The Kitchen Gardeners Handbook

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There is always a chance of freezing temperatures until the frost-free date for your area, so until then, plant only vegetables that like it cool. Spring is the time to plant seeds of warm-season vegetables indoors under lights. Artichokes are perennial plants in warm climates. They originated from the cardoon Cynara cardun-culus , a wide, attractive plant with spiny leaves. Artichokes are quite majestic with their serrated leaves. Perennial artichokes can be harvested in late spring and early summer. Each stem produces one artichoke bud at the tip and several smaller ones below. Harvest the central bud when scales are still tightly closed, then harvest the smaller ones before they open.

Freshly picked asparagus, pink dogwood blossoms, and found morel mushrooms are part of the fleeting joys of spring. In colder climates artichokes can be grown as annuals but the seeds must be started indoors in midwinter January to be large enough to set out by spring. See more on artichoke in the Fall chapter page Fresh, succulent asparagus is one of the joys of the spring garden. Asparagus is a long-lasting perennial so find a place to plant it that will be permanent. A thriving asparagus bed can produce purple or green pointy spears for twenty-five years or more. Order one-year-old crowns from a catalog and plant them 18 inches 45 cm apart in rows 5 feet 1.

The leaves can be used in salads or cooked as greens. Using a small knife, cut the spears at the base almost at soil level. When the harvest is finished for spring, new spears will fern out creating a feathery screen 4 to 5 feet 1. Let these billowy fronds stay in the garden. Sow beets outdoors in early spring when ground can be worked in rows 6 to 8 inches 15—20 cm apart.

Sow at 2-week intervals for a continuous supply of baby beets and greens. Thin seedlings to 4 to 6 inches 10—15 cm apart and use the thinnings, including the roots, in salads. For an earlier harvest, sow beets indoors under lights and set out in the garden in early spring as transplants. Transplants are usually available at nurseries as well. Roasted beet salad is best when you use early spring beets picked when they are small and tender. Beets are naturally sweet and go well with sweet onions and walnuts.

Place rhubarb pieces on top of an unbaked pie crust. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sugars, milk, vanilla, and spices to the eggs and mix together. Pour the mixture over the rhubarb. Bake for 35 minutes or until just set on top. To roast beets, wash thoroughly and then cut off the tops and roots.

Place the beets in a single layer in a roasting pan. To boil beets , wash and trim them before placing them in a saucepan with water to cover. Boil until tender. Cool and remove outer skin before using beets in a recipe. To reduce bleeding of red varieties, leave beets whole with the roots and some of the stems attached, then trim after cooking. Serve warm or cool to use in salads. Harvest beets when they are small, before they become tough and woody.

Use the tops raw for salads or cooked as greens. There are many varieties of beets, some grown for their leaves and some for their roots. It was the first beet I grew and the sweet taste converted me to a beet lover. See more on beets in the Fall chapter page Set out the plants a month before the frost-free date. Because broccoli is frost tolerant, it is one of the first vegetables to be planted as soon as you can get out to the garden. Harvest the broccoli heads when they are 4 to 6 inches 10—15 cm wide by cutting the stem close to the base of the plant with a sharp knife.

Headless broccoli looks rather strange in the garden but let the stalks remain in the garden for a few weeks. After you harvest the. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join. Save For Later.

The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook

Create a List. Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. Flowers are attractive to beneficial birds and insects, as well as to our own eyes. Draw pollinators into your garden by adding flowering plants to your potager. Learn more about edible flowers in my previous post, here. In addition to providing room-to-grow, wide beds provide extra growing space for pretty edging plants like herbs, edible flowers and tiny, alpine strawberries.


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More than merely decorative, herbs and edible flowers make great companion plants; attracting beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, and deterring or distracting a few of the less-than-desirables. I like to include annual flowers for cutting in my vegetable garden, where I can easily harvest a bunch for the dinner table while collecting produce. Zinnia, planted in a wicker basket, decorate an old, worn-out garden chair in the corner of my potager.

No room to plant flowers in your vegetable garden beds? Consider scattering flower pots here and there at the ends of rows, the edges of pathways, or hang them from your garden fence or balcony rail with hooks. Drawing bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators to your garden will help your garden and the environment. A few particularly colorful and safely edible additions for small spaces include pansies, marigold, nasturtiums and chives. Read more about edible flowers in my previous post, here. I love the flavor of homegrown potatoes, so I plant a pound or two of many different varieties; trying new introductions and long-forgotten favorites each year.

This method allows me to have potatoes of all shapes, colors and sizes throughout the season while also providing a fall crop for root cellaring. Consider how you will use your produce —immediately, for storage or both— before you plan your garden and order your seed or shop for vegetable starts.

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Planting too many vegetables leads to over-crowding and smaller yields. Read more about potato varieties here. Crop rotation in vegetable gardens helps to deter pests and diseases and can help to build and protect your soil. I avoid planting the same vegetables —or those within the same groups; such as those in the tomato family like eggplant, pepper, tomatillo and potato— in the same beds year after year. Avoid planting your tomatoes in the shade of cornstalks and in order to prolong the fertility of your soil, avoid planting heavy feeder crops —such as brassicas and tomatoes— in the same position year after year.

Rotate crops that require high fertility with legumes —such as peas and beans— or light feeders such as herbs and potatoes, or other root vegetables. If you are building a smaller garden this year, and a vegetable bed or two fall out of use for a season, try to plant a green manure cover crop like buckwheat, alfalfa or winter rye to help build the soil and keep down weeds. You can turn the green manure crop over with a hoe and replant the space with veggies or flowers next year. Keeping a record of my kitchen garden is more than just an excuse to buy a pretty, handmade journal. Taking notes on successes and failures as well as the position of various crops, provides essential information for my planting plan in following years.

Read more about garden journaling here. In addition to the regular posts you will find here on the topic of potager design and planning, I have a few beautiful and inspirational books on edible gardening to recommend. If you are looking for inspiration, these titles will really get you going! Use this liquid soap in 4 litres of water.

Use this liquid to spary plants completely. Wash off the soap with clean water. Neem Azadirachta indica A tree native to India and Pakistan, but planted widely around the world for its use as a natural pesticide. In addition to being an insecticide, it has been used as a fungicide, nematicide and bactericide. The active ingredient in neem mimics an insect hormone and repels insects, as well as inhibiting their digestion, metamorphosis and reproduction.

It has been used effectively on over leaf-eating insects. To use neem, collect mature seeds, wash and remove the husk, and allow to dry completely. Take twelve handfuls of dry seeds or use grams per 10 litres water and grind them into a fine powder. Mix the powder in 12 litres of water and soak overnight. Strain the liquid and apply. Chile, pepper Capsicum frutescens Collect two handfuls of chillies and dry. Grind into a fine powder, taking care not to inhale too much of the highly irritating dust, mix with 2 litres of water and soak overnight.

Tobacco Nicotiana tabacum Only real tobacco contains nicotine, the substance acting as an insecticide. Collect healthy, fresh leaves which are free of spots. Mix 80 grams of dry leaves and stems per litre of water and soak for two days. Best if applied in the early morning because the solution is very volatile — it escapes as a gas. Garlic Allium savitum Finely chop 3 bulbs of garlic and mix with 10 litres of water.

You can store this for up to two weeks unstrained, although its effect on the plant lasts only for one to three days after applying it. The following mixtures are said to relieve the symptoms of some virus diseases: Bougainvillea Bougainvillea spectabilis Mix grams of fresh leaves per litre of water. Mix at least 5 minutes in a blender. Used against several virus diseases in tomatoes and beans. Handle microbial insecticides carefully and apply during low pest presence. Avoid applying microbial pesticides on a hot day. Apply these products as close as possible to the target insect or apply at weekly intervals, if necessary.

Always mix microbial insecticides immediately before application and agitate the tank during spraying, as the spores may settle. Application of living spores to the underside of leaves and stems is recommended to increase persistence of these products and to protect them from washing off. Remember to check the expiration date on the containers before purchasing, and store products under cool, dry conditions. Type of microbial insecticides are the following: Bacillus thuringiensis Bt Bacillus thuringiensis Bt is the largest-selling commercial biological insecticide in the world.

Commercial Bt products contain fermentation solids, bacterial spores, and insecticidal toxins. Bt is a stomach poison that paralyzes the insect's gut and causes infection, which kills the insect in 10 to 14 days. The smaller the insect when Bt is applied, the better the control will be. Spinosad Spinosad is derived from a bacterial fermentation process, and commercial formulations contain a mixture of spinosyns. Spinosad has a fast knockdown and is an excellent insecticide for alternating with other softer products like oils and Bt.

Spinosad is a very effective insecticide against caterpillars, flea beetles, and thrips. Spinosad can be highly toxic to pollinators. To reduce environmental impacts, products should be applied during evening hours when bees are not around. Pyrethrum Pyrethrum pyrethrin is a popular botanical insecticide that provides quick knockdown of a number of small insects. Larger insects may recover from treatment. Pyrethrin is a contact poison and needs to be applied several times throughout the season to get full control of target pests.

Pyrethrin formulations with piperonyl butoxide PBO are not approved for organic production. Dahlia Dahlia pinnata Mix grams of fruit per litre of water. Spinach Spinacea oleracea Mix grams of fresh plant leaves per litre of water and soak for one day. CAUTION: Although these natural products are generally not toxic to humans, they can cause serious injury if inhaled, ingested, or rubbed on the skin or in the eyes.

Use the same safe practices as described for commercial pesticides. Chalk Mix 3—5 grams of chalk per litre of water. Soak for 12 hours if construction grade chalk is used, 3— 4 days if natural chalk is used. Stir frequently and apply directly. Dehydrates the insect when in contact. It can burn young plant tissue and should therefore only be used on mature leaves.

Mineral oil Use a high grade oil such as ultra fine spray oil or M-Pede. Mix 10—30 ml of mineral oil in a small amount of water, then add one litre of water, stir constantly. Cooking oil can be used instead of mineral oil, if soap is added. Dehydrates or suffocates the insects or their eggs when in contact. Animal urine Collect cow or goat urine and mix with a small amount of soil. Allow to ferment for two weeks. Dilute with 2—4 litres of water per litre of urine. Urine is very high in nitrogen and thus can burn tender leaves. Do not apply in full sun, and dilute further if necessary.

Human urine can also be used. It kills insect eggs and acts against some insects which carry viruses. Fungicides Fungi prosper in conditions of high humidity and shade.

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Reducing these two factors helps control them. Fungi often appear first on the lower leaves of the plant because the spores are released from the soil. Always apply fungicides to the soil and the bottom leaves. Papaya Carica papaya Finely chop 1 kg of dry leaves and mix with one litre of water; stand overnight. Dilute with four litres of water. Garlic and onion Allium sativum, A. Mix grams finely chopped material in 10 litres of water. Allow to ferment for one week. Dilute with another 10 litres of water. Incorporate into the soil. Canavalia Canavalia sp. Canavalia has been shown to kill the nests of leaf-cutter ants.

The ants do not eat the leaves they cut, but use the leaves to grow a fungus which the ants eat.


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  7. Canavalia leaves prevent the fungus from growing, and this starves the ants. It can be planted around the border of the garden. Weeds take away light, nutrients and water from the plants in your vegetable garden. Weeds cause more damage when the vegetables are small and unable to compete for water and light. You need to control weeds from the very beginning, by doing the following 1. Tiling the soil. This job has to be done when the plants are still small.

    Covering the soil with mulch. Apply a layer 5 to 10 cm thick between the furrows and around the plants. Mulch is another good way of controlling weeds. One way is using recycled plastic plates to make a crown around each plant, with the plate facing down. This impedes unwanted plants from growing around your crop, helps keep soil moisture in and avoids soil erosion. Chapter : 6 Yielding and Distribution of Vegetables The quality of vegetables is highest when they are ripe and ready to be harvested.

    Most vegetables shrivel easily when they are harvested green.


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    With practice you will get to know the exact moment to harvest each one. It should not be bruised or torn with your nails. In the case of onions, garlic, pumpkin and potatoes you should harvest when plant is ready. This means that the edible part is ready. Harvest A piece of stem is left on many fruits like melons, pumpkin and peppers so that diseases do not enter through the incision made when removing the stem. Leaves of some plants such as beets and radish can also be consumed. Ideally vegetables should be stored in a refrigerator. Do not store in black plastic bags. Be sure the final agreement you use meets the needs of your group and the property owner.

    This agreement may be renewed with the approval of both the property owner and the community garden organization at the end of the agreement period. All questions about the community garden, its nature, risks or hazards, have been discussed with the garden coordinator to my satisfaction. The community garden agrees to indemnify and save harmless the property owner from all damages and claims arising out of any act, omission or neglect by the community garden's occupation or use of the property.

    As the property owner, I agree to notify the community garden organization of any change in land ownership, development, or use 60 days prior to the change in status. The remaining will be distributed among the members equally. Spade - pointed : when the ground is hard. Shovel - wide : for loading and unloading earth, compost etc. Garden - Fork : to turn the soil and stones. Hoe : to break up the soil, to break the crust, to remove weeds and to draw up furrows. The narrower the blade, the better it adapts to hard earth.

    Weeding Hoe : to break the soil crust and to weed near the plant. Dibbers or Transplanters : made from tree branches.

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    Are useful for making holes where the seedlings will go and to hold the soil. Trowel : to help move seedlings to their planting spot. Watering Can : to water seedlings and new plants with a light sprinkle. A perforated can or a hose with sprinkler nozzle can be used. The technique for home organic gardening is storing seeds from other plants rather than going to the market and purchasing processed seeds which have different kinds of chemicals in them.

    In order to plant garden seeds and to know how to store seeds long term, then here are 9 points which can guide you to seed storage. When one is taking seeds direct from the plant they should first clean and dry them. In order to clean them, the entire soil and dust residue should be removed by using a tissue paper or a kitchen towel. They should be dried properly by using a kitchen towel and leaving it under the sun for a while.

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    Place them in a zip log bag and store in a dry area. When taking a seed of the plant, remove all the additional matter which might be present. With the help of the fingernails remove the gel coating, shell, husk or the cob which might be present. Dry them and store in a zip lock bag. This will prevent them from having fungus, moisture and molds. For storing seeds long term, one should know how to preserve seeds in the fridge or the freezer. First of all one should clean and dry the seed and then store it in a zip lock bag. The temperature provided with the seeds in the refrigerator and freezer should be constant until the seeds are ready to be used for plantation.

    The seeds should be kept at the back of the freezer or refrigerator where it is away from the fan and has a constant temperature. The enzyme activity will be stopped in the seeds and this is the best method for the long term seed storage. To store seeds in an open atmosphere, one can use an airtight jar or a storage container. In 4 layers of tissue paper, add 2 heaped tablespoons of milk powder, fold and keep it with the seeds in the air tight jar. This will prevent any moisture to enter the container, or one can also use silica gel, replace after every six months.

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    This is the best way to store seeds, especially the rare seeds and exotic seeds for a longer term. Whenever one is storing seeds for a longer term in the zip lock or air tight jar, always label them with the date and year in order to know which seeds need to be planted since the prime time for the seed storage is around 3 years. In order to store veggie seeds, spread them out on a kitchen towel. Once dried roll them over and store in a zip lock bag.



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