How to Grow

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You may not be familiar with this vegetable, but chard is a popular vegetable to many gardeners because of its brightly colored leaves and stalks. Chards can also brighten up your vegetable patch. The leaves of this vegetable are crinkly and they look just like spinach. You can cook the stalks like asparagus.

Chards are easy to grow and they can do well in dry weather.

Soil requirement

Chards need deep, loose, fertile, and well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Your garden soil should be high in organic matter.

Can it be grown in container? What size container is best?

You can definitely grow chards in containers. These plants grow well in containers. Chards have dark leaves and bright stalks which make them a good ornamental addition to your flower garden.

To plant chards in containers, all you have to do is spread some seeds in it for easy leaf picking. Larger heads require more room to grow, so plant 2 chards in each 12 inches container. Use containers that are 12 inches deep.

How to grow

  • This plant does not require too much work as it grows. Unlike most vegetables, chards are not heavy-feeders so you don’t have to worry about feeding them or fertilizing them.
  • Thin your chard seedlings to 1 ft. apart or 2 inches for mini-leaves.
  • Water them before the onset of drought.
  • Add mulch when your soil is warm and moist.
  • In October cover your plants with cloches, protect the crown with straw or any similar material, and then cover them with fleece.

How to care for your chards

  • Water your chards with a depth of 1 or 2 inches each week.
  • Spread mulch around your chards to retain the moisture in the soil and to keep weeds at bay.
  • Protect your seedlings and transplants in their early growth stage with row covers.

Pest and pest control

Birds – birds might uproot your seedlings.

Solution: you can put scarecrows and bird-scaring mechanisms in your garden, but these will only work for a while. A more reliable solution is to protect your seedlings by covering them with horticultural fleece or mesh.

Downy Mildew or Grey Mold – these problems can occur in crops that are densely sown. Your seedlings will suddenly collapse.

Solution: sow chards thinly in warm conditions.

Harvest

  • You can harvest chards while they are young and tender, just cut off the outer leaves first and work towards the center. Do not wait for your chards to reach maximum size.
  • Harvest regularly to allow your plants to re-grow.
  • You can harvest seedlings that are around 2 inches tall at any stage.

Suggested varieties

Bright Yellow AGM – this variety has bright golden-yellow petioles with mid-green puckered leaves.

Charlotte AGM – this variety has striking red stems and veins, upright leaves and neat habit.

Fordhook giant AGM – this variety has attractive shiny green, puckered leaves with long succulent white petioles.

Lucullus AGM – this variety has lots of tender light green leaves with long succulent white petioles.

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Beets are easy to grow making them ideal for first time gardeners.

For more experienced growers, the best results are achieved by sowing beets little and often. Harvest the roots while they are young, tender and about the size of a golf ball.

The leaves of this plant are edible. Beets can be roasted and added to burgers. Yum!

Soil requirement

Beet plants will grow in a well-drained garden soil, but make sure that the soil is fertile. Add a bucketful of well-rotted compost or organic matter in your garden soil if it needs improvement. Adding organic matter to your soil is always good for your plants.

Can it be grown in container? What size container is best?

You can grow varieties that produce round roots in containers, but varieties that produce longer roots won’t work very well on containers.

Beet plants have tap roots that are a little bit longer than the portion of the root that is edible which is why they need a lot of depth. Beets such as Kestrel, Mini Ball, and Merlin grow well in containers; do not plant beets like the Mammoth in containers.

Choose a container with a depth of about 12 inches, with very loose soil. If you’re going to grow beets to maturity, plant at least two beets per container.

How to grow

Early sowings of beets can benefit from protection with cloches and horticultural fleece. Thin out the seedlings if they are about 1 inch high to leave 1 seedling per 10 cm station.

You can harvest the young greens before the root of your beet plants mature.

General Care

  • Water beet plants daily and apply organic fertilizer at least once a month.
  • Do not let your plants dry out; regularly test for moisture (especially in beets growing in containers). To test soil moisture, simply poke a finger in the soil to root depth. If the soil feels dry, you need to water the plant.
  • Be careful not to water beets too much.
  • Beets will produce cracked roots if they have an irregular growth.

Problems and Solutions

Leaf miner, aphids, flea beetles, etc – the leaves of beet plants are the target of many pests including aphids, flea beetle, and leaf miner. These pests chew up the leaves of your plants and they can cause serious damage especially if they are in large numbers. Pests like aphids and flea beetles can carry diseases between your plants.

Solution: Apply organic insecticide to your beet leaves, but don’t apply organic insecticides if you’re going to harvest any greens within a few days. Before applying insecticides, wash the leaves thoroughly.

Bolting – beet plants flower and set seed, rather than producing edible roots. This problem is normally caused by stress. Cold spell and drought are the cause of stress of beet plants.

Solution: Sow varieties that can resist bolt and keep your garden soil moist.

Harvest

You can harvest beets when they have reached the size of a golf ball, you can use them as a tasty treat in your kitchen. You can leave the other plants to reach maturity and harvest them when they are the size of a cricket ball.

Suggested varieties

The red coloration in beets comes from the sap; there are also varieties of beets in other colors.

Albinia Vereduna – sweet with white roots and sap.

Babieto di Chioggia – when you slice this you will see that the flesh has white internal rings.

Boltardy AGM – delicious, smooth skinned, good for early cropping, and has a good resistance to bolting.

Burpee’s Golden – it has orange skin and yellow flesh, the color will remain even when it’s cooked and it does not bleed.

Cheltenham Green Top AGM – this is a tasty, old, tapering variety of beet, it has long roots, and it stores well.

Regala AGM – has very dark roots, quite small when matured, has a good bolt resistance, and good for containers.

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Artichokes have spines and they are related to thistle. The flower head is edible; it looks like a big scaled pine cone. The main edible portion is the inside heart of the head, but there are also a bit of tasty flesh at the bottom of every scale.

You can eat artichokes raw, you can cook them in different ways, and you can also add them to your salad dishes. Artichokes are a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, and protein.

Soil requirement

Artichokes require rich soil for them to be able to thrive. Add compost into your artichoke bed in spring. You can also mix a granulated organic fertilizer with a balanced Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium level. Make sure that you follow package recommendations when applying it.

Can it be grown in container? What size container is best?

You can definitely grow artichokes in containers; just choose very large containers. If you live in a place where the winters are too cold, you can have better luck overwintering your artichokes if you plant them in containers instead of planting them in your garden.

Place your pots 3 feet apart from each plant, and 1 foot or so in depth. Cut back the plant at the end of the season, mulch over and move the containers to a sheltered area. Uncover them during the spring.

How to grow

  • Artichokes can grow in any good garden soil.
  • Transplant your artichokes in the garden when they are large enough to tolerate outdoor conditions – when they have grown 5 true leaves. Plant them two feet apart. Water them well.
  • Seed-grown artichoke plants normally flower the same year of sowing.
  • Divide your artichoke plants every 2-3 years to keep them young and vigorous. Plant them with the same spacing as the seeds.
  • Make sure to keep your garden weed-free. Mulch your garden bed with well-rotted manure, do the same in spring when your garden soil is warm and moist. To increase your yields, feed the soil with 70g per sq m of general fertilizer like Growmore, do the same thing in spring.
  • Water your plants during dry weather; keep soil moist.
  • If you’re living in a cold area, cover your plants with mulch of straw, compost or well rotted manure in late autumn, do these to protect your plants from the cold weather.

How to care for (maintenance; include watering, fertilizing, etc.)

  • Keep your garden soil evenly moist the whole season.
  • Apply a liquid organic fertilizer every month.

Pest and pest control

Aphids – these pests usually feed on the heads of globe artichokes. But the damage can still be tolerated.

Solution: If you see aphids in your artichoke plants all you have to do is to squash them using your finger and thumb. There’s no need to spray them, but you can use pyrethrum, plant or fish oils, or thiacloprid.

Slugs – these pests can damage the growing tips and defoliate plants. They usually go out at night and after rainfall.

Solution: To protect your plants, hunt them by torchlight on mild, damp night, or you can also bury beer traps. To make beer traps all you have to do is get a jar, fill the half of it with beer, and then sink it into the ground. You can also use slug pellets that have ferric phosphate.

Harvest

Artichokes can be harvested any time after the flower buds form and until they start to open. The flavor of artichokes does not depend on maturity. Use a sharp knife to slice the buds off at the base.

Suggested varieties

Green Globe – these are large green heads with thick, fleshy scales. Use winter protection in cooler places.

Purple Sicilian – small, deep purple buds, you can eat them raw when they are young. They are not frost hardy.

Vert de Laon – hardy with an excellent flavor.

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Arugula is a fast-growing cool-season salad green. You can harvest Arugula in as early as 4 weeks and add them to your salad dishes and mesclun mixes, to add some flavor to them. Arugula usually has a tangy, peppery or mustard-like flavor.

Notes:

Start from seeds or seedlings

Germination: 5-7 days; 40F to 55F

Seed life in storage: 5 years

Plant in low fertility soil

Needs full sun; tolerates part shade

Plant seeds 1 inch apart

Plant seedlings 6 inches apart

Ready to harvest in 30-40 days

Arugula needs rich humus soil with a pH of 6 – 6.8, but it can still tolerate other soil conditions. This cold-loving green will bolt in summer heat. Shading the plant and keeping the soil moist will help slow down bolting.

Growing Arugula

  • The seeds of this plant can germinate quickly even if the soil is cold. Plant them as soon as the soil is workable in spring.
  • Plant them with a depth of 1/4 inch and an inch apart in rows. You can plant them together with other greens. Gradually thin your Arugula plants to 6-inch spacing. Add the thinning to your salad dishes.
  • Do not plant Arugula near crops that belong to the cabbage family.
  • Can be grown in containers

Care and maintenance

  • It’s important to keep the soil moist as the plant grows
  • Encourage insects; arugula needs insects for pollination.
  • Plant another batch of Arugula every 2-3 weeks for you to have a continuous supply a month before the first date of frost arrive.
  • This plant usually self-seeds.
  • This plant is self-sterile.
  • This plant will not cross with other plants from the mustard family.

Harvesting

  • The flowers of this plant is edible
  • You can harvest this plant in just 30-40 days.
  • Pick off the outside tender leaves of this plant at the base of it.
  • Make sure to leave the center growing intact for your future harvest. Arugula is great for cut-and-come-again harvesting.
  • If you see larger leaves get rid of them, these leaves are tough and have a very bitter taste.
  • In warmer weather, the leaves of this plant can also have a bitter taste.
  • Eat them raw or cooked.

Arugula plants have little white flowers with dark veins. Little seed pods will form along the stem of these plants. These little seed pods can be eaten fresh, but they are very spicy and they also have a very strong radish flavor. When the whole plant starts to turn brown, cut off water and let nature take care of it. Support the stems as they dry so that they will not fall over.

What you’re going to do next is up to you. You can cover the stems with stockings or paper bags to catch the seeds when the pods open. When you hear a rattling sound when you shake the pods, it means that they’re ready. You can hang them upside-down in a paper bag for at least a week or so.

After collecting the seeds, shake the bag or stick your hand inside the bag and crumble the dried seed pods. You will now have a pile of small dark seeds mixed with papery seed pod chaff. Separate the seeds and the chaff by placing them in a shallow pan and blow the chaff off. The seeds will stay put, since they weigh more than the chaff. You can also separate them by placing them in a sieve that has holes bigger than the seeds and smaller than the chaff, and then shake it.

Once you have done separating the seeds and the chaff, you can now store the seeds in a Ziploc bag. Label it with the date and year. You can also store them in envelopes or jars. Keep the seeds in a cool, dry place.

How To Grow Arugula

Featured image credit: dcfoodies.com