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There is so much to learn about vegetable gardening, soil, compost, when to plant, what goes with what, garden pests, fertilizing, watering, hours of sun, when to harvest.  Then there is putting up the harvest so as not to waste all those hours of tending to the garden.
I know a few things about a few things, but I don't profess to know enough to claim to 'know' how to garden.  It remains trial and error for me and I learn as I go along.  Photo is my small harvest from 2004 growing season.  


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Full sun.
Prefers a soil of 6.5 ph, does not do well in acid soils.
Transplant crowns 12-18 in. apart in rows that are 4-6 ft. apart.
Wait to harvest one year after planting this perennial to allow for growth.  Snap off at ground level.

Full sun.
Prefers a soil ph 6.5-8.0
Plant offshoots 6 in. deep with the tops above ground level.
Space 3-4 ft. apart in rows that are 4-5 ft. apart.
Heads do not appear until the second year for this perennial.  Harvest as soon as flower buds are visible, but before they open.

Full sun.
Prefer a soil of 5.8-6.3.
Plant 2-3 in. apart in rows that are 25-30 in apart.

Harvest before beans mature while they are young and tender.

Full sun.
Prefer a soil of 6.2-6.8
Plant 1/2 in. deep in rows that are 12-18 in. apart.  Thin to 3-4 in. apart.
60-70 to maturity.
Harvest any time during growth cycle.

Full sun or semi-sun.
Prefers a soil of 5.5-6.6
Space plants 18-24 in. apart in rows that are 30 in. apart.
Matures in 55-75 days.
Harvest before yellow flowers appear and the head is still tight.

Sun or semi-sun.

Prefer a soil of 6.5.
Set plants 24 in. apart in rows 30 in. apart.
Mature 3 months after setting plants.
Harvest lowest sprouts first, when lower leaves begin to turn yellow.

Full sun.
Prefers a soil of 5.5-6.5
Plant 12-15 in. apart in rows that are 3 ft. apart.
Mature in 90 days.
Harvest as soon as heads form.

Full sun to partial shade.
Prefer a soil ph of 6.0-6.5
Plant 1/2 in. deep in rows 10 in. apart.  When seedlings are 2 in. high, thin to 3 in. apart.
Mature in 65-75 days.
Harvest when they are sufficient size.

Full sun, tolerates light shade.
Prefers a soil ph of 6.5-7.5
Set plants 18 in. apart in rows that are 30 in. apart.
Matures in 60 days.

Harvest when heads are 6-8 in. across.

Full sun.
Prefers a soil ph of 6.0-6.8
Plant 1/2-1 in. deep at 4-6 in. apart in rows that are 3 ft. apart.
Matures in 65-95 days.
Harvest when kernels have just filled out.

Full sun.
Prefers a soil of 5.8-6.5, soil may need liming.
Plant 5 seeds in hills that are4-6 ft. apart.  Thin to 3 plants per hill.
Matures in 50-70 days.
Harvest before they get too large.

Full sun.
Prefers a soil ph of 6.0-6.8
Space plants 24-30 in. apart in rows that are 24-30 inches apart.
Matures in 60-80 days.
Heavy bearing will stress small plants, thin to 3-4 fruits.

Full sun.
Prefers a soil of 6.0-6.8.
Plant 18 in. apart in rows that are 24 in. apart.
Matures in 65-80 days.
If allowed to ripen before picking, peppers will be sweeter and have a higher vitamin C content.

Tolerates partial shade.
Prefers a slightly acidic soil of 6.0-7.0
Plant 12 in. apart.
Matures in 70-80 days.
Harvest while heads are tightly packed.

Full sun.
Prefers a soil of 6.0-6.5
Plant transplants 3/4 in. deep at 1 in. apart, then thin to 2-3 in. apart in rows that are 16 in. apart.
Matures in 45-150 days depending on variety.
Harvest when the tops fall over and dry up.

Full sun with slight mid-day shade.
Any soil above 5.0.
Plant seed 1 in. deep, 2-3 in. apart in rows 2 ft. apart.
Mature in 55-75 days.
Harvest just before peas are full size, but when pods are well filled and firm.

Full sun.

Prefers a soil ph of 6.0-7.0
Plant seeds in hills 4-6 ft. apart, sowing 4-6 seeds per hill.  Thin to 2-3 per hill.
Miniatures mature in 85-95 days.  Jack-o-lanterns mature in 100-120 days.
Harvest when pumpkin is a deep solid color and rind is hard.

Full sun, tolerates some shade.
Tolerates any soil, but less acid is better.
Plant 1/2 in. deep in rows 12 in. apart.  When seedlings are 2 in high thin to 2 in. apart
Fast maturing, matures in 20-30 days.
Harvest before splitting of roots occurs.

Full sun.
Prefers a slightly acid soil of 6.2-6.8.
Unstaked, plant 3 ft. apart in rows that are 5 ft. apart.  Staked, plant 2 ft. apart in rows that are 3-4 ft. apart.  Place stakes 5 ft. above ground and 1 ft. below ground.  Place stakes and cages at planting time as not to disturb growing roots.
Harvest when color indicates ripeness.

Warm weather crop needs full sun to partial shade.
Prefers a soil ph of 6.0-7.0
Place plants 36 in. apart in rows that are 48 in. apart.
Mature in 45-55 days.
Best picked when small.  Picking encourages more fruit.



Full sun, will tolerate light shade.
Needs a highly acidic soil of 4.0-5.0, do not like a clay soil.
Harvest when the green circle where the berry meets the stem disappears.
Bare-root plants should be soaked in water for an hour before planting.  Dig a hole 18-24 in. deep and 2 ft. wide.  Place plant evenly into ground and cover with dirt.

Full sun.
Prefer a soil ph of 5.5-6.0
Plant 5 seeds 1 in deep in hills spaced 4-6 ft. apart.  When seedlings have developed their third set of leaves, thin to 3 plants per hill.
Harvest when melons slip easily off of stems.

Full sun.
Prefer a soil ph of 6.0-6.8

Full sun to partial shade.
Prefer a soil ph of 5.8-6.5.
Harvest when berry turns from a light red to a deep, darker red.  When it slips easily off the stem it is ready.

Full sun.
Prefer a soil ph of 6.0-6.5
Harvest when fully red.

Full sun.
Prefer a soil ph of 6.0-6.8
Plant seed 1 in. deep in hills spaced 6 ft. apart in rows 7-10 ft. apart.  Thin to 3 plants per hill.
Mature in 70-85 days.
Harvest when stem shrivels and there is a hollow sound when knocked.

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The Top 10 Best Companion Plants

Some plants do better when in the company of other plants for a variety of reasons...to repel harmful insects, to attract useful insects, or to enhance the growth rate and flavor of other plants.  Companion planting helps bring a balanced eco-system to your garden.  Every garden is different with different problems.  All problems will not be eliminated, but it is definitely worth experimenting with companion planting.  Below are the top 10 plant companion combinations.

  1. Tomatoes & Basil
    Both greatly improve the other's growth and flavor.  Basil also helps control the tomato hornworm.
  2. Garlic & Roses
    Pests, such as aphids, are repelled by the smell of garlic.
  3. Horseradish & Potatoes
    Horseradish repels the Colorado potato beetle and blister beetles.
  4. Spinach & Strawberries
  5. Corn, Beans & Squash - "The Three Sisters"
    A Native American practice passed on to the first settlers.  Beans fix nitrogen into the soil, making it available to corn.  In turn, corn provides support and shade to the beans and squash.
  6. Dill & Cabbage
    Dill improves the growth and health of cabbage.
  7. Marigolds & All Plants
    Marigolds keep the soil free of bad nemotodes.
  8. Radishes & Squash
    Radishes protect zucchini, cucumbers and squash against squash borers.
  9. Corn & Melons
  10. Peas & Carrots

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Companion Planting

Some plants do better when in the company of other plants for a variety of reasons...to repel harmful insects, to attract useful insects, or to enhance the growth rate and flavor of other plants.  Companion planting helps bring a balanced eco-system to your garden. 

Every garden is different with different problems.  All problems will not be eliminated, but it is definitely worth experimenting.  Below are plants with their "good" companions which enhance the plants existence, and their "bad" companions that can create adverse effects.

Good-Tomato, Parsley, Basil


Good-Rosemary, Peas, Corn, Cucumbers, Radishes

Good-Lettuce, Onions, Brassicas

Good-Aromatic Herbs, Celery, Beets, Spinach
      Bad-Strawberries, Pole Beans, Tomatoes

Good-Chives, Rosemary, Sage, Radishes, Lettuce

Good-Sunflowers, Pumpkins, Beans, Squash

Good-Beans, Carrots, Onions, Radishes
      Bad-Strong Herbs

Good-Cabbage, Onions, Cucumbers

Plant throughout the garden

Good to all Vegetables

Good-Lettuce, Beans, Carrots, Radishes
      Bad- Onions

     Good- Horseradish


Good-Basil, Carrots
     Bad-Corn, Fennel

Good-Broccoli, Cauliflower, Rosemary, Cabbage, Carrots

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Gardening Tips                                                               

 -- Cut old levelor blinds with an angle at the end for seed tray and garden markers.

 -- A great way to avoid weeds around vegetable crops such as tomatoes or squash is to plant low growing, quick harvest crops such as lettuce or radish around the base of the larger veggies.

  -- Don’t let mint and other invasive herbs take over your garden. Curb their wild tendencies by planting mint in a pot, then planting the pot into the soil.

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Make Mini-Reservoirs for Vegetable Garden
Create mini-reservoirs for tomatoes, peppers, or squash from plastic milk jugs or well-scrubbed bleach bottles. With a sharp knife, cut several small, X-shape holes in the bottom, bury about half of the jug in soil between two plants, and refill as needed. The water will seep slowly and deeply down to where the plants' roots can use it most.

Unglazed 1.5-gallon clay pots also make good reservoirs. Plug the bottom hole with a stopper or caulk; you want the water to leach slowly through the porous pot walls, not through the bottom.

Create pits 24 inches across and five inches deep. Fill each pit with rich soil and bury a clay pot in the center, its mouth level with the ground. Fill the pot with water and cover the top with a tile or an old slate shingle, or an old pot lid -- anything that will prevent evaporation. Weight the top with a brick, if necessary. Check the water level periodically and fill to the brim when the level falls.

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Keep well watered, especially in the early stages and feed regularly  with liquid fertiliser once the heads start to mature. Bend the leaves over the developing curds (heads) to protect from the sun.

Begin cutting the heads whilst they are still quick small to prevent having a glut of fully matured heads. Crops over a period of about 12 weeks.


Tomatoes can be re-rooted.

Yes, you can break off the suckers on tomato plants, put them into a glass of water and root-then plant into soil and you will have a late tomato crop.

  Also put the tomato scraps into the compost pile and next spring you will have "volunteer" tomato plants.

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6    ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1    tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme or marjoram,
1/4 c. finely snipped parsley
1/4 c. snipped chives
2/3 c. salad oil
1/4 c. tarragon vinegar
Place tomatoes in bowl; sprinkle with seasonings and herbs. 
Combine oil and vinegar; pour over.  Cover; chill 3 hours, spooning dressing over a few times.  Drain off dressing and pass with tomatoes.

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Recommendations of Vegetables best grown in Pacific NW maritime climates.  With the cooler climate, short summers, the heat-loving plants don't do so well.  Root vegetables seem to like the cooler climate.  After 5 years of my very amateur attempts at growing vegetables, I have learned some things by experience, but I have not learned nearly enough.  I'm happy to listen to recommendations made by more experienced vegetable growers in our particular climate zone.
Tomatoes - Recommended species;
             (from the experiences of The Westside Gardener)
 -- Sun Gold (yes, this worked for me)
 -- Stupice  (an extra early tomato)
 -- Persimmon (from the heirloom variety which are typically not great growers in our climate)
 -- Oroma (a Roma type tomato)
 -- Early Cascade
 -- Red Cherry

Part 1 of 4 
Perennial Vegetables
Cabbages and Onions

The cabbage, or cole, group of vegetables is noteworthy because of its adaptation to culture in most parts of the country having fertile soil and sufficient moisture and because of its hardiness to cold.


Heading broccoli is difficult to grow, therefore, only sprouting broccoli is discussed here. Sprouting broccoli forms a loose flower head (on a tall, green, fleshy, branching stalk) instead of a compact head or curd found on cauliflower or heading broccoli. It is one of the newer vegetables in American gardens, but has been grown by Europeans for hundreds of years.

Sprouting broccoli is adapted to winter culture in areas suitable for winter cabbage. It is also tolerant of heat. Spring-set plants in the latitude of Washington, D.C., have yielded good crops of sprouts until midsummer and later under conditions that caused cauliflower to fail. In the latitude of Norfolk, VA., the plant has yielded good crops of sprouts from December until spring.

Sprouting broccoli is grown in the same way as cabbage. Plants grown indoors in the early spring and set in the open about April 1 begin to yield sprouts about 10 weeks later. The fall crop may be handled in the same way as late cabbage, except that the seed is sown later. The sprouts carrying flower buds are cut about 6 inches long, and other sprouts arise in the axils of the leaves, so that a continuous harvest may be obtained (fig. 23).

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are somewhat more hardy than cabbage and will live outdoors over winter in all the milder sections of the country. They may be grown as a winter crop in the South and as early and late as cabbage in the North. The sprouts, or small heads, are formed in the axils (the angle between the leaf stem and the main stalk) of the leaves. As the heads begin to crowd, break the lower leaves from the stem of the plant to give them more room. Always leave the top leaves; the plant needs them to supply nourishment. For winter use in cold areas, take up the plants that are well laden with heads and set them close together in a pit, a cold-frame, or a cellar, with some soil tamped around the roots. Keep the stored plants as cool as possible without freezing.

Cabbage ranks as one of the most important home-garden crops. In the lower South, it can be grown in all seasons except summer, and in latitudes as far north as Washington, D.C., it is frequently set in the autumn, as its extreme hardiness enables it to live over winter at relatively low temperatures and thus become one of the first spring garden crops. Farther north, it can be grown as an early summer crop and as a late fall crop for storage. Cabbage can be grown throughout practically the entire United States.

Cabbage is adapted to widely different soils as long as they are fertile, of good texture, and moist. It is a heavy feeder; no vegetable responds better to favorable growing conditions. Quality in cabbage is closely associated with quick growth. Both compost and commercial fertilizer should be liberally used. In addition to the applications made at planting time, a side dressing or two of nitrate of soda, sulfate of ammonia, or other quickly available nitrogenous fertilizer is advisable. These may be applied sparingly to the soil around the plants at intervals of 3 weeks, not more than 1 pound being used to each 200 square feet of space, or in terms of single plants, 1/3 ounce to each plant. For late cabbage the supplemental feeding with nitrates may be omitted. Good seed is especially important. Only a few seed is needed for starting enough plants for the home garden, as 2 or 3 dozen heads of early cabbage are as many as the average family can use.

Where cabbage yellows is a serious disease, resistant varieties should be used.

Cabbage plants for spring setting in the North may be grown in hotbeds or greenhouses from seeding made a month to 6 weeks before planting time, or may be purchased from southern growers who produce them outdoors in winter. The winter-grown, hardened plants sometimes referred to as frostproof, are hardier than hotbed plants and may be set outdoors in most parts of the North as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Northern gardeners can have cabbage from their gardens much earlier by using healthy southern-grown plants or well-hardened, well-grown hotbed or greenhouse plants. Late cabbage, prized by northern gardeners for fall use and for storage, is grown from plants produced in open seedbeds from sowings made about a month ahead of planting. Late cabbage may well follow early potatoes, peas, beets, spinach, or other early crop. Many gardeners set cabbage plants between potato rows before the potatoes are ready to dig, thereby gaining time. In protected places, or when plant protectors are used, it is possible always to advance dates somewhat, especially if the plants are well hardened.

Chinese Cabbage

Chinese cabbage, (fig. 24) is more closely related to mustard than to cabbage. It is variously called Crispy Choy, Chihili, Michili, and Wong Bok. Also, it is popularly known as celery cabbage, although it is unrelated to celery. The nonheading types deserve greater attention.

Chinese cabbage seems to do best as an autumn crop in the northern tier of States. When fullgrown, it is an attractive vegetable. It is not especially successful as a spring crop, and gardeners are advised not to try to grow it at any season other than fall in the North or in winter in the South.

The plant demands a very rich, well-drained but moist soil. The seeds may be sown and the plants transplanted to the garden, or the seed may be drilled in the garden rows and the plants thinned to the desired stand.


Cauliflower (fig. 25) is a hardy vegetable but it will not withstand as much frost as cabbage. Too much warm weather keeps cauliflower from heading. In the South, its culture is limited to fall, winter, and spring; in the North, to spring and fall. However, in some areas of high altitude and when conditions are otherwise favorable, cauliflower culture is continuous throughout the summer.

Cauliflower is grown on all types of land from sands to clay and peats. Although the physical character is unimportant, the land must be fertile and well drained. Manure and commercial fertilizer are essential.

The time required for growing cauliflower plants is the same as for cabbage. In the North, the main cause of failure with cauliflower in the spring is delay in sowing the seed and setting the plants. The fall crop must be planted at such a time that it will come to the heading stage in cool weather.

A necessary precaution in cauliflower culture with all varieties, except Purple Head, is to tie the leaves together when the heads, or buttons, begin to form. This keeps the heads white. Cauliflower does not keep long after the heads form; 1 or 2 dozen heads are enough for the average garden in one season.


Kohlrabi is grown for its swollen stem. In the North, the early crop may be started like cabbage and transplanted to the garden, but usually it is sown in place. In the South, kohlrabi may be grown almost any time except midsummer. The seeds may be started indoors and the plants transplanted in the garden; or the seeds may be drilled in the garden rows and the plants thinned to the desired stand. Kohlrabi has about the same soil and cultural requirements as cabbage, principally a fertile soil and enough moisture. It should be harvested while young and tender.


Practically all members of the onion group are adapted to a wide variety of soils. Some of them can be grown at one time of the year or another in any part of the country that has fertile soil and ample moisture. They require but little garden space to produce enough for a family's needs.


Chives are small onionlike plants (fig. 26) that will grow in any place where onions do well. They are frequently planted as a border, but are equally well adapted to culture in rows. Being a perennial, chives should be planted where they can be left for more than one season.

Chives may be started from either seed or clumps of bulbs. Once established, some of the bulbs can be lifted and removed to a new spot. When left in the same place for several years the plants become too thick; occasionally dividing and resetting is desirable.


Garlic is more exacting in its cultural requirements than are onions, but it may be grown with a fair degree of success in almost any home garden where good results are obtained with onions.

Garlic is propagated by planting the small cloves, or bulbs, which make up the large bulbs. Each large bulb contains about 10 small ones. Carefully separate the small bulbs and plant them singly.

The culture of garlic is practically the same as that of onions. When mature the bulbs are pulled, dried, and braided into strings or tied in bunches, which are hung in a cool, well-ventilated place.

In the South, where the crop matures early, care must be taken to keep the garlic in a cool, dry place; otherwise it spoils. In the North, where the crop matures later in the season, storage is not so difficult, but care must be taken to prevent freezing.


The leek resembles the onion in its adaptability and cultural requirements. Instead of forming a bulb it produces a thick, fleshy cylinder like a large green onion (fig. 27). Leeks are started from seeds, like onions. Usually the seeds are sown in a shallow trench, so that the plants can be more easily hilled up as growth proceeds. Leeks are ready for use any time after they reach the right size. Under favorable conditions they grow to 1 1/2 inches or more in diameter, with white parts 6 to 8 inches long. They may be lifted in the autumn and stored like celery in a coldframe or a cellar.


Onions thrive under a wide variety of climatic and soil conditions, but do best with an abundance of moisture and a temperate climate, without extremes of heat or cold through the growing season. In the South, the onion thrives in the fall, winter, and spring. Farther north, winter temperatures may be too severe for certain types. In the North, onions are primarily a spring, summer, and fall crop.

Any types of soil will grow onions, but it must be fertile, moist, and in the highest state of tilth. Both compost and commercial fertilizer, especially one high in phosphorus and potash, should be applied to the onion plot. A pound of compost to each square foot of ground and 4 or 5 pounds of fertilizer to each 100 square feet are about right. The soil should be very fine and free from clods and foreign matter.

Onions may be started in the home garden by the use of sets, seedlings, or seed. Sets, or small dry onions grown the previous year - preferably not more than 3/4 inch in diameter - are usually employed by home gardeners. Small green plants grown in an outdoor seedbed in the South or in a hotbed or a greenhouse are also in general use. The home-garden culture of onions from seed is satisfactory in the North where the summers are comparatively cool.

Sets and seedlings cost about the same; seeds cost much less. In certainty of results the seedlings are best; practically none form seedstalks. Seed-sown onions are uncertain unless conditions are extremely favorable.


The shallot is a small onion of the Multiplier type. Its bulbs have a more delicate flavor than most onions. Its growth requirements are about the same as those of most other onions. Shallots seldom form seed and are propagated by means of the small cloves or divisions, into which the plant splits during growth. The plant is hardy and may be left in the ground from year to year, but best results are had by lifting the clusters of bulbs at the end of the growing season and replanting the smaller ones at the desired time.

                     Part 1 of 4 ...  continued

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Part 2 of 4    continued

The fleshy-fruited, warm-season vegetables, of which the tomato is the most important, are closely related and have about the same cultural requirements. All must have warm weather and fertile, well-drained soil for good results.


Eggplant is extremely sensitive to the conditions under which it is grown. A warm weather plant, it demands a growing season of from 100 to 140 days with high average day and night temperatures. The soil, also, must be well warmed up before eggplant can safely be set outdoors.

In the South, eggplants are grown in spring and autumn; in the North, only in summer. The more northerly areas, where a short growing season and low summer temperatures prevail, are generally unsuitable for eggplants. In very fertile garden soil, which is best for eggplant, a few plants will yield a large number of fruits (fig. 28).

Sow eggplant seeds in a hotbed or greenhouse, or, in warm areas, outdoors about 8 weeks before the plants are to be transplanted. It is important that the plants be kept growing without check from low or drying temperatures or other causes. They may be transplanted like tomatoes. Good plants have stems that are not hard or woody; one with a woody stem rarely develops satisfactorily.


Peppers are more exacting than tomatoes in their requirements, but may be grown over a wide range in the United States. Being hot-weather plants, peppers cannot be planted in the North until the soil has warmed up and all danger of frost is over. In the South, planting dates vary with the location, fall planting being practiced in some locations. Start pepper plants 6 to 8 weeks before needed. The seeds and plants require a somewhat higher temperature than those of the tomato. Otherwise they are handled in exactly the same way (fig. 29).


Tomatoes grow under a wide variety of conditions and require only a relatively small space for a large production. Of tropical American origin, the tomato does not thrive in very cool weather. It will, however, grow in winter in home gardens in the extreme South. Over most of the upper South and the North, it is suited to spring, summer, and autumn culture. In the more northern areas, the growing season is likely to be too short for heavy yields. It is often desirable to increase early fruiting and the total length of the growing season by starting the plants indoors. By adopting a few precautions, the home gardener can grow tomatoes practically everywhere, given fertile soil with sufficient moisture.

A liberal application of compost and commercial fertilizer in preparing the soil should be sufficient for tomatoes under most conditions. Heavy applications of fertilizer should be broadcast, not applied in the row; but small quantities may be mixed with the soil in the row in preparing for planting.

Start early tomato plants from 5 to 7 weeks before they are to be transplanted to the garden. Enough plants for the home garden may be started in a window box and transplanted to small pots, paper drinking cups with the bottoms removed, plant bands (round or square), or other soil containers. In boxes, the seedlings are spaced 2 to 3 inches apart. Tomato seeds germinate best at about 70F, or ordinary house temperature. Growing tomato seedlings, after the first transplanting, at moderate temperatures, with plenty of ventilation, as in a coldframe, gives stocky, hardy growth. If desired, the plants may be transplanted again to larger containers, such as 4-inch clay pots or quart cans with holes in the bottom.

Tomato plants for all but the early spring crop are usually grown in outdoor seedbeds. Thin seeding and careful weed control will give strong, stocky plants for transplanting.

Tomatoes are sensitive to cold. Never plant them until danger of frost is past. By using plant protectors during cool periods the home gardener can set tomato plants somewhat earlier than would otherwise be possible. Hot, dry weather, like mid-summer weather in the South is also unfavorable for planting tomatoes. Planting distances depend on the variety and on whether the plants are to be pruned and staked or not. If pruned to one stem, trained, and tied to stakes or a trellis, plants may be set 18 inches apart in 3-foot rows. Unpruned plants grown in 2-foot diameter wire cylinders are planted 2 feet apart, also in 3-foot rows (fig. 30). Otherwise, they may be planted 3 feet apart in rows 4 to 5 feet apart. Pruning and staking have many advantages for the home gardener. Cultivation is easier, and the fruits are always clean and easy to find. Staked and pruned tomatoes are, however, more subject to losses from blossom-end rot than those allowed to grow naturally. 
                  continued to part 3

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Part 3 of 4   continued

Florence Fennel

Florence fennel is related to celery and celeriac. Its enlarged, flattened leafstalk is the portion used. For a summer crop, sow the seeds in the rows in spring; for an autumn and winter crop in the South, sow them toward the end of the summer. Thin the plants to stand about 6 inches apart. When the leafstalks have grown to about 2 inches in diameter, the plants may be slightly mounded up and partially blanched. They should be harvested and used before they become tough and stringy.


Okra, or gumbo, has about the same degree of hardiness as cucumbers and tomatoes and may be grown under the same conditions. It thrives on any fertile, well-drained soil. An abundance of quickly available plant food will stimulate growth and insure a good yield of tender, high-quality pods.

As okra is a warm-weather vegetable, the seeds should not be sown until the soil is warm. The rows should be from 3 to 3 1/2 feet apart, depending on whether the variety is dwarf or large growing. Sow the seeds every few inches and thin the plants to stand 18 inches to 2 feet apart in the rows. The pods should be picked young and tender, and none allowed to ripen. Old pods are unfit for use and soon exhaust the plant.


Physalis known also as groundcherry and husk tomato, is closely related to the tomato and can be grown wherever tomatoes do well. The kind ordinarily grown in gardens produces a yellow fruit about the size of a cherry. The seeds may be started indoors or sown in rows in the garden.

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn requires plenty of space and is adapted only to the larger gardens. Although a warm-weather plant, it may be grown in practically all parts of the United States. It needs a fertile, well-drained, moist soil. With these requirements met, the type of the soil does not seem to be especially important, but a clay loam is almost ideal for sweet corn.

In the South, sweet corn is planted from early spring until autumn, but the corn earworm, drought, and heat make it difficult to obtain worthwhile results in midsummer. The ears pass the edible stage very quickly, and succession plantings are necessary to insure a constant supply. In the North, sweet corn cannot be safely planted until the ground has thoroughly warmed up. Here, too, succession plantings need to be made to insure a steady supply. Sweet corn is frequently planted to good advantage after early potatoes, peas, beets, lettuce, or other early, short-season crops. Sometimes, to gain time, it may be planted before the early crop is removed.

Sweet corn may be grown in either hills or drills, in rows at least 3 feet apart. It is well to plant the seed rather thickly and thin to single stalks 14 to 16 inches apart or three plants to each 3-foot hill. Experiments have shown that in the eastern part of the country there is no advantage in removing suckers from sweet corn. Cultivation sufficient to control weeds is all that is needed.

Hybrid sweet corn varieties, both white and yellow, are usually more productive than the open-pollinated sorts. As a rule, they need a more fertile soil and heavier feeding. They should be fertilized with 5-10-5 fertilizer about every 3 weeks until they start to silk. Many are resistant to disease, particularly bacterial wilt. There are some sugar-enhanced varieties now in the market which retain their sweetness for a longer period of time than regular sweet corn. Never save seed from a hybrid crop for planting. Such seed does not come true to the form of the plants from which it was harvested.
         continued to part 4

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Part 4 of 4  

While many home gardeners rely on the careful use of chemicals to prevent losses from insects, diseases, weeds, and other pests, others prefer to deal with such problems organically. Organic gardening excludes the use of manufactured fertilizers and pesticides, with emphasis placed on the following measures:

.The use of mulches, composts, and manures to build up the soil. The return of organic material to the land is an excellent practice, provided no disease organisms or weed seeds are returned in the process.

.Physical and mechanical control measures against pests, such as destroying insect egg masses by hand, handpicking potato beetles and tomato hornworms as they appear, and removing diseased plants as soon as the first symptoms appear.

.Cultural measures involving the use of ordinary farming practices before insect or disease damage becomes apparent. Often these may consist merely of variations of routine operations necessary to produce the crop, including rotation of land and crops between seasons.

.Biological control measures in which natural enemies of pests are used. Some insects do not damage plants and are beneficial to man because they destroy injurious insects. Important beneficial insects include the ant lion (doodlebug), aphid lion (lacewing), assassin bugs, damsel bugs, ground beetles, lady beetles, praying mantids, spiders and certain predaceous mites, and syrphid flies (wasps). Use resistant varieties. Check seed catalogs for this information. Many new varieties are disease and insect resistant. Use wood ashes around plants where slugs are a problem.

Two natural insecticides commonly used by organic gardeners are rotenone and pyrethrum. Both insecticides are plant products and have low toxicity. They should be used in strict accordance with directions on the container label.

Many State agricultural experiment stations are publishing information geared specifically to the needs and problems of organic gardeners and farmers. Your State Extension office or county Extension agent can advise you about the availability of such information within your State.

The county Extension offices are listed in your local phone directory. State Extension offices are located in the following land-grant colleges and universities.

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--Beware of Snapdragons--

--Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade--
--My husband said if I buy any more perennials he would leave me...gosh, I'm going to miss that man!--