Archive for the ‘Plant Guides’ Category

7 of the Healthiest Veggies That Are EASY to Grow

7 of the most healthy vegetables, what are some healthy veggies to grow, are veggies easy to growI don’t know about you, but I like to know about the food I eat, and what nutrition is in it. I guess it is a little hobby of mine. If you are going to plant a garden, and only can or want to grow a few items, why not grow those packed with the most nutrition and are EASY to grow? With a little effort, you can see how easy they can be to grow. AND improve your health at the same time.

  1. Tomatoes: one of the most commonly home grown veggies, once tasted, you will see why. I almost never  buy store bought tomatoes because I have been so spoiled by the home grown. Someone who claims to not like tomatoes might very well take that back once they have something with a homegrown tomato in it. Be it a hamburger, salsa, marinara sauce or even tomato soup. When you grow your own tomatoes, they have an amazing amount of nutrients compared to the store bought ones. They are picked too early and shipped long distances- reducing what little nutrients they were able to get before their early harvest. Great source of Vitamin A, E, C and Fiber and Omega 6 Fatty Acid.  They are known for thier cancer fighting qualities, but also are great for keeping blood pressure in check.
  2. Broccoli: Very easy to grow, and can grow in a limited space with no problems. The only tricky part is making sure to harvest the head before it starts to flower.  You don’t want to harvest too early if it is still growing, but if you wait even a few days, the flowers will open and it doesn’t taste as good. Just keep it growing fast, but providing enough water and nutrients and you will have a great tasting broccoli. It will produce some smaller heads after the first is harvested. You can make cream of broccoli soup, eat it raw, or serve it steamed. Broccoli has even more nutrients than tomatoes: a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese. And it even has protein! They are great for reducing risk for lung, stomach and rectal cancers, and boosting immune function.
  3. Carrots: Carrots are fun to grow, because you sow a little seeds, and let them grow. Just make sure the soil is not too compacted as this will limit their ability to grow downwards. They do not take up much space in the garden and last a long time after they are harvested if you cut off the greens right away. You can grow enough to last a few months in the winter! Carrots area very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium. Renowned for their ability to improve eye skin and hair health, but also are packed with anti oxidants and are great for cardiovascular health.
  4. Spinach/Kale: I will group these together because they are both greens and very healthy ones at that. Both are easy to grow and can be harvested over and over again on the same plant before having to replant. Spinach likes to go to flower in the heat of summer and this makes the leaves bitter. A great way to have an instant salad, but also great to freeze and then add to smoothies to boost the healthiness of the smoothy! Spinach is a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. And because it is so packed with nutrition, it helps with just about everything. No wonder Popeye liked it so much. Kale a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
  5. Peppers: hot peppers, bell peppers- any pepper you choose. They are all packed with nutrients. They also have smaller plants than their tomato cousins and so can easily be grown in a container. There is such a variety of uses for them, but we like to grow them for salsa and salads. Bell Peppers a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, Magnesium and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese. They carry the nutrients that are great for preventing cancers.
  6. Squash: Summer squash, and winter squashes all have a great deal of nutrition. They do get diseases, however you can usually still get a great harvest from them before the disease takes over too much. If you want to have a high producing plant that is hard to eat all that it produces- grow a zucchini plant. Great to cook in stir-fry, eat fresh, add shredded to salads, ect. Zucchini gives you a good source of Protein, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Niacin, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese. They are anti inflammatory, thus good for inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
  7. Onions: Onions are another one of those sow a few seeds and watch them grow. Then you can harvest them and save them for the winter months. It is possible to grow enough to last the whole year until your garden produces more. I don’t need to get started on how to use them, as they have such a great ability to enhance the taste of foods and meats. Onions are a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C.

Happy Gardening!

What are Goji Berries and Can I Grow Them In My Garden?

So you might have heard of Goji Berries before. They are one of those super foods that contain an enormous amount of nutrition and anti oxidants in a small portion.  They are also quite expensive to buy because they are usually imported in from China! They are also sometimes called wolfberry. One of my goals is to become more self sufficient and grow all that I can on my own. This not only reduces costs of buying, especially those expensive super foods, but also reduces my carbon foot print, improves my health and emotional well being. And there is something satisfying about being able to walk out your back door, and harvest something for dinner. I don’t think I will ever get over that feeling.

I became interested to know if I could grow my own Goji Berries in my climate in the Salt Lake Valley. So I decided to share some of my research with you so that you too can reap the rewards of growing such an exotic sounding plant in your yard.

Happy Gardening!

How To Grow Stevia

What is it?

What is Stevia anyway?  Stevia is that plant that they now make sweeteners with. It comes in different forms. Some of those forms are so processed that it removes the good qualities of the stevia that makes it worth using in the first place. When used in too great of quantities, it has a bitter after taste. Stivia first originated in tropical areas of South America.

Benefits

So what are some of the benefits of growing your own stevia? Like any home grown veggie, by growing your own it not only saves money, but you know that what you have grown is healthy, pesticide free, and organic if that’s what you do. You can use it in the less processed form which will make it all that more healthy for you.

Growing Stevia

Can you grow your own stevia? It is a tropical plant by nature, and thus would be killed of by cold winters in areas that get snow and frost. It is naturally a perennial and so it should live year to year. By planning ahead to move the plant indoors when the cold weather arives, then you can grow your own stivia. You will need a very sunny spot to put it for it to survive indoors over the winter. The best way to start growing stevia is to get a root cutting, but most of the time that might not be possible, so you can start your own from seed indoors in the late winter. Be sure to keep it under growing lights until planted outdoors as it needs plenty of light to get going.  A full grown stevia plant will end up being about 24 inches high by 24 inches wide. The stevia would do well planted in a pot that drains well and is watered often.  Having it planted in a pot, makes it easier to move indoors if/when the need arises.

Harvesting and Using

You can harvest around half the plant in mid summer and dry the leaves using a dehydrator or oven set to 150 degrees F or lower Or you can hang them to dry as you would other herbs. Then harvest another half again right before the first frost of the year. Store the dehydrated leaves in an air tight container until ready to use. Then you can crush or grind them up when ready to use. 3-4 Teaspoons of dried stevia will equal 1 cup of sugar in a recipe. However, it dose not have the same baking properties as sugar, so you will have to experiment with it or look up how to cook with stevia to know how to change out sugar with stevia. It is possible to make stevia extract with the stevia you have grown, but we will not cover that in this article.

If you use stevia in your cooking allot, it might be well worth it to grow your own. Please if you have any tips, or experience growing your own stevia, or using stevia, please comment and share your ideas with us!

Happy Gardening!

Onions- a Winter Crop?

Onion flowering, onion seeds, onion gone to seed. can you plant onions in the fall? will onions survive the winter?

An onion gone to flower. Soon it will have a seed packet in place of the flower.

Have you ever left some of the small onions in your garden and have them come up strong the next year? When they do this, the second year they will go to seed and get a little ball at the tip of the onion stalk that contains the seeds. They can actually be quite pretty and fun to try in your garden. Onions can be a very easy crop to grow, but many times people will just get them started too late in the season to get a good crop to use with the other vegetables grown in the garden that year. Onions only need a few things:

  1. Space. If you plant them too close together, sure you might get mature onions, but they might be bite size. So if your aim is large onions, give plenty of space that they will not even touch when they are full grown. I like to stagger my rows so that they can take up a little bit of the in between space of the other onions.
  2. Time. Onions like a good growing season. If planted right they will be done right around the tomatoes in time to make salsa. If you plant them too late, you might be saving the onions for use over the winter and buying onions for the salsa. I like to plant enough onions for both. Try getting some onion seeds and planting them now- in the fall. The seeds will not germinate until spring, and once they do, they will most likely poke their green little leaves through the snow. It is such a fun thing to watch when you think nothing is alive in your garden to see the little onion seedlings growing.  By planting them this way, you will for sure get a good crop of onions in time for use with salsa. Just be sure not to plant the seeds too close together. They are very hard to thin out. You cant just trim the leave away- they will just grow new ones. You have to actually pull out the onion and you might destroy the other ones near by. So by careful seed sowing, you can more easily thin them out when the time comes.
  3. Water and Soil. This is a given, but having a nice loamy soil with lots of organic matter, the onions will be able to grow nice and big. They also need consistent watering, spreading a nice mulch around them will help to keep the soil moist. They have a shallow root system and if left to dry out, it might stunt their growth. I like to put a soaker line around them for watering. This way the water can seep into the ground rather than flood it and run off to a lower spot to soak in.

I think you will find it a fun and rewarding experience to grow onions of any kind in your garden. They store so nicely too that you just might not need to buy any more onions again!! Check out our garden planner, and start planning your garden for spring- NOW!

Happy Gardening!

The Secrets of Growing Huge Garlic

Home grown garlic, how do you plant garlic, when do you plant garlic, when do you harvest garlic, how much water garlic need,

curing the garlic

Growing garlic can be somewhat of a mystery to some people, especially those who have tried to grow it, and it just didn’t turn out right. However, once a few key things are learned about growing garlic, it becomes a very easy thing to do! I love to grow my own garlic and never have to buy garlic. It is NOT hard to grow enough to last you the whole year. Here are the 3 main secretes to growing nice large bulbs of garlic:

  1. Plant the cloves in the fall. You only want to plant one little clove- not the whole bulb when growing the garlic. This will produce a bulb by the next spring. If you plant more than one clove in a single hole, then you will get 2 smaller bulbs the next year. By planting one clove, you will get a nice big bulb.
  2. Space them about 6 inches apart. Garlic dose not like competition so planting them too close to each other or to other plants will prevent the bulb from growing to the maximum size. We made the mistake of inter-planting them in the strawberry patch the first year we grew them, and they did grow, but the end results were very small bulbs the next spring.

    what dose garlic look like when planted too close together, what dose garlic look like if it is left every year and not harvested

    This is what happens when the garlic is left and not harvested, or planted too close.

  3. Keep planting them every year. Over time, your garlic bulbs will get acclimated to your yard and by planting mostly large cloves, you will harvest nice big bulbs. Our bulbs have gotten bigger each year. I harvest them in June- dry them by hanging them over the cucumber trellis then in October I take a few bulbs and separate the cloves and plant enough to last all year the next year.

I do not worry about watering them through the winter and spring- just when it starts getting hot. However some warm dry climates might need to water them if there is no source of moisture for the bulb through the winter. Growing garlic is so easy and fun to do once you understand these three essential things, just remember to plan ahead as you are harvesting last years planting with garlic.

Happy Gardening!

How to Grow Garlic

Garlic, when to plant garlic, where to plant garlic, when to harvest garlic, where to store garlic, how to store garlic, Garlic is such a great thing to add to your garden because it is so easy to grow, and you should never have to buy garlic again! The one thing you should realize is: Garlic should be planted in the fall. I have talked to many people who have made the mistake of planting garlic in the spring with the rest of their garden, and not getting a harvest of garlic. If you have made this mistake, just leave it in the ground until next year, or even the fall. the bulbs will be small, but you can harvest them and then pull the biggest cloves off and replant them in the fall for a good harvest next year. For those just starting out growing garlic, here are a few simple steps:

  1. Choose– chose what variety you like and want to grow in your garden. You can order them from companies that grow lots of garlic, or you can pick some up from a local gardening center. You would be amazed at the amount of varieties you have to choose from.
  2. Plant– pull of the separate sections of the bulb Continue reading

How to Grow the Biggest, Best Strawberries Ever

what is the secrete to growing big strawberries, how do you renovate a strawberry patch,  when do you fertilize strawberries, Growing strawberries is not hard, they like to spread and perpetuate themselves, however, if left to themselves, the production and size of your strawberries will go down .

The key to a big strawberry is a big plant with nice big healthy leaves that it grows on. So how do you get that to happen?

  1. After the snow first melts in the spring, cover your patch with a row cover to start warming it up and giving the plants a head start on growth. Just remember that they might need to be watered as the water dose not get through the row cover a s easily as if there were no cover. You will be amazed at how much this helps them grow.
  2. Renovate the patch right after the harvest of strawberries is over. They need enough space to Continue reading