Monday, March 24, 2014

Home Grown: A Choice of Tomatoes.

For home gardeners, there is a huge range of tomato cultivars from which to choose.

In the Penn State Extension office in Chambersburg and at the Penn State Southeast Ag Research and Extension Center in Lancaster County scientists have been running variety trials on tomatoes since 2000. They've evaluated more than 400 varieties across the complete spectrum of tomato types in that time. Every year, they examine 30 to 70 varieties, looking at taste, production, disease resistance, ease of training and appearance.

Following are some varieties recommended by Penn State Extension horticulture educator Steve Bogash for the coming season, along with his comments about them...

Continued at... A Choice of Tomatoes

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Tomatoes and Tomato Plants and Seeds
Growing Guides
Artwork: Sungold Cherry Tomato.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rural Delivery: Good Fences, Bad Neighbors.

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1993. All rights reserved.

"Good fences make good neighbors," said the poet's neighbor, as if a wall could improve on human nature or protect one from its failings.

The poet was not convinced, and from what I've seen lately his neighbor had it backwards. Only good neighbors make good fences.

For the past several months Neighbor B has been feuding with Neighbor A over the size and appearance of his fence -- eight feet tall and a hundred feet long, sculpted from old barn wood.

An eyesore, says Neighbor B.

A necessity, says Neighbor A.

Neighbor B, you see, bought land next to Neighbor A a few years ago and built a home there.

Then he started landscaping and, as neighbors often do, questioned the property line. Neighbor A's fence was trespassing, said Neighbor B. That's where its always been, said Neighbor A, whose favorite apricot tree grew from the contested soil.

Continued at... Good Fences, Bad Neighbors.

Rural Delivery
Artwork: Old Wood Barn with Fence.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Recipe: Scape Soup

Recipe Archive: Scape Soup adapted from "The Farmer's Market Guide" by Jennifer Loustau.

Scapes are the flower stalk of the hardneck or "ophio" garlic. Growers cut off the stalks to increase growth in the garlic bulbs underground, but chefs know that for about three weeks every year there is a delicious vegetable that tastes like a cross between asparagus and garlic. Great for sautes, soups, and flower arrangements.

Chop the buds off the scapes and cut the stems into bite-sized pieces. Cut the stems off the spinach and chop the leaves finely. Melt butter in a large saucepan and sauté scapes for 2 minutes minimum. If you like a "roasted" flavor, cook them until they are slightly blackened. Dice potatoes into ½-inch (1 ¼ cm) cubes. Add them and the stock  to the saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add spinach, and purée in a food processor (carefully, allowing steam to escape). Add cream and seasonings. Serve with chopped chives floating on top if you wish.

Recipe: Scape Soup
The Farmer's Market Guide: With Identification Guide and Recipes
Recipe Archive
Farm Kitchen

Monday, March 17, 2014

Home Grown: Small Space Gardening.

If you have only a small space to grow vegetables, try planting closer together.

Forget rows of seeds or plants with traditional distances between them. Just plant the recommended distance apart without rows.

With intensive spacing, there is more efficient use of space and water. This method can allow you to shrink your garden up to 40 percent without losing planting room.

Continued at...
Small Space Gardening

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Growing Guides
Garden Tools
Artwork: Vegetable Garden, Pontoise, 1879 by Camille Pissarro.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Home Grown: Allergenic Plants.

For allergy sufferers, spring is usually a time of sniffling, sneezing, and watery eyes.

One reason for this is pollen from flowers of trees, shrubs, grasses, and weeds. Although most of these bloom for just a short period, something is almost always blooming. In early spring, it's the trees and shrubs. In summer the main pollen source is flowering grasses. In late summer and fall, weedy plants from roadsides are the problem.

Pollen is an important part of plant reproduction and must be moved around from flower to flower. Showy flowers attract insects such as bees, which help pollinate the flowers, but not all plants use insects.

Most plants that cause allergies use wind to spread their pollen. Therefore, these plants typically have abundant pollen and not very noticeable flowers.

Continued at... Allergenic Plants

Home Grown
The Complete Manual of Natural Allergy Control
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Pollen on Flowers.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Home Grown: Growing Asparagus.

Always plant this perennial in a permanent location, preferably on the north side of the garden since it grows 3 to 4 feet tall.
Most gardening books tell you to grow asparagus from roots planted deeply in well-built trenches. However, growers developed the trench method for mechanical cultivation, and it is not necessary for the home gardener. You still must spread asparagus roots well when you plant them, but a hole or small trench will suffice. Plant the roots 6 inches deep. Expect a partial harvest in two years.

Continued at... Growing Asparagus

Home Grown
Organic Gardening in Cold Climates by Sandra Perrin
Artwork: Asparagus.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Home Grown: Constructing a Berry Bed.

Berry beds provide a most attractive ornamental feature in any garden, large or small, and can be inexpensive and easy to construct. A more permanent, high-quality structure can make a big difference to an otherwise unremarkable garden. Raised beds filled with suitable compost provide the special conditions needs for all ericaceous berry plants, enabling gardeners who do not have the naturally acidic free-draining soil needed for these plants to widen their horizons and to enjoy both their edible fruits and the year-round ornamental interest.

Berry beds can be of any size or shape and be designed to the scale of the garden and owners' taste. Different materials can act as soil-retaining edging.

Continued at... Constructing a Berry Bed

Home Grown
Blueberries, Cranberries and Other Vacciniums by Jennifer Trehane
Home and Garden Center
Growing Guides
Artwork: Raised Garden Bed Kit.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Home Grown: Extending Harvest With Spring Planting.

Gardeners typically extend their vegetable harvest by keeping their plants from being frosted or frozen at the end of the growing season.

Another option is to start earlier in the season by planting vegetables that prefer to grow in cold or cool weather.  Extend your early-season harvest by planting early crops like the leafy greens, onions, turnips, peas, cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, and more.

Early spring vegetable gardening can have the same challenges as a late-season garden: protecting your garden plants from the really cold weather. Even though you're planting vegetable transplants or seeds where they prefer cold or cool weather, they cannot survive hard freeze or frost for very long. Gardeners can use those same old sheets and blankets or sheets of plastic to protect their plants in
the spring, just as is done in the late fall.

Continued at... Extending Harvest With Spring Planting

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Growing Guides
Plants and Seeds
Seed, Plant, and Nursery Catalogs
Artwork: Spring Planting