Tag Archives | garden

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

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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How to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant

This article will show you how to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant by grafting a tomato plant onto a potato plant. As summer slowly rolls to an end, we often find ourselves with an abundance of tomatos.  Many of the fruit remains green and not fully ripened.  I typically find myself asking, “What can I do different next year to get more fruit for my effort?”

 

It turns out there is an answer:  grafting tomato plants to potatoes.

How to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant

Grafted Plant Diagram (click image to see image source)

Over the centuries, smart gardeners and farmers have developed successful methods to use potato root stock to support tomatoes that may not otherwise be well suited to poor soil conditions in your garden.

 

This is a great way to save space in your garden!  You can start your potatoes early in the growing season to let them mature.  Leave some of the potato plants in place and perform the following grafting process to give your tomato plants a head start!

 

The process:

  1. Taking the potato plant (called the “stock”) cut the stem about 1-inch above the ground and split the stem in a V-shape.
  2. At the tomato plant (called a “scion”), cut the stem with at least 6 to 8 inches of length with a straight across cut.  I recommend choosing a tomato plant that has a stem roughly the same diameter as the potato plant rootstock.
  3. Shape the cut end of the tomato plant to a wedge shape so that it will fit into the potato plant stem’s V-shape cut.
  4. Carefully slide the tomato plant stem onto the potato rootstock.
  5. Wrap the graft location with grafting tape in order to hold the two plants together.
  6. The grafting tape needs to remain in place until the tomato plant begins to show new growth.

 

Here is an illustration of the grafting steps described above:

How to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant

Grafting Scion Section to Stock (click image to see image source)

Why does this grafting process work?  Tomato plants and potato plants are part of the family of plants called “nightshades”.  Both plants contain alkaloids that help protect the plants from insects (they can even be used to make an organic liquid pest control solution for aphids: Organic Aphid Control)

 

A point of caution, grafting can potentially affect the flavor of the tomato fruit.  Also, grafted plants may yield less fruit than two separate plants grown from seeds.  On the other hand, a major benefit is the grafting process will save you a lot of time and space!

How to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant

Tomato-Potato Graft Plant Starts (click image to see image source)

If you end up trying this next year, or plant to grow potatoes in general, we have the perfect garden box for potatoes (and for lots of other things too). We call it TogetherFarm Blocks. This is a modular garden box system made from 100% recycled, food-grade plastic that can be put together in any shape or size. Because it is modular, it is perfect for growing potatoes and tomatoes. Tomatoes will send out roots at any point that the stem is below the  surface of the soil. So, as the plant grows, you can add additional layers onto your modular garden box to give the plant even more strength and fruitfulness. With the potatoes, TogetherFarm Blocks makes it simple at harvest time. Simply pull apart the blocks to be able to get to all the potatoes underground. So cool! We are currently in the last few days of a Kickstarter Campaign to get these blocks to market. If you pledge now, we will ship you a kit at the end of January of next year – just in time for next year’s growing season. Here is a link to TogetherFarm Blocks on Kickstarter as well as a picture of an assembled box. Help us reach our goal and get incredible rewards. Pledge now!

 http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/togetherfarm/turning-plastic-into-produce-togetherfarm-blocks

How to grow tomatoes and potatoes on one plant

TogetherFarm Blocks – an eco-friendly and easy way to build a garden box

 

Happy Gardening,

Matt and the TogetherFarm Produce Evangelists

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Last few days to Pre-order TogetherFarm Blocks on Kickstarter!

Kickstarter Campaign for TogetherFarm Blocks

The TogetherFarm Team has been hard at work the past 4 weeks getting the word out about TogetherFarm Blocks. Our Kickstarter campaign continues to progress towards being fully funded and there’s still time for you to pledge and receive a garden kit of your own. The Kickstarter Campaign will end on September 23rd at about 9pm. So, hurry on over to the TogetherFarm Kickstarter page and make your pledge before it is too late. Be a part of a movement that is empowering more people to grow their own produce. Follow this link to make your pledge now:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/togetherfarm/turning-plastic-into-produce-togetherfarm-blocks

Kickstarter Campaign for TogetherFarm Blocks

We already have over 350 backers of TogetherFarm Blocks on Kickstarter. Each of these people is receiving an incredible reward for their pledge. Here are some quotes from some of our recent fans:

  • “I always try to tell people that if they have a few square feet of sun, they can grow some food. TogetherFarm Blocks will help with that mission.”
  • “What a great product for those of us who are disabled and the ground is just a little too far away.”
  • “I love this idea – it is what I have been looking for, in particular, the fact it does not involve me measuring and cutting my own garden box.”
  • “Love the idea of these blocks and the ease of building raised beds anywhere.”
  • “I have built my own planter boxes before, but it involved a chop saw and lumber. This looked WAY more fun, and right up my alley.”

And the list goes on! People all over are excited about TogetherFarm Blocks. If you haven’t pledged yet, would you consider doing that right now? Here is the link:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/togetherfarm/turning-plastic-into-produce-togetherfarm-blocks

Thanks so much for your support!

 

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What to do with extra (large) Zucchini – 3 Delicious Recipes

This article will explain what to do with extra (large) Zucchini by giving 3 delicious recipes.

Every year my garden produces way more zucchini than we can keep up with. We are always giving zucchini away to friends and neighbors but even so, we end up with extra large zucchinis that we don’t want to go to waste. This summer, we discovered a few ways to put these zucchinis to good use. Here are 3 easy recipes that work great with large Zucchini:

1. Grilled Zucchini

What to do with extra (large) Zucchini - 3 Delicious Recipes

This is so easy to do and really delicious. All you need to do is slice the zucchini into long flat strips that are about 1/4″ thick. I usually leave the skin on to hold the pieces together better. Then, put the zucchini on your BBQ and pour a little bit of soy sauce on each piece. Then, add salt and pepper.

What to do with extra (large) Zucchini - 3 Delicious Recipes

When you flip the pieces of zucchini over, the soy sauce, salt, and pepper will all get grilled into the zucchini adding a ton of flavor. Once the zucchini starts turning slightly transluscent, you know it’s ready. Take it off to serve and enjoy!

2. Zucchini as a pasta replacement in Pesto

This is one of the coolest things we discovered this summer. My brother-in-law told us about this and then made it for us at a family reunion. It was so delicious! What you do is make normal pesto (we typically buy the pesto mix at the store but you can also make your own if you have lots of basil handy), but instead of adding pasta noodles, you use zucchini noodles from your large zucchini. To prep the zucchini, use a thick cheese grader or simply cut the zucchini into thin spaghetti like strips. Then, quickly cook the zucchini for about 4 minutes. Put it into a strainer to let it drain. Then, add to your pesto mix in place of adding pasta noodles with a little bit of olive oil and additional fresh basil if you have it. Mix it up and add some salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. Now you have a low-carb, delicious, and healthy meal that uses up your large zucchini.

3. Zucchini Bread or Muffins

Zucchini Bread or Muffins is the default go to use of large zucchinis. Zucchini bread not only tastes delicious, but it is also really healthy for you because of the large amount of zucchini you use. There are dozens of recipes online that you can choose from. Here are a few links to ones that I like:

  • Super Moist Zucchini Bread or Muffins (healthy): http://allrecipes.com/recipe/super-moist-zucchini-bread/
  • Mom’s Zucchini Bread: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/moms-zucchini-bread/

Do you have additional recipes or ways that you use zucchini? Let us know in the comments.

If you have never grown zucchini or any other produce of your own, TogetherFarm has made a much easier way for you to do that. We want everyone to experience the benefits and flavor or homegrown produce and so we have created a modular garden box that doesn’t require tools to build and can be built in any shape or size. The modular garden box system is called TogetherFarm Blocks. The blocks are made from 100% recycled food-grade plastic so they are good for the environment too! You can pre-order your garden box kit on Kickstarter by following this link:

TogetherFarm Blocks on Kickstarter

Kickstarter Campaign for TogetherFarm Blocks

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