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Chapter 13: vegetable and herb gardening.


acclimate allelochemical allomone annual biennial bolt companion planting cool-season crop frost-free period frost-sensitive frost-tender frost-tolerant harden-off heat-hardy kairomone olericulture perennial pheromone semi-hardy very hardy

Growing your own vegetables not only provides delicious, fresh produce to eat or store, but it also provides lots of satisfaction. An obvious benefit is the physical activity that working in a garden provides. Half an hour of vigorous digging can burn as many as 200 calories, and raking or weeding can burn 100 calories. There is often a concomitant mental benefit, as the act of tending your garden can be a stress-reliever and gives time for uninterrupted musing about the problems of daily life.

Fresh vegetables provide high levels of vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Another benefit of growing your own vegetables is that you can grow unusual crops or cultivars that are not easily obtained at grocery stores or farmer's markets (Fig. 13-1). For many people the greatest benefit is the sheer satisfaction of cultivating, harvesting, and eating or sharing with others something they grew themselves. Vegetable production is referred to as olericulture (Fig. 13-2).


The frost-free period determines the growing season of many crops. This period of time varies depending on your climate. It is calculated by first finding the average date of the last frost in the spring and then the date of the first frost in the fall. The number of days between those two dates is the frost-free period. Figures 13-3 and 13-4 show maps of the United States with the average dates of the last spring frost and the first fall frost. The first number is the month, where 3 is March, 4 is April, and so on. With these maps, you can calculate the number of frost-free growing days in your area.

Crops that are frost-sensitive or frost-tender will not tolerate frost, and their seeds will not germinate in cool soil. They are generally planted around the frost-free date in spring. Other tender vegetables include the warm-loving vegetables that are heat-hardy and thrive and grow in hot temperatures, as long as there is adequate moisture. However, there are a number of vegetables that are very hardy or at least frost-tolerant (semi-hardy). Very hardy vegetables are not damaged during a hard frost and can withstand freezing temperatures. They may not grow, but they will survive long enough and then continue growing when above-freezing temperatures return. Frost-tolerant vegetables can tolerate light frosts and continue to grow during the day even though freezing temperatures occur at night. Hardy and semi-hardy vegetables are cool-season vegetables. Hardy vegetables can be planted in early spring before the frost-free season begins, and those planted in fall will continue to grow into the winter.



In mild-winter areas of the country, cool-season vegetables may be left in the ground through December, and they will continue growing when warmer January temperatures arrive. Semi-hardy vegetables may be planted 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost in spring for spring harvest. They may be planted in fall for fall harvest if they are allowed enough time to mature before hard freezes occur. This time may range from 1 to 3 months, depending on the crop. Cole crops are cool-season crops. These include: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, all of the genus Brassica. Tables 13-1 and 13-2 (see pages 245 and 247) list vegetable crops and whether they are hardy, semi-hardy, frost-tender, or heat-hardy.


Most vegetables are annuals, but a few are biennials or perennials. Annuals require one growing season from the time seeds are planted until they flower and set seed. Biennials require two seasons from seed to seed set, and perennials may flower in the first or second year, but will return in following years because of root systems that persist in the soil. Onions are a biennial crop that is treated as an annual because the bulbs are harvested the first year of growth. However, if the bulbs were left in the garden, they would grow new leaves and bloom the following spring or early summer. Rhubarb and asparagus are perennials.


Most of the vegetables we grow are annuals that have their origins all over the world. Seeds of these crops germinate within a specific soil temperature range. Those that germinate at cooler temperatures are called cool-season crops. See Table 13-3 (see page 249) for a list of vegetable crops and optimal soil temperatures for germination. Cool-season crops can be planted in spring before danger of frost has passed or in the fall, and they will even grow beyond the first frost of fall.

In mild-winter areas of the country cool-season crops may be grown throughout the winter. Some cool-season crops will even tolerate temperatures below freezing and snow. Cool-season crops such as lettuce and spinach will have a sweeter flavor when grown under cool temperatures compared with hot temperatures. Also, some cool-season plants will bolt when temperatures begin to warm up. The leaves may change shape, and a long, spike-like flower shoot will emerge from the center, or basal rosette of leaves. The leaves become bitter during bolting.


Warm-season crops germinate in warmer soil temperatures and grow, flower, and set fruit better when it is warm. However, these crops may cease to grow once temperatures exceed about 90 [degrees]F. Tomato flowers abort at temperatures above 90 [degrees]F, and fruit fails to form. Heat-loving crops such as melons and squash actually grow faster and better when temperatures are warmer, even when other crops cease to grow due to high temperatures. Warm-season crops are usually killed by a frost, although sometimes they will sustain one or two frosts, even though growth is poor.


When deciding on which crops to grow, study the time required between seeding or transplanting and harvest. There is some variation among different cultivars within a species, so you should obtain specific information from the seed producer or directly from the seed packet or pot label. Some crops require such a short period of time to crop maturity that you can plant several successive crops during one growing season. This is a technique known as succession planting. Doing this effectively increases the available space in your garden. You should also consider the possibility that if you plant adequate amounts of a given crop for a family of your size, you may not be able to eat it all at the same time. Although you may be able to store, or put some up, you might also consider planting a smaller amount of the crop every 7 to 14 days. Sweet corn, lettuce, spinach, and other vegetables that do not mature over a period of time may be treated this way. Tomatoes, peppers, melons, and others will set fruit and mature over a period of time, so all of your crop should be planted at the same time.


Once you decide to have a vegetable garden, it is very important to select a good site. Your garden will probably become a fixed site in your yard and may even contain some perennial crops that will come up year after year. You should consider the soil type and condition, exposure to sun and shade, how the garden fits into the landscape of the yard, accessibility, and an appropriate size.

You can get an idea of the soil type and condition of the soil using the techniques discussed in chapter 5. If you lack optimal conditions for water-holding, drainage,nutrients, or pH, add amendments to correct them. If several sites are available, select the one you can most easily work with or that requires the least improvement, especially with respect to soil texture. Heavy clay can be improved, but it may take several growing seasons of improvement before conditions approach ideal. If you lack good conditions or your soil is too poor to correct, then you might want to consider building raised beds, bringing in fertile, well-draining topsoil, and growing in that instead.

Vegetables require well-draining soil with somewhat acid to nearly neutral pH. See Table 13-4 for pH preferences of various vegetables.


Always begin with a soil test. Also, identify the texture, fertility, and pH of the soil. Having this information allows you to add amendments at the beginning of the soil preparation process.

New Area

If you are growing in an area that has never been cultivated before or that is planted in turf, the first step in preparing the ground is to remove the turf or weeds or other plants that are there already. Turf may be removed with a sod remover. Sod removers can be kick-style or powered by a motor. You can rent a sod kicker or powered sod remover to save the cost of purchasing one. Turf or other plants growing in the area could also be killed using a nonselective herbicide. Allow about 1 week for a complete kill-down of existing turf or other plants. It is still desirable to remove dead turf from an area because roots that are tilled back into the soil sometimes reroot, and the turf may begin to reestablish itself.

New or Previously Gardened Area

Once the area is cleared, the soil may be tilled using a cultivator. The purpose of tilling is to create a well-draining medium for optimal root growth. During tilling, soil amendments may be worked into the soil. Amendments that will contribute to improve soil structure and fertility and may be tilled in include peat moss, leaf mold, or compost. If fertilizers are required, granular forms may be added before tilling and then worked into the soil. If lime or sulfur is required to adjust pH, either may also be tilled in. If you are using transplants, you may want to apply a pre-emergence herbicide to reduce weeding later on.


For most vegetable crops, full sun is necessary. Rows should be laid out according to a planned design, taking into consideration successive planting or early and late planting of cool-season and warm-season crops. You should also consider the ultimate height of the crops, and plant taller crops on the north side of the garden and low-growing crops on the south side. Some crops, such as squash and melons, will not be planted in rows but rather in hills. And some crops, such as tomatoes, peas, and some beans will require staking on poles or a trellis. Perennial crops such as strawberries, asparagus, and horseradish should be planted in a designated area where they will not interfere when working in the garden with the annuals and yet will receive adequate sun according to their need. Be sure to allow space for walking, but plant as close together as possible to minimize weeds.

A word of caution: animals of all sorts, including cats, dogs, raccoons, rabbits, moles, deer, and other animals, all have different reasons for loving gardens. Because of the damage and destruction they can do, it is a good idea to fence off the area before planting anything. This is perhaps the single best tactic you can use to keep large pests out of your garden for the simple reason that once animals know there is something tasty and desirable there, it is very hard, if not impossible to keep them out. Select sturdy materials for your fence and put it up after you have prepared the soil, but before you have planting anything. The small investment in time and materials will continue to reward you over the years that you garden.


The amount of any one crop that you grow will ultimately depend on how much your family likes to eat it. But, beyond that, some of the factors that will determine the size of your garden include how many different crops you want to grow, how many people it will serve, and how big of an area you can reasonably maintain. Some people prefer to purchase vegetables they can easily obtain from the grocery store or farmer's market and restrict their efforts to crops they particularly like, those that are difficult to find, or those that are cheaper to grow than purchase. Table 13-5 provides some guidance about the amount of plants of different crops that are for a family of four.


Seeds may be started indoors for various reasons (Figs. 13-5 and 13-6, see pages 256 and 257). One reason is that this will extend the season by allowing you to transplant 6- to 10-week-old plants as soon as danger of frost has passed (or earlier for cool-season crops). Another reason is that it will also allow you to order crops and cultivars from seed catalogs that you may not otherwise be able to find at your local garden centers. You may collect your own seed from your garden or receive some from gardening friends. A few vegetable crops do not transplant well and should only be direct-seeded into the garden. Root crops, especially carrots should be handled this way. See chapter 3 for methods for staring seeds at home. You may also buy transplants from a local garden center and still get the benefit of reduced time before harvest.


Whether you start your own plants or buy them from a greenhouse, you should introduce them to outdoor environmental conditions slowly so that they have time to acclimate. Allow yourself 1 to 2 weeks before transplanting outside and place the transplants outside for 1 or 2 hours the first day. Do this during the warmest part of the day, being careful not to let them dry out or get burned from too much direct sun. Remember that you are taking them out of a protected climate where they have been growing with no wind and perhaps under high humidity and artificial lighting. The cuticle layer on the leaves is thin by comparison with that of plants that have been growing outdoors all along. New leaves that develop will have a thicker cuticle to protect them from wind and direct sun. On the second day, increase the amount of time the transplants are outside to 3 to 4 hours and continue to increase the time each day, until you are leaving them out all day. Eventually you may leave them out overnight as well, just check the forecast and make sure there will not be a light freeze. Some warm-season plants do not do well if temperatures dip below 55 [degrees]F, so be careful! The process of acclimation for transplants is sometimes referred to as hardening off.



Making Rows

Begin by marking straight rows of the appropriate length for your crops. It will be easiest to work in the garden with equipment if rows are evenly spaced. However, if you will be weeding and cultivating manually, this is less important. You should allow enough space to walk between rows. You may wish to cover these walkways with mulch to reduce weeds as much as possible. Newspapers, leaves, straw, or other materials may be used. Make straight lines by placing two stakes at the ends of the row and draw a string between them. Hoe a row for seed placement only 1 inch or so deep, depending on the recommended depth for planting your seeds. This information should be available on your seed packet or a planting guide that accompanied your seeds if you purchased from a catalog.


Some plants, such as watermelons and pumpkins, are planted in hills. These should be designed to fit your garden space, allowing for the vines to spread in the recommended space, usually 4 to 6 feet. Hills improve drainage and thus can be particularly helpful in heavier soils. Melons prefer sandy or well-drained soil. Also, hills tend to warm up earlier in the spring, and so are better for root growth.

Seed Spacing

Place the seeds by hand or use a mechanical seeder. Wheeled seeders with special seed plates allow speedy planting of larger gardens. The seed plates are designed for different-sized seeds. Mechanical seeders drop the seeds at evenly spaced intervals.

Seed Depth

Recommendations for planting depth are provided on seed packets, but a rule of thumb is to plant the seed no deeper than two times its diameter. Beware, however: many seeds are quite small and do not require very deep planting. A common mistake is to plant the seeds too deep. For example, carrot seeds need only be planted 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep. Larger seeds, such as corn or peas, require planting 1 to 2 inches deep. Some seeds, including carrot and lettuce, require light for germination and should not be covered or only covered very lightly, when planted.


Cover and Water

Cover the seeds with soil and firm it over them to ensure good seed-soil contact. Water gently and avoid washing them away. Do not allow the soil to dry during the germination process or the newly germinated seeds will die. The seed will first put out a radicle, or seed root, which will quickly grow into a deeper root able to acquire water from the surrounding soil. Once the cotyledons have emerged, watering can be held back, with longer intervals between waterings.

Time to Germinate

Vegetable species require differing amounts of time to germinate. Approximate times for germination should be provided on seed packets. These times can range from as few as 4 days to as long as 10 or even 21 days.


If you have overplanted the seeds to ensure a good stand or because the small seeds were difficult to control while planting, it is very important to thin the seedlings early. The longer you wait for thinning, the greater effect crowding will have on the remaining plants. Seedling roots will be competing for water and nutrients, whereas shoots compete for light and space. The overall effect is weak plants with etiolated stems that are more susceptible to disease and insects. Such seedlings may never make up for the delayed growth they experience. Do not delay thinning, and thin to the recommended distances. It is very tempting to leave plants closer than the recommended spacing, because it is hard to believe that a 1-inch tall broccoli plant will ever really need 18 to 24 inches and will grow to a similar height. Plants that are left at closer than recommended spacing will be smaller, and if you leave them really close together, they will never grow to full size.

Seed Mats and Tapes

A relatively new method of seed planting is now available: seeds are placed between two pieces of biodegradable paper at the appropriate spacing. Round or rectangular mats of biodegradable paper containing flower seeds are also available. Tapes may simply be placed into the planting row at the proper depth. Mats may be placed on the ground and covered with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. The use of seed tapes or mats eliminates the need to thin transplants and eases the difficulty of planting seeds at the proper spacing.

Time to Harvest

The length of time required for vegetables to grow varies widely. Radishes require a short growing season of 28 to 35 days, whereas sweet potatoes require 150 to 175 days from transplants. Garlic is planted in the fall and is not harvested until the following summer. For short-season crops, successive plantings may be done for as long as conditions allow. Cool-season crops may be planted through the spring and then again in fall. In some areas of the country, cool-season crops may be planted throughout the fall and harvested throughout the winter and even into the following spring. In temperate areas, the latest dates for planting tender vegetables will be determined by the average date of the first frost in the fall coupled with the length of time to maturity. For example, tomatoes require warm temperatures for growth and flowering, and about 2 to 2 1/2 months to reach maturity after planting. They are then harvested for 6 weeks or longer. Therefore, tomatoes require a growing season of 3 to 4 months and could continue setting fruit for an even longer period. In a location where the first frost occurs in mid-October, tomatoes should be planted no later than early July.

Storage and Preservation

After harvesting, some vegetables can be stored for longer periods than others. In general, vegetables will keep longer in cool, dry places. In some cases, vegetables enclosed in plastic containers or storage bags will keep for a longer period in the refrigerator. Some root crops can be stored in the ground as long as they are protected from freezing. This can be accomplished by covering the crops with mulch.

The main methods of preserving vegetables are canning, freezing, and drying. Canning and freezing both require processing the vegetables to eliminate food-poisoning organisms and decay-related enzymes. In canning, sterile techniques must be used and often the vegetables must be processed in the jars after the jars have been sterilized. Some vegetables require processing in a pressure cooker.

Extending the Season

It is often desirable to extend the season beyond the frost-free period for warm-season crops. Growers can demand higher prices for crops that they harvest earlier than those of other growers in their area. Home gardeners can benefit from more produce overall by getting an early start. The season can be extended for warm-season crops in a number of ways. These usually are related to getting an earlier start in the spring. Current methods include covering the ground with plastic mulch to help the soil retain heat or to heat it earlier in the spring by absorption of more radiation, using raised beds, and installation of devices such as plant teepees filled with water, plastic tents, high tunnels and hotcaps, floating row covers, and modified cold frames (Figs. 13-7 through 13-10).


Plastic mulch is used for larger-scale production or gardening of vegetable plots. Originally, black plastic was used in commercial production of strawberries and tomatoes. Now other colors of plastic are available (see box, page 262). Black is still the least expensive type and is adequate for home gardening purposes. Plastic mulch does not allow permeation of water, and is often used in conjunction with drip irrigation tubing. Specialized equipment is used to lay the mulch in commercial applications, but the homeowner can manage the relatively shorter rows by hand. It is important to ensure that the plastic is pulled as tautly as possible to maximize heating of the soil below.

Plants are placed directly into holes punched through the plastic. Soil warming is optimal when the soil is fine, and good contact exists between the soil and the plastic mulch (Fig. 13-11, see page 263).






Weeds can be a major problem in vegetable production. Before planting, all weeds should be removed from the planting area. With vegetable seedlings, shallow cultivation should be performed to remove weed seedlings while they are small. Regular, repeated cultivation should be continued throughout production. If vegetables are established from seeds, a pre-emergent herbicide cannot be applied until after the vegetables' seedlings have emerged. With transplants, a pre-emergent herbicide can be used; follow the instructions on the label. Nonselective herbicides should be avoided, as should herbicides that can harm the crop by translocating through the soil to plant roots.

Various mulches can be used to prevent weed seed germination. Some common mulches used in home gardens include straw, leaves, and grass clippings (Fig. 13-12). These should be about 4 inches deep to prevent weed seed germination. They may need to be refreshed throughout the growing season as they decompose.


Recent research supports older information that some plants have pest control qualities for vegetable crops. Such plants are said to be companion plants. A clear example of companion plants is marigolds and tomatoes. Marigolds have long been thought to have pest control effects when they are interplanted with tomatoes, and this practice is called companion planting. Recent research substantiates this theory by demonstrating a reduced nematode population in soil where tomatoes have been grown for 1 or more years, followed by a season of marigolds. Specifically, African marigolds release thiopene, a nematode-repelling substance.

Native Americans are attributed with the concept of the Three Sisters Garden of corn, beans, and squash. Beans fix nitrogen in the soil, whereas corn requires high levels of nitrogen. The corn provides a support structure for the beans. Squash, such as pumpkins, have spiny stems and leaves that discourage raccoons and other pests from eating the corn. They also help shade the ground to reduce weeds.



The concept of companion planting is an old one, and much of the information is based on folklore. But scientists have been able to substantiate some of the claims and discover why and how the concept works. Allelochemicals are chemicals that repel pests or prevent weed growth. Three major allelochemicals are pheromones, allomones, and kairomones. Pheromones allow chemical communication between members of the same species; allomones allow chemical communication between individuals of differing species and are usually of benefit to the individual sending the signal. For example, black walnut trees exude a chemical through their roots that prevents other plants from growing nearby and that may even be toxic to other plants. Kairomones are beneficial to the receiving species, but detrimental to the sending species. Pheromones are involved in sexual attraction within a species. Allomones may act as repellents or attractants and include venomous substances and pollination attractants.


Crop rotation is a popular technique of alternating the locations where various crops are grown each year. When a crop is grown over the length of a season, soil-borne pests accumulate in the root zone. If the same crop is grown for 2 or 3 years in the same location, yield is often reduced because of the high level of pest populations. With crop rotation unrelated plants are grown in successive years in each location to avoid damaging levels of pest populations in the soil. In general, root crops and plants within one family are rotated with one another. For example, do not grow solanaceous crops such as eggplant, potatoes, or peppers where tomatoes were grown the previous year. Cole crops, such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower should not follow one another. A 3-year cycle is recommended to allow ample time for pest populations to become reduced for a given crop. Record keeping is important in maintaining a good crop rotation schedule.


Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

This is one of the few perennial crops in the vegetable garden (Fig. 13-13). A well-maintained asparagus patch can produce for 20 to 30 years. Place asparagus plants at a side of the garden where they will not interfere with other gardening activities. Also, remember that later in the summer, mature plants will grow to 5 to 6 feet in height and may thus cast shade upon nearby plants.

Asparagus plants are dioecious, with male plants usually growing larger than females, which produce red berries later in the summer. Newer all male cultivars are more vigorous and do not produce weedy seedlings.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Obtain improved plants that are recommended for your location. Create a trench that is 6 inches deep and 12 to 18 inches wide. When you purchase plants they are bare root. The roots should be spread out in the planting hole, with the crown adjusted to an upright, centered position. Place plants 9 to 12 inches apart.

CARE. Apply a balanced fertilizer in spring and incorporate into the soil. Vigorously remove weeds in spring, while spears are small. Keep weeds to a minimum during the early years of production to allow the asparagus plants to compete with invading weeds and minimize their establishment. After a fall freeze, cut back the tops of plants to reduce chances of disease.

HARVESTING. Harvest spears after 3 years. In the first year of harvest, only harvest in May to allow plants to continue to develop a strong root system. Harvest by snapping spears above ground where they will break naturally.

Beans, Pole, Bush (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Pole beans require support and take up less space in the garden and are very easy to harvest. Bush beans do not require support (Fig. 13-14). They are popular and easier to grow than pole beans. Both types of beans come in green, yellow, purple, runner, and wax types. Older cultivars of green beans had a fibrous string that had to be removed before cooking, but breeders have develop improved cultivars that are stringless. They are commonly referred to as snap beans. Green beans are actually pods harvested before the seeds inside them are fully mature. Dry beans are produced by allowing the pods to remain on the plant until the seeds are fully developed. Some popular dry beans are pinto, kidney, and navy beans.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Plant after danger of frost has passed in the spring. Use successive planting through July to extend the harvest season to frost. Plant in moderately dry soil, as excessive moisture will cause seed cracking and reduced germination.

CARE. Use caution when weeding around bean plants as their root systems are shallow and not very well developed. Pole beans require support, which may be provided in a number of ways, including a trellis, poles, and string suspended between posts. Teepees are constructed using four poles, with plants at the base of each pole. Tops of poles are tied together with string twine or string. String may be suspended between two posts placed at either end of the row. Two or more sturdy wires or cables are attached to each post at different heights, and then strings are wrapped around the wires in a vertical fashion. Beans are tied to the string, poles, or trellis as they grow, so that they receive continual support.



HARVESTING. Harvest when pods are firm and somewhat filled, but not fully filled with the developing seeds. This is usually 2 to 3 weeks after flowering has occurred. Pick beans as they mature to ensure continued flowering and pod development. Pods should snap readily while the tips remain flexible. Dry beans are harvested when pods are papery and dry. Beans are prone to bacterial blight, a disease that is easily spread when plants are wet. Therefore, harvest after dew has dried and after plants have dried after rainfall.

Beets (Beta vulgaris)

Beets are a cool-season root crop with distinct flavor and usually a bright red color (Fig. 13-15). They may be stored in the ground if they are protected from freezing temperatures. They may also be stored in a root cellar in damp sand. Otherwise, beets keep for 1 or 2 weeks in the refrigerator. The usual color of beets is purple, but a cultivar called 'Golden' is yellow. The edible tops of beets (beet greens) are high in vitamin A and are very tasty. The roots are high in vitamin C. Beets are commonly pickled and are a standard ingredient in borscht, a Russian stew.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Beets are frost-tolerant and may be planted in early spring through midsummer. They require 50 to 60 days to harvest, so they should be planted early enough to develop fully before the ground freezes.

CARE. Plants require consistent moisture. Provide 1 inch of water each week, using irrigation if rainfall is insufficient. Beets require relatively high levels of fertilizer, especially potassium, which encourages healthy root growth. Begin with a balanced fertilizer in spring when plants are 4 to 5 inches tall. Then switch to a fertilizer with 2 to 4 times more potassium than nitrogen. High-nitrogen fertilizer will encourage leafy growth at the expense of root growth. Prevent weeds from competing with beets by continual cultivation, especially when the plants are small. It is more difficult to effectively remove larger weeds around older beet plants because of damage to the roots.


HARVESTING. Harvest beets when they are 1 inch or larger in size. Smaller beets are sweeter and more tender than larger roots. They may be harvested for 4 to 6 weeks before they become too woody. Beets store best at 90% humidity and 32 [degrees]F but do not allow them to freeze.

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica)

This cool-season crop is one of the cole crops, belonging to the cabbage family (Fig. 13-16). The edible portions are tight, compact heads of florets, and peduncle.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Broccoli may be direct-seeded or transplanted. It is often transplanted because of its relatively long period of maturity. When fall harvests are desired, seed must be started in midsummer, when the soil temperatures may still be too high for germination. By using transplants you can avoid this problem and reduce the length of the growing period. Broccoli is frost-tolerant and may be planted in early spring. It grows best when temperatures are between 40 and 70 [degrees]F. Higher temperatures will cause bolting. During bolting stems elongate and become spindly, followed by opening of the florets and subsequent pollination and seed set. Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart in rows that are 3 feet apart.

CARE. Broccoli requires fertilization at the beginning of the season, and an additional application of fertilizer during head development. Use a balanced fertilizer each time. Broccoli requires 1 inch of water per week during the growing season. Cabbage moths are a primary pest. An early alert is white moths flying around the plants as they lay eggs on the undersides of leaves. You may also notice holes chewed in leaves or the presence of frass. Handpick caterpillars or use a pesticide dust.

HARVESTING. Harvest the main shoot when a full, compact head has formed by cutting at the base of the stem, allowing the rosette of lower leaves to remain. After harvesting the main head of broccoli in the center of the plant, side shoots will continue to develop. They will provide another harvest. Broccoli will store readily in the refrigerator. You may also store it in the freezer after blanching, or steaming or boiling for 3 to 4 minutes.


Brussels Sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera)

This cabbage relative has a different growth habit than most other vegetables. The green sprouts are shaped like small cabbage heads, and they appear along the stalk of the plant. Although they are not grown for their seeds, it is interesting to note that as a biennial, they do not go to seed until the second year. Their name stems from their popularity in Belgium.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Brussels sprouts require a long cool growing season, 85 to 95 days from seed to first harvest. Plant in mid to late spring in cooler regions and harvest after the weather cools in fall. In mild-winter climates, plant in late summer to early fall for spring harvest. Seeds may be started indoors early to extend the growing season. Brussels sprouts grow best in medium to heavy soil, with ample organic matter and a good supply of nitrogen. Plant 18 to 24 inches apart within the row with rows 3 feet apart.

CARE. Fertilize with nitrogen after 3 weeks, followed by two more applications 2 and 4 weeks later. Shallow cultivation should be used to control weeds.

HARVESTING. Sprouts accumulate more sugar if they are exposed to a frost before harvesting. Harvest Brussels sprouts regularly as they will continue to produce additional sprouts. They develop from the bottom of the stalk to the top and are ready when they are about 1 to 2 inches in diameter.

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)

This member of the cole crops forms heads; thus, it is placed into the capitata group of the genus Brassica (Fig. 13-17). Each plant grows a head measuring 6 to 8 inches across and weighing 3 to 6 pounds each. Seed catalogs boast cultivars that grow to 12 inches across. Cabbages may be red or white. Select disease- and pest-resistant or tolerant cultivars.


PLANTING AND SOIL. Seedlings may be started indoors 5 weeks before transplanting, or cabbage may be direct-seeded.

CARE. Cabbages require 1 inch of water per week but will perform better with 1 1/2 inches. Do not overwater, especially during head development, as this will cause splitting of the heads. Apply a general-purpose fertilizer in spring and provide light, weekly applications of fertilizer.

HARVESTING. Harvest when the heads are compact and firm with tight leaves. White cabbage will be greenish white in color, and red cabbage will be reddish purple. If you wait too long, the heads will split. Harvest season generally lasts 4 to 6 weeks.

Cantaloupe (Cucumis melo var. reticulatus)

See muskmelon.

Carrot (Daucus carota)

This root crop is famous for its orange color and its purported ability to aid eyesight (Fig. 13-18). Originally carrots were purple, and later orange carrots became popular. Carrots are of the same species as the wildflower Queen Anne's Lace, which is thought to have been introduced to America inadvertently, as an escapee from the vegetable garden. Carrots are in the same family as dill, caraway, fennel, anise, parsley, parsnip, and celery. It flowers and sets seed in the second year of growth, making it a biennial, but it is grown as an annual for its taproot. Yellow and white carrots are available.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Carrots must be planted in light loam to sandy soil. Carrots grown in clay or rocky soils become crooked, thick and shortened, or forked. Carrots also develop straighter roots if they are direct-seeded, and so they are not usually transplanted. Where soil crusting is a problem, seeds are covered with vermiculite instead of soil. If the soil is not loamy enough, mix in organic matter for better results. Carrots are frost-tolerant, so plant 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost. In the fall, plant early enough to allow carrots to mature before hard frosts become common but late enough to benefit from cooler fall temperatures. If you must plant while temperatures are still warm, place shade netting over the plants for a few weeks until temperatures cool down. Carrots are planted in double or single rows about 3 feet wide. They are thinned to 2 to 3 inches apart.


CARE. Be sure to provide adequate water, especially for late summer-planted crops that may be subjected to periods of drought in some areas of the country. Do not overwater during the last stage of root development or split roots will form.

HARVESTING. Carrots can be picked when the shoulder of the taproot, which will be visible above ground, is 3/4 to 1 1/2 inch across. Smaller roots are often sweeter and tastier. Use a spade or weed digger to help uproot the plant. Fall carrots can be stored in the ground and will have better flavor if left until after a good frost.

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)

Cauliflower is one of the cole crops and as such is frost-tolerant. It forms a dense head of white florets surrounded by a few incurving green leaves.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Avoid planting cauliflower plants too closely or small heads will result. They should be spaced 14 to 24 inches apart within a row. Rows are 15 to 18 inches apart. They may be direct-seeded or transplanted. Seedlings should be planted within 30 days of germination. Look for a tiny bud in the center of the transplant and avoid planting any seedlings that do not have this bud, as no head will form on them. Plant 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost in spring or 14 weeks before the first frost in fall.

CARE. As the heads enlarge, tie the surrounding leaves up around it to prevent yellowing of the florets. This is a practice known as blanching. Extremely small heads will result if soil temperatures are below 50 [degrees]F, or if the plants are exposed to a long, hot, and dry spell. Cauliflower requires regular fertilization, as it is a heavy feeder. Fertilize lightly every 1 to 2 weeks in addition to a spring application of general purpose fertilizer. Compost or well-aged manure may be applied as a side-dressing.

HARVESTING. Harvest when heads are 6 to 8 inches in diameter. This usually occurs about 1 to 2 weeks after blanching. Cut just below the main stem by hand and remove outer leaves.

Celery (Apium graveolens)

Celery stalks are actually fleshy petioles that are crisp and juicy (Fig. 13-19). Some popular uses of celery stalks are to flavor potato salads, to eat as a snack with cream cheese or peanut butter spread on them, to use in turkey stuffing, and to use as a flavoring for soups and stews. Pink- and red-stalked cultivars are available. Celery is a challenging plant to grow.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Soak seeds overnight before planting. Celery is often grown as a transplant. Fertile, well-drained, moist soils are recommended because of the long growing season and difficulty in establishing a good stand from seed. Cold temperatures of 45 to 55 [degrees]F must be avoided because they cause celery to bolt, forming flowers and seeds.

CARE. Celery requires high levels of nitrogen for healthy development, but too much nitrogen will lead to cracking and pithiness of petioles. They may be prone to phosphorus deficiency, evidenced by slender stalks and poor root development. Celery requires 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water each week.

HARVESTING. Harvest may occur near the time of early fall frosts. Consider methods for frost protection if this is a danger in your location. Harvest when stalks are fully formed, but pithiness in the petioles has not developed. Harvest by cutting individual stalks or the entire bunch at its base. Celery will store well at 32 [degrees]F and 90% to 95% humidity.

Collard (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

Collards are usually boiled with a piece of ham hock to mitigate their naturally bitter flavor. They are leafy relatives of the cabbage family and, as such, are a cool-season crop.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Collards grow very quickly. They can be planted in late summer before a frost and be ready to harvest before Thanksgiving. Plant in early to late spring for spring and summer harvests. Too-cool soil will prohibit germination and may lead to seed rot. Regular moisture, 1 inch of rainfall per week, is ample for collards.

CARE. Collards are exceptionally easy to grow. They produce leafy growth, which benefits from application of nitrogen. A balanced fertilizer at the beginning of the season should suffice.

HARVESTING. Harvest the entire plant or only the larger, outer leaves. The latter method will permit continual harvest as the younger leaves continue to develop and expand.

Corn, Popping (Zea mays var. praecox)

Popcorn that is grown in the home garden comes in various colors, from yellow and white to red, brown, black, or multicolored kernels. The two types of popping corn are the rounded "pearl" kernels and the sharp-pointed "rice" kernels. Popcorn typically requires 90 to 100 days to harvest, depending on the cultivar.


PLANTING AND SOIL. Popcorn will grow well in fertile, well-drained soil. It should be planted early enough to allow time for it to ripen fully, preferably in early to mid-spring. Do not plant popcorn where it will cross-pollinate with sweet corn. If space is limited, then time plantings so that the two different types of corn will not be pollinating at the same time. If cross-pollination occurs, the popcorn will have sweet corn characteristics and vice versa. Rows should be spaced 30 to 40 inches apart with plants 6 to 8 inches apart.

CARE. Nitrogen fertilization is very important in corn production. Apply a nitrogen or balanced fertilizer when plants are 12 to 24 inches tall. Keep weeds down by shallow cultivation around the plants.

HARVESTING. Popcorn is ready when the entire stalk dries down and husks and leaves have turned brown. If stalks fall over before ears are fully dry, hang them in a dry location to complete the drying process. To aid in the drying process, pull husks back but do not remove them. Tie ears together to hang them in a decorative fashion while still permitting them to dry. When ears are dry enough, the kernels will easily shell off them. The cob dries and may force some kernels out of the ear as it shrinks. Remove fully dried kernels, while avoiding kernels that are damaged or undersized. Store in air-tight containers, such as jars, in a refrigerator or freezer indefinitely.

Corn, Sweet (Zea mays)

Sweet corn is popular in the summer when it can be harvested fresh from the garden and rushed to the pot of boiling water, to be prepared and eaten at its peak sweetness (Fig. 13-20). After harvest, sugars begin to change to starches and reduce the sweetness of the corn. Older cultivars lose much of their sweetness within 12 hours after harvest. Nevertheless, many modern cultivars of corn are so sweet that they still taste great after 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator.


PLANTING AND SOIL. Corn should be planted in a block formation, rather than in one or a few longer rows. A block formation allows more plants to be closer together, permitting adequate pollination. Each kernel of corn is pollinated separately, through its own silk, which is actually a very long pistil. If all the silks are not pollinated, an uneven ear of corn will result. Corn should be planted close together to shade out competing weeds. Recommended spacing is 9 to 12 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart. Corn will not germinate if the soil temperature is below 55 or 65 [degrees]F for newer, super sweet cultivars.

CARE. Corn requires high levels of nitrogen for healthy growth. Plants receiving inadequate amounts of nitrogen are more prone to corn smut, a fungal disease of the ears that is a delicacy in some cultures. Apply a general purpose fertilizer at the beginning of the season and supplement with light fertilizations every 2 weeks. Corn requires 1 inch of moisture per week. In addition to a number of insect pests, corn is also sought out by wildlife such as deer and raccoons. Take special precautions if these animals are a problem in your area.

HARVESTING. Corn ears should be harvested when the tassels have dried and turned brown. The ear should feel plump and full. You may remove a few of the husks to see if the kernels appear fully developed. Puncture the kernels to see if a milky juice exudes from the kernels. If it does, then the ear is ripe for harvest. The juice will be clear if the ear is immature. Harvest as soon as ears are ripe because they become starchy after a couple of days, especially in warmer weather. Remove the ear from the plant by grasping the base of the ear and twisting downward. If you do not eat them immediately, you may store sweet corn in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 days. You may also freeze ears or kernels after blanching. This inactivates the enzyme responsible for flavor changes that occur during freezing.

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)

This warm-season plant grows on vines in a fashion similar to that of squashes and melons. Cucumbers are generally eaten fresh but may be preserved as pickles.

They are commonly green, but yellow-fruited cultivars are available. Pickling types are also available, as are gherkin cucumbers, which are nearly round and spiny.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Cucumbers love the heat and should not be planted until danger of frost has passed. If grown along the ground, they require 12 to 20 feet of area to spread. They may be planted in rows or hills. They may also be grown up on a trellis. Compact plants that lend themselves to container culture are available.

Fruits mature in about 50 to 70 days. If transplants are used, they may be planted as late as midsummer and still produce a harvest before the fall frost. Cucumbers grow best in summer heat and will be killed by frost.

CARE. Make sure cucumbers get their required 1 inch of water per week, either from rain or irrigation. They are heavy feeders, so provide a balanced fertilizer at the beginning of the season and follow up with biweekly applications of balanced fertilizer. Cucumber beetles will defoliate plants, so control them from the time seedlings emerge.

HARVESTING. Pick before seeds become hard. The size of the fruit at harvest varies by cultivar. The color should be uniform; it should feel firm to the touch and be crisp in texture. Do not allow green cultivars to turn yellow. Once they are ready to harvest, they should be picked every other day.

Eggplant (Solanum melongena var. esculentum)

The common name suggests the fruit shape of some eggplants: roundish ovals. Some eggplants are actually white and about the size of a hen's egg! Most of us are more familiar with the purple-fruited types and less familiar with the striped purple-and-white types (Fig. 13-21). In addition to the egg-shaped fruits, there are also types with long, narrow fruits.

Eggplants are a member of the Solanaceae family, and as such, are related to tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. They are a very tender warm-season crop. Eggplants are usually eaten cooked in casseroles (eggplant parmesan) or sauteed, either alone or with other vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, or garlic.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Eggplants require about 120 days to mature when started from seed. This long growing season is impractical in many areas of the country, so transplants are used, reducing the time to maturity to 80 to 90 days.

CARE. Eggplants require 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week. Fruit production creates a demand on fertility, so plants should be started with a balanced fertilizer followed by subsequent applications during fruit development and after the first harvest.

HARVESTING. Fruits should not be allowed to over-ripen. Over-ripening is evidenced by dull fruit containing brown seeds. Overly mature fruits have a spongy texture and may be bitter. Harvest when fruits are glossy and 6 to 8 inches long. Remove fruit from the stem with a knife or pruning shears. Use caution when picking eggplants because stems are prickly.

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Garlic is a bulb-producing plant, and the bulbs are the edible portion. The bulbs actually separate into cloves, each of which is covered by a papery sheath (Fig. 13-22). Garlic has a long history of use by humans for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Most people associate garlic with Italian and Mediterranean cooking. Garlic is a very hardy cool-season plant. Bulbs form during the warmer, longer days of summer in June or July.


PLANTING AND SOIL. Begin by planting individual cloves of garlic as early as possible in the spring. In mild and temperate winter areas, garlic is planted in the fall. Large cloves are preferred for planting. If cloves are planted in fall, roots will begin growing until the soil freezes. Then in the spring, shoots will develop rapidly when temperatures warm up.

The larger and more vigorous shoot growth is, the larger the bulb it will develop. Garlic does well in fertile, loose soil that is high in organic matter.

CARE. Garlic requires a high level of fertility. Begin with a balanced fertilizer at the beginning of the season. Do not allow the plants to dry out, but when harvest time approaches, do not overwater. Stop watering when leaves begin to yellow, about 3 weeks before harvest. Remove seed stalks immediately, should they appear.

HARVESTING. Harvest when the tops have yellowed and fallen over, usually in August. If they do not fall down of their own accord, knock them down manually. Harvest by removing them by the roots, clip the roots to about 3/8 inch and remove any soil. Garlic bulbs should be dried or "cured" in a well-aerated location that is free of moisture. Garlic bulbs may be braided together for ornamental purposes, and this is also a nice way to store them. Hang the braids in a cool, dry location. The bulbs are fully cured when the leaves are dry, the root crown is firm, and the cloves crack apart easily. If you do not braid the garlic bulbs, hanging them in a net bag in a cool dry location is the best storage method.

Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

Kale is a hardy, cool-season cole crop (Fig. 13-23). It is a leafy crop high in vitamins A and C. The leaves may be highly curled or plain and do not form a head. Ornamental cultivars have purple or white variegations in the leaves. Edible kale is used in the same manner as collards or in salads. The ruffled-leaf types are used as a garnish.



PLANTING AND SOIL. Kale can be planted in early spring, before danger of frost, as long as the soil is at least 50 [degrees]F. It may be planted successively through early summer and again in late summer to early fall for fall harvest.

CARE. Kale is easy to grow, requiring no special fertilization or watering. Kale is a leafy crop, so nitrogen is the most important fertilizer. Application of a balanced fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season will probably be sufficient. Pests attracted to other members of the cabbage family are also attracted to kale.

HARVESTING. Harvest kale when the leaves are about 8 to 10 inches or even smaller. Harvest the larger, outer leaves, leaving the inner ones to continue development for a longer harvest period. Kale quality is improved by cold weather. Kale withstands night frosts and can be harvested into November and even December, until plants are damaged or killed by heavy freezing.

Lettuce, Iceberg (Lactuca sativa)

Iceberg lettuce is the head-type lettuce used in many restaurants and in prepared salad mixes and sold in grocery stores (Fig. 13-24). It is a very crisp, crunchy lettuce.

PLANTING AND SOIL. All types of lettuce are cold hardy and should be planted in early spring and late summer to fall. In mild-winter areas, they can be grown over winter. High temperatures cause bolting in lettuce. Leaves will become bitter and tough, making them inedible, and the plants flower and set seed. Lettuce can be succession planted every 2 weeks until the weather begins to warm. Seed germination requires soil temperatures of only 45 [degrees]F and continues to 75 [degrees]F. Iceberg lettuce forms heads, and the outer leaves are not harvested as they are on leafy lettuces. Head formation requires about 70 days from the time seeds are planted.

CARE. Lettuce only requires about 1/2 to 1 inch of water per week. However, it is a heavy feeder, requiring ample nitrogen for head formation. Apply a balanced fertilizer at the beginning of the season and follow up with weekly, light fertilizations of a high nitrogen or balanced fertilizer.


HARVESTING. Harvest iceberg lettuce when tight heads have formed and are firm when squeezed. Cut the entire base of the head to remove it from the plant. Remove the larger outer leaves if they are ragged, dirty, and damaged. Lettuce harvest lasts about 4 weeks or longer if succession planting is practiced.

All leafy lettuces can be harvested over a period of time by picking the outer, older leaves and leaving the smaller center leaves to continue to mature. In this way, fresh lettuce will be available over a longer time. Leafy lettuces do not form heads, but the entire plant can be harvested if desired. This is usually done before warm temperatures that cause bolting to occur. Romaine lettuce forms an elongate bunch. Although you may harvest the outer leaves of romaine lettuce, it is generally harvested in its entirety as for leafy lettuces.

Muskmelon (Cucumis melo)

The various types of muskmelons include cantaloupes, casaba, honeydew, and several others, some of which are botanical varieties of C. melo. Muskmelons are related to other members of the cucurbit family, cucumbers, squash, and watermelon.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Muskmelons are a warm-season crop and seeds require warm (65 to 85[degrees]F) soil temperatures to germinate. Transplants may be used in cool areas with short growing seasons. Like other cucurbits, muskmelons grow best on a sandy, well-draining soil. Muskmelons are a vining plant that can spread across several feet of ground. They may be grown in rows or hills, as desired. In rows, space plants 24 inches apart in the row, with rows 5 or 6 feet apart. Hills may have two or three seeds planted on them with 36 to 48 inches between hills, each way.

CARE. Plants grow best in hot summer weather. Be sure to water adequately during fruit formation. About 1 inch of water per week is good and slightly more is needed if the soil is heavy. Too much water during the latter half of fruit development can result in fruit cracking. Bees are the primary pollinators and should be protected from pesticides while they are active during the day. Early morning or late afternoon applications of pesticides may be necessary to avoid harming the bees.

HARVESTING. Fruits are ripe when they easily separate from the stem. At this time sugar levels in the fruit are at their peak. Honeydew melons turn creamy white when they are ripe, but the stem does not detach easily. They develop sparse netting right around the stem at the time they are ripe. Casaba melons turn yellow and soften at the blossom end when ripe. They also produce some netting on the stem end when mature.

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus)

Okra is a traditional Southern favorite that is cooked in soups and stews, breaded and fried, or boiled (Fig. 13-25). The pods are harvested when they are still small and immature. If allowed to over-ripen, they become fibrous and then woody and inedible. Pods are velvety to the touch. Okra is a warm-season plant related to hollyhocks and hibiscus. Plants can attain a height of 3 feet or more.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Okra plants will not tolerate cold temperatures and do not survive a freeze. Pollen formation fails at temperatures below 75 [degrees]F, and flowers subsequently drop off the plant. Plant seeds when soil has warmed to at least 70 [degrees]F. Plants will then mature in 55 to 65 days.

CARE. Okra requires 1 inch of water per week. Apply a balanced fertilizer in spring and follow with light feedings every 2 weeks during flowering and fruit formation.

HARVESTING. Harvest will proceed as long as plants continue to bloom, as temperatures permit. Pods are ready for eating when they are 3 to 4 inches long. These are immature pods that, if left on the plant, would mature to a dry, woody fruit pod containing hard round seeds. Although the dried pods may be considered ornamental, they are inedible. Okra can be preserved by canning or freezing.

Onion (Allium cepa)

Onions are a bulb-forming plant, which are photoperiod-sensitive (Fig. 13-26). Bulbs form in response to day length, and this requirement is genetically determined. Different cultivars of onion respond to different day lengths for bulb initiation. In the north, long-day cultivars are grown, whereas in the south, short-day cultivars are grown. Late plantings may result in lack of bulb formation or only small bulbs. Temperature and light levels can also affect bulb formation. Warmer temperatures and brighter light speed up the time to bulb formation. The reverse is also true: cloudy, cool conditions delay bulb formation. The later the bulb forms, the larger it will be.

Onions may be started from seed, from transplants, or from "sets." Sets are small bulbs that were grown and harvested the previous year, and they are the easiest method to use, especially for the home gardener. Green onions are simply immature onions that have not yet formed a bulb. Pearl onions are grown primarily in the Northwest using short-day varieties.



PLANTING AND SOIL. Onions are a cool-season crop that are planted as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. To grow onions from seed, first prepare a seedbed by tilling and raking the soil. The soil should be well-draining. Good seed-soil contact is important. Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep and thin seedlings to 4 inches apart. Seeds may require up to 2 weeks to germinate. Seeds that are set more deeply will develop into rounder and even elongated shapes; shallow-planted seeds tend to develop into flatter shapes.

For best results in growing onions from sets, use sets that are about the size of a marble. Larger sets tend to bolt and form a flower stalk prematurely. Sets may be harvested before flower formation and used as green onions. Sets that will be harvested as green onions are planted close enough to touch and 1 1/2 inches deep. For bulbs, plant sets 1 inch deep and 2 to 4 inches apart.

CARE. Carefully cultivate around plants to keep weeds in check, without disturbing the roots. For green onions, mound soil around the base of the stems after they are about 4 inches tall. This will cause the plants to form long, white stems. Bulb onions should not be treated this way as it can lead to rotting.

HARVESTING. You can tell when onions are ready for harvest because their tops turn yellow as they dry down and fall over. Within 2 weeks, they should be dug or pulled up and then allowed to "cure" or dry out somewhat. A potato fork is a useful tool for gently removing them from the soil without damaging them. Move them to a well-aerated, shady location to avoid full exposure to the sun. They will require 2 to 3 weeks for complete curing. Adequate ventilation is crucial to the process to avoid rot. The tops are left on throughout this process and then cut to about 2 inches once curing is complete. They may be stored successfully for several months in a cool, dry location. Damaged bulbs should not be stored but used as soon as possible. Stored bulbs should be checked regularly for signs of rot or decay.

Bulb onions may be used fresh, baked, fried, pickled, and used in casseroles or other dishes. Green onions can be harvested when they are about 6 to 8 inches long. They are used fresh in salads and sour cream dips. They may also be added to sauces or other cooked dishes, just as regular onions are.

Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

This sweet vegetable with a nut-like flavor is often overlooked despite its versatility. It can be boiled and sliced and topped with melted butter and a dash of salt for a delectable side dish. Or it can be mashed, just like potatoes, roasted with other vegetables or thin-sliced and fried as chips. Parsnip resembles a carrot in shape, although it is somewhat larger and white instead of orange.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Parsnip is a cool-season vegetable. Plant seeds in early spring, 2 to 4 inches apart in the row, with rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant in well-draining soil that is free of rocks that could obstruct root growth.

CARE. Swallowtail butterflies visit this plant and will lay their eggs on them. Pick off any caterpillars you find. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer in late spring to early summer.

HARVESTING. Harvest after a frost for a sweeter root. You may also store the vegetables in the ground until needed. In areas where the ground freezes in winter, mulch over the plants with straw to protect them.

Peas (Pisum sativum, P. sativumvar. macrocarpon)

Peas are a cool-season vining crop (Fig. 13-27). There are regular pod-type peas (garden peas, P. sativum) from which the pea is removed from the pod before eaten. In this type of pea, the pod is discarded. The peas may be steamed or boiled and eaten right away or canned or frozen for later use. There are also snow peas (sugar peas, P. sativum var. macrocarpon) that are eaten as immature pods, either fresh or cooked, commonly in stir-fry dishes. The peas inside the pod have barely begun their development and are tiny. Snap peas are a type of pod pea with sweet, edible semimature pods.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Plant as early in the spring as possible. Dwarf types are available, but if you use a vining type, prepare a trellis, fence, or other support before planting for best results. Check the cultivar for maximum height. Some peas grow as tall as 6 feet or more.

Plant seeds 1 inch deep and 1 inch apart in the row. Rows may be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart. If you desire, you may plant double rows that are 8 to 10 inches apart, similar spacing between double rows similar to that for single rows.

CARE. Practice shallow cultivation to avoid damaging the roots. To keep the soil cool and moist it is helpful to spread mulch around the base of the plants.

HARVESTING. Peas are sweetest right at harvest, with sugars being converted to starches at the time of picking. The best-tasting snow peas are flat and still quite tender. They develop within about 5 days of flowering. If they are left on the plant too long, you may still be able to use the peas inside, but the pod will become fibrous and difficult to chew.


Sugar snap peas are ready for harvest when the pods start to swell, but before they get very large or round. The pods snap and are sweet and edible. When the pods have been left on the plant too long and become tough, you may still use the peas inside, but discard the pod itself.

Garden peas are harvested when pods are full and plump, but still tender and not yet starchy. All peas require harvesting every couple of days.

Pepper, Sweet Bell, Chile (Capsicum annuum)

Peppers are available in a wide range of types that vary from sweet to savory to spicy (Fig. 13-28). Some peppers are so hot they will burn your lips or skin if you make contact with the capsicum compound they produce. Cooking with some of the hotter peppers requires the use of rubber gloves while handling them. Some peppers are added to a sauce or stew in their entirety and then removed when cooking is done. This eliminates the need for cutting and handling cut fruit in which the capsicum is exposed. The hottest parts of peppers are the seeds and rind. Table 13-6 shows the Scoville units for hotness in chile peppers.

PLANTING AND SOIL. A warm-season vegetable, peppers are transplanted after danger of frost has passed, or they may be grown from seeds. Fruit usually takes 60 to 90 days from seed, depending on type and cultivar. Warm, well-drained soil of average fertility works best.

CARE. Not much care is required for pepper plants. Check for pests and diseases and provide plant support if needed.

HARVESTING. Harvest when ripe. Peppers are one of the few vegetables that can be frozen directly without steaming or boiling. They also store well if they are dried. They can be reconstituted as needed by placing them in boiling water for several minutes.


Potato (Solanum tuberosum)

Potatoes are a healthy vegetable, high in vitamins and minerals (Fig. 13-29). Special cultivars have been bred for the various purposes for which they are commonly used: boiling, baking, and frying. Special potatoes have even been bred for potato chips. Potatoes come in various colors, including red, white, yellow, and blue.


PLANTING AND SOIL. Plant potatoes in dry soil in early spring. They are started from cut sections of tubers or from seed potatoes that are readily available at garden centers in spring. If you cut your own tubers, include one or more eyes, or shoot buds. Space cut sections or seed potatoes 10 to 12 inches apart, and plant 2 to 3 inches deep. Rows should be 2 to 3 feet apart. Create a hill around each plant by mounding soil up around the plant as the potato tubers appear.

CARE. Water regularly to ensure a steady supply of water during tuber development. Keep weeds down by cultivating regularly. Mulch with organic matter to help cool the soil and keep weeds down.

HARVESTING. Wait until the plants die down to harvest mature potatoes. New potatoes can be harvested early, though. A digging fork is the most useful tool for loosening soil around the tubers to remove them from the soil. Storetubers in a cool, dark place at 38 to 40 [degrees]F with 85% to 90% humidity for longest storage (3 to 4 months).

Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo var. pepo, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata, and Cucurbita mixta)

This popular crop has a well-established place in the folklore of our country (Fig. 13-30). Pumpkins are popularly used as jack-o'-lanterns on Halloween and in pies at Thanksgiving. But there are other uses for pumpkins, including soup, bread, cookies, butter, and custard. Pumpkin seeds can be roasted for a tasty, nutritional snack. Even the flowers are edible. They are picked just before they open and dipped in batter and deep-fried. Immature pumpkins can be cooked just like summer squash: steamed, boiled, sauteed, or sliced and served fresh for dipping. Small, miniature pumpkins are used primarily for decorative purposes. White pumpkins are sometimes called ghost pumpkins and can be painted for decoration.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Warm soil temperatures are necessary for good germination. Pumpkins require a lot of space for their long vines to grow. Make hills 7 to 10 feet in diameter and plant 4 to 5 seeds 1 inch deep at the center of the hill. Thin to the best two or three young plants after seedlings become established. Allow 5 to 6 feet between hills. Miniature types may be placed in rows, with 6 to 8 feet between rows.


CARE. Pumpkins tolerate summer heat but should be irrigated if drought conditions persist. Plants require 1 inch of water each week during the growing season. Fertilize in spring with a balanced fertilizer and then follow with supplemental applications every 2 weeks during the growing season. High phosphorus fertilizer aids in flowering and fruit development.

HARVESTING. Harvest when fruits are a uniform, deep color. If they ripen early, remove them from the vine and store in a dry, cool location. Harvest by cutting stems from the vines, allowing 3 inches or more for a handle. Pumpkins store longer when they have a part of the stem attached. Store in a dry, cool location for best longevity.

Radish (Raphanus sativus)

Radishes are one of the easiest vegetable crops to grow (Fig. 13-31). They are great for beginners because of their short life cycle: they can be harvested in a month from seed! They also work well in the cool-season garden. Radishes can be interplanted with carrots to double up on space. By the time the radishes are harvested, the carrots will begin to fill in that space. Plant them an inch apart, and when you have harvested the radishes, the carrots will be at the recommended spacing of 2 inches. This interplanting will also work with leeks, green onions, and other similar crops.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Radishes are a root crop, but they are so small, that the soil texture does not affect them as much as it does carrots. Plant seeds 1/2-inch deep at 10-day intervals to harvest a steady supply through the cool season. When hot weather arrives, radishes will not grow as well. Radishes require at least 6 hours of sun each day. White, or daikon, radishes are of Chinese origin and require 2 months or more to ripen. They are a warm-season crop.

CARE. Radishes require 1 inch of water each week. Little fertilizing is required, other than a light application of general purpose fertilizer or a side-dressing of well-aged compost or manure. Watch for insect pests and diseases. Seedlings are susceptible to cutworms. Cornmeal sprinkled around each plant may help prevent this problem pest from gaining access to your seedlings. Flea beetles may chew tiny holes in the leaves of the plants. Use a barrier, such as a floating row cover or apply a pesticide to treat.


HARVESTING. Radishes must be harvested in a timely manner; otherwise they continue to enlarge and can become quite woody. The flavor becomes hotter as well.

Spinach (Spinacea oleracea)

Spinach is a cool-season crop that will bolt when temperatures warm up in the spring (Fig. 13-32). The leaves are used in salads or steamed or boiled as a side dish. They are also used in casseroles, such as quiche, spinach lasagna, and others. Leaves can be steamed or boiled and then frozen for later use.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Plant spinach seeds directly into a light, well-drained and fertile soil for best results. Seeds may be started in spring as soon as the soil can be prepared. Successive plantings will allow harvest over a longer period. Late summer to fall plantings are also possible. In mild winter areas, spinach planted in late fall may overwinter and resume growing in late winter as temperatures allow. Plant seeds about 1 inch apart and 1/2 inch deep. Space rows 1 foot apart.


CARE. Provide plenty of moisture during the growing season. If soil is not fertile enough, leaves will be light to yellowish green. In this case, provide a nitrogen fertilizer to encourage vegetative growth.

HARVESTING. You may harvest individual leaves as desired. The smaller leaves are more succulent and sweet. If you overseed at the time of planting you can harvest small plants as you thin them out. Small spinach leaves are perfectly acceptable both for salads or cooking. When temperatures warm up, the leaf shape will change from rounded to arrow-shaped. This is an indication that the plant is getting ready to form a flower, or bolt. The leaves become bitter at this time, so it is important to harvest them before this occurs. The entire plant is harvested by cutting just below the basal rosette of leaves.

Squash, Summer (Cucurbita pepo)

This tender warm-season vegetable grows best during the heat of summer (Fig. 13-33). Summer squash is harvested while the flesh is soft and sliced and sauteed or added to casseroles or stewed with beans, carrots, or other vegetables. The best-known summer squash are zucchini and yellow crookneck or straightneck, and scallop, or Patty Pan. The flowers are edible and are usually dipped in batter and quickly fried.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Once the soil has warmed up, seeds may be sown directly into the ground. They may be planted 1 inch deep, in rows 2 to 3 feet apart or in hills, with 4 to 5 seeds in a hill. Hills should be spaced 4 feet apart. Plant in well-drained soil.

CARE. Cultivate shallowly to eliminate weeds. Take care not to harm pollinating bees if insecticides are used, as they are necessary for pollen transfer from male to female flowers and for subsequent fruit set. Bees tend to retire by late afternoon or early evening, so this is the preferred time to spray harmful chemicals.

HARVESTING. Pick when fruits are still tender and have not hardened. For the elongate types, they should be about 6 to 8 inches long. The round types will be 3 to 4 inches around. If they have already become hardened, it is sometimes possible to use them in baking by grating the flesh. Remove oversized fruit to allow new ones to develop.


Squash, Winter (Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita moschata, and Cucurbita pepo)

Winter squash are harvested later in the season than summer squash and have a harder flesh and a tough rind. They are baked, boiled, steamed, used in soups, and even made into pies. As with summer squash, their blossoms are edible and are usually dipped in batter and fried. Common types of winter squash include acorn (C. pepo), buttercup (C. maxima), butternut (C. moschata), cushaw (C. mixta), hubbard (C. maxima), spaghetti (C. pepo), and Turk's turban (C. maxima). There are bush types, semi-vining types, and vining types.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Plant seeds directly into warm soil after danger of frost has passed. Plant seeds 1 inch deep with 3-foot spacing in the row and 5 feet between rows. Semi-vining types require 8 feet of spacing between rows, whereas vining types require 7 to 12 feet between rows. Vining and semi-vining types may be planted in hills that are spaced 5 to 6 feet apart. Start out by placing 5 or 6 seeds in the hill and then thin to the best 3 to 4 plants once they become established.

CARE. Care is the same as for summer squash.

HARVESTING. Winter squash are harvested when the rind is hard, and the fruits are a deep, rich color. Harvest before fall frost by cutting the stem about 2 inches away from the fruit. Store in a dry location at 55 to 60 [degrees]F without allowing the fruits to touch each other to minimize spread of rot among fruit. Fruits are more susceptible to rot when their stems are missing or if they have been damaged or subjected to heavy frost. Do not store these fruits with healthy ones but promptly dispose of them.

Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas)

This tuberous-rooted vegetable may have orange or white flesh. Orange-fleshed types are more succulent and sweeter than white-fleshed types. The white-fleshed sweet potatoes are often referred to as yams, although the true yam (Dioscorea spp.) is a tropical root crop. Sweet potatoes are boiled and served with butter, or candied with syrup. They are also used in pies or can simply be baked and served like a regular potato. Ornamental sweet potatoes are grown for their foliage, which may be chartreuse, burgundy-black, or tinged with pink or purple. They will actually develop tubers if the season is long enough.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Shoots called slips develop on the tuberous roots, and new plants are started from these. You can force slips to grow on a sweet potato by partially submerging the tuberous root in a glass of water. Sweet potatoes require a loose, well-drained soil. Use black plastic mulch to warm the soil early in the spring. This will also minimize weeds and reduce the need for cultivation.

Sweet potatoes require a long, hot growing season of about 100 to 150 days. Slips 6 to 8 inches long should be transplanted as soon as the soil warms up. Set them 12 to 18 inches apart in the row. Sweet potatoes may be planted on hills similar to potatoes. Rows should be 3 to 4 feet apart to allow plenty of room for vines to grow.

CARE. Keep the area weed-free until vines cover the ground. They should then shade out weed competition.

HARVESTING. Harvest sweet potatoes with a potato fork. Lift them from the soil without damaging the tubers. The tubers should be cured before storage. This can be accomplished by placing them in a well-aerated warm location (85 [degrees]F) for 2 weeks, followed by long-term storage in a cool location (55 [degrees]F).

Sweet potatoes will not tolerate frost or freezing. If they are still in the ground when a frost occurs, harvest them immediately.

Swiss Chard, Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla)

This relative of the beet is grown for its leafy greens. The fleshy stalks come in bright colors of red, white, and yellow. The leaves themselves may be steamed or cooked like spinach and are high in vitamin A.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Plant in early to mid-spring, spacing seeds 4 to 6 inches apart. You may plant seeds as close as 2 to 3 inches and then thin out the excess plants when they are large enough to eat. Final spacing should be 9 to 12 inches apart in the row. Rows should be 12 to 24 inches apart. Plant in well-draining soil and provide 1 inch of water per week, including rainfall.

CARE. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer as needed. Because the foliage is desired, nitrogen is important. Shallow cultivation may be needed to manage weeds.

HARVESTING. Pick the outer leaves as they are ready, when they are about 6 to 8 inches long. The leaves grow in a basal rosette that will keep producing as long as the terminal bud is not damaged during harvest. Leaves should be harvested as needed, as they do not store well.

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum)

Tomatoes are the most popular plant in the vegetable garden. Many people grow little more than tomatoes. Some people feel that "you can't buy a good tomato" because there is no comparison between the flavor of a home-grown, vine-ripened tomato and a tomato that was harvested green and shipped to the supermarket. Vine-ripened tomatoes are usually available in the supermarket, and genetically modified tomatoes are being developed to retain their flavor and bright red color, while remaining firm enough to be shipped long distances. Tomatoes are popular for eating fresh, in salads, canned, and in sauces and paste.

Many heirloom varieties are available, including some that have unusual shapes, green and yellow colors, and stripes and some that are small with sweet flavor (grape, pear, and cherry tomatoes). Roma-type tomatoes have less moisture surrounding the seeds and are preferred for drying and for sauces and paste. Modern cultivars are disease and heat tolerant. Tomatoes do not survive more than a light freeze in fall. If plants are subjected to temperatures below 50 [degrees]F, they will cease growing but will not be killed right away. With temperatures over 90 [degrees]F, tomato flowers abort and fruit formation does not proceed as normal.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Tomatoes have a vine-like habit, although many are more bush-like. The vine-like plants are indeterminate, such that growth continues at the top of the plant, and plants may reach heights of 6 feet or more. Bush types are determinate, attaining their maximum height of around 3 to 4 feet and setting side shoots for a bushier habit. Either way, plants require support. Individual wire cages are widely available but may not provide ample support when the plants are loaded with fruit. A trellis system that works reasonably well consists of sturdy posts, such as metal fence posts, with several runs of wire or heavy twine between them. If twine is used, double or triple the layers so that it can withstand the weight of fully loaded vines. Tomatoes should be trained through the twine as they grow. If this task is neglected, it will be too late to try to train them through later on and doing so will result in vine breakage.

CARE. Remove suckers that sprout from leaf axils; this will aid in earlier flowering and subsequent fruit development. Tomatoes respond to a balanced fertilizer after they have become established. Repeat applications of half-strength fertilizer during flowering and fruiting will greatly aid in the development of better quality fruit.

Plants require 1 inch of water per week but do not water plants before harvest, as this will cause fruit cracking. Rainfall before harvest causes mealy fruit with less flavor and may cause fruit to over-ripen.

HARVESTING. Harvest when fruit have begun turning red or are already fully colored. If fruit have begun turning red they will continue to ripen at room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as this will rob the fruits of their flavor. If processing or drying, wait until they are fully colored. Fruit will keep 2 to 5 days after harvest if they are already fully colored. Green fruits that are partially red will keep even longer. Some people harvest the entire plant, green fruits and all, before the first frost in the fall. They hang the plant upside-down in a cellar or basement and pick the fruits for a period of time as they continue to ripen.

Watermelon (Cirtullus lanatus)

Watermelon is a warm-loving, heat-tolerant vine that seems to grow better as temperatures warm up (Fig. 13-34). Black plastic and floating row covers can help heat up the soil and provide a warm environment earlier in spring to aid in earlier flowering and fruit set.

Some cultivars of watermelon grow to 10 pounds or more, but this is too large for many modern families of only three or four people. Breeders have developed smaller, "refrigerator-size" melons to meet these reduced needs. An increasing number of seedless watermelons are available. They tend to be sweeter and crisper than their seeded counterparts. Seedless watermelons may contain a small number of seeds or small, white immature seeds.

PLANTING AND SOIL. Watermelons grow best on sandy to sandy loam soil. Clay soil will produce smaller melons. Grow two to four plants on a mound or hill to improve drainage. Plant when soil temperatures have warmed to 65 to 85 [degrees]F, and all danger of frost has passed.

CARE. Maintain a weed-free area around melons. They have fairly well-developed roots, so watering is not usually required unless an extended droughty period occurs. Heavy rainfall when fruits are nearly ripe leads to mealiness and reduced sweetness.

HARVESTING. Watermelons are ready to harvest when the tendril nearest the stem is fully dried and brown. Another indicator of ripeness is when the whitish spot on the bottom of the fruit is pale yellow or even white, rather than greenish. Sugar spots are sometimes apparent on the surface of the fruit when they are ripe.


In general, herbs prefer a sunny location. Many of them will tolerate some shade but still require 4 or more hours of sunlight per day. Herb gardening has been done for a long time (Fig. 13-35). The herb garden is customarily located close to the kitchen for convenience. However, the growing requirements for herbs are similar to those for most vegetables and many flowers, so herbs may be planted in the vegetable garden for practical purposes, or they may be artfully planted in a flower bed or border. While they are commonly grown for their leaves, many herbs will provide a showy floral display, attracting bees and butterflies to their blossoms. Herbs may be grown in containers or even indoors, if they are provided with the proper conditions.

The herbs discussed in this chapter are primarily used for culinary purposes. However, their usefulness is not limited to the kitchen. The use of herbal remedies for medical complaints has a very long history. Herbs are also used in bath, beauty, and other personal products. Potpourri provides a way to extend the beauty and fragrance of herbs and flowers. The following are some of the more common herbs and how to grow them.


Anise (Pimpinella anisum)

Anise produces licorice-flavored seeds that are used to flavor fish, breads, cakes, cookies, and stews. The seeds can be chewed on directly as well. Leaves can be used fresh and work well with fruit, especially apples.

PLANTING AND CARE. Plant 1 inch apart in rows 2 to 3 feet apart. This annual plant grows and produces best in full sun in well-draining soil.

Use shallow cultivation to keep weeds down. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer 4 weeks after plants emerge. Fertilization should be done by side-dressing or with a water-soluble formulation.

HARVESTING. Harvest seeds when they begin to turn brown. Hang the seed heads upside-down in a paper bag to allow them to dry thoroughly and catch the seeds as they fall out. Clean the seeds by removing stems and other large pieces and store in a jar or other air-tight container.

Basil, Sweet, Common (Ocimim basilicum)

Basil is a mainstay in Italian red sauces, the main component of basil pesto, and a major ingredient in many Thai dishes (Fig. 13-36). Basil is a very fragrant, pungent herb that is native to India and Asia, where it grows as a perennial. Many cultivars of basil have been developed, including cinnamon-, lemon-, and anise-flavored types. There are also green-leaved and purple-leaved types. In addition to culinary uses, basil has also been used for stomach ailments, indigestion, and other complaints.

PLANTING AND CARE. Basil is easy to grow, but it prefers warm temperatures. It thrives best if planted outdoors after danger of frost. It prefers night temperatures above 55 [degrees]F. Seeds may be started indoors, but they require high light levels for optimum growth. Plants grown in light that is too low will be spindly and weak and do not transplant well. Basil grows as an annual.



HARVESTING. Basil leaves are used for cooking. They may be used fresh or dried. If leaves are dried in their entirety, they may be reconstituted later, if full leaves are preferred over crumbled bits. Otherwise, the dried leaves may be crumbled or crushed and added to sauces. Remove flower blossoms as they appear to extend the harvest.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

This perennial plant is related to onions and garlic (Fig. 13-37). Normally the leaves are used rather than the bulb, however. Snip or finely chop the leaves. They are delicious on baked potatoes with sour cream or in potato salad. They are also good in soups, salads, omelettes, and sauces. The leaves are hollow, tubular shaped, and taper to a point at the tip.

PLANTING AND CARE. Plant seeds in spring after danger of frost has passed. Plants should be spaced about 6 inches apart in rows that are 8 to 10 inches apart. The soil should be fertile, well-drained to moist, and the location should be sunny. This 12- to 18-inch-tall herb can be propagated by dividing the clumps. Chives are hardy to zone 3.

HARVESTING. Plants will grow into clumps from which leaves may be harvested by pinching them to within 1 or 2 inches of the ground. The pink spherical flowers attract butterflies. However, if you allow flowers to develop, leaf production will be reduced. Also, plants reseed readily, so flowers should be removed to avoid this potential problem. Leaves will regrow throughout the growing season, but require a month or more to do so.

Cilantro (Coriander, Chinese Parsley) (Coriandrum sativum)

This Chinese herb is also quite popular in Mexican cuisine (Fig. 13-38). It is used both for its leaves (cilantro) and its seeds (coriander). Cilantro leaves added to salsa give a fresh flavor. Coriander seeds are ground or crushed and are used extensively in Indian cuisine. Cilantro is a member of the parsley family, as its common name suggests. It originated in southern Europe, and its usage can be traced back over 7,000 years.


PLANTING AND CARE. Cilantro is a cool-weather herb harvested from the immature plant. Flowering is induced by a combination of photoperiod and temperature. At the time of bolting, the leaves become bitter and are no longer desirable. The flowering response is genetically determined, and some cultivars flower later than others. Succession planting may allow some prolonged harvest to occur.

Plant seeds in early spring 1 inch apart in rows that are spaced 24 inches apart. Fall planting is also possible. Cilantro is treated as an annual, as it is hardy only to zone 10.

HARVESTING. Leaves should be harvested before flowering. Harvest the entire plant, cutting at the base of the basal rosette. If seeds are desired, allow the plant to bolt and set seed. Cut seed heads after they turn brown, but do not delay this too long, as seeds have a tendency to shatter. Allow the seed heads to dry on a screen so they will receive ample aeration. Then clean the seed before storage and usage.

Coriander (see Cilantro)

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

This annual crop is a wonderful flavoring for fish, soups, and even salads. It is easy to grow, and you can collect the seeds for next year's crop. Seeds and leaves are used in a variety of recipes. Flowers can be used in making pickles.

PLANTING AND CARE. Plant seeds 12 inches apart in rows 12 to 24 inches apart. Plants are light and airy and should be grown in a place that is sheltered from the wind. Plants grow well in well-drained soil, but will tolerate a variety of soils, especially if fertility is adequate. Use successive plantings to maintain a supply of fresh dill. Plants will grow to 3 feet tall.


Remove seed heads before they shatter to prevent dill seed from self-seeding in the garden. Keep weeds down with shallow cultivation. If needed, fertilize with a balanced fertilizer 3 to 4 weeks after seedlings emerge.

HARVESTING. Harvest leaves any time while the plant is growing and use them fresh. If you wish to dry the leaves, harvest in early summer and chop them in preparation for drying. Harvest seeds as for anise.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

This ferny herb has a lovely licorice-like flavor to both its leaves and seeds. The seeds are used to flavor sausages and fish. It is a different variety than the bulbous type, called Florence fennel (F. vulgare var. dulce), which is eaten as a vegetable.

PLANTING AND CARE. Direct-seed in well-drained soil in a sunny location as soon as danger of frost has passed. Plant in rows 12 to 24 inches apart, and thin plants to 12 inches apart in the row. The plants grow 3 to 5 feet tall and are topped with umbels of tiny yellow flowers.

If fertilizer is needed, use a balanced fertilizer after 3 to 4 weeks of germination. Keep seed heads from drying in the garden by either removing them when they are green or when seeds begin to turn brown. Otherwise, they will reseed themselves readily all over the garden as seed heads shatter and scatter the seeds.

HARVESTING. Pick leaves throughout the growing season. Harvest seeds as for anise.

Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

There are several cultivated species of lavender, including French, English, and Spanish lavender (Lavandula dentata, Lavandula angustifolia, and Lavandula stoechas) (Fig. 13-39). The stems on this shrubby plant are stiff and upright, with gray-green foliage. The leaves and flowers have the easily recognized lavender aroma. This fragrance is picked up by simply brushing or rubbing the plant. This quality makes it quite useful as a sachet. The stiff stems make it easy to dry, either by tying a bunch of stems together and hanging upside-down or by simply placing them in a dry vase. They also hold their form well in pressed flower arrangements. Lavender is not very useful for culinary purposes, but flowers may be added to potpourri. The fragrance is used in soaps, shampoos, and other personal products.


PLANTING AND CARE. Plant one or more transplants in the herb or flower garden for its ornamental qualities. The purple spikes of flowers will bloom in late spring to summer. Lavender grows best in a sunny site with well-drained soil. If flower spikes are to be used in dried or pressed flower arrangements, it may be necessary to support the stems. Use a wire hoop similar to those used for tomatoes but shorter to accomplish this.

HARVESTING. Harvest leaves for potpourri or sachets at any time. Flowers will be ready in late spring to summer. Select straight-growing stems for dried or pressed flower arrangements. Florets may be harvested for potpourri and simply laid out on a paper towel or screen frame to dry.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm is an invasive member of the mint family, perhaps more so than other members (Fig. 13-40). It sows itself readily, as well as spreading by rhizomes. Leaves may be added to salads, to teas, or to flavor stewed fruit. The dried leaves are a good addition to potpourri. Fresh sprigs work well as a garnish for iced drinks, and a refreshing tea can be made from the leaves.

PLANTING AND CARE. Plant seeds or transplants any time in spring or summer in fertile, moist soil. Although this herb can be grown in rows in a vegetable garden, it develops a rounded, shrubby shape and works well in a perennial border. If planted in rows, space plants 12 inches apart with 12 inches between rows. Lemon balm can grow in full sun but will perform well if it receives at least some shade during the day.

Lemon balm is easy to grow and grows quickly. It can be vegetatively propagated by cuttings or root division. Remove flowers to encourage vegetative growth and reduce self-sowing. Prune and remove random seedlings to keep this plant in check. Plants are hardy to zone 4.


HARVESTING. Harvest leaves at any time. They will be available throughout the growing season. Prune heavily one or more times during the growing season. At this time the pruned leaves can be dried for later use or use in potpourri.

Marjoram, Sweet (Origanum majorana [Majorana hortensis])

Marjoram, or sweet marjoram was once a genus of its own but is now considered to be a type of oregano. It does have some notable differences: it is more cold-tender than oregano, and it has a sweet flavor. Marjoram is a tender perennial that will need protection in cold-winter areas to survive. Its sweet flavor is especially complimentary to lamb, veal, eggs, tomato dishes, stuffing, and soup.

PLANTING AND CARE. Grow marjoram in rich, moist soil in full sun. Plants can be started from seed, from cuttings, or by division. Plant division can also be used to dig up plants in the fall to overwinter as a houseplant. In the garden, space plants 6 to 8 inches apart in rows 12 to 24 inches apart. If needed, fertilize with a balanced fertilizer in June. Nitrogen will encourage leafy growth.

HARVESTING. Harvest leaves in late spring and throughout summer. Cut back plants when they begin to flower to encourage more vegetative growth. This may be done several times during a growing season.

Mint, Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

These members of the mint family can become invasive, given adequate conditions (Fig. 13-41). Peppermint is not a finicky plant, so spreads readily where it was not sown. This herb makes a refreshing tea. Peppermint is an invigorating herb, and the fragrant leaves are useful in the bath. Mint is also used to make mint jelly and mint sauce to accompany lamb. Spearmint oil is used in chewing gum, but other than that is not used much differently than peppermint. Teas, sauces, jellies, sweets, and bath soaps are made from both types of mint. The oil from peppermint is used to flavor candies.


PLANTING AND CARE. Mints are easily grown from seeds, but transplants may also be used. Almost any kind of soil and sun to partial shade are acceptable for peppermint. Peppermint does particularly well in moist conditions. This plant can become quite invasive and should be kept in check by regular pruning, root pruning, or growing in a sunken container to keep root growth in check. If this latter method is used, remove the plant at least once a year to examine the plant and make sure it is not becoming root bound. Be aware that the roots can grow through the bottom of the container or through drainage holes and send up new shoots outside the contained area.

HARVESTING. Harvest leaves whenever you desire during the growing season. Mint leaves are particularly delicious when used fresh in tea, but they may be dried and reserved for later use. Store in tightly closed containers to maintain freshness.

Oregano, Greek, Common (Origanum heracleoticum, Origanum vulgare hirtum)

This culinary herb is another member of the mint family (Fig. 13-42). It will grow as a perennial in areas where temperatures do not drop much below -25 [degrees]F (zone 5). There are different types of oregano, including the common form, O. vulgare, and Greek oregano, O. heracleoticum, a superior culinary type with excellent flavor. O. vulgare lacks culinary usefulness owing to its poor flavor. You can tell a true Greek oregano by brushing the leaves between your thumb and forefinger to get a wonderful aroma. Also, the leaves are pubescent and the flowers are white compared with the pink flowers of O. vulgare. Sweet marjoram, O. majorana, is a milder tasting species. There are several other Origanum species, but all are less flavorful than Greek oregano. There are also plants from other genera that have a similar flavor, including Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens and Poliomintha bustamanta), Jamaican oregano (Lippia micromera), and Cuban oregano (Salvia greggii).

PLANTING AND CARE. Oregano quality can vary greatly among plants. Therefore, it is desirable to obtain a good-quality variety by vegetative propagation. The best flavor quality is found in Greek oregano plants, but even among them variation exists. Greek oregano is not as hardy as common oregano, but otherwise is not more difficult to grow. It is hardy to zone 5. Plant in a sunny location in a well-draining site for best results. Oregano has a low-growing form, becoming up to 18 or so inches tall with a similar width. Allow runners room to spread in mid- to late-summer by keeping the ground soft and free of weeds.


HARVESTING. Harvest leaves in late spring and throughout summer. Remove flowers as they develop to encourage more vegetative growth. Leaves lose their flavor with prolonged cooking so are best added in the last minute or so of cooking. If large quantities are desired for drying, prune the plant back about 6 weeks before the first frost. Leave about 3 inches of stem. These stems will sprout new shoots that will grow 6 to 8 inches, at which time you can harvest the stems, leaves and all. Tie small bunches together and hang to dry in a cool, dark location. When leaves are crisp, place them or entire stems in a tightly sealed container.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Parsley is commonly used as a garnish for entrees (Fig. 13-43). People do not commonly consume the herb, although it is thought to aid in digestion. The flavor of parsley blends well when used in combination with other herbs, such as basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, and savory. Flat-leaf types (P. crispum var. neopolitanum, Italian parsley) tend to be more flavorful than curled-leaf types (P. crispum var. crispum), although the latter are the type used as a garnish for their decorative effect. The turnip-rooted parsley, P. crispum var. tuberosum, has a thick, edible root whose flavor resembles that of parsnip.

PLANTING AND CARE. Germination from seed is very slow, so it is advisable to soak the seeds in warm water for 12 to 24 hours before sowing. Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep in a sunny, well-drained location. Spacing should be 3 to 6 inches apart or more as plants grow and fill in the space. Harvest and use plants as they are thinned. Final spacing will be 8 to 12 inches, with rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Parsley is hardy to zone 3. Plants may be dug up by the roots and transplanted to a container to grow indoors over winter.

HARVESTING. Harvest entire stalks throughout the growing season. Leaf stalks grow in a basil rosette fashion, so outside stalks are older and should be harvested first. New growth is encouraged through this pruning process. Parsley is truly a biennial, so it will not flower until the second year. Freshly harvested stalks may be stored in a jar in the refrigerator to maintain freshness for several days to a week or so. Although parsley is at its best when used fresh, it can be used dried also. To dry parsley, simply tie together bunches of stalks and hang them upside-down in a well-ventilated area. In southern locations, cover parsley with straw and continue to harvest over the winter.


Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary is a plant of Mediterranean origin and is widely used in that cuisine, as well as in Italian cuisine. The flavor is distinct, and the herb should be used with care. It works well as a seasoning on focaccia, an Italian type of flat loaf, as well as with other herbs in Italian red sauces. Rosemary is used successfully in conjunction with butter and salt to season boiled, herbed potatoes. It is also used to flavor lamb, soups, stews, and sauces. It combines well with other herbs such as thyme, oregano, and marjoram.

PLANTING AND CARE. Rosemary is hardy to zone 6, but with protection, may survive in zone 5. Rosemary can grow into a sizeable, healthy shrub in areas where it is hardy. Because of its evergreen nature, it is successfully used as a landscape plant. The small blue or pinkish white flowers are not particularly ornamental, but they are quite fragrant and attract bees. Stem-tip cuttings can be started from existing plants and grow to usable size in one season. If planting to a garden, plants should be spaced 12 inches apart, with 24 inches between rows. Plants can be started from seeds. If this is the desired method of propagation, start seeds indoors where conditions can be controlled.

HARVESTING. Harvest succulent tips of rosemary, or prune a stem or two from the plant and remove all the leaves by running your thumb and forefinger from the tip to the base of the stem. Leaves are needle-like and are removed easily. Rosemary is easily stored as a dry herb, and it maintains its strong flavor for many months. Store in air-tight jars or other containers.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage is a pungent herb from northern and central Spain to Asia Minor that is commonly used in combination with other herbs, including rosemary, thyme, and oregano (Fig. 13-44). Sage can be used to flavor chicken and turkey during baking. There are many species of sage, including the blue to purple flowered ornamentals, Salvia x superba and Salvia x sylvestris, and Salvia farinacea, and the red-flowered Salvia splendens. The fragrant sagebrush commonly found in the Southwest is another genus, Artemesia. Native Americans used this subshrub medicinally. S. officinalis grows into a subshrub that can work well in a perennial bed. It has blue spikes of flowers reminiscent of many of the ornamental species.

PLANTING AND CARE. S. officinalis is hardy to zone 5 and will grow into a subshrub of 2 to 3 feet tall once established. It grows best in full sun on well-drained soil. In its native habitat, sage often grows on rocky soils. Plants may be started from seeds or from crown or stem cuttings. If growing sage in rows, space plants 15 to 18 inches apart in the row with rows 24 inches apart.

HARVESTING. Leaves may be harvested once the plant has become established and may be continually harvested into the fall or as long as the plant is actively growing. Harvest stem tips 6 to 8 inches long. Sage is readily dried by tying together bunches of stem cuttings and can be stored for many months in air-tight containers. When the leaves are dry, crumble them into a powder to rub into meat before roasting.

Savory (Satureja hortensis)

Savory is a less well-known herb, but it makes a wonderful addition to soups and sauces. There are annual and perennial species of savory: summer savory and winter savory. Although it is an annual, summer savory is supposed to be more flavorful. It is from the Mediterranean region, and it is used to season poultry, eggs, fish, and soups and stews. Summer savory blends well with and complements the flavors of other herbs, such as thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil, and rosemary.

PLANTING AND CARE. Because it is an annual, summer savory is commonly started from seeds. Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep and 1/2 inch apart, in rows spaced 12 inches apart. Plants will attain a height of 12 to 18 inches. Grow in a sunny location in dry, fertile soil. Plants require little attention once they become established.

HARVESTING. Tender leaves may be harvested throughout the growing season and used fresh. Alternately, stems may be snipped back to two or three nodes and tied together in bunches for hang-drying. The stems may also be spread on screens in a well-ventilated place for drying. Once dry, remove leaves from the stem, as it does not have as desirable a flavor as the leaves. Crush the leaves to release their flavor.


Tarragon, French Tarragon (Artemesia dracunculus)

Tarragon is a licorice-flavored perennial that provides excellent seasoning to fish dishes (Fig. 13-45). It is also commonly used to flavor vinegar and in cooking is used in soups and stews, sauces, relishes, meat and poultry, and egg dishes. Russian tarragon does not have the desired pungent flavor.

PLANTING AND CARE. Tarragon is hardy to zone 5 but appears to dry down and die in the winter in colder areas. Use vegetatively propagated plants, as this herb does not come true from seed, and planting seeds usually results in a poor-quality flavor. Plants may be propagated by root (rhizome) division or softwood cuttings. Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart in the row in a well-drained, sunny location. Plants may die if the soil stays wet for prolonged periods. Because plant flavor deteriorates in successive years on older plants, propagate new ones every 3 to 4 years.

HARVESTING. Tarragon should be used fresh for the fullest flavor. Although it can be dried, it loses much of its flavor. Fresh shoot tips can be removed throughout the growing season, a practice that leads to fuller, bushier plants.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

A popular and versatile herb, thyme combines well with many other flavors in cooking. It is commonly used in casseroles, soups, stews, and sauces, on meats, in poultry stuffing, and in egg and cheese dishes. There are ornamental species of thyme that form low-growing mats and become covered with small pink blooms.

PLANTING AND CARE. This perennial is hardy to zone 4 and can be started from seeds. Plant seeds or seedlings at 18- to 24-inch spacing, with rows spaced 12 to 24 inches apart. Thyme grows best in a sunny, well-drained location. Because it is grown for its leaves, use a high-nitrogen fertilizer. It will spread yearly but is not as invasive as some of the other herbs in the mint family. However, plants become woody over a period of 3 to 4 years and less succulent growth with desirable leaves is produced. Therefore, it is necessary to vegetatively propagate the plant every 3 to 4 years to maintain good quality flavor. Stem cuttings or crown division both work well. Also, new plants may be started from seeds.


HARVESTING. Dried leaves are used. This low, mounded plant will flower later in spring or summer, but the leaves do not become bitter, as they do with some other herbs. Nevertheless, remove blooms to direct the plant's energy resources to produce more leaves. Harvest leaves by cutting shoot tips of 5 to 6 inches in length when the plant begins to bloom. Dry by hanging in bunches or by spreading out on a screen in a well-ventilated area. Strip the dried leaves from the stems once they are thoroughly dry. Discard the woody stems. Store the leaves in an air-tight container and crush them just before using to release their flavors.


Growing your own vegetables and herbs can be a very rewarding experience. It is fun to see what you can do, and you get to eat or otherwise enjoy the fruits of your labor. What vegetables you can grow and when are largely determined by your region and the prevailing climate. Plants that cannot survive a frost can only be grown during the frost-free period. Other plants may be frost-tolerant or frost-hardy and can be grown earlier in spring and later in fall than usual. In areas of very hot summers and mild winters, vegetables and herbs may be grown throughout the winter.

Many vegetables are annuals, although asparagus and rhubarb are perennials. Many herbs are perennials, although basil will not over-winter in areas that receive frost. Vegetables and herbs may be started from seed or bought from a nursery or garden center. Each crop has specific requirements for seed and plant spacing, whether they grow best in rows or require mounds or hills or support such as trellises. In addition to starting seeds early indoors or buying transplants, other techniques may be used to extend the growing season. These include using plastic mulch, hotcaps, high tunnels, and teepees filled with water. Raised beds heat up earlier than the surrounding soil and provide improved drainage.

Companion planting and crop rotation are two ways to reduce pest problems. Crop rotation has the added benefit of restoring nitrogen to the soil when leguminous plants are grown in the rotation.


* Select a vegetable and research its history, folklore, and cultivation. Compare commercial and home gardening techniques. Identify organic methods of vegetable cultivation and companion plants.

* Start one or more herbs in a pot at home.

* Design an herbal garden with a kitchen, bath, or medicinal theme.

* Research allelochemicals and write a report on one type of allelochemical interaction that is beneficial to the plant and detrimental to a pest (kairomone or allomone).


1. What is meant by the term "frost-free period"?

2. What is the difference between heat-hardy and frost-tender plants?

3. Name four cool-season plants.

4. Discuss the qualities of a good site for a vegetable garden with respect to sun, soil texture, and pH of soil.

5. What is acclimation and how is it carried out?

6. What is the rule of thumb for seed planting depth?

7. How long do vegetable seeds require for germination?

8. What is thinning? Why do it?

9. Name two methods for extending the season. Describe how they work and how they are used.

10. What are companion plants? Name two examples of pairs of companion plants.


Ball, J. (1988). Rodale's garden problem solver: vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.

Byers, D. (1999). Herbal remedy gardens. Pownal, VT: Storey Books.

Riotte, L. (1975). Carrots love tomatoes. Charlotte, VT: Garden Way.

Phillips, R., & Rix, M. (1993). The Random House book of vegetables. New York: Random House.

Voigt, C.E., & Vandemark, J. S. (1995). Vegetable gardening in the Midwest (Circular 1331). Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.

Plastic Mulch Colors

Colored plastic mulches impart a variety of advantages. The following colors are currently available for home and commercial use:

* Clear--Allows weeds to grow owing to lack of light reduction; recommended for cool regions, such as the New England states. Warms the soil 8 to 14[degrees]F at a 2-inch depth and 6 to 9[degrees]F at 4 inches.

* Black--First color used. Reduces weeds; warms the soil 5[degrees]F at 2 inches and 3[degrees]F at 4 inches.

* Red--Warms soil to similar amounts as black. Has the added advantage of reflecting red wavelengths that improve fruit ripening of tomatoes, produce stockier stems, and increase yield; reduces nematode damage.

* Silver--Cools soil by a few degrees. Some pests become confused by the reflection and fail to alight on a crop they would otherwise infest, for example, delayed or prevented virus transmission on squash transmitted by squash bugs; recommended for late-summer planting of cool-season crops. Increased fruit yields for tomatoes and peppers.

* Green--Warms similar to clear but controls weeds similar to black; 5 to 10 days earlier harvest than with black mulch. Increased yields. Use with melons, cucumbers, or winter squash.

* Blue--Warms similar to clear, but controls weeds similar to black. Improved yields in zucchini and honeydew melons.

* Yellow--Attracts insects; may serve as a trap row.

* (White/White on Black--Cools soil temperature 2[degrees]F at 1 inch and 0.7[degrees]F at 4 inches. Use when cooler soil temperatures are needed. May allow weed growth depending on the degree of opacity; reduces aphid populations. Increased yield.

* Brown--Warms similar to clear, but controls weeds similar to black. Increases muskmelon fruit size.

Dr. Marietta Loehrlein currently teaches horticulture classes at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. She earned both her bachelor's degree in Agronomy and her master's degree in Plant Genetics at The University of Arizona. Her master's research project was concerned with germination problems associated with triploid seeds, from which seedless watermelons grow. Following that she worked for 5 years in a breeding and research program for Sunworld, International near Bakersfield, California. She worked with peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries. Then she returned to school to earn her Ph.D. in Horticultural Genetics at The Pennsylvania State University. Her Ph.D. research focused on flowering processes in regal pelargonium (also called Martha Washington geraniums). While at The Pennsylvania State University, she bred a new cultivar of regal pelargonium, "Camelot." At Western Illinois University, Dr. Loehrlein teaches nine courses: Greenhouse and Nursery Management, Introductory Horticulture, Landscape Design, Landscape Management, Home Horticulture, Plant Propagation, Turf Management, and two courses in Plant Identification.
TABLE 13-1
Frost-Free Days for Some Select Cities


Mobile, AL           272
Juneau, AK           133

Phoenix, AZ          308

Tucson, AZ           273

Pine Bluff, AR       234

Eureka, CA           324

Sacramento, CA       289

Denver, CO           165

Hartford, CT         170

Dover, DE            184

Orlando, FL          321

Atlanta, GA          244

Hilo, HI             365

Boise, ID            232

Des Moines, IA       182

Chicago, IL          190

Springfield, IL      185

Indianapolis, IN     180

Topeka, KS           175

Wichita, KS          194

Lexington, KY        190

New Orleans, LA      288

Worcester, MA        172

Baltimore, MD        231

Portland, ME         143

Lansing, MI          140

Duluth, MN           122

Springfield, MO      202

Jackson, MS          246

Billings, MT         132

Asheville, NC        193

Wilmington, NC       259

Bismarck, ND         136

Omaha, NE            189

Concord, NH          142

Las Vegas, NV        245

Akron, OH            168

Cincinnati, OH       195

Tulsa, OK            218

Pendleton, OR        188

Portland, OR         217

Philadelphia, PA     201

Williamsport, PA     168

Providence, RI       197

Charleston, SC       253

Columbia, SC         211

Rapid City, SD       145

Memphis, TN          228

Nashville, TN        207

Amarillo, TX         197

San Antonio, TX      265

Cedar City, UT       134

Spanish Fork, UT     156

Norfolk, VA          239

Richmond, VA         198

Burlington, VT       142

Seattle, WA          232

Spokane, WA          153

Green Bay, WI        143

Janesville, WI       164

Parkersburg, WV      175

Casper, WY           123

TABLE 13-2
Hardiness of Selected Vegetables


Asparagus       Asparagus officinalis      Very hardy

Beans, snap     Phaseolus vulgaris         Tender
  and green

Beets           Beta vulgaris              Frost-tolerant (semi-hardy)

Broccoli        Brassica oleracea var.     Frost-tolerant (semi-hardy)

Brussels        Brassica oleracea var.     Frost-tolerant (semi-hardy)
  sprouts         gemmifera

Cabbage         Brassica oleracea var.     Frost-tolerant (semi-hardy)

Cantaloupe      Cucumis melo var.          Tender

Carrot          Daucus carota              Frost-tolerant (semi-hardy)

Cauliflower     Brassica oleracea var.     Frost-tolerant (semi-hardy)

Celery          Apium graveolens           Frost-tolerant (semi-hardy)

Collard         Brassica oleracea var.     Very hardy

Corn, sweet/    Zea mays                   Tender

Cucumber        Cucumis sativus            Warm-loving (heat-hardy)

Eggplant        Solanum melongena var.     Warm-loving (heat-hardy)

Garlic          Allium sativum             Very hardy

Kale            Brassica oleracea          Very hardy

Lettuce         Lactuca sativa             Frost-tolerant (semi-hardy)

Muskmelon       Cucumis melo var.          Warm-loving (heat-hardy)

Okra            Abelmoschus esculentus     Warm-loving (heat-hardy)

Onion           Allium cepa                Very hardy

Parsnip         Pastinaca sativa           Frost-tolerant (semi-hardy)

Peas            Pisum sativum              Very hardy

Pepper          Capsicum annuum            Warm-loving (heat-hardy)

Potato          Solanum tuberosum          Warm-loving (heat-hardy)

Pumpkin         Cucurbita pepo,            Warm-loving (heat-hardy)
                  Cucurbita maxina,
                  Cucurbita moschata,
                  and Cucurbita mixta

Radish          Raphanus sativus           Very hardy

Rutabaga        Brassica napa var.         Hardy

Spinach         Spinacea oleracea          Very hardy

Squash,         C. pepo, C. maxima, C.     Warm-loving (heat-hardy)
  summer and      moschata, and C.
  winter          mixta

Sweet potato    Ipomoea batatas            Warm-loving

Swiss chard     Beta vulgaris var. cicla   Semi-hardy

Tomato          Lycopersicon esculentum    Tender

Watermelon      Cirtullus lanatus          Warm-loving (heat-hardy)

TABLE 13-3
Soil Temperatures and Planting Information for Selected
Vegetable Crops

                                      PLANTING         BETWEEN
                   OPTIMAL SOIL       DEPTH            PLANTS

Asparagus          60-85[degrees]F    6-8              18

Bean, snap         65-80[degrees]F    1 1/2            4-6
  or green

Beet               50-80[degrees]F    1 1/2-2          6

Broccoli           50-80[degrees]F    1/4-1/2          14-24

Brussels           65-75[degrees]F    1/4-1/2          14-24

Cabbage            50-80[degrees]F    1/4              14-24

Cantaloupe/        65-85[degrees]F    1                18-24

Carrot             50-85[degrees]F    1/4              1-2

Cauliflower        50-80[degrees]F    1/4-1/2          14-24

Celery             50-70[degrees]F    1/8              10-12

Collard            50-80[degrees]F    1/4-1/2          12-15

Corn, sweet/       55-80[degrees]F    2                12-18

Cucumber           60-85[degrees]F    3/4-1            24-48

Eggplant           65-85[degrees]F    1/4-1/2          18-24

Garlic (bulbs)     45-75[degrees]F    2                3-4

Kale               50-80[degrees]F    1/4-1/2          12-18

Lettuce            45-70[degrees]F    1/4-1/2          2-3 (leaf)
                                                         10-12 (head)

Muskmelon          65-85[degrees]F    1                18-24

Okra               70-95[degrees]F    1                12-24

Onion              45-75[degrees]F    1/4-1/2          2-3 (bunching)
                                                         3-5 (bulbs)

Parsnip            60-75[degrees]F    1/2              3-4

Pea                50-80[degrees]F    1-2              1-4

Pepper             65-86[degrees]F    1/4-1/2          12-24

Potato             60-65[degrees]F    4                12-15

Pumpkin            70-85[degrees]F    1-2              Hills 6-8
                                                         feet apart

Radish             40-70[degrees]F    1/2              2-3

Rutabaga           70-85[degrees]F    1/2              12-24

Spinach            40-75[degrees]F    1/4              4-8

Squash, summer     70-85[degrees]F    1/2              18-24
  and zucchini

Sweet potato       60-85[degrees]F    4-5 (sprouts     12-16
                                        or sections
                                        of tuberous

Swiss chard        50-80[degrees]F    1/2-3/4          4-6

Tomato             70-80[degrees]F    1/4-1/2          18-24

Watermelon         65-85[degrees]F    1-2              Hills 6-8
                                                         feet apart

                   DAYS TO            DAYS TO

Asparagus          7-21               3 years

Bean, snap         7-10               55-70
  or green

Beet               7-14               50-60

Broccoli           3-10               45-57

Brussels           3-10               80-90

Cabbage            6-12               53-90

Cantaloupe/        4-8                70-85

Carrot             6-10               58-95

Cauliflower        4-10               75

Celery             9-21               85-125

Collard            7-14               60-75

Corn, sweet/       5-10               62-75

Cucumber           4-8                50-62

Eggplant           6-14               120

Garlic (bulbs)     NA                 9-10 mos.

Kale               3-12               55-75

Lettuce            3-8                45-60

Muskmelon          4-8                70-85

Okra               7-14               55-65

Onion              5-15               60-65

Parsnip            10-15              120-170

Pea                6-8                60-70

Pepper             8-20               40-90

Potato             10-15              80-140

Pumpkin            7-10               90-110

Radish             4-7                25-35

Rutabaga           4-6                90-100

Spinach            6-14               40-42

Squash, summer     4-5                40-60
  and zucchini

Sweet potato       8-12               150-175

Swiss chard        4-6                Throughout

Tomato             6-14               57-76

Watermelon         5-8                65-100

TABLE 13-4
pH Preferences of Selected Vegetable Crops

CROP                    GENUS AND SPECIES                   pH

Asparagus               Asparagus officinalis               6-7

Bean, snap or green     Phaseolus vulgaris                  7

Beet                    Beta vulgaris                       7

Broccoli                Brassica oleracea var. italica      6

Brussels sprouts        Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera    6-6.5

Cabbage                 Brassica oleracea var. capitata     6-7

Cantaloupe/muskmelon    Cucumis melo var. reticulatus       6-6.8

Carrots                 Daucus carota                       6-7

Cauliflower             Brassica oleracea var. botrytis     6-7.5

Celery                  Apium graveolens                    5.5-6.5

Collard                 Brassica oleracea var. acephala     6-7.5

Corn, sweet/popping     Zea mays                            5.5-7.5

Cucumber                Cucumis sativus                     6-7.5

Eggplant                Solanum melongena var. esculentum   5.5-6.5

Garlic                  Allium sativum                      6

Kale                    Brassica oleracea var. acephala     6

Lettuce                 Lactuca sativa                      6

Okra                    Abelmoschus esculentus              7-7.5

Onion                   Allium cepa                         6-7.5

Parsnip                 Pastinaca sativa                    6-8

Pea                     Pisum sativum                       6-7.5

Pepper, sweet bell      Capsicum annuum                     6

Peppers, chile          Capsicum annuum                     6-7

Potato                  Solanum tuberosum                   5-6

Pumpkin                 Cucurbita pepo, Curcurbita          6
                          maxina, Curcurbita moschata,
                          and Curcurbita mixta

Radish                  Raphanus sativus                    6

Rutabaga                Brassica napus var. napobrassica    6-6.8

Spinach                 Spinacea oleracea                   6-7.5

Squash, summer and      C. pepo, C. maxima, C. moschata,    5.5-7.5
  winter                  and C. mixta

Sweet potato            Ipomoea batatas                     5-6

Swiss chard             Beta vulgaris var. cicla            6-6.8

Tomato                  Lycopersicon esculentum             5.5-7.5

Watermelon              Citrullus lanatus                   6-7

TABLE 13-5
How Much to Grow for a Family of Four

                                                NUMBER OF
                                                PLANTS TO
                                                GROW FOR

Asparagus               Asparagus               30-40

Beans, snap or green    Phaseolus vulgaris      60-100

Beets                   Beta vulgaris           60-90

Broccoli                Brassica oleracea       10-15
                          var. italica

Brussels sprouts        Brassica oleracea       5
                          var. gemmifera

Cabbage                 Brassica oleracea       12-20
                          var. capitata

Cantaloupe/muskmelon    Cucumis melo var.       2-3

Carrot                  Daucus carota           100-200

Cauliflower             Brassica oleracea       10-15
                          var. botrytis

Celery                  Apium graveolens        12-24

Collard                 Brassica oleracea       12-25
                          var. acephala

Corn, sweet             Zea mays                100-200

Corn, popping           Zea mays var.           100-150

Cucumber                Cucumis sativus         8-10

Eggplant                Solanum melongena       4-10
                          var. esculentum

Garlic                  Allium sativum          25-50

Kale                    Brassica oleracea       10-15

Lettuce                 Lactuca sativa          10-20

Okra                    Abelmoschus             8-20

Onion                   Allium cepa             25-40

Parsnip                 Pastinaca sativa        50-100

Peas                    Pisum sativum           20-50

Pepper                  Capsicum annuum         4-10

Potato                  Solanum tuberosum       50-100

Pumpkin                 Cucurbita pepo,         2-4

                          Curcurbita maxima,
                          Curcurbita moschata,
                          and Curcurbita mixta

Radish                  Raphanus sativus        50-100

Rutabaga                Brassica napus var.     30

Spinach                 Spinacea oleracea       20-40

Squash, summer and      C. pepo, C. maxima,     2-5
  winter                  C. moschata, and
                          C. mixta

Sweet potato            Ipomoea batatas         25

Swiss chard             Beta vulgaris var.      40-60

Tomato                  Lycopersicon            5-10

Turnip                  Brassica rapa           20-40

Watermelon              Citrillus lanatus       3-5

TABLE 13-6
The Chile Heat Scale Developed by Wilbur Scoville


16,000,000               Pure capsaicin

100,000-400,000          Habanero (Scotch Bonnet)

50,000-100,000           Chiltepin, Santaka, Thai

30,000-50,000            Cayenne, piquin, Tabasco

15,000-30,000            Chile de Arbol

5,000-20,000             Serrano, yellow wax

2,500-5,000              Jalapeno, Mirasol

1,500-2,500              Cascabel, Sandia

1,000-1,500              Ancho, Pasilla, Poblano

500-1,000                Anaheim, Big Jim, New Mexico

100-500                  Cherry, Mexi-bells

0-100                    Sweet banana, sweet bells, pimento
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Author:Loehrlein, Marietta M.
Publication:Home Horticulture: Principles and Practices
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Previous Article:Chapter 12: indoor plants.
Next Article:Chapter 14: fruits, nuts, and berries.

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