How to grow Cabbage

Cabbage is a green leafy vegetable grown throughout the world. Growing cabbage can be a challenge, and some varieties tend to need a lot of care and attention. Cabbage needs a cold environment for growth and is susceptible to pest attacks. Consider pest control strategies that compliment cabbage like composting or use of plant covers. If you like the vegetable, with the careful attention, you can grow it in your home garden.

Proper planning and care can provide up to two crops in a year.

pexels-photo-134877
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

Planting cabbage

Finding cabbage seedlings may be difficult in your area, but you can germinate cabbage indoors at >70 degrees. It is best if you sow the seeds in containers and transplant before the last frost. Alternatively, you can sow seeds directly a few weeks before the last frost – if planting in the fall plant 8 weeks ahead of the first Winter frost.

Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart in straight rows. If you want the full-size plant heads, plant them at least 20 inches apart. If you plant closer, the heads will grow smaller in size.

Mulching

Mulching is essential to retain the moisture and regulate the soil temperature. Make rich mulch from leaves and wood pulp and mix it with the soil to put around the plants.

Make sure do not plant the broccoli and cauliflower near the cabbage as they all belong to the same family. Planting them together can deplete the soil form the nutrients and attract the same diseases and pests.

Cabbage Care

pexels-photo-212932
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

When the plants attain a height of 5 inches, make sure that they are at the required distance. After the transplantation is over, you can fertilize the soil for three weeks. Also, make sure you mulch and water the soil regularly to keep it moist.

There are many pests like cabbage maggots, cabbage worms, and cutworms that attack the cabbage plants. The pests like slugs chew ragged holes in the cabbage leaves. Growing in the right conditions, crop rotation and the using the disease resistant cultivars protects your cabbage plants from pests and diseases.

Using a barrier like a plant cover or copper edging can keep posts like slugs and snails at bay.

You can also grow the Dill weed plants between the cabbage plants, which attract the wasps that kill the pests like cabbage worms and maggots.

Harvesting

brussels-sprouts-sprouts-cabbage-grocery-41171
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Check whether the cabbage heads are fully grown and became firm. Most varieties of cabbage take around 70 days to develop the firm heads. If the heads have become hard, you can cut them using a sharp knife leaving the stalks and roots.

To get two crops from your cabbage plants, leave the outer leaves and roots after cutting the cabbage head. The stalks and roots will produce new heads which you should not harvest until they grow to the size of a tennis ball.  When grown to the required size cut them to use as a vegetable or salad.

Final Note

Cabbage grows well in cold weather. You need to time its planting correctly, traditionally in the early Spring or late Fall. Growing cabbage can be fun and easy, but you need to protect your crop from a range of pests.

Corn – frequently asked questions

corn ears

Corn is the most widely produced crop in the entire world. It is considered as whole grain and vegetable at the same time.  Like rice, it is also a staple food in many countries. It is a member of the grass family and grow in a grass-looking stalk and produce ears or cobs. These cobs are used for several food products and ingredients which makes up the 20% of the world’s nutrition. Corns usage extends to cosmetics, medicines, fabrics and several materials.

If you are planning to grow corns, these frequently asked questions should provide you the basics to start your own cornfield someday.

pop corn
Image by Pixabay

1. How long does corn take to grow?

Corn grows between 60 to 100 days. It depends on the variety of the corn and the soil temperature during the growing season. Corn germinates faster when the soil is warmer. So it important to plant corn when the air temperature is between 60 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. How many ears of corn per stalk?

corn ears
Image by Pixabay

On average, sweet corn and field corn produce one to two ears per stalk. According to agriculturists, the density of the stalks affects the number of ears that corns produce. The less density, the more space for the corns to grow and produce more ears.

There are varieties of field corns that produce between 6 to 10 ears or cobs depending on the size. These are the baby corns that we typically use in salads and dishes.

3. When is corn season?

The corn season varies per country. Since corn thrives better in warmer temperature, the corn harvest season reflects at the end of the summer to fall season. In the US, planting corns start normally from April to June and the harvest season is from June to October. Tropical countries have longer harvest season due to warm weather all throughout the year.

4. How do you harvest corn?

Harvesting corn is easy. Once corn kernels are mature, just hold the corn ear with your hand and twist it on the side. And then pull the ear and yank hard. Use your other hand to steady the stalk. If you are harvesting sweet corns, preserve or prepare it for eating right away as sweet corns lose their sweetness right after harvesting.

5. How do you know corn is ready to harvest?

corn frequently asked questions
Image by Pixabay

There are several signs that you can check. First off, the tassels must be brown. These are the stuff that looks like hair at the top of the cob. If it’s still green, that means it is not ready yet. The cobs also start to swell when its ready. And lastly, the kernels must be full and milky. You can check this by pulling back the corn silk and squeezing the kernel.

6. Is corn easy to grow?

Growing corn is not that complicated. Corns require minimal aftercare. It needs warm and healthy soil, at least 6 hours of sunlight and a constant supply of water. Weeding and adding fertilizers might also be needed from time to time.

Aside from the basics, it is important to remember that corn needs other corn to grow and produce kernels. Corns are wind pollinated and need pollens from other corns. This is why it is also important to plant them by rows and about a foot apart from each other.

7. Can I grow corn in my backyard?

It is possible to grow corn in your backyard as long as the location meets the basic needs of the plant. It is important that you have rich soil, proper drainage, and good water supply. And that you plant the corn plants that they can pollinate each other properly.

8. How much sun is needed to grow corn?

corn field
Image by Pixabay

Corn is a summer crop so it is best to plant them where it can get a full sunlight. At the minimum, corn requires at least 6 hours of sunlight. Corn is sensitive to cold and susceptible to frost so avoid planting them during the winter season.

9. Does corn need a lot of water?

Corns need water at least once every week or when the soil starts drying. Pour at least 1 inch of water to the soil. It is important to keep the soil moist and keep it from drying. Drought conditions can result in stunted growth of the corn and lack of kernels.

10. Where does corn grow best?

Aside from the warm weather, corn grows best in sandy loam soil. Sandy loam soil is a rich soil composed of sand, silt, and clay. It has good drainage and normally stays moist without being too wet which is ideal for corn growing. Corns also like slightly acidic soil or has a pH scale of 5.8 to 6.8.

 

Growing pumpkins in Florida

Growing pumpkins in Florida seems to be a Herculean task. After all, it’s way too hot to sprout them that long south. Nevertheless, you can grow healthy and juicy pumpkins in the northeastern region of the state. It may not be easy, and the capital needed may be a bit high for an average earner. But you can definitely do it!  

Though pumpkin is native to North America, English and Irish immigrants introduced the custom of carving jack-o-lanterns for Halloween in America. They would use beets and turnips in England & Ireland to sculpt their festive moments. Pumpkins replaced turnips and beets as they were more suitable for engraving and setting a light inside.

pumpkin craving. photo credit pexels.com

Northeastern Florida is known for growing potato and cabbage, but the market is also available for venturers looking into growing other crops in the area. Pumpkins need a significant amount of fertilizer and 3-4 months long  growing season. You’ll need to plant your seeds around late May to early July in the southern states. The month of July and the state of Florida is probably the worst time and place to do back-breaking work such as planting pumpkins, but you must endure the extreme heat if you want your juicy harvest-ready by October!  

CHOOSING THE  GROUND 

Pick  an area with full exposure to the sun (at least 8-12 hours+ sunlight per day) and enough space for vines.  If you have a limited garden space, no worries! Pumpkins can still thrive at the outskirt of your garden, provided that vines can grow across your sidewalk or up a custom trellis. You can also try miniature  varieties to fit in with your space. Pumpkins are heavy feeders that prefer well-drained soil. Before sowing the pumpkin seeds or transplanting them, you need to mix lots of  (6-8 bags for 300-900 sq feet space) aged manure and compost into the growing site.  

PLANTING  SEEDLINGS 

Hand-plant seeds with a row spacing of 2.75 feet, and with 6.5 feet between row centers. Spread reflective plastic mulch over the rows to deter pests and insects as well as to keep the ground cool. Pumpkins are likely to grow best when you plant the seeds directly in the  selected area. If you plan to transplant,  harden them off ahead of transplanting. The ideal soil temperature is at 95ºF.  

Prepare the row hills in  advance  with a mixture of old manure placed about one foot deep into the ground. If manure isn’t available, you can slacken the soil and blend in a 2-4 inch stretch of  compost. Plant the seedlings an inch deep into your cultivated rows with about four or five seedlings in each row. Make sure to allow a space of 4 to 8 feet  apart between each row.  Expect the seeds to germinate in a week with the right soil temperature and emerge in about 5 to 10  days.  

PLANTING 

Incorporate fertilizer into the soil, and lay the plastic with poked holes. When you see the plants to be around 2 – 3 inches long, snip off the unnecessary plants without harming the roots of the desired  ones. Cut down the excess plants to trim the placement to 1 plant for every 1.5-3 feet. 

 

CARE 

Use  row plastic covers  to protect the plants early in the season and to prevent insect infestation. Pumpkins need lots of water. Northeast Florida gets a fair amount of rainy weather, but you may still have to irrigate your rows when necessary. Therefore, you need to water deeply, especially during the fruit  setting. Try to keep the foliage and fruit dry because the dampness or extra moisture will make rotting and other diseases more  likely. You can add  mulch  around your pumpkins to preserve the required moisture and curb weeds.   

Do not over-cultivate to avoid damaging the roots. Most small vine varieties can climb up a customized trellis, which would save you space in your garden, but be sure to make them sturdy to support the expected weight. 

Bees  are crucial for pollination of your crops and fruits, so avoid using insecticides for killing pests. If it’s extremely necessary, use it in the late afternoon or early evening, when the blossom of flowers is done for the day. To entice more bees, you can try setting up a bee house  in your  garden. 

PESTS AND DISEASES 

Squash bugs  and  cucumber beetles  are common pumpkin pests, particularly in late summer. Aphids, Powdery Mildew, poor lighting, and poor weather can adversely impact a healthy fruit set. So, spray for fungus and downy mildew on a 2-3 day regular basis for 3 or 4 weeks, but be wary of driving off the honeybees.

Also, pumpkins are highly vulnerable to leaf burn from bug-killing chemicals due to the intense Florida heat and sun conditions. So, use the smallest dosage possible.

HARVESTING AND STORAGE 

The best time to harvest pumpkins is when they reach maturity. They will best stay fresh this way. Avoid picking pumpkins off the vine as soon as they reach your intended size, you should let them reach their maturity. If you prefer small pumpkins, purchase the small  variety of seedlings. A pumpkin is due for ripening when its skin takes on a deep, sturdy orange color (in most  cases). The shell will feel tough and it will make a hollow sound when you thumb the surface. Try to nail the skin as well. If it repels puncture, it should be  ripe.   

To harvest your pumpkin, cut the fruit off the vine carefully without rupture. Make sure you don’t cut too close to the pumpkin and you handle it very gently to avoid bruising. Keep them under the open sun for a couple of days to further harden the skin. Store them in a cellar, or  anywhere with a temperature of about 55ºF. Remember that pumpkins grown in Florida will never be the big jack-o-lantern types so expect your produce to be around 8 to 15 pounders.  

Do you think growing pumpkins in Florida worth the risk? Yes, of course! Florida-grown pumpkins taste good enough to compete with those grown in other states and are of supreme delectable quality for consumers to buy. Follow the tips above and you’ll soon see that pumpkins are easy to maintain if you have  space and enough determination! 

Vegetable gardening: 15 tips and ideas to vegetable container garden design

Nothing is as exciting as preparing food with fresh vegetables from your own garden. Imagine harvesting lots of tasty tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, melons, herbs such as Aloe Vera or any other vegetable from your garden. You don’t need so much space in your backyard or garden to grow a vegetable of choice.

With proper planning and the right choices, you can get a bountiful harvest of herbs and vegetables grown in your home garden. You won’t just get tastier vegetables with a better texture than what you buy from your local grocery, but also get to save money. Gardening is also fun, letting you spend your time productively outdoors in the sun or indoors during cooler months.

Furthermore, gardening can also improve the appearance of your home, giving it a colorful and bold look. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced gardener, and despite your reason for wanting to garden, you’ll find this article resourceful. Here are 15 tips to help you start a vegetable container garden in your backyard:

Top 15 Vegetable Container Garden Design Ideas

  1. Add Color to Your Garden

Grow various herbs and vegetables in your container vegetable garden. Each has distinct, but attractive foliage, and varying textures and colors, perfect for adding visual appeal to your garden. Swiss chard with red stems, leafy rosemary, red hot pepper, and round midnight basil are some vegetables to consider.

Red Hot Pepper

Red Hot Pepper

Herbs such as thyme or lemongrass can also make your garden more colorful and attractive. Other ornamental vegetables to add color to your garden include hyacinth beans and scarlet runner beans.

  1. Opt for Colorful Pots/Containers

Colorful pots can also brighten your container vegetable garden. Choose containers in bright colors such as red, orange and yellow to grow your herbs and vegetables. Alternatively, pots in neutral colors such as white, black or grey can create a perfect backdrop for your choice of colorful vegetables and herbs as explained above.

Brightly Colored Gardening Pots

Colored Gardening Pots

  1. Grow Herbs in a Pot with Multiple Openings

Find a pot with multiple openings to grow various herbs such as oregano, dill, rosemary, thyme, chives, and sage. It helps save space and increase yield.

One Pot Garden.jpg

A One-Pot Garden – Image Courtesy of Bonnie Plants

  1. Grow Vines and Climbers to Create a Vertical Garden

Cucumbers, bitter lemon, pole beans, gourds, vine tomatoes, pumpkins, Malabar spinach, peas, melons, and squashes are examples of vines and climbers you can include in your garden. They make use of vertical space and yield produce in plenty.

Vertical Container Garden

Vertical Container Garden

Use sticks, cages or trellis to support your vines and climbers, directing them upwards to create a vertical garden. Vertical gardens help make use of the little space you have available in your yard or patio.

  1. Add a Few Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets can also optimize vertical space in your garden while still letting you use containers on the ground. Herbs such as rosemary and vegetables such as tomatoes, coriander, and strawberry can successfully grow in hanging baskets. They can also add visual appeal to your vegetable container garden.

Hanging Baskets

Hanging Baskets

  1. Create Space in Your Garden for Herbs

Your garden isn’t complete without herbs. They’re handy in making your meals tastier. Choose at least two herbs to add to your vegetable garden. Select the herbs you like the most and can do well in your geographical location. Consider mint, parsley, oregano, thyme, cilantro, sage, coriander, rosemary, etc. Grow them in pots or containers, window boxes or hanging baskets.

Spice Herb Container Garden.jpg

A Spice Herbs Container Garden

  1. Find Unique, Stylish Planters

Find unique planters in a stylish design to add visual interest to your container garden for vegetables. Use empty containers in your home to make unique DIY planters for your vegetables. It would also help with recycling such containers, especially those made from plastic.

A Stylish Kettle Style Planter.jpg

A Stylish Kettle Style Planter

Alternatively, buy unique planters in varies sizes and shapes to give your garden an appealing look. Other household items such as tires and candle holders can also help come up with exceptional DIY planter ideas.

  1. Grow a Productive Vegetable for Successive Harvesting

Asian greens, chilies, and peppers, radishes, spinach, carrots, peas, eggplant, cucumber, squash, lettuce, beans, and tomatoes are productive container vegetables. They do so well when grown in pots, atop being easy to grow. Make sure you pick one and grow in a container to start your garden. Moreover, you’ll harvest your vegetable successively many times before replanting your garden.

Gardening Tomatoes for Successive Harvesting.jpg

Gardening Tomatoes for Successive Harvesting

  1. Add Edible Flowers

More than 42 flowers, according to the Tree Hugger, are edible. Flowers such as sunflower, clover, hibiscus, fuchsia, impatiens, jasmine and lilac, among others, are edible. Therefore, they’re a perfect addition to any garden. Use them to garnish your meals, make salads or prepare sharbat. Moreover, they add color and visual interest to your garden, making it more beautiful.

An Edible Red Hibiscus Flower.jpg

An Edible Red Hibiscus Flower

  1. Grow Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a vegetable often used in the kitchen to prepare salads or even cook meals, making it a must-have in your garden. They’re also attractive and bound to add color to your container garden. Choose at least two different varieties to grow in your garden for a bountiful harvest.

Bush Champion, Big Boy Bush, Celebrity, Bush Goliath, Patio F, Early Girl Bush, Tumbling Tom, Window Box Roma, Sweet 100, Sun Sugar, Sun Gold, and Manitoba, among others are ideal for container gardening.

  1. Add Plants with Varying Heights

Grow vegetables with varying heights to kick boredom out of your garden. Planters of different heights and sizes can also help achieve the same effect. Place containers of varied sizes and heights in groups to create a layered look for visual appeal. Organize plants according to height with the tallest at the back of your container vegetable garden.

A Garden with Plants of Varied Heights.jpg

A Garden with Plants of Varied Heights

  1. Create a Potted Vegetable Garden

Pot gardens come in handy if you don’t have much space to accommodate larger containers. They’re ideal for open windows with enough exposure to the sun and small balconies. Grow a few vegetables in a single pot to optimize space you have available for gardening.

A Potted Garden.jpg

A Potted Garden

  1. Buy a Vertical Planter

Vertical planters are designed with layers of space to accommodate as many vegetables as possible. Find one to grow your greens and fresh herbs vertically to save space for other plants that require more space to grow.

A Vertical Planter Mounted on a Wall.jpg

A Vertical Planter Mounted on a Wall

  1. Grow a Citrus Fruit

Dwarf citrus fruits varieties such as lemons easily grow in pots and containers. Find a suitable variety to plant in your vegetable or home garden.

Lemon Tree in a Container.jpg

Lemon Tree Growing in a Container

  1. Consider Vertical Gardening

Old bookshelves, shoe racks, and plant holders can create more space in gardens to ensure there’s enough for all your vegetables. Hanging planters such as baskets and railing planters are ideal for creating vertical gardens in balconies.

Pallet planters and holders, picture frames, pallet planks, layered gutter gardens, apartment hanging gardens, shelves, and staircase stands also come in handy when creating vertical gardens.

Organic Vegetables in a Hydroponic Vertical Garden.jpg

Organic Vegetables in a Hydroponic Vertical Garden

Conclusion

Whether you already have some veggies growing in your garden or want to start one from scratch, you won’t go wrong with these great tips. Remember to find out the growth requirements of your vegetables and learn to keep your vegetable container garden free from weeds and pests.

Contact us to find out more about vegetable container gardening and what it takes to start a successful garden of veggies in your yard or even indoors.