Did you know that poor, sandy soil is an advantage for growing Dill? This will help increase the flavor intensity – provided the soil drains sufficiently. Once planted, Dill can and will seed itself thus returning year after year.
Did you know that the Greeks and Romans thought that Thyme gave them courage and strength? In the Middle Ages, Thyme was embroidered into scarves and given to knights! The Father of Modern Botany, Carolus Linneaus, recommended Thyme as a hangover cure.
Did you know that the word Tarragon comes from the Arabic word for dragon? The French translation – Estragon – means Little Dragon. It is thought the name comes from either the way the plant is used medicinally (it was used to fight off pestilence during the Middle Ages) or due to the snake-like root system.
Did you know that Savory does best in full sun? This is one herb that you should probably fertilize – but only when planting. Avoid mid-season fertilization and keep your soil on the dry side for both varieties.
Did you know that Rosemary signals remember in the language of flowers? In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Hamlet gives Ophelia a sprig of Rosemary “for remembrance”. In more modern times, people keep this spirit alive by tying a sprig of Rosemary to gifts.
Did you know that Mint is also a perennial often grown as an annual? If you go the annual route, be forewarned that Mint has a tendency to proliferate and if you do not pay attention you could have an entire garden of one variety of Mint!
Did you know that Fennel has a prominent place in folklore? At various times in history is has been credited with improving eyesight, stopping hiccups, assisting with weight loss, and acting as an aphrodisiac.
Did you know that carrying a bag of dried Dill over your heart is supposed to ward off the evil eye? In earlier times, Dill water was used as a soothing drink for crying babies and also for eliminating intestinal gas!
Did you know that chives are part of the onion family (we would guess that you did – based just on the smell!)? The typical hollow stem is common but the flowers (fresh or dried) are often used in Japanese cooking.
Did you know that Thyme is a small, perennial, evergreen shrub? It is a member of the Mint family and grows six to eight-inch stems that often spread out to cover the ground. Thyme will last for years once it gets established – and there are over 200 varieties to choose from!
Did you know that Tarragon is a perennial plant that grow roughly four feet tall? French Tarragon is a sterile clove – it can’t be grown from seed. To expand your Tarragon plantation you will need to use rooted divisions or stem cuttings.
Did you know that Chervil is a member of the Parsley family? Chervil is a bit more subtle in flavor and produces flowers that grow in umbrella-like clusters. By soaking Chervil in vinegar, folk medicine says that this can cure the hiccups!
Did you know that mint comes in multiple “flavors”? From traditional like Spearmint or Peppermint to fruitier flavors like apple, lemon or orange. Select the varieties you find most fit your palate and needs.
Did you know that garlic is a perennial? Most people grow this as an annual, but you can leave a single clove planted for many years and simply harvest the garlic scapes and greens. They provide a milder flavor than cured bulbs – but perhaps that is what you seek!
Did you know that pumpkins have variety names like Spooky, Cinderella, Big Tom and Sugar Pie? Pumpkins come in four sizes: – Small – four to six pounds, used for cooking and baking – Intermediate – eight to 15 pounds, cooking and for Halloween décor (Jack-O-Lanterns) – Large – 15 – 25 pounds, used the same way as Intermediate – Jumbo – 50 to 100 pounds, used mainly for exhibition and competition
Did you know that potatoes, often associated with an Irish heritage, actually originated in Central and South America (Chile, Peru & Mexico)? Spanish explorers introduced them into Europe in the 16th century.
Did you know your soil consistency will dictate which carrots are right for you? Dense soil = shorter varieties while more loosely packed soil is necessary for longer varieties. Finger varieties are perfect for containers and elevated beds.
Did you know that tomatoes tend to perform best when you plant from starters? Seeds can be started indoors and then transplanted two to three weeks after the last frost. Transplants also tend to bear more fruit than if started directly from seed. Take care when transplanting – plant the root ball a couple of inches below grade as this will help strengthen the stalk.
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Did you know you should harvest shelling peas as soon as the peas are of good size? Allowing the actual pea to maximize size creates an environment where sugar decreases and starch increases in the pea.
Did you know that peas used to be very difficult for the home gardener to grow? The introduction of edible pod varieties has made home-gardening of peas pretty much a staple! All you need is cool weather and a trellis.
Did you know you should always wash your hands after handling (especially cutting or chopping) peppers? If you rub your eye after cutting peppers, you might be in for a pretty uncomfortable time! Milk is more soothing than water should your skin react to cut peppers.
Did you know you should always harvest summer squash varieties when the fruit is small? As the fruit gets larger, you run the risk of having the plant stop producing flowers and reduce your overall crop.
Did you know you can reduce the bitterness of Endive by “blanching” it in the garden? Different from blanching vegetables in the kitchen, garden blanching involves limiting how much sun the plant gets during the growth phase. You can blanch…
Did you know there is a difference in types of tomato plants? There are “determinate” varieties (bush tomatoes) and indeterminate varieties (more vine like)? The difference is that determinate tomatoes tend to produce one fruit set that ripens all at once while indeterminates produce all year long until the first frost. If you have not seen the Eco Garden Systems late-tomato ripening hack, you can see the video here).
Did you know there are Spring and Winter radish varieties? Spring radishes tend to be the red, round radish that are common in product departments. Winter radishes tend to be larger, more oval and can grow to be eight or nine inches long. For Winter radishes, make sure to work the soil a bit to fight any summertime compaction that may have occurred.
Did you know there are dozens of cucumber varieties? From slicing varieties to pickling varieties to novelty varieties (many are smaller and perfect for container gardens), there is a variety for almost every home gardener. Cucumbers are also prolific –…
Did you know there are almost too many varieties of peppers you can grow to count? Wikipedia estimates there could be as many as 50,000 varieties. There are 22 levels of the Scoville Scale for measuring heat in peppers. The top “heat” generator is pure Capsaicin. Third is Pepper Spray (Standard US Grade).
Did you know that, if you live in a cooler climate, that picking off the terminal bud (top of plant) will encourage all of the sprouts to mature at once? Also, keeping lower leaves to a minimum can help also…
Did you know that you should prune stake tomatoes so only one main stalk is left? Prune by removing all suckers that are below the first fruiting cluster. This provides more energy for the plant to produce fruit. This is an especially important tip for beginning gardeners as not pruning can lead to disappointment in the amount of fruit grown. Let suckers that grow above the first fruiting cluster remain – but remove all but two leaves. This will provide shade to the fruit.
Did you know that you should introduce children to radishes early? Their spicy flavor can be used to educate young palates on flavors and create a desire to explore more different flavors as children get older. Older children who have had a bland diet often find radishes difficult to eat as the flavor becomes off-putting.
Did you know that you should cover your celery prior to harvesting? This protects the plant from the sun and helps produce chlorophyll and turn the plants green – reducing the bitter flavor. Cover during the final two weeks prior…
Did you know that you should avoid handling squash plants when the leaves are wet? This can cause a powdery mildew to form – and this can then spread disease throughout the plant. Avoid watering the foliage if at all possible.
Did you know that you should always wear gloves when you harvest peppers? Many people will have a skin reaction to peppers. You should also cut peppers from the plant – peppers have shallow roots so plucking them risk uprooting part of the plant.
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Did you know that kale is a member of the “Cole” family (cabbage-style plants) and, along with collards, is one of the oldest members of the Cole family of plants? Unlike collards, kale does not tolerate heat well. This makes…
Did you know that you can store pumpkins for three to six months – and still make great pies from them? Pumpkins should be cured in a dark, warm and humid space (~85 degrees) for 10 days and then stored in a cool, dry environment (~55 degrees). Stored pumpkins will lose ~20% of their weight when stored – but still make great pies! You can also roast pumpkin seeds and, once they are shelled, use them to make pesto.
Did you know that you can steam young Kohlrabi in their skins? You can also treat these like patty-pan squash by stuffing them and roasting with the filling inside. Many people prefer Kohlrabi raw – whether as part of a…
Did you know that Winter Squash is almost identical to Summer Squash in terms of growing and raising guidance? Most Winter Squash are allowed to mature (and their outer shell or rind to thicken until it becomes unpleasant to consume) before harvesting? This is one of the main differentiators between Winter and Summer varieties.
Did you know that while turnips are commonly grown as a root vegetable, the greens are also edible? Cook greens with olive oil, onions and some seasoning (both sweet and spicy work – and work together) to create a compelling side dish that is popular in the South!
Did you know that Endive is also called Escarole? It is a cool season crop that can either replace or enhance a lettuce or green salad. Do not confuse Endive with Belgian Endive which is the young, blanched sprout of…
Did you know that while tomatoes come in various shapes and sizes, the only real difference in varieties is whether they are best used for eating or best used for canning or preserving? Did you know there are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes – different sizes (grape, cherry, beefsteak), colors (black, red, yellow) and amount of juice (Roma, Plum, SanMarzanos)?
Did you know that when you grow rhubarb from seed you may get a different variety than expected? Plants do not grow true from seed – you are better off using cuts from existing plants or buy divisions from your local garden center.
Did you know that water on a bean flower can cause the flowers and small pods to fall off? Avoid top watering and focus on keeping the soil moist as beans typically have a shallow root system and need regular moisture.
Did you know that vining squash can be grown in an elevated garden? Just make sure you train the vines to grow over the side or into a trellis – otherwise you risk the squash plant taking over your entire growing space!!
Did you know that turnips are related to rutabaga? Turnips originated in the Mediterranean during prehistoric times while the rutabaga (a cross between cabbage and turnip) came along in the Middle Ages.
Did you know that tomatoes are the most popular fruit grown by home gardeners? While it is usually consumed as a vegetable, tomatoes are technically a fruit (and were called Love Apples based on their heart shape and the perception that they were an aphrodisiac) – the average consumer eats 18 lbs. of tomatoes each year – this does not include ketchup or other sauce-based products.
Did you know that celery seeds are VERY slow to germinate? It is much easier to plant transplants – and being a cool weather plant, you can put your transplants in ~two weeks before average last frost date. To be…
Did you know that the Italians steam kale until tender, add olive oil, garlic, breadcrumbs and then sprinkle it with a little grated parm in the last minute of cooking? You can also enjoy a Far East preparation stir-fried with…
Did you know that the commercial pea harvest is almost fully complete by the end of June? Ideal growing conditions for peas is temps between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant peas early – as soon as the soil can be worked and about four weeks before the last frost.
Did you know that sweet potatoes are versatile enough to use in both savory and sweet preparations? The pair well with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice and are great served deep-fried in a tempura batter.
Did you know that string bean varieties mature and produce in less than 60 days? Pole style beans take a bit longer than bush style, but they also produce more beans per plant! In many growing areas, you can get two crops of beans moving from bush style to pole style to maximize production.
Did you know that squash are nutrient intensive? This means your spoil will need constant fertilization to make sure you get fruit and not just flowers! Squash also needs well worked soil and good drainage to thrive.
Did you know that spinach is a wonderful salad ingredient? It pairs well with fruits, nuts and cheeses – and children often prefer raw spinach to the cooked variety. At Eco Garden Systems, we recommend sautéed spinach with a little butter and garlic (Arugula is wonderful served in this style as well).
Did you know that soil for good celery growth must have plenty of moisture but also good drainage (making it a perfect plant for an Eco Garden)? Celery can also tolerate partial shade making it a very versatile plant for…
Did you know that soil and growing conditions impact the overall flavor of an onion? Sort of like the concept of “terroir” with wine, onions can taste different depending on where and how they are grown!
Did you know that eggplant takes 150 days from seed to harvest? It also thrives in warmer environments where daytime temps top 80 degrees. Eggplant starter plants should be started about two months before transplanting (transplant two to three weeks…
Did you know that rhubarb is a perennial? Rhubarb is very hearty and can grow for you year after year. A quick note – first year plants will likely not provide you any harvest. Rhubarb begins to produce in year #2.
Did you know that radishes can thrive in almost any garden? They are used as row markers for slower germinating crops (since radishes germinate so quickly) and can be grown in pots in windows just as easily as outdoors.
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Did you know that sweet potatoes have a very long growing cycle (~150 days)? They also need warm and moist conditions to thrive and maximize tuber growth. If you plan on growing seedings (from pieces of a mature potato) your sprouting bed should be between 70 degrees and 80 degrees and should not be allowed to dry out.
Did you know that cucumbers need help in pollination? If you are rooftop or balcony gardening, you may need to use a small brush to take pollen from male flowers (those without an immature fruit on the stem) and use…
Did you know that eggplant performs best in full sun with rich soil with excellent drainage? They are easily susceptible to root rot in soil that is too moist. This make them perfect for growing in an Eco Garden!
Did you know that pumpkin plants are notorious creepers? They can quickly take over a garden if the plant is not trained properly. Pumpkins grow well in an Eco Garden – as long as you control growth and trim back some of the vines.
Did you know that potatoes are perfect for elevated gardens – and especially an Eco Garden Original Garden? Check out our Facebook page for photos! They need well-draining soil to thrive making them perfect for and Eco Garden.
Did you know that potatoes are grown from “seed pieces” or pieces of whole potatoes? Each “seed piece” must have at least one eye to sprout. Don’t use supermarket potatoes as they have been chemically treated to not sprout.
Did you know that peas are an excellent crop for elevated garden? Well drained soil is critical for pea success. To use a trellis in an elevated garden (and still keep plants harvestable) consider angling your trellis down or across.
Did you know that Kohlrabi is also called a “turnip cabbage” as it is part of the Cole family and has flavor characteristics of both those plants? The name comes from the German “kohl” meaning cabbage and “rabi” meaning turnip.…
Did you know that parsnip roots are not harmed by the ground freezing? Your garden is the best storage space for mature parsnips – some people even think this enhances flavor (the low temps convert the root’s starch to sugar). Make sure you harvest before the ground becomes unworkable.
Did you know that tomatoes stop growing when the temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit? Best performance is achieved between 65 degrees and 85 degrees. If evening temperatures do not fall below 85 degrees, the fruit will not ripen properly.
Did you know that New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonoides) is not actually spinach? It is a member of the Marigold family that, when cooked, is a ready replacement for spinach. New Zealand spinach is heat tolerant and can be grown all summer – regular spinach enjoys cooler weather.
Did you know that Okra grows best in well-draining soils and gardens? Too much moisture causes stem rot. While Okra is not recommended for traditional container gardens, it will grow well in a properly maintained Eco Garden.
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Did you know that lima beans are a perfect salad component when they are raw? Let them marinate in a vinaigrette dressing for 24 hours and you will have a real flavor and texture enhancement for your salad.
Did you know that make and female flowers grow on the same pumpkin vine? Male flowers typically appear a week or two before the female flowers and you can identify female flowers by the baby pumpkin bulge between the flower and the vine. Even with flower proximity, pumpkins perform best when nature’s pollinators (mainly bees) do their job well.
Did you know that lima beans interact with nitrogen-fixing bacteria to create their own fertilizer? For this reason, you should not plant lima beans near plants like green peppers that require more nitrogen as you will get healthy plants but…
Did you know that tomatoes require significant moisture? Elevated gardens – especially ones with a water reservoir, like the Eco Garden, allow tomatoes to thrive as their tap-root will grow into the reservoir keeping the plants hydrated.
Did you know that Kohlrabi is a cold weather crop and can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F? This plant can handle heat better than some others in the Cole family and produces better when there is a 10° to…
Did you know that Summer Squash is part of the cucumber family? While Summer Squash is technically a “squash”, we typically consume the immature fruit as a “summer” variety – where the skin and the flesh are considered edible.
Did you know that kale has a very short growth period – ~55 days from transplants? Kale comes in many colorful varieties some for eating and some simply for their colors and “curly nature” of their leaves. If you live…
Did you know that gourds are closely related to squash? They are used mainly for decorative purposes but were also used in trade around revolutionary times. Haitian currency is still called the gourde which is also Louisiana slang for a dollar.
Did you know that radishes are the “gateway” vegetable for many young gardeners? There quick speed to maturity fits the fascination level of younger children – and unlocks the mystery of growing things for many.
Did you know that Endive is a cool weather plant with a relatively long growing cycle? You can either start early indoors for a quick plant and harvest or plant seeds four to six weeks before the last frost to…
Did you know that eggplant plants are very susceptible to pests? The list of normal pests is a traditional who’s who of the pest world: aphids, cutworms, potato bugs, spider mites, etc. This makes eggplant a difficult organic product to…
Did you know that sweet potatoes can be damaged by freezing or cold soils? You should harvest your potatoes earlier rather than later – and definitely before the first frost. Sweet potatoes are very thin skinned and can bruise easily – be cautious when you harvest!
Did you know that turnips do not require as much nitrogen as other plants? Too much nitrogen encourages leaf growth but not fruit development. This makes them a poor companion for peppers which need nitrogen to produce fruit.
Did you know that covering potato plant leaves and stems as the plant grows will encourage more/new tuber growth? Typically, each plant will produce between three and six “regular” sized potatoes and multiple smaller ones. Harvest potatoes when the plant blooms or when leaves begin to turn yellow.
Did you know that shallots originated in Asia? It is believed that French knights introduced them to Europe when they returned from the Crusades. They are a member of the onion family. It is also believed that Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto introduced them to America in 1532.
Did you know that tomatoes go with almost any savory dish? Serve raw with fresh mozzarella for an amazing salad, stuff raw tomatoes with tuna or chicken for a healthy main dish alternative, cook down into sauces or serve broiled with bacon and sausages for a hearty breakfast.
Did you know that there are almost as many varieties of carrots as days in the year? From short to finger to Half-long to Cylindrical to Standard. What we typically buy at the supermarket just happen to be one of…
Did you know that, while squash blossoms can be either male or female, they need pollinators to help achieve full pollination? If you are an apartment deck gardener, you may need to employ a soft-bristled brush to pollinate your female…