Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Growing Rhubarb

The planting area should be thoroughly weeded prior to planting. Rhubarb is generally purchased as crowns, rather than propagated from seed. Planting Rhubarb seeds is not recommended, except in extremely southern areas of the United States. In addition Rhubarb is generally not propagated from seed since seedlings are not always true to type. Quality nursery stock for starting new plantings is recommended; this is due to freedom from virus, crown rots, root rots and weeds.
Rhubarb crowns can be purchased from seed catalogs or a local nursery, garden center. Plant the crowns as soon as possible so they don’t dry out.
Rhubarb is normally planted as early as possible in the spring since growth begins when soil temperatures are still well below 50ยบ F. Rhubarb can also be planted in the fall after dormancy has set in.
Plant with the crown bud 2 inches below the soil surface.
Space the roots 36 to 48 inches apart in rows approximately 4 feet apart. Work plenty of well-rotted manure or compost into the rhubarb bed before planting.
Since rhubarb is a perennial, it should be planted to one side or at the end of the garden so as not to interfere with planting and growing annual vegetables. The rhubarb plant has bold ornamental texture and size, and some gardeners find it suitable to include in a perennial flower border.
Plant (or divide) rhubarb roots in early spring while the plants are still dormant, in well drained soil
Old roots may be dug and divided to make new plantings by cutting the roots into no more than eight pieces. Each piece must have at least one strong bud.

Cultivate shallowly as often as necessary to remove weeds. Apply a complete garden fertilizer in early spring before growth begins and side-dress with a high-nitrogen fertilizer in late June. Except in poorly drained sites, organic mulches help moderate soil temperature and moisture. Do not cover the crowns. Flower stalks should be cut off as soon as they appear.

Lime - should be applied to maintain the soil pH in a range of 6.0 to 6.8...ranges as low as 5.0 are tolerable but not recommended.
Nitrogen - rhubarb has a high nitrogen requirement. Apply as necessary in the first year; otherwise apply nitrogen at bud break along with the phosphorus and potash. Apply a side dressing of nitrogen after harvest
Fertilize with a handful of a 5-10-10 fertilizer in the spring. A modest midsummer application will also benefit these vigorous plants.


Do not harvest rhubarb during the first year of planting. Newly set plants need all their foliage to build a strong root system. Stalks may be harvested for 1 or 2 weeks during the second year and for 8 to 10 weeks (a full harvest season) during the third and subsequent years. Harvest in the fall only when the plants are to be discarded the next season.
If seed stalks and flowers develop during the spring and summer, cut them from the base of the plant as soon as they appear and discard them. Rhubarb is an extremely hardy plant. It is a beautiful garden plant, with huge extravagant, lush green leaves and pink or red stalks. Rhubarb is an ancient plant as well.

Varieties of Rhubarb

There are several different varieties of rhubarb grown all over the world and used in a variety of cooking preparations. One characteristic consistent with all rhubarb is the toxicity of the leaves and roots. The rhubarb leaves contain high amounts of oxalic acid, a toxic and potentially deadly poison. Only the stems are edible.
Victoria Red Rhubarb -Perennial - Easy to grow one of the largest and most productive varieties
Rhubarb Cherry Red This winter-hardy variety loves cold weather! Rich red through and through, this heavy producer is juicy, tender, and sweet. Cherry Red is winter-hardy rhubarb that thrives in cold weather. Perfect for Northern growers.
Valentine Rhubarb Loved for its hardiness, delicious flavor, thick flesh and fine grain
Victoria Rhubarb Easy-to-grow rhubarb variety
Bastard Rhubarb
Chinese rhubarb
English Rhubarb
European Wild Rhubarb
Garden Rhubarb
Himalayan rhubarb
Indian rhubarb
Ornamental Rhubarb
Sweet Round-leaved Dock
Wine Plant

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The many Advantages of raised bed gardening

First, there are advantages for your garden:

Perhaps the most important advantage is greatly reduced soil compacting. Plant roots need air. In an ordinary garden, you can’t avoid stepping in the garden bed occasionally when doing your everyday gardening. A properly designed raised bed garden allows you to do all you’re gardening from the garden path.
Plants can be spaced a little closer together in a raised bed because you don’t need places to step. This increases productivity per square foot of bed and reduces weeding when the plants begin to mature.
Note: Avoid the temptation to crowd your plants. You will still want to use generous plant spacing because your plants will grow much larger in raised beds.

Raised beds tend to drain away excess moisture better than ordinary garden beds. This is another advantage that helps the plant roots to breath. In areas that have saturated soil like Florida and many areas of the South, raised beds may be the only way you can grow many types of plants.
Soil conditions and types can be controlled more efficiently in a raised bed and they can be varied easily from bed to bed. Raised beds are the answer when topsoil is thin.
Water, fertilizer, compost, mulch, etc. can be applied more carefully because they only need to be applied to the garden beds.
Various studies have shown that raised garden beds produce 1.4 to 2 times as much vegetables and flowers per square foot as ordinary beds, due mainly to the above advantages. You can have a smaller and more manageable garden that produces more goodies for your table.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Beware Of Rising Food Cost

Skyrocketing food prices are hitting pocketbooks worldwide. The world’s poorest countries which have the highest population bases are at risk the most as core food supplies become scarce. Worldwide grain supplies are dropping precipitously. Exporting nations are now themselves running out of grain.

As a result, hunger is spreading worldwide. Already, several African nations have had citizens killed in food riots. There is talk that the government in Bangladesh could be toppled over soaring food prices. Food-related tensions and unrest are breaking out in Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and South America. Armed soldiers now stand watch over rice distribution in more and more countries. Just a few miles to the South, food riots have broken out in Mexico and Haiti. Estimates are that 33 nations are at risk of conflict and social unrest because of food shortages.

That's a lot of suffering. And, Americans who know their history understand all to well, suffering tends to bring out the ugly side in human nature. Right now, Americans just change channels when they see others starving on television. But it seems America could be next. The dollar is quickly losing value and the U.S. is more dependent on foreign food production than ever. Already grocery bills are rising faster than incomes. Wheat, corn, soybeans, bread, apples, beef, chicken, eggs, and milk: prices for these items are shooting up by double-digit percentages. Coupled with energy prices pushing skyward, more and more Americans are feeling the pinch which now includes food shortages. Many experts think we could be approaching the greatest disaster in the country's history. Many Americans are starting to prepare.

To learn how to preserve your own food (cheap) Click Here

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Growing Squash

Summer and winter squash are some of the most popular vegetables in the home garden. Summer squash can be eaten raw in salads, stir-fried, steamed, or cooked in various dishes. Winter squash can be baked, steamed, or boiled.
Summer squashes are large, bushy plants. The fruit of summer squash are harvested when they are immature and have soft skins. Fruit can be stored for 1 to 2 weeks. There are several types of summer squash. These include zucchini (cylindrical, club-shaped fruit), crookneck (long, tapered fruit with curved necks), straight neck (bottle-shaped fruit with straight necks), and scallop (flattened, roundish fruit with scalloped edges).
Most winter squashes are large, vining plants. (Several semi-bush varieties are available to individuals with small gardens.) Fruit are harvested when they are mature and have hard rinds. Winter squash fruit can be stored in a cool, dry location for 1 to 6 months. Various sizes, shapes, and colors of winter squash are available. These include acorn, buttercup, butternut, and hubbard.

Suggested Varieties
Summer Squash Winter Squash
Dixie - yellow crookneck Blue Hubbard
Elite - zucchini Burgess Buttercup
Goldfinger - golden zucchini Butternut Supreme
Jaguar - zucchini Sweet Mama - buttercup
Seneca Butterbar - yellow straightneck Table Ace - acorn
Spineless Beauty - zucchini Table Queen - acorn
Sunburst - yellow patty pan (scallop) Vegetable Spaghetti

Summer and winter squash perform best in fertile, well-drained soils containing high levels of organic matter. They also require full sun. Organic matter levels can be increased by incorporating well-rotted manure or compost into the soil. If a soil test has not been conducted, apply and incorporate 1 to 2 pounds of an all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, per 100 square feet prior to planting.
Summer and winter squash are commonly planted in hills. Sow 4 to 5 seeds per hill at a depth of 1 inch in mid-May in central Iowa. Thin to 2 to 3 vigorous, well-spaced plants per hill when seedlings have 1 or 2 true leaves. The last practical planting date for summer squash is July 20. Winter squash must be planted by June 10.
For an early crop, start plants indoors 3 to 4 weeks prior to the anticipated outdoor planting date. Since squash seedlings don't tolerate root disturbances during transplanting, start seeds in peat pots, peat pellets (Jiffy 7's), or other plantable containers. Sow 3 to 4 seeds per container. Later, remove all but 2 seedlings. Harden the plants outdoors for a few days in a protected location prior to planting to lessen transplant stress.
Hills and rows of summer squash should be 3 to 4 feet apart. Hills of winter squash should be spaced 4 to 5 feet apart with 5 to 7 feet between rows.

Control weeds with frequent, shallow cultivation and hand pulling. Water plants once a week during dry weather.
Squash bugs and squash vine borers can be serious pests. Squash bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts. Heavy feeding causes entire leaves to wilt, turn brown, and die. Several methods can be used to control squash bugs in the garden. Adults and brick red egg masses on the undersides of leaves can be removed by hand. Adults can also be trapped under boards or shingles placed under the plants. Turn the objects over daily and collect and destroy the hiding squash bugs. Small, immature squash bugs (nymphs) can be controlled with insecticides, such as carbaryl (Sevin). In fall, remove and destroy plant debris to deprive squash bugs of overwintering sites.
Squash vine borer larvae bore into squash stems near ground level. Larvae feeding within the vines eventually cause the plants to wilt and die. Squash vine borers can be controlled with applications of insecticides (rotenone, permethrin, or marathon) at regular intervals beginning in mid-June. Apply the insecticide to the base of the vines. After the final harvest, remove and destroy the plant debris. Rototilling in fall or spring may destroy overwintering pupae in the soil.

Harvest long-fruited summer squash varieties when they are about 2 inches in diameter and 6 to 12 inches long. Scalloped types are best when 3 to 5 inches in diameter. Fruit should have soft skins (rinds) that are easy to puncture with a fingernail. Seeds should be soft and edible.
Mature winter squash have very hard skins that can't be punctured with the thumbnail. Additionally, mature winter squash have dull-looking surfaces. When harvesting fruit, leave a 1-inch stem on winter squash. Store the fruit in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why You Should Grow Vegetables

Starting a vegetable garden at home is an easy way to save money, that $2 tomato plant can easily provide you with 10 pounds of fruits over the course of a season.

It also gives you the pleasure of savoring a delicious, sun-warmed tomato fresh from the garden. In almost every case, the flavor and texture of varieties you can grow far exceed the best grocery store produce.

Plus, growing vegetables can be fun. It's a great way to spend time with children or have a place to get away and spend time outdoors in the sun.

Growing vegetables is probably easier than you think. If you plan it right, you can enjoy a beautiful garden full of the fruits of your labor -- without having to spend hours and hours tending it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010