garden plants. I use Blue dawn dish soap. Read the label carefully before investing your time and effort in treating you garden for insect pest by soap washing.

Not only will soap wash away and kill many garden pest it will also help your soil absorb water more effectively by breaking down soil surface tension allowing water to penetrate your soil with less wasted water run off. I have found that using 1/4 cup of Blue Dawn dish per gallon of water works very well in insect control.

Whether you use a simple soapy water spray or a commercial store bought insecticide, Always carefully wash all garden vegetables under cool running water before feeding them to your family.

Colorado State University has a good fact sheet on using soap for insect control. Insect Control: Soaps and Detergents

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(ZeroScape) Landscape Water Conservation… Xeriscape™

zeroscape garden
Xeriscape™ – Water Conservation
Adequate supply of high quality water has become a critical issue for Texas and many states in the south and southwest U.S. Rapidly increasing populations have increased the demand on state’s already limited supply of high quality water. In addition, seasonal fluctuations in rainfall and periodic droughts have created a feast-to-famine weather cycle.

In urban areas about 25 percent of the water supply is used for landscape and garden watering. Much of this water is used to maintain traditionally high water demanding landscapes, or it is simply applied inefficiently.

In an attempt to reduce the excessive water use, the Texas Agricultural Extension Service is educating people in Xeriscape landscaping, quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment. This concept is a first of a kind, comprehensive approach to landscaping for water conservation. Traditional landscapes may incorporate one or two principles of water conservation, but they do not utilize the entire concept to reduce landscape water use effectively.

Xeriscape landscaping incorporates seven basic principles which lead to saving water.
Landscape planning and design
Soil analysis
Practical turf areas
Appropriate plant selection
Efficient irrigation
Use of mulches
Appropriate maintenance

Xeriscape landscapes need not only be cactus and rock gardens. They can be green, cool landscapes full of beautiful plants maintained with water-efficient practices.

Start With a Plan
Creating a water-efficient landscape begins with a well thought out landscape design. Sketch your yard with locations of existing structures, trees, shrubs and grass areas. Consider your landscape budget, appearance, function, maintenance and water requirements.

Soil Analysis and Preparation
To increase plant health and conserve water, add organic matter to the soil of shrub and flower bed areas. This increases the soil’s ability to absorb and store water in a form available to the plant. As a rule of thumb, till in 4 to 6 inches of organic material such as shredded pine bark, peat and rice hulls.

Plant Selection
Select trees, shrubs and groundcovers based on their adaptability to your region’s soil and climate. Most have lower water demands, fewer pest problems and less fertilizer needs than many nonadapted, exotic plants brought into your landscape.

Outstanding Landscape Plants for Xeriscapes
Grasses, lawn and ornamental
Vines and Groundcovers
Water Saving Native Plants

Landscape Maintenance
An added benefit of Xeriscape landscapes is less maintenance. A well designed landscape can decrease maintenance by as much as 50 percent through reduced mowing to once a year mulching, elimination of weak, unadapted plants and more efficient watering techniques.

Of the tremendous amounts of water applied to lawns and gardens, much of it is never absorbed by the plants and put to use. Some water is lost to runoff by being applied too rapidly, and some water evaporates from exposed, unmulched sois, but, the greatest waste of water is applying too much too often.

Most lawns receive twice as much water as they require for a healthy appearance. The key to watering lawns is to apply the water infrequently, yet thoroughly. This creates a deep, well-rooted lawn that efficiently uses water stored in the soil. To know when to water the lawn, simply observe the grass. Wilting and discoloration are signs of water stress. At the first sign of wilting, you have 24 to 48 hours to water before serious injury occurs. Apply 1 inch of water to the lawn as rapidly as possible without runoff.

Trees and Shrubs
All trees and shrubs need more frequent watering from planting time until becoming well rooted, which may take two growing seasons. Once established, plants can then be weaned to tolerate less frequent watering. Proper weaning develops deep roots and makes the plants more drought enduring. As with lawns, water established trees, shrubs and groundcovers infrequently, yet thoroughly. In the absence of rain, most trees and shrubs benefit from a once a month thorough watering during the growing season.

Irrigation Systems
The goal of any irrigation system is to give plants a sufficient amount of water without waste. By zoning an irrigation system, grass areas can be watered separately and more frequently than groundcovers, shrubs and trees. Both sprinkler and drip irrigation can be incorporated to achieve water conservation in the landscape.

Sprinkler irrigation
Is the most commonly used method of landscape watering. The two most common types of sprinkler irrigation systems are the hose end sprinkler and the permanent underground system. Even though a permanent sprinkler system can be more water efficient than a hose end sprinkler, both systems require little maintenance and apply large volumes of water in a short time. With either hose-end sprinklers or permanent systems, water between late evening and mid-morning to avoid excessive waste through evaporation.

Drip Irrigation
Drip irrigation offers increased watering efficiency and plant performance when compared to sprinkler irrigation. Drip irrigation slowly applies water to soil. The water flows under low pressure through emitters, bubblers or spray heads placed at each plant. Water applied by drip irrigation has little chance of waste through evaporation or runoff.

Mulching Conserves Moisture
Mulch is a layer of nonliving material covering the soil surface around plants. Mulches can be organic materials such as pine bark, compost and woodchips; or inorganic materials, such as lava rock, limestone or permeable plastic, not sheet plastic.

Use a mulch wherever possible. A good mulch conserves water by significantly reducing moisture evaporation from the soil. Mulch also reduces weed populations, prevents soil compaction and keeps soil temperatures more moderate. Proper Mowing and Fertilizing Conserves Water.

Other Cultural Practices To Save Water
Practices that add to the efficient use of water by plants are periodic checks of the irrigation system, properly timed insect and disease control and elimination of water demanding weeds.

The seven principles of Xeriscape landscaping are not new, they have been practiced in the landscape industry for decades. The concept of combining all seven guidelines into one effort toward landscape water conservation is what makes Xeriscape landscaping unique.

Source documents: Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Douglas F. Welsh, Extension Horticulturist, William C. Welch, Extension Landscape Horticulturist, Richard L. Duble, Extension Turfgrass Specialist

Xeriscape™ and Xeriscape™ logo are trademarks of the Denver Water Department.

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Garden Planting By Moon Phase

The long and the short of Garden Planting based on moon phases. Plant top vegetable producing seed in the ‘Dark’ phase of the moon cycle. Plant your root crops in the ‘Light’ phase cycle of the moon.

Moon phase gardening:
The belief in moon planting or farming by the phases of the moon is an ancient system of agriculture. It is alluded to by folklore that has passed down to us through the centuries. Greek and Roman writers have written on the subject and it has remained a standard method for planting and growing crops up to the present.

Plant above ground crops during a waxing moon
Waxing moon phases (increasing brightness)The two main tenets of moon planting are that plants that produce the eaten or desired part above ground should be planted in the waxing moon (the period of increasing light between a new and full moon).

Plant below ground crops when the moon is waning
Waning moon phases (decreasing brightness)Plants which produce the eaten or desired part below ground (root crops, flowers grown especially for bulbs or tubers) should be planted in the waning moon (the period of decreasing light after the full moon and before the next new moon).

Now for us average ‘Normal’ people, well as normal as home gardeners get. Follow the instructions on your seed package. Plant after your last average spring frost date.

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DIY – How To Poison Your Family With Supermarket Foods – It's Fast And Easy

Contrary to what factory efficient {insert Big Food Corporation Name here} tells you, or what your local supermarket wants you to think. Fruits and vegetables are not prepackaged to benefit You the Consumer.

It is to allow producers and supermarkets to retain on market displays ‘old’ produce for a much longer time. These packages prevent consumers from being able to feel or smell fruits and vegetables before being purchased.

Prepackaged fruits, vegetables and salad greens are packaged in containers that are a perfect place to grow bacteria such as E coli and Salmonella.

Before you buy your next prepackaged bag of salad greens, tomato’s, carrots or celery, ask yourself one simple question. Is the convenience of buying prepackaged fruits and vegetables worth the risk of sicking my family with bacteria infections?

If after knowing the risk associated with prepackaged fruits and vegetables you still insist on purchasing these products, at least use a bit of common sense before serving them.

Carefully wash all fruits and vegetables under cold running water to remove dirt and surface bacteria, pesticides and fungicides used by producers. When steaming or boiling vegetables, insure that they reach a temperature of at least 160 degrees. This is the temperature needed to kill bacteria. Quickly cool vegetables in ice water to stop cooking action and retain more of their color and nutritional value.

Remember, You are the last line of defense between your family and a possibly deadly bacteria infection!

Green Onions Growing On Your Kitchen Windowsill

Due to the unexpected response, on my post about the Health benefits of Onions.. I want to pass along to you some neat things you can do to grow onions on your kitchen windowsill.

Play with Your Food! (Windowsill Gardens) Walnuts and Pears blog has a great idea and some very useful pictures on how she is re-growing green onions. Using nothing but the cut off roots part of green onions, she is re-growing them into a useable, eatable onion or onion tops for a bit of flavor in your favorite salad.

** Walnuts and Pears blog was not the ‘Only’ person or blog that suggested growing green onions in water on a windowsill. If you wish, send me your blog name and URL and I will amend this posting to give you ‘Full’ credit for your contribution to Growing Onions in water on a windowsill. Thanks Pobept.

Photo stole from Walnuts and Pears Blog.

I have a few green onions I picked-up at my local market, I’m going to try to re-grow them in a pot filled with potting soil in a north facing kitchen window. We’ll know if this will work in a week or two if I find them poking their fresh tender leafs through the potting soil.

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and your planting and growing ideas.
A new and different point of view is always welcome.

Onion A Super Health Food

Eat an onion a day to stay healthy.
Use of onions for food goes back at least 3,500 years, and the vegetable is one of the oldest of cultivated plants. Onion is a world-class super-food that has received very little fanfare, most likely because of its common position in cookery. And yet, compared with high-profile foods like pomegranates, red wine, and green tea, the onion offers superior benefits for both the prevention and treatment of many common diseases, including various kinds of cancer, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cataracts and more. In addition, onions can act as a powerful antibiotic and are helpful in reducing food-borne illnesses caused by microbial contamination.

Onions contain extraordinarily powerful compounds that possess many health benefits. Hundreds of scientific studies published on these naturally-occurring compounds show that they are highly protective to nerves and the cardiovascular system, and that they enhance immune function, fight the growth of many types of tumors, help to promote healthy hormone function, and many more.

Red wine may be the highly touted superstar of heart protection, but an appraisal of onion suggests that it exceeds the heart-protective properties of red wine by a generous margin. Onion lowers cholesterol, inhibits hardening of the arteries, enhances elasticity of blood vessels, and helps to maintain healthy blood pressure. You could easily claim that the onion is the unsung cardiovascular-enhancing hero that has been right under our noses all along. We smell it, but don’t give it proper respect.

Onion demonstrates significant blood sugar-modifying properties to be a real help in the fight against both type 2 diabetes and obesity. No, onion alone won’t keep you in fine shape, but it will help. In addition to limiting your intake of fats and sugars, eating onions can get your blood sugar-and your weight-on the right track.

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Early Spring – Late Summer Planting Is Best For Leafed Salad Greens

Most salad leaf plants are cool weather loving and do not do well in the summer heat or in the southern or southwest U.S. unless planted early in the spring and again late in summer or early fall. They can be harvested at any size but leaf cuttings are best while the leafs are rather small and very sweet and tender.

Select a few assorted salad greens to make a salad that is healthy, tasty and can be served with or without a salad dressing.

Chard also know as Swiss chard
Chard, seen to the left of the carrots, has colorful stalks of red, white, magenta and orange.
Chard is actually a beet vegetable. Unlike the beet, chard is cultivated for its broad leaves. It is an ornamental garden plant as well as an edible green. It produces red, yellow and white stalks with wide green leaves that can be harvested all season long without damage to the central bulb. Additional names for this plant include Swiss chard, leaf beet and spinach beet. Nutritionally, chard contains high quantities of sodium and vitamin A. Eat chard raw on sandwiches and salads or cooked and used as a spinach substitute.

Red and Green Leaf Lettuce
Red or green leaf lettuce is a large leaf lettuce. The leaves are thick and appear crumpled along the tips. Red leaf lettuce will have dark plum coloring on the leaves while green leaf lettuce remains a uniform green color. Both varieties have thick white stalks. This type of lettuce is commonly used in salads, sandwiches and tortilla wraps. According to Produce Oasis, these leaf lettuces are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Potassium and Manganese.

Romaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce heads are tightly wrapped and columnar in shape. This is a difficult type of large leaf lettuce to grow because it has not adapted well to hot climates and poor soil conditions. Despite its challenges, when grown correctly romaine lettuce is called the sweetest variety of lettuce. Its thick stalks are crisp and sweet in flavor. This is a classic lettuce used to make Caesar salad according to Better Homes and Gardens.

Spinach is high in protein and low in calorie content.
Spinach is not a lettuce but a leaf vegetable. Spinach leaves are not broad like loose lettuce or romaine, but it is considered a leafy green. In a culinary context, spinach is used in many of the same ways broad leaf lettuces are used. Eat it raw in salads, sandwiches and dishes and cook into casseroles, pasta and soups. Spinach leaves are high in iron, fiber, protein, vitamin A and vitamin C. It grows in cool climates for harvest throughout the warm season and is canned for winter storage.

Radicchio leaves have a striking red color that accents any salad or dish.
Radicchio is a leafy form of chicory. It looks like a small head of cabbage with thick, waxy broad leaves. Its bitter flavor and chewy texture set it apart. It is named after the area in northern Italy where most radicchio comes from. According to the New York Times, many chefs fail to appreciate the true flavor of radicchio and use it simply as a garnish or for color. It can be eaten raw with olive oil and salt, canned, pickled or cooked. Self Nutrition Data writes that radicchio is a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

Butterhead Lettuce
It it also sometimes referred to as butter crunch lettuce. Butterhead lettuces have small, round, loosely formed heads with soft, buttery-textured leaves ranging from pale green on the outer leaves to progressively smaller pale yellow-green on the inner leaves. The flavor is sweet and succulent. Because the leaves are quite tender, they require gentle washing and handling. There are 2 main varieties of butterhead lettuce. The first is Boston or butter lettuce and the second is Bibb or Kentucky limestone. Both varieties lend themselves to lighter dressings because of their soft texture and mild flavor.

Arugula is also called rocket or rucola. When young, the dark green leaves are small and tender, but as
they mature they become large and a bit tough. Arugula is a member of the mustard family but it is not
as bitter as mustard greens. Its taste is peppery and a little nutty. The best dressings for arugula are
citrus based or those enhanced with sweeter vinegars like balsamic.

Belgian Endive
Belgian Endive is in the chicory family. It grows in compact torpedo shaped heads about 5 inches long with white leaves tipped with pale yellow green. The leaves have a mild crunch and are bitter in taste. To use, cut off the end and separate the leaves. Endive does well with a dressing that tempers the bitterness. It does well with creamy dressings, mustard based dressings, or with sweeter citrus dressings.

Chicory is also known as curly endive or frisee. It has jagged spidery leaves that grow in open heads from a compact center. The leaves are crunchy and assertive in flavor can be considered bitter, but not as bitter as Belgian endive or radicchio. Chicory needs a strong flavored vinaigrette, preferably based on red wine or sherry vinegar.

Escarole is also in the chicory family. It has broad flat dark-green leaves in compact heads and has a bit of a crunch. Escarole can be eaten raw or cooked and needs a full-flavored dressing.

Mache is also known as lamb’s lettuce. It is mildly sweet with little round dark-green leaves. Mache needs a mild dressing.

Iceberg Lettuce
Best used as chicken and hog food.
Iceberg lettuce is not fit to be placed on any American dinning table.
It is a watery{up to 90 percent water}, tasteless, useless commercially grown lettuce promoted by it’s growers because it is easy to grow, harvest and stands up to processing and shipping well.

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Salad Greens – It's Not What You Think!

New News: This just in Wow, I have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award! If you have time please check out this blogger.

50 easy to make salads Most can be made in less than 5 or 10 minutes.

Making a healthy, tasty fresh salad. Your first task is to get all those preconceived ideas out of your head of what vegetable(s), fruit and what salt ridden, fat filled, unhealthy supermarket (Insert Brand) dressing it takes to make a salad.

Salads can be as simple or as complicated as ‘You’ make them. I will do my best to convince you to Never, Never Ever buy that watery tasteless Iceberg Lettuce again. It is totally worthless for use in a salad and is best served to your chickens or pigs.

Add taste to your salads. Use only fresh out of your garden ingredients are best, however that is not always an option.
Select fresh crisp salad greens, use a large selection of assorted color and textured greens. Don’t ever buy that stuff… in sealed plastic packages. If you want to grow bacteria that would be a good way to do it!!
Wash greens well and remove as much water as you can before using them in making your salads.
You do not need a lot of anyone type vegetable for your salads. A small amount of many vegetables / greens this will make the best tasting salads. Tear, rip and cut salad ingredients into bite size ‘No’ smaller.

A Green Salad
The “green salad” or “garden salad” is most often composed of leafy vegetables such as lettuce varieties, spinach, arugula and such. Due to their low caloric density, green salads are a common diet food. The salad leaves may be cut or torn into bite-sized pieces and tossed together, or may be placed in a predetermined arrangement, composed salad.

Vegetables Salad
Vegetables other than greens may be used in a salad. Common vegetables used in a salad include cucumbers, sweet, green and red bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, spring onions, red onions, avocado, carrots, celery, and radishes. Other ingredients, such as olives, artichoke hearts, roasted green or red bell peppers, green beans, croutons, cheeses, meat (e.g. bacon, chicken), or seafood (e.g. tuna, salmon, shrimp), are sometimes added to salads.
Nuts raw, roasted or toasted like almond, pine nuts, pecan and walnut half’s can add a lot of flavor and excitement to your salads. Use caution adding peanuts, many people are allergic to peanuts.

Salad dressings, keep them simple and healthy by using only the best quality natural ingredients. Extra Virgin Olive oil, highest quality red or white wine vinegars. Fresh herbs like basel, oregano, garlic cloves, chives, fresh ground pepper corns and such.

A very good starter dressing can be made from 1 part wine vinegar added to 3 or even 4 parts extra virgin olive oil. Add herbs and spices that you and your family like. fresh squeezed lemon and or lime juice will always add a new flavor to any salad dressing. Don’t try to take a short cut and use that yukky bottled lemon or lime juice! Remember a little lemon or lime juice goes a long ways. Don’t over use citrus juices.

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Your First Vegetable Garden – Almost Fail Proof – Root Crops 101

Root vegetables planted in containers, raised beds or bed planted directly in the soil are an almost fail proof first garden.

All root crops like soil that does not contain to much clay. It should be good quality potting soil, top soil of a mixture of potting soil and top soil. Soil should be free of large sticks and stones of any kind. Root crops like the soil to be moist Not Wet {Water Logged} weed free and well drained. Many root vegetables will survive cool, cold and even light frost conditions. Generally speaking root vegetables will benefit from the application of a mild fertilizer at planting time such as 10-20-5 or even a 10-10-10 fertilizer.

A heavy mulching of root crops help retain moisture, retard weed growth. The use of black plastic on each side of your seed bed will aid in warming the soil and in keeping the soil warm in cool or cold weather and is also effective in controlling weeds.

Many root vegetables will serve you both as a mature root vegetable and as a source of salad greens. You may want to sample young tender, onion, garlic tops served like chives, beet root leaf’s, turnip leaf’s raw in salads or as a cooked side dish. Don’t try to eat radish, potato or carrot tops.

Some of the root vegetables that are commonly grown in home gardens are: Beets, Carrots, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Sweet, Irish and Red Potato’s, Radish and Turnips.

Stop! Wait! Before you run out the door to plant your seed, First read and follow ‘All’ the planting instruction on your seed package. Planting depth, seed and row spacing, plant size at maturity, light and soil requirements.

The first spring outdoor sowing is made as soon as the soil is ready in spring, and the seed should be put in thick, not all of your seeds will come through if bad weather is encountered. When thinning out, the small plants that are removed, tops can be used in salads or cooked make delicious greens.
Your fall crop, for fall and winter use. Sow seeds the last part of June. For this crop the larger varieties are used. Follow planting directions on your seed package.

Spring planted carrots quality will be better if the soil is not too rich. A few for extra early use may be grown in the hotbeds or frame. If radishes and carrots are sown together, in alternating rows six inches apart, your radishes will be used by the time the carrots need the room, and in this way a single 3 x 6 ft. bed will yield a good supply for the home garden. Your fall crop can be sown between rows of onions during June, and left to mature when the onions have been harvested. Hint: Try one of the many short fat varieties, they produce well in soils containing a lot of clay or small rocks.

Leeks: How To Grow Leeks
To attain its best the leek should be started in the seed-bed, late in April, and transplanted in late June, to the richest soil available. Hill up from time to time to blanch lower part of stalk; or a few choice specimens may be had by fitting cardboard collars around the stem and drawing the earth up to these, not touching the stalk with the soil.

Onions: How to Planting – Best Time To Plant – Care and Feeding Your Onion

Radish: Over 250 different varieties are available for home gardeners to select from.
To be a crisp quality, it is essential to grow them just as quickly as possible. The soil should not be to rich in fresh manure or other nitrogenous fertilizers, as this tends to produce an undesirable amount of leaves at the expense of the root. If the ground is at all dry give a thorough wetting after planting, which may be on the surface, as the seeds germinate so quickly that they will be up before the soil has time to crust over. Radishes are easily raised as both early spring or in the fall requiring only forty to fifty degrees night time temperatures. Germination time 3 to 7 days. Hint: Soak seeds 6 to 8 hours in warm water before planting to speed up the germination process.

Plant turnips after your last average spring time frost date and again in late June or Early July for a fall crop. They are best eaten when while small and tender. They may be harvested at any size. Tops make great fresh salad greens as well as being cooked and served as a side dish.

Find your average Last Spring Frost Date and your first average Fall Frost Date.

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