How to Grow and Harvest Feijoa

One thing that I have really come to love about living in upstate South Carolina is the sheer diversity of fruits and vegetables that we can grow. Having come from Vermont, where the short summers and extremely cold winters put a major limit on what can be grown each year, South Carolina has struck me as an Eden of sorts….

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How to Prevent Squash Vine Borer and Powdery Mildew on Squash, Organically

Many organic gardeners who have grown squash in the southeast US will think this must be a practical joke. It’s not! There are chemical-free ways to grow as much squash as your “conventional” neighbors. Then you can finally participate in Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. No really, that’s an honest-to-goodness national holiday on August 8th every year….

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How to Save Tomato Seeds (and Oddball Varieties)

I have a request! I’d be so delighted if you’d help me locate any seed strain of the OSU P20 blue tomato. (Scroll to the bottom for photos & more details). Next, the deadline to submit a post about a food or ornamental plant that you’d recommend for How to Find Great Plants is this Friday, January 28th. I’ve noticed…

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How to Grow and Use Achocha/Caigua (a Problem-Free Cucumber Substitute), with Recipes

Organic gardening often produces healthier, more easily grown vegetables and fruits than the same crops grown with “conventional” methods. There are, however, a few crops that have a pouty reputation for organic growers. The cucurbit family claims most of these weak-kneed plants. I count on summer squash and cucumbers to be riddled with squash vine borer, cucumber worms, and fungal…

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How to Find Hedgehog Mushrooms (and Eat Them: With Recipes)

Even though it’s getting late in the edible mushroom season, we found a nice little haul of sweet tooth hedgehog mushrooms after the rain last weekend: Daytime temperatures were reaching the upper 40’s to 50 F when we found them under oaks in a South Carolina forest. The entire slope seemed to be covered with them but we only picked…

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How to Grow and Use Lemon Grass as a Kitchen Ornamental (with Recipes)

Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) deserves a more prominent place in our herb gardens, kitchens, and even the ornamental landscape. I think it is one of the prettiest plants in the garden! Lemon grass looks just as nice in the flower border as it does in the kitchen garden. You can put a grouping of it in your rose beds or…

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How to Select Hot Pepper Varieties (& Use the Ones You Grow)

We may have overdone it this year with the hot peppers. We don’t feel the least bit repentant, though. Spicing up a meal is quick when using small peppers, and they look great in vinegar-based hot sauces or simply as fiery pickles. I try to find peppers that produce a large spectrum of beautifully colored fruits on a single plant….

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How to Get Your Kid to Eat Tomatoes (aka “Vampire Traveling Tomatoes” that Look Like Brains)

My daughter didn’t like tomatoes and it was killing me in the kitchen. When I read this Slate article* and learned that food dislikes were psychological,** and therefore fixable, I decided to eliminate the family food aversions one by one. I managed to turn my intense hatred of anything that had even touched mint, cucumbers, or cinnamon into absolute cravings….

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How to Finish the Fall Garden

After the warm months we gardeners are either squeezing as much remaining produce as possible from our plants before the threat of frost, or we’re incredibly grateful for an excuse to stop harvesting… finally! Last weekend we decided the weather prediction was chilly enough to go ahead and strip the garden bare. We ended up with a backseat and trunk…

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How to Plant Tomatoes (and Get the Best Root System)

Homegrown tomatoes (and basil) are the reason most of us began growing food in the first place. Though some people direct sow their tomato seeds, most begin the season with transplants. Tomato transplants are a little different than other vegetables — there are some simple tricks that can improve their root system and vigor in your garden. This photo tutorial…

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How to Grow and Use Amaranth Greens (w/Recipes & Sources)

You can have leafy summer salads in the hot southeast! Though “heat resistant” lettuce only gets you so far into the season before bitterness and bolting set in, you don’t have to go without greens until fall. Amaranth greens are by far my favorite lettuce substitute. The first time I tasted it I was trying too hard to compare it…

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How to Grow and Use Papalo (w/Recipes & Sources)

Once I got frustrated with cilantro’s reluctance to grow at the same time that I have piles of fresh tomatoes to turn into salsa, I started researching heat-loving substitutes for it. Papalo is a frequent recommendation and it certainly survives our hot summers. Papalo (Porophyllum ruderale) is also called papaloquelite, poreleaf, mampuito, summer cilantro, and Bolivian coriander. It doesn’t taste…

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How to Grow Vegetables (Archive Directory)

It’s time to plant summer veggies! If you didn’t start transplants early there is no time now — get to a garden center or farmers market and purchase some tomato, eggplant, pepper, artichoke, celery, sweet potato (slips), herbs, and tomatillos before they’re all gone (or stressed from neglect). For beans, cucumbers, melons, squash, pumpkins, okra, corn, and amaranth greens you…

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How to Choose Disease Resistant Rose Varieties to Grow Organically (With Sources List)

I’m an organic gardener and I grow a lot of roses — about 50 varieties of them. They don’t look like sticks with a bow on top and I don’t treat them any better than my other garden perennials. I plant mine in the same amended soil I use for the rest of my plants, fertilize them a couple times…

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How to Grow Peas as Quick Harvest Greens (and Use Up Old Seed Packets)

I am a seed hoarder. I still have packets from 2000 in my seed box because they might germinate whenever I get around to planting them. I don’t like to take risks with my vegetables though, so I make sure to have a fresh seed supply. Peas are not great seeds to save, the older they get the less vigor…

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How to Use Fennel (or Dill) to Keep Caterpillars Off Your Vegetable Plants

I don’t do a lot of companion planting. I’m not saying it doesn’t work (and I’d love to hear your success stories) but other than being impressed by mycorrhizal fungi and permaculture plant guilds I haven’t felt the need to find my plants a buddy. Oh! EXCEPT for growing fennel next to plants plagued by caterpillars. Flowering fennel is like a beacon…

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How to (Easily) Grow Celery at Home (w/Recipes)

It’s not just tasty and easy — it’s pretty! For those of you who like to dress up your flower beds with some well-placed ornamental edibles (or who want show-stopping potagers) this is an oft-overlooked plant you can’t be without. For those of you who like to eat — it’s celery! Of course you should grow it. I don’t know…

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How to Select and Use Basil Varieties (w/Stuffed Artichoke Recipe)

Nothing goes better with fresh garden tomatoes than fresh garden basil. It’s likely these two plants are responsible for the majority of intrepid forays into vegetable gardening. Cooks and gardeners quickly find there is more to basil than the overpriced “sweet” grocery store blister packs or the spice aisle’s jars full of lifeless confetti. Basil is quick and easy to…

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How to Get Peppers off to a Good Start (w/More Fruit that Ripens Faster)

Peppers can be very easy to grow but many gardeners struggle with productivity, sun scald, or getting those darned red ones to ripen. A few simple tricks can make a big difference in getting a successful harvest. The most important first step, whether you grow from seed or buy transplants, is to get started with sturdy, healthy seedlings. If you…

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How to Increase a “Tomato Problem” (with Gratuitous Photos)

Does anyone who loves tomatoes really need advice on more tomatoes to buy? Yes. Because how else are we going to make it through the winter? Note: for photo captions “OP” stands for Open-Pollinated, which means you can save the seeds. Heirlooms are OP. For hybrids you can’t save the seeds, but they aren’t the same as GMOs. Everyone has…

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