Baby’s Leaf Hybrid Spinach

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Photo Credit: Burpee.com

With the cooler weather coming Baby’s Leaf Hybrid Spinach is a suitable selection to grow at the Veggie-Bed. Sowing this hybrid spinach just before the cold weather arrives yields a fall harvest. Having a germination time of 7-14 days, and 30 days to harvest makes this an excellent choice for the Veggie-Bed’s plant hardiness zone (zone 8a). Baby’s Leaf is frost tolerant and will survive with an application of mulch well into late fall.
High in vitamin A, vitamin K and folate one cup of raw Baby’s Leaf Spinach supplies more than the daily value for vitamin K, which is important for proper blood clotting. Used in salads, smoothies, and cooked dishes this versatile vegetable is often consumed here at the Veggie-Bed.

Writer: Tom Myrick

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“Lemon Boy” Rocks

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018- 

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We’re not talking about an album by Cavetown; we’re talking about tomatoes! This hybrid, Lemon Boy, is undoubtedly the favorite tomato grown at the Veggie-Bed. Lemon Boy has an unique yellow skin and a delightful flavor; countless slices made their way to boundless salads and meals.

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

According to seed industry tradition, John Peto, founder of Petoseed, bred Lemon Boy and released it in 1984. Lemon Boy is popular amongst growers because of its distinctive lemon shade color and low acidity. It was referred to as the “tomato of the month” by some growers.

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

Bearing tomatoes that averaged 6 to 7 ounces and 3 1/2 inches across, the Lemon Boy out-yielded all the other tomato plants here at the Veggie-Bed. This average growing, very disease-resistant tomato plant produced fruit throughout the entire season. To avoid splitting or dwarf tomatoes, we watered them every 3 to 4 days and stopped the fertilizer applications once the fruit was plentifully growing. This tomato is most definitely on the “must grow” list at the Veggie-Bed.

Writer: Tom Myrick

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Torrid Fruits From Hell

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

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Almost every vegetable garden has them – hot peppers. So, what to with these fiery capsica (aka peppers)? Try freezing, roasting, blending with a sauce, pickling, canning, or drying them. Having gobs of cowhorn peppers (Capsicum annuum, Plant variety -Cowhorn Pepper) at the Veggie-Bed, we chose to dry them.

“The cowhorn is often referred to as a cayenne-like pepper or as a variety of cayenne. The cayenne, too, is sometimes called cowhorn. Sure, they share a similar tapering shape and coloring (maturing from green to a bold red), but they are related only as much as they come from the same family of chilies, annuum” (pepperscale.com) [1].

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

“There are many different ways to prepare and preserve them. One of the easiest and fastest ways to do this for future use is to dry the hot peppers with a string. In only a few minutes, you can quickly string up your peppers and then leave them to dry in a sunny window” (leaf.tv) [2]. “Drying chili peppers is a great way to store them for the long term. You don’t want to waste any of those chili peppers picked from that huge harvest this year” (chilipeppermadness.com) [3].

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

Using a needle and fishing line, the cowhorns were strung together and hung in a window with direct sunlight. After several weeks, they started to dry. Upon taste testing some of the ground pepper, my mouth felt like I had eaten a lump of hot coal, sweat broke out on my forehead, eyes teared-up, and nose started running – leaving me running for a glass of milk!

Writer: Tom Myrick

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Invasion of the Cucurbits

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

Every season the Veggie-Bed is overrun with squash. These plants flourish by planting the squash throughout the Veggie-Bed’s grounds in areas with plenty of sunlight and good drainage.  Squash is in the genus of herbaceous vines in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, Cucurbits (aka Cucurbita), and the species is grown worldwide for their edible fruit.

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Photo Credit: LawnCare by Tom

“Squash is a warm weather crop (including both summer and winter (butternut, acorn, etc.) squash).  It is sensitive to frost and to cold.  Growing squash is successful in most gardening climates. However, the colder the climate, the shorter the plant’s growing cycle. In hot climates, plant year round. In colder regions, plant in early summer” (howtogardenadvice.com) [1].

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

Picking squash before reaching full maturity because their skin is edible and summer squash is delicious raw, many are eaten right off the vine.

“Summer squash is a non-starchy vegetable that is very low in calories and carbohydrates. It is one of those foods that you can eat without feeling guilty because it fits very well on a low-carbohydrate and modified carbohydrate diet” (verywellfit.com.) [2].

After collecting bags of squash, we inundate friends and neighbors with the abundance of this prolific plant.

Sources:

[1] http://www.howtogardenadvice.com/vegetables/grow_squash.html

[2] https://www.verywellfit.com/summer-squash-and-zucchini-nutrition-facts-4114725

Writer: Tom Myrick

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Sweet Potatoes Are a Southern Favorite

sp ugSweet potatoes are considered as root vegetables, having large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots. Young leaves and shoots are eaten as greens.
Started from small rooted pieces of tuber sliced off the sweet potato. “Sweet potatoes require 4 months of warm temperatures to develop full-size tubers, but they are surprisingly easy to grow. Since the vines root wherever they touch the ground, a few plants can produce a generous harvest. There are also bush varieties, for smaller gardens” (thespruce.com) [1].

Harvest when the leaves and ends of the vines have started turning yellow or leave them in the ground up until the fall frost. “Tubers can grow a foot away from the plant, so give ample space to prevent nicking and damaging the skin (which will encourage spoilage). Digging is much easier when the soil is dry” (veggieharvest.com) [2].

Place harvested sweet potatoes in cool, dry, well ventilated containers. Store containers in a basement or root cellar away heat. store them in a basement or root cellar away from heat.

Having a taste so good that they are almost worth dying for, sweet potatoes are served in many different ways. “Sweet potatoes are nutritious, high in fiber, very filling and have a delicious sweet taste. They can be consumed in a variety of ways, but are most commonly boiled, baked, steamed or fried” (healthline.com) [3].

Sources:

[1] https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-grow-sweet-potatoes-in-the-home-garden-1403479.

[2] https://veggieharvest.com/vegetables/sweet-potato.htm

[3] https://veggieharvest.com/vegetables/sweet-potato.htm

Writer: Tom Myrick

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Emerald and Sunshine

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

The okra plants were flourishing at the Veggie-Bed as the hot weather continued. They were producing a beautiful flower much like their cousin in the mallow family, the hibiscus. The okra pod is delicious when eaten right off the plant or battered and fried.

“Emerald Okra is an early-harvest variety actually developed by the Campbell Soup Co. Tall plants bear round, smooth, deep-green pods that you can actually let grow all the way to 8 inches, and they will still be tender enough for gumbos or soups. For stir-fry or pan-fry, the pods should be harvested before they get that long” (plantationproducts.com) [1].

“As more gardeners discover that they really like okra, the range of this warm-natured hibiscus cousin is steadily edging northward. The early growth of okra is often slow, but the plants grow much faster once summer starts sizzling. As the plants grow, they begin producing yellow blossoms followed by tender pods. Warm weather helps pods grow quickly, so check plants every day once they start producing. A pod can grow from nothing to full size in 2 or 3 days. Pods first appear at the base of the plant up so that by the end of the season you could be on your tiptoes to harvest” (bonnieplants.com) [2].

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

“Ripe okra should feel tender to the touch. Wear gloves and long sleeves when feeling and harvesting the okra, as its small hairs are often irritating to the skin. Measure the okra, okra should be picked when it is 2 to 3 inches long” (answers.com) [3].

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Photo By: Tom Myrick -2018-

“The health benefits of okra include its ability to improve digestive health and vision, boost skin health, protect infant health, prevent certain cancers, and strengthen bones. It also improves cardiovascular health, balances cholesterol levels , aids the immune system, lowers blood pressure , and protects heart health” (organicfacts.net) [4].

Sources:

[1] http://www.plantationproducts.com/catalog/cfProduct_Detail.cfm?p=2150

[2] https://bonnieplants.com/growing/growing-okra/

[3] http://qa.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_tell_when_an_okra_is_ripe

[4] https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-okra.html

Writer: Tom Myrick

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Preparing the Summer Vegetable Garden for Winter

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Photo Credit: LawnCare by Tom

The summer growing season is coming to a end and is the start of next year’s vegetable garden as well.

After harvesting the last of the Veggie-Bed’s summer crops its time remove all the old plants. All the discarded plants are placed in a firepit to burn later; don’t want to take the chance of spreading problems next season.

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Photo Credit: LawnCare by Tom

“Besides looking untidy, old plants can harbor disease, pests, and funguses. According to Colorado State University’s cooperative extension, unwanted insects feeding on your crops throughout the summer may lay eggs on the plant’s stalks and leaves. Removing spent plants from the soil surface or burying them in garden trenches (if they are disease-free) prevents pests from getting a head start come springtime. Burying old plants in your garden also adds organic matter to your soil, improving soil tilth and overall health” (eartheasy.com) [1].

With all the old vegetation removed, the soil is tilled under (only several inches, don’t want to harm the earthworms or disturb the soil).  Lite-tilling (cultivating) the soil helps remove weeds and opens up the soil to incorporate organic amendments.

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Photo Credit: LawnCare by Tom

“Fall is a good time to till your garden soil. This will reduce erosion, expose heavy soils to frost, kill exposed insects, aid the decay of organic matter, and enable earlier planting. Work in any organic matter you have available when you till. If you do this every fall you will find that your garden takes less time and work to prepare every year” (gardenguides.com) [2].

Planting a cover crop is the last undertaking to putting the Veggie-Bed to rest for the winter. Ryegrass is the choice for this winter. Using annual ryegrass helps keep the nitrogen in the soil and available for crops the following year.

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Photo credit: ufseeds.com

“A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds, help control pests and diseases, increase biodiversity and bring a host of other benefits to your vegetable garden” (sare.org) [3].

Sources:

[1] https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/ten-ways-to-prepare-your-garden-for-winter/

[2] https://www.gardenguides.com/3030-fall-tilling.html

[3] https://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Topic-Rooms/Cover-Crops

Writer: Tom Myrick

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