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Garden preparation for May

Photo by Zack Dowell

Photo by Zack Dowell

What to do in the garden in May to get ready for all the plants that will be in the ground before you know it? May is an in-between month for many gardening zones. Too cold to plant your less hardy varietals that might be harmed by a late frost, but just warm enough to start prepping the soil for those seeds that can take a little colder weather. But regardless of what gardening zone you are in,  there are plenty of tasks to be done to prep your garden and give it the head start it needs to perform:

  • Rip out invasive plants while the soil is damp, before they spread even further.
  • Check out spring flowering trees and shrubs while they are in bloom and make notes for future purchases.
  • Ready your compost bin, turn it and add nitrogen or plant matter if need be.
  • Keep a watch out for asparagus beetles, aphids, cabbage worms, cutworms, scale, slugs & snails and any signs of fungal diseases.
  • Clean the flower pots with a solution of bleach and water to kill any lingering disease or mold if used from one season to the next. If you have Togetherfarm Blocks, you can simply toss them in the dishwasher for one cycle!
  • Seed cool season vegetables and root crops after mid-month (beetsbeanscabbagecarrots,chard, lettuce, onionspotatoesradishesturnips).
  • Start warm season melons and squash indoors, to transplant after Memorial Day.
  • Keep seeding lettuces, greens and beans.
  • Summer bulbs can be planted outdoors.

For those of you new to gardening this year, you can get a head start on the Spring weather by snapping your Togetherfarm garden beds together, add a good compost rich soil, and plant your zone appropriate veggies and flowers.

And here is a zone-specific garden “to do” list  from the USDA, and a task specific to do list for each zone at Organic Gardening.

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3 of the Best Winter Crops – Onions, Garlic, and Cabbage


Cabbage is a great winter vegetable.

This article will give you an overview for 3 of the best winter crops – onions, garlic, and cabbage.

In the past I always assumed that my garden would just lay dormant in the winter. After all, what produce really grows in the winter? But, I was wrong.

There are actually quite a few varieties of plants that can be planted in the fall to be harvested in the winter or early the next season. Before planting in the fall, be sure to amend the soil to make sure that you have plenty of nutrients for the winter crops to thrive on (for a soil amendment recipe, see tip 3 of this article: 3 Tips on How to Prep for the New Growing Season). One other thing is that these plants grow best in areas that have a mild winter – meaning that there are nights that might get below freezing but not severe freezing for weeks and weeks at a time.

So, what are 3 of the best crops to grow over the winter? Here they are:

1. Onions

Onions are a perfect winter crop because they take very little effort to plant and maintain. Simply plant the onion in the amended soil so that the bulb is covered (about 1-2 inches deep). You can plant onions even as late as October or early November depending on the weather. Once you have planted the onions, cover the soil with mulch. This will help to keep the soil moist and slightly warmer. Water the plants a couple times per week if the soil is dry in your area and until the first freeze. Then, just leave the onions for the entire winter. In the spring, you can harvest the green part of the onion to use in soups and other dishes. Once the tops turn brown, your onions are ready for harvest.

2. Garlic

Garlic is also an easy plant to grow in the winter. You can even just buy a large garlic from the store and break each of the little cloves a part (called “cracking”). The larger each of the individual cloves, the bigger the garlic will be when harvested. Each clove will  become a whole garlic for the harvest the next summer. When planting, it is important to plant the bottom of the clove down and the top facing up. You can plant garlic in October or November depending on the weather in your area (you will need to plant garlic 3 weeks before the first hard freeze). Plant at a depth of about 2 inches below the surface and then cover with mulch.

3. Cabbage

Cabbage is a plant that will grow and be ready for harvest in the winter. In order to do this, you will need to plant the cabbage from seed in late Spring, or you can buy starts in the late summer or early fall from your local nursery. Make sure your soil has lots of nutrients. The Savoy Cabbage is among the hardiest of the cabbages and is a perfect one to grow in the winter. When the cabbage looks big enough and the head feels firm, you can harvest it in the middle or late winter.

There you have it. There are lots of other plants that can grow in the winter. If you don’t want to grow produce in the winter, then try growing a cover crop. Cover crops help put nutrients back into the soil for the next growing season and they help with weed control. Check out this article to find out more about cover crops: Cover Crops.

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Tips on Harvesting Pumpkins and Saving the Seeds

Hewlett-PackardHere are some great tips on harvesting pumpkins and saving the seeds for next year.


Here in the Northern part of the country Fall is in the air. It is a great time of year with warm days and cool nights. Being Fall it also means a whole new batch of goodies from the garden will be ready soon. One of the most popular crops is Pumpkins. They are easy to grow and come in all sorts of colors and sizes.


Here are some tips on harvesting and Storing Pumpkins:

1. Leave the pumpkin on the vine until it is the color you want. After you pick it the color stays the same.


2. A couple of ways to tell if the pumpkin is ripe other than color preference are first to see if the skin of the pumpkin can be pierced by your fingernail. Another trick is to check the stem. If it is withering and cracking the pumpkin is “done”.

3. You could also be a very laid back gardener and just let Mother Nature do her thing and let the pumpkins and vines be. The vines will eventually dry out and you won’t even have to cut the pumpkin off the vine to harvest it.


4. Pumpkins can get really big. Be careful to support your prize pumpkin with both hands. Holding your pumpkin by the stem could lead to a disaster if the stem breaks.


5. Store your pumpkins in a cool dry place (no frost) and don’t let them touch as the skins of  pumpkins touching can lead to rotting. The pumpkins should last for a few months if properly stored.


If you are planning on saving the seeds:


1. Collect the seeds and wash the pulp off of them.

2. Allow them to dry thoroughly. Place them on a rack or screen where air can get at them for drying.

3. Once dried the seeds can be stored where there is air but no sunlight. Recycle an old envelop for this and you can mark what the seeds are right on it.

4. The seeds should last a few years if stored properly.

This article comes courtesy of Dan Ashbach’s great site.  Check out more great articles here:

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Where Does Food Come From?

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Where does food come from before it gets to the grocery store?  The USDA has strict country of origin labeling (COOL) laws that, “requires retailers … notify their customers with information regarding the source of certain foods.” Effective as of 2005, the law covers just about anything edible including: muscle cut and ground meats (beef, veal, pork, lamb, goat, and chicken); wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts; and ginseng. Yes, ginseng made the list and is specifically called out.

Cut the tomato off the vine with about an inch of the stem still attached. This helps the tomato ripen better.

Home grown tomato

Although the law covers country of origin, it’s difficult – if not impossible – to tell where within the country the food came from, the conditions in which it was raised, or the handling of that food from origin to table. This is just one of many factors that have fueled local food movements.

The microclimate in your area can affect what grows best in your yard.

The microclimate in your area can affect what grows best in your yard.

If you are interested in learning more, is a great place to start. They point out that in addition to exceptional taste and freshness, buying locally strengthens your local economy, supports endangered family farms, safeguard your family’s health, and protects the environment. And don’t forget the experience factor. Whether you are checking out local farms or growing your own food, you’ll have these memories for a lifetime.

If you want to know where your produce comes from, one of the best ways is to grow it yourself.  Check out our Kickstarter Campaign, where we are raising funds to bring our very first product, TogetherFarm Blocks™, to you.  If you have a small space you can use these blocks to quickly build a custom garden box without tools or carpentry experience.  Check them out!

grow your own produce

Grow your own produce!

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