Monthly Archives: August 2016
One of the self-satisfying things about growing your own vegetables is the knowledge that you are providing healthy food for you and your family. Many claims have been made for various classes of vegetables, from helping to lower cholesterol to reducing the risks of certain types of cancer. We make no particular health claims for vegetables, but they have been recognized as being good sources of vitamins and minerals, and have long been thought of as “health” foods.
While flowers and ornamental plants may be a feast for the eyes, a salad you’ve grown in your own garden is truly a feast for the body.
One of the beauties of your own salad garden is its versatility. You can make an “enthusiastic salad” – where you put everything you have into it – or keep things as simple as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. And if you have family members that may not be the avid fans of the leafy greens and their companions that you are, getting them involved in the salad garden project will often whet their appetites.
Salads today go far beyond the simple fare they once were. Practically anything and everything can go in a salad. This means that you can grow what you like to eat and ignore those that you don’t. It also means that you can be adventurous in trying new things on a small scale.
At the base of most salads is a leafy green vegetable of some kind: lettuce and spinach are two of the most popular. Kids who “don’t like spinach” often like it as a fresh green – they think it’s just another kind of lettuce. Some choices for leafy greens to form the base of your salad are spinach and lettuces such as Iceberg, leaf, Romaine, and Boston. To add color to your salad, use ingredients such as carrots, red and green bell peppers or other peppers that can range from purple to green, red or yellow tomatoes, radishes, rings of sliced onions, and a little basil, thyme, dill or parsley. A salad should include a variety of colors, shapes and textures to appeal to the eye as well as to the taste buds. Look for an AAS Winner when you are looking for new salad varieties. All-America Selection has been conducting trials for eighty-two years on never-before tested flowers and vegetables where only the best are declared AAS Winners. These winners are “Tested Nationally & Proven Locally”
The produce in grocery stores has expanded to an international market. There are easy-to-grow salad vegetables from Europe and the Orient to add to your garden. The annual endive is native to the Orient, but was eaten by ancient Greeks. It is grown like lettuce, a cool season crop. Escarole and chicory are both essential salad greens in Europe and require little garden care. Radicchio, of Italian origin, is more difficult to grow, but the deep burgundy color is distinctive.
Under the generic heading “assorted greens” are some fast growing leafy crops. In the Mustard family, cress is probably one of the quickest salad crops, needed only 10 to 20 days until harvest. The most vigorous cress is best grown restricted to a container. The peppery flavor of cress is a “wake up call” for salads. Mustard greens are another class, and like cress, cannot be described as bland. These greens are ready to eat in about 5 weeks.
Depending on how much salad you want, you can make the salad section of your garden as large or as small as you want. If your wants are minimal, you can even grow a salad in a large tub or other container, planting items in rows or circles. If you want to have fresh salad fixings as long as possible, plan successive sowings of radishes, carrots and lettuces about 10 to 14 days apart so that you will have different rows maturing at different times.
A new year typically brings about resolutions right? Be they for losing weight, being more organized or simply an overall “being better” wish, resolutions are good goals to have.
Gardeners are no exception to wishing for the better; better gardens, better planning, better record-keeping, etc. Following are five resolutions that we wish every gardener, no matter their level of expertise, will embrace in the new year:
1. I will not blame myself for gardening failures. Oftentimes, Mother Nature is not our friend when it comes to gardening. Or life gets in the way. We do not want you to despair! Simply try again and learn from experience. Your garden, and your gardening friends, are both extremely forgiving.
2. I will not be afraid to ask questions. How else can you learn? Take advantage of the experience of your neighbor, your aunt, the garden center employee or the local extension agent. If they are like typical garden fanatics, they will appreciate your interest and be flattered that you want to learn from them. And learn you will!
3. I will try something new. This is kind of a no-brainer, right? Have you ever met a gardener who didn’t want the newest of the new, for bragging rights if nothing else? But what about really new…like a new growing style or completely new crop of vegetables. Cruise around on Pinterest and we guarantee you’ll find something irresistible that’s out of your usual comfort zone.
4. I will share my passion. We’ve done and seen studies that show many of today’s gardeners got their start by learning from someone else, usually a parent or grandparent. Can you be that mentor? Will you be the reason your son or daughter serves homegrown vegetables to your grandchildren? Can you be the reason your neighbor plants window boxes for the first time?
5. I will embrace nature and garden for the birds, the bees and the butterflies and the bats too!). One of the most enjoyable benefits of having a garden is being able to enjoy the beautiful creatures who visit it. So plan your flowers and vegetables with that in mind then sit back and enjoy the show.
Feel free to steal these resolutions for your own, we won’t mind!
Let’s Go Garden!
They are a pre-sown product of single or multiple species of seeds that are already spaced between tissue layers at the correct distance for growing. As well as the simple, linear tape, there is a wide range of other shapes and sizes, such as discs, mats and carpets. Many flower, vegetable or herb seeds can be purchased already incorporated into these products.
- Even seed spacing prevents oversowing, especially with crops like lettuce, greens, carrots, wildflowers, etc. This also eliminates the need for thinning the young seedlings.
- The lightweight tape prevents birds from eating freshly sown seeds
- The tape, when covered with additional soil, won’t wash away in a sudden spring downpour, ruining evenly spaced and sown rows.
- Almost all seed tapes are biodegradable to protect wildlife and have no damaging impact on garden ecosystems.
- For gardeners experiencing arthritis or other mobility issues, a seed tape is a quick and easy way to sow tiny seeds.
Seed tapes:Come in various lengths, single track or multiple tracks, both available with the option of one seed variety or a multiple of seeds – suitable for salad, mixed vegetable and flower collections.
Seed discs: Small discs, from 8-12cm diameter are for standard flowerpots – perfect for the indoor herb garden. Larger discs, from 14-30cm diameter are often used for sowing container gardens.
Seed mats: Ideal for sowing seeds in window boxes, bedding borders and big planters. Sizes vary from as small as a business card up to 3’ in length.
Seed carpets: Usually for larger areas where a ready-made ‘mini garden’ is desired. These are great for wildflower fusions, mixed vegetables and salads.
Where to use these products
Seed tapes and pre-sown associated products are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, whether you are looking for a small window box or have a larger corner of the garden to fill – there is a size and shape product for everyone.
Suitable for children’s gardens
These eco-friendly tapes, discs, mats and carpets are ideal for children of all ages and abilities. They are a quick, easy and fun way to sow and grow your vegetables, herbs or flowers in a variety of environments and conditions. Children learn first-hand how simple, fun and satisfying it is to grow vegetables and herbs from seed. As we all know, children that grow vegetables and herbs are also more likely to eat them.
There is no need to worry about even spacing, handling, thinning or waste – these easy to use seed products are the ultimate work saver for all gardeners.
Prepare soil as for any planting. Place seed tapes, discs or mats on the soil and cover with the recommended top layer of soil. The products are well-suited for large empty garden plots as well as fill-ins in tighter locations. They are also ideal for container plantings.
Where to buy them
Explore your local garden center, nursery, or one of the many online garden retailers such as NGB members Gardener’s Supply, Jung Seed,Park Seed, Botanical Interests and other members listed here.
NGB would like to thank Seed Developments for the content of this article.
For the second year in a row, vegetable breeding companies focusing on the Fresh Market and Home Garden segments are coming together to host Summer Vegetable Trials via Open Houses and Field Days. This event will be held in six locations from August 8-19, 2016. Just like the long-standing CA Spring Trials that are held annually in California during the month of April, attendees will have the opportunity to visit breeder company trial sites throughout the state.