Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Make Sure to Harvest String Beans When Ready

Image: Gibby's Garden
Though it may be a little early for those of us in the north to be out harvesting our string beans, it’s important to do so when they’re ready. This helps extend the harvest season and fill our freezers and pantries with plenty of crisp, tasty beans for the winter to come. So, why is picking all mature string beans a must?

String beans need to be harvested when mature in order for the plants to produce more - plain and simple. This may be annoying to some, but to me, it sounds like a good idea. Why should the plant waste it’s energy on producing a crop of beans if no one is there to harvest them?

String beans are typically ready for harvest when the seeds inside begin to swell. Of course harvest time differs depending on the variety, but on average, go ahead and pick them while the pods are still tender and check the back of your seed packet for the average bean length when ready for harvest.

You may think that waiting to harvest string beans when they’re several inches long and busting with ripe seeds will get you more bean for your buck - but you’re going to miss out on great taste and texture. Fat string beans become stringy, take on a woody texture and really lose a lot of that fresh, crisp flavor they’re known for straight from the garden.

I do lots of sampling to make sure my beans are ready before setting out to harvest - yum! I planted two varieties of string beans this year, Imperial Golden Wax ready for harvest at about 4-5 inches long, and Blue Lake pole beans ready around 6 inches or so.

Unfortunately due to the weather, I’ve had to replant many of my beans and will not be harvesting until later in the season. String beans are one of my favorite vegetables to eat and grow and I can’t wait for the sampling to begin!


What are some of your favorite vegetables?

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Gibby's Garden Diary Entry #7: Snail Alert!


July 15, 2013

When it comes to the usual pests in my garden, I’ve never had a problem with snails until now. Heck, I’ve hardly ever seen them sans the beach until this season. Not only have I been spotting snails in their tiny orange shells sticking to my weed bucket and popping up in the rows of my garden, but I’ve noticed quite a few while out walking the dogs.

I wondered why the sudden influx of snails. Could it be the heavy rains and intense humidity on the odd day of sunshine? Is there something different about my gardens that these snails are attracted too? I did a little reading in one of my go to garden books, Rodale Organic Gardening Basics, “Pests” and found that snails, much like slugs, are attracted to decaying plant matter and love to feed on young plants.

I do have a thick layer of mulch hay in two of my gardens and several inches of leaves in another used to prevent weeds and to keep the ground moist. While I will not forgo my mulch, it drastically reduces the amount of time I spend weeding, I have found a quick, cheap and organic solution to help control these slimy trailed garden pests - beer traps.

I’ve used beer traps to control the slug population in my gardens for quite a few years now, and I’ve been happy with the results. I’ve doubled my efforts and put out more beer traps where I’ve noticed the highest population of snails. I’ve attracted quite a few so far, and make sure to hand pick all snails that I see when weeding.

Snails and slugs are attracted to the yeast in beer, which if you’re like me, you always have an odd can or two in the fridge. I set out my traps in a shady spot slightly away from the garden if possible. Intense sun leads to mold in the traps causing them to need to be changed more often, and placing the traps outside of the garden lures the snails out rather than in.

If you’d like to know how to easily make your own snail and slug beer traps, click on over to my post, How to Make Your Own Slug Traps, to find out how.


What pests have you noticed in your garden this year?


View all Gibby's Garden Diary Entries

Gibby's Garden Diary entry #6 - Plant List (previous entry)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How to Keep Your Garden Healthy in Dry Weather

Image: Gibby's Garden
When there is no rain in sight for days at a time and the humidity rises a few notches, it tends to leave garden soil hard and dry - neither of which are good for plants. Dry weather stunts plants and if it gets really bad, kills them off. To help coax your garden through dry weather - water, mulch and cultivate.

Water


Yes, I’m well aware that I’m stating the obvious here. Truth be told, I never water my gardens, even when they are dry, simply because none of them are anywhere near a hose so I don’t have that option. If you are going to drag out the hose or set up the sprinkler, make sure not to over water (no puddling), do not drag the hose across any plants and water in early mornings to prevent disease and fungus.

Mulch


That’s right - mulch. You may think covering the ground near or around your plants with a material that prevents weeds may inhibit water from penetrating the soil, but it doesn’t. A fine layer of mulch helps keep garden soil moist, because it keeps water from evaporating, especially in hot, dry weather.

The rule of thumb for mulching is to leave a 3-4 inch diameter around seedlings and rows of seeds that have recently been sown. Wait until plants have had some time to grow and anchor themselves with their roots before pushing the mulch to within an inch or two of plants.

Cultivate


Another great way to keep gardens growing healthy and strong during dry weather is to cultivate the soil around plants. Be gentle making sure not to disturb the plant’s roots, especially the roots of young plants. I use a hand cultivator to loosen the soil, especially when the soil is dry. This helps let in moisture and gives oxygen a chance to circulate.


How has the weather been in your area this gardening season? Mine has gone from sopping wet to dry and back again. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

3 Organic Ways to Stop Weeds from Growing

Image: Gibby's Garden
Weeds are the last thing we gardeners want to see growing, especially in abundance. Not only do they soak up vital nutrients, water and sunlight, they take time to pull - a time consuming task. Over the years I’ve found 3 ways that really help keep weeds from growing including mulching, cultivating and weeding more frequently, helping to free up my summer for more fun activities.

1#: Mulch! Mulch! Mulch!


One of the best ways to stop weeds from growing is by mulching, and this is something that I cannot stress enough. Mulch prevents weeds from growing while helping the soil stay moist, so it’s like getting a 2 for 1 deal. There are many varieties of mulches to suit your needs and tastes including hay, straw, bark, pine needles, crushed peanut shells etc.

Note: I’ve been using mulch hay as mulch for years now mainly because I live on a farm and it’s free and readily available to me. This year after my garden was tilled, I immediately put down a thick layer of mulch to stop weeds from growing before I had a chance to plant. Now, I still get some weeds, but I’ve cut the time I used to spend weeding by about 2/3.

#2: Cultivate


Cultivate around larger plants making sure not to disturb their roots and between rows using a hand held or electric cultivator. I use a hand held cultivator to lightly turn the soil. This uproots weeds as well as their seeds before they have a chance to grow. This is one of the more physical and time consuming ways to stop weeds from growing but it works; especially when coupled with mulch.

#3: Weed Frequently


The more often you weed the fewer weeds you’ll have to pull. When you get rid of weeds by cultivating or pulling by hand, you disturb the soil which helps stop future weeds from growing as well as eliminate the ones already there. I like to check my gardens every few days and pull or cultivate any weeds to stay on top of things.


As much as I would love to say I don’t get any weeds, I can’t, but I’m happy to report I’ve drastically cut down the time I spend weeding my garden. I encourage you to try the 3 ways I’ve shared and to key me in on any of your own ideas. Mind you I’m an organic gardener, so spraying with pesticides isn’t an option for me.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gibby's Garden Diary entry #6 - Plant List

After a 2 week hiatus from blogging, I’m back with a garden diary entry. I know the last entry I made I complained about the weather and yes, I’m here to complain about it again, but only for a few sentences. The weather here in Maine has been all over the place. We either get downpours or it’s hot and humid for days at a time wreaking havoc on my garden soil.

With that being said, I’ve replanted a few of my cucumber mounds and will probably have to replant some of my beans as well. I’ve heard from a number of people, one who works in a lawn and garden center, that many people are having to replant some of their seeds due to sporadic weather we've been having. On a lighter note, my transplants seem to be doing fine as they already have roots and have established their places in the garden.

Okay - enough of the complaining already - right? Here’s what I have in the ground so fa,r and yes, I still have more to plant as I have run out of space and need to make some new garden beds for my root vegetables and corn. Not having planted my corn yet is what is really bothering me - but that’s a different story that'll I'll share in another garden diary entry.

What's Growing in Gibby's Garden in 2013



  • “Hybrid Miss Pickler” Cucumbers - 6/15/13 - 6/20/13 *
  • “Beefmaster” Tomatoes - 5/27/13
  • Cherry Tomatoes - 5/27/13
  • "Roma" Tomatoes - 6/3/13
  • “Viva Italia” Tomatoes - 6/3/13
  • “Premium Crop” Broccoli - 6/10/13
  • “Snow Crown” Cauliflower - 6/10/13
  • Jalapenos - 6/10/13
  • "Mesclun Mix" Lettuce – 6/13/13
  • “Hybrid Tyee” Spinach - 6/15/13
  • “Northfield” Peas - 6/13/13
  • “Blue Lake” Pole Beans - 6/5/13 - 6/19/13
  • “Golden” Wax Beans- 6/5/13  - 6/20/13
  • “Early White Vienna” Kohlrabi - 6/15/13
  • “Bright Lights” Swiss Chard - 6/15/13
  • “Hybrid Twilight” Eggplant - 6/15/13
* The dates listed are planting dates


Now you can see why I’ve run out of room in my 3 exiting garden beds. I’m definitely one of those crazy gardeners who loves planting everything under the sun. I’ve never grown Swiss chard or eggplant, so I’m anxious to see how they grow this year and I’ll be sure to let you know.

Is anyone else having any gardening issues this growing season? I’d love to hear about em’ below.

View Previous Garden Diary Entries




Wednesday, June 5, 2013

5 Quick Tips for Planting Tomatoes

Image: Jolly Janner 
Before heading out to plant your tomatoes, pick a spot in the garden that receives full sun, a good 6-8 hours a day, and one that has fertile, well-draining soil. Then, set your seedlings up for success by following these 5 tips for planting tomatoes.

Tip #1: Pinch off Bottom Leaves of Tomatoes


Pinching of the bottom most leaves of tomato plants encourages them to grow bushy and full rather than tall and thin. Pinch off only the bottom leaves, leaving the true leaves intact. True leaves are those that are main branches and have two to three sets of leaves per branch already.

Tip #2: Sprinkle the Ground with Egg Shells


In the weeks leading up to planting time, save your egg shells. Crush them up and sprinkle them in the holes in which you’ll be planting your tomatoes. Egg shells give the soil a boost of calcium, something your tomatoes will be thankful for. Make sure the shells are clean and crush them up before sprinkling them.

Tip #3: Size and Depth of Planting Holes


Holes should be twice as wide as the root ball of tomato seedlings and deep enough to plant tomatoes up to their first set of true leaves. Planting tomatoes at this depth gives them the support they need as they grow tall and wide, helping to keep their roots anchored.

Tip #4: Gently Loosen Root Ball of Tomato Seedlings


Gently loosen the root balls of tomato seedlings to entice the roots to spread out and anchor themselves once they’ve become established. It’s okay if some of the roots break. Loosen the ball about 3/4 of the way up, leaving the top of the ball intact.

Tip #5: Cage Tomatoes from the Start


After planting tomato seedlings, cage them right away. Doing this from the start is much easier than trying to slip a tomato cage over a mid to full-size plant and it’s many branches and leaves. You can also make your own support systems out of garden stakes and twine. 

Do you have any tips to share about planting tomatoes?


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Monday, June 3, 2013

Gibby’s Garden Diary Entry #5 - Excessive Rain & Heat

June 3, 2013

The weather lately really hasn’t been cooperating with my vegetable gardening - that is for sure.  Over Memorial Day weekend we had a North Easter which dumped lots of rain, completely saturating the ground and making it impossible to plant anything without risking a washout or root rot.

This weekend, the temps hovered around 100 degrees making it unfit for this gardener to head out and plant during the day - though I did manage to get my tomato plants in the ground Friday night as well as 2 rows of cucumbers - planted in hills of course.

What I planned on doing was planting all my cucumbers, which I’m planting a lot of to make pickles this year, and my lettuce. That didn’t happen. Today the weather is cooler and we’ve had some more rain which is expected throughout the day.

The rest of my gardens were rototilled this morning, so I’ll be busy planting away this week as long as the weather cooperates, as I’ve learned heat is not my friend. I plan on laying down my mulch hay first and then planting. I did this where my tomatoes and cucumbers were planted and it saves time. I simply raked the mulch back where I wanted to plant and that was it.

On a side note, I was glad I put my tomatoes in this weekend because they were beginning to outgrow their pots. Use your judgment when it comes to hardening off seedlings. My tomatoes didn’t quite get 2 weeks of hardening off but they’re doing just fine in the garden.

View Previous Posts



Friday, May 31, 2013

Hardening Off Vegetable Plants

Image: Downtowngal
Whether you started your own vegetables from seed or bought them from the local nursery, your plants need a little hardening off before being transplanted into the garden. What exactly does hardening off mean and just how easy is it?

What Does Hardening Off Mean?


Hardening off vegetable plants simply prepares them for the outside elements including temperature, wind and rain. Chances are, your plants have been on a sunny windowsill or tucked in a temperature controlled greenhouse. Hardening them off prevents them from going into shock after being transplanted.

How to Harden Off Vegetable Plants



  • Find a semi-sunny location out of the wind and rain
  • Week 1 - Leave vegetable plants outdoors for 4 hours
  • Week 2 - Extend time outdoors to 6-8 hours
  • Remember to bring plants indoors at night especially if a frost or low temperatures are forecast 


Hardening off vegetable plants is easy and takes a matter of moving plants in and out of the house. To make things a little easier, place plants on a tray or wheeled cart to make carrying to and fro a simple task. As always, don’t forget to water vegetable plants to keep them growing healthy and strong.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Grow Cucumbers in the North


Image: Rusty.Grass
Cucumbers are easy to grow in the north and come in a number of varieties suitable for all gardens. Choose a variety according to space and use. Pickling cucumbers are best for making pickles while slicing cukes are great in salads. Grow in containers, along a trellis or in hills on the ground.

Vegetable Type: Annual
Name: Cucumis sativus
Family: Cucurbitaceous (gourd)

How to Start Cucumber Seeds in the North



  • Cucumbers can be sown directly in the garden in the north because they take 70 days or less to mature. 


When to Plant: After all danger of frost has passed
Soil Type: Fertile, well-drained, slightly acidic
Light: Full sun
Spacing: Sow cucumber seeds 1" deep and 4-5 per hill, with hills 6' apart
Thinning: Thin cucumbers to 2 per hill when seedlings reach 2" tall
Watering: Keep well watered especially during dry periods
Fertilization: Amend soil with finished compost or composted manure to keep fertile
Mulching: Mulch to prevent weeds and retain moisture
Weeding: Weed when plants are dry to reduce the risk of spreading disease
Average Days to Germination: 6-10 days

Common Cucumber Pests and Diseases


Cucumber Pests 


Cucumber Beetles: Small yellow insects with black spots or stripes. Known for chewing holes in the leaves of cucumber plants, often killing them off. Spray with warm soapy water  and handpick to control them organically.

Cucumber Diseases 


Bacteria Wilt: Causes plants to wilt and die off. Pull diseased plants to keep bacteria wilt from spreading. Only pull plants that don’t recover from wilt during cooler temperatures. Some plants may wilt during the heat of the day.

Powdery Mildew: Caused by a fungus and resembles white dust on plant leaves. Small powdery spots can spread. Plant resistant cucumbers & rotate crops to prevent powdery mildew. Spray affected plants with neem oil to control those already affected.

Downy Mildew: Caused by a fungus which appears as small yellow spots on plant leaves, browning and drying them causing them to die off. To prevent, plant disease resistant cucumbers and dispose of parts of the plant already affected.

How to Harvest Cucumbers



  • Twist and snap cucumbers from the vine when they reach desired size (size varies per variety)
  • Harvest before they turn yellow and plump

Best Varieties of Cucumbers to Grow in the North



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Friday, May 24, 2013

Best Varieties of Cucumber to Grow in the North


Image: Rusty.Grass

There are many types and varieties of cucumbers to choose from, all of which can be grown in the north because most take 55 days or less to mature. This makes choosing a variety based on taste and use easier, whether it's a pickling cuke, one that's great in a salad, or one that contains few seeds and less acid making it easier on the digestive system.

Types of Cucumbers


Slicing: Cucumbers average 7-9" long with relatively thin skins and few spines

Pickling: Cucumbers average 4-5" long and are block-shaped with minimal spines

Seedless and Thin Skinned: Few to no seeds with thin skins

Specialty: Cucumbers that are unique is size, color & shape

Slicing Cucumber Varieties


Slicing Cucumbers
Sweet Yet Hybrid: Early variety produces 10-12" long cucumbers. Burpless, sweet and thin skinned. Dark green in color. 48 days.

Corinto: American variety growing 7-8" long with dark green skins. Does well in hot or cool weather. Small seed cavity. 48 days.

General Lee: American variety growing 8-8.5" long with dark skins and white spines. Averages high yields. 52 days.

Olympian: American variety growing 8-9" long with dark green skins. Crisp with a fresh flavor. Produces high yields. Very disease resistant. 52 days.

Early Spring Burpless Hybrid: Vigorous variety produces 12-15" long cucumbers with dark green skins and bright white flesh. Crisp and mild in taste. 52 days.

Marketmore: American variety growing 8-9" long with dark green skins. Slender in size. Popular in the north. 58 days.

Sweet Slice Hybrid: Burpless variety produces 10-12" cucumbers that are bitter-free and mild in flavor. Tolerates mildew and scab. 63 days.

Straight Eight: Produces 8" cucumbers up to 2.5" wide and dark green in color. Crisp with a small seed cavity. 65 days.

Pickling Cucumber Varieties


Pickling Cucumbers
Harmonie: European variety best when harvested at 3-5". Produces high yields of dark green cucumbers with noticeable taste. 47 days.

Bush Pickle Hybrid: Extra early variety produces 5" cucumbers. Great for small gardens or containers. Mild in flavor. 45 days.

Northern Pickling: American variety best when harvested at 3-5". Produces medium green fruits on compact vines. Great for small gardens and containers. 48 days.

Vertina: European variety best when harvested at 3-5". Produces high yields of dark green cucumbers with black spines. 49 days.

Jackson Classic: American variety best when harvested at 3-5". Blocky in size and dark green in color with white spines. Disease resistant. 49 days.

Salt and Pepper: American variety best when harvested at 3-5". Produces white skinned cucumbers with black spines. Disease resistant. 49 days.

Adam Gherkin: European variety best when harvested at 2-3". Produces high yields of dark green cucumbers with noticeable taste. 50 days.

Excelsior: American variety best when harvested at 4-5". Produces high yields of dark green, blocky cucumbers. Intense flavor. 50 days.

Miss Pickler Hybrid: Early, vigorous  variety. Cucumbers are crisp, blocky and medium-green in color. Retains crispness when pickled. 50 days.

Little Leaf: American variety best when harvested at 3-5". Produces emerald green skinned cucumbers on compact vines. Great for pickling or eating fresh. 57 days.

Eureka Hybrid: Great variety for pickling or slicing. Harvest at 2-4" for pickling and 7" for slicing. Vigorous plants produce deep green skinned cucumbers. 57 days.

Sassy Hybrid: Great variety for pickling or slicing. Harvest at 3-5" for pickling or 6-10" for slicing. Produces crisp and plump cucumbers. 57 days.

Seedless and Thin Skinned Varieties of Cucumbers


Seedless Cucumbers
Rocky: Extra early and seedless variety best when harvested at 3.5". Very tender. High yielding.

Katrina: Seedless variety best when harvested at 5.5-6.5". Medium sized and full of flavor. 49 days.

Socrates: Thin skinned and seedless  variety grows 7-8". Sweet and tender in taste. Dark skinned. 52 days.

Sweet Success Hybrid: Early seedless variety. Crisp, mild in flavor and acid-free cucumbers reach an average of 14". Tolerates scab and mosaic virus. 54 days.

Amiga: Thin skinned variety grows 6" cucumbers. Flavorful and dark green in color. Disease resistant. 55 days.

Tyria: Seedless variety grows up to 14". Dark green cucumbers are slightly ribbed. Resistant to target spot. 56 days.

Diva: Seedless and bitter-free variety. Cucumbers are crisp and sweet to taste. 58 days.

Iznik Hybrid: Gourmet cocktail variety with thin skin and very few seeds. Mimics melon in taste. Vigorous variety great for eating fresh. Pickles well. 60 days.

Specialty Varieties of Cucumbers


Specialty Cucumbers
Tasty Jade: Produces 11-12" cucumbers on high yielding plants. Fresh in flavor and thin skinned. 54 days.

Suyo Long: Chinese variety produces cucumbers up to 15". Very adaptable. Great for pickling. 61 days.

Striped Armenian: Produces flavorful cucumbers that are best when harvested at 8-18". Grows “S” in shape. Flavorful. Skins alternate between dark and light green stripes. 63 days.

Lemon: Produces sweet and flavorful yellow skinned cucumbers resembling lemons. Best when harvested at 1.5-2.5". Good fresh or pickled. 65 days.




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gibby's Garden Diary Entry #4: Hardening Off Tomato Plants


May 22, 2013

Over the weekend, I went to my favorite local garden nursery and snapped up a bunch of tomato plants. Though I won’t be planting them for another week or so, I wanted to make sure I got the varieties I wanted this year. Last year, by the time I got around to buying my tomato plants, they were practically sold out of the varieties I wanted and I didn’t get any sauce tomatoes.

This year I plan on canning my own tomato sauce so I went a little overboard on the tomato plants. For sauce tomatoes I choose “Vita Italia” and “Roma.” I also picked up a couple of “Beefmaster” plants for slicing as well as a couple of cherry tomatoes for snacking.

The tomato plants I bought were still nestled in a nice, warm greenhouse so I need to harden them off a bit before planting them in the ground. I left them outdoors on Sunday for a good 4 hours after bringing them home and continue to do so while bringing them in at night.

I plan on leaving them outdoors during the day for 4 hours at a time for the rest of the week. Come the weekend I’ll start leaving them out for 6-8 hours depending on the weather. I keep them in a semi sunny spot and out of the wind. When I’m ready to plant, my tomatoes will be hardened off and not shocked by the outside temperatures.

The funny thing is, I don’t even like tomatoes unless they come in sauce or ketchup form, but the rest of my family loves them so I always make sure to plant plenty.

View Previous Garden Diary Entry




Monday, May 20, 2013

How to Grow Corn in the North


Image: freedigitalphotos.net
Corn is a staple in the U.S. and around the world. For home gardeners, it can be eaten fresh, frozen or canned for later use. The keys to successfully growing corn in the north are to plant an early variety and wait until the weather is warm to sow it to help stave off certain pests and diseases.

Vegetable Type: Annual
Name: Zea mays
Family: Grass

Starting Corn Seeds in the North


When to Plant: After all danger of frost has passed and soil temps are at least 60°F
Soil Type: Fertile, well-draining
Spacing: Sow seeds 1.5" deep and 5" apart in rows 24" apart
Thinning: Thin to 10" apart after seedlings reach 2-3" tall
Light: Full sun
Fertilization: Amend soil with finished compost or composted manure for added nutrients
Watering: Keep well watered especially during dry periods to prevent stunted growth
Mulching: Mulch to prevent weeds and retain moisture
Average Days to Germination: 6-10 days
Additional Care: Plant several short rows rather than 1 or 2 for better pollination. Also, planting corn in cold temperatures can result in poor germination

Common Corn Pests and Diseases


Pests 


Corn Earworms: 1-2” worms are light green to brown in color, hatching from moth eggs. They feed on silk and kernels. Lightly spray tips of ears with organic mineral oil to prevent infestation.

European Corn Borer: Moths lay eggs on undersides of leaves. Hatched larvae borrow into ears and stalks where they feed. If broken tassels & bent stalks appear, spray with organic pesticide, closely following directions.

Corn Root Aphids: Tiny and light green in color. Aphids feed on plant roots often resulting in stunted growth and yellowing of stalks. Prevent by clearing the garden of all ant nests to stop aphids from over wintering in them.

Wireworms: .5 - 1.5” inches long and yellowish-brown larvae. Wireworms feed on the plant roots causing damage. To prevent these pests, cultivate the soil throughout the growing season and rotate crops each year.

Seed Corn Maggots: .5” long cream-colored larvae bore into sprouted seeds stopping their growth. Prevent by planting corn in warmer weather.

* Of course some animals such as raccoon and deer are attracted to corn as well. There are many deterrents on the market to stave off 4-legged pests. Try hanging mesh bags filled with human or dog hair to scare away these pests as a cheap alternative to store bought deterrents.

Diseases 


Stewart’s Bacteria Wilt: Causes early development of tassels, reduced pollination and stunted or wilted plants. Prevent by planting disease resistant varieties of corn, rotating crops and clearing the garden of all plant debris in fall.

Root Rot: Corn plants are stunted or severely misshapen. Commonly causes roots to rot. Caused by fungi. Prevent by planting corn in well-drained soil and in warm weather.

Northern Corn Leaf Blight: Caused by a fungus. Long, gray, green or tan spots appear on leaves of plants. Spots can spread. Loss of corn may result in humid areas from leaf blight. Prevent by planting resistant varieties and rotating crops.

Pest and disease source: garden.org


How to Harvest Corn



  • Twist and pull ears of corn from stalks when kernels have filled out 
  • Test the kernels by piercing with a thumb nail. Corn should be harvested when a milky-white substance is produced

Types of Corn


When leafing through the seed catalog, you’ll come across abbreviations in the corn descriptions. I have listed each abbreviation, what it stands for and what it means. Abbreviations are included  in each description of corn I have listed as well.

(se) - Sugary-Enhanced Hybrids: Contains high levels of sugar between 14-35% depending on the variety. Known for its creamy texture, taste and tenderness.

(su) - Normal or High Sugar Hybrids: Contains 9-16% sugar depending on the variety. Known for its full flavor and firm, creamy texture.

(sh2) Super Sweet Hybrids: Contains very high sugar levels between 28-44% depending on the variety. Known for its super-sweet flavor and crisp texture.

Synergistic: A cross between (se) and (sh2) varieties containing 75% (se) kernels and 25% (sh2) kernels. Known for its tenderness and sweet flavor.


  • Varieties of corn come in 3 colors: yellow, white and bicolor. To simplify this post, I have listed varieties by color. 


Varieties of Corn


Yellow Varieties of Corn


Early Sunglow Hybrid (se): Early variety. Ears grow 6-7” with meaty kernels on short stalks. 62 days.

Legend Hybrid (se): Early variety. Ears grow 7-9” with plump, creamy-sweet kernels. Disease resistant and cold hardy making it a great choice for the north. 65 days.

Spring Treat (se): Yellow sweet variety. Easy harvesting. 66 days.

Precocious Hybrid (se): Early variety. Grows full-tipped ears on 5’ stalks. Sweet to taste. Adapts well. 66 days.

Northern Xtra-Sweet (sh2): Early, tender variety. A northern favorite because it germinates well in cold soils. Large ears are sweet in flavor. Comes in yellow, white and bicolor varieties. 67 days.

Sugar Buns (se): Kernels are deep and narrow. Variety holds up well in the garden. 70 days.

Bicolor Varieties of Corn


Native Gem Hybrid (se): Early variety. Ears grow an average of 8” with full rows of kernels. Very sweet. 66 days.

Trinity (se): Very sweet variety with crisp, fine kernels and narrow ears. Does well when planted in cool weather making it great for the north. 68 days.

Quickie (se): Tender, sweet variety. Ears average 7". Does well in cold soil making it great for the north. 68 days.

Pay Dirt (synergistic): Very sweet variety with tender kernels. Ears grow 7.5-8" long. Tolerates rust. 69 days.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Best Varieties of Sweet Corn to Grow in the North

Image: Jonathunder

Corn is a staple in many northern gardens across the U.S. Not only is it versatile, it comes in many different varieties ranging from super sweet to the kind that you pop. For gardeners in the north, the best varieties of corn to grow take 70 days or less to mature.

Types of Corn


When leafing through the seed catalog, you’ll come across abbreviations in the corn descriptions. I have listed each abbreviation, what it stands for and what it means. Abbreviations are included  in each description of corn I have listed as well.

(se) - Sugary-Enhanced Hybrids: Contains high levels of sugar between 14-35% depending on the variety. Known for its creamy texture, taste and tenderness.

(su) - Normal or High Sugar Hybrids: Contains 9-16% sugar depending on the variety. Known for its full flavor and firm, creamy texture.

(sh2) Super Sweet Hybrids: Contains very high sugar levels between 28-44% depending on the variety. Known for its super-sweet flavor and crisp texture.

Synergistic: A cross between (se) and (sh2) varieties containing 75% (se) kernels and 25% (sh2) kernels. Known for its tenderness and sweet flavor.


  • Varieties of corn come in 3 colors: yellow, white and bicolor. To simplify this post, I have listed varieties by color. 


Varieties of Corn


Yellow Varieties of Corn


Early Sunglow Hybrid (se): Early variety. Ears grow 6-7” with meaty kernels on short stalks. 62 days.

Legend Hybrid (se): Early variety. Ears grow 7-9” with plump, creamy-sweet kernels. Disease resistant and cold hardy making it a great choice for the north. 65 days.

Spring Treat (se): Yellow sweet variety. Easy harvesting. 66 days.

Precocious Hybrid (se): Early variety. Grows full-tipped ears on 5’ stalks. Sweet to taste. Adapts well. 66 days.

Northern Xtra-Sweet (sh2): Early, tender variety. A northern favorite because it germinates well in cold soils. Large ears are sweet in flavor. Comes in yellow, white and bicolor varieties. 67 days.

Sugar Buns (se): Kernels are deep and narrow. Variety holds up well in the garden. 70 days.

Bicolor Varieties of Corn


Native Gem Hybrid (se): Early variety. Ears grow an average of 8” with full rows of kernels. Very sweet. 66 days.

Trinity (se): Very sweet variety with crisp, fine kernels and narrow ears. Does well when planted in cool weather making it great for the north. 68 days.

Quickie (se): Tender, sweet variety. Ears average 7". Does well in cold soil making it great for the north. 68 days.

Pay Dirt (synergistic): Very sweet variety with tender kernels. Ears grow 7.5-8" long. Tolerates rust. 69 days.



Monday, May 13, 2013

Best Varieties of Vegetables to Grow in the North


The north may have a short growing season, but that doesn’t mean gardeners have to skimp on the types and varieties of vegetables they grow. The best vegetables take 70 days or less to mature and some, such as melons and pumpkins, should be started indoors or bought at the local nursery to save on time.

Please remember this list is a work in progress as I work my way through the list of vegetables and it will be updated weekly. Click the links below to find lists of the best varieties of vegetables to grow in the north.




Friday, May 10, 2013

Gibby’s Garden Diary Entry #3: Swiss Chard: What is It and Why Grow It?


May 9, 2013

When it comes to my vegetable garden, I like to try something new each season, whether it’s a different variety or new vegetable all together. This year, my newbie of choice is Swiss chard which I’ve never, ever grown before. Why is it my choice?

Swiss chard is a great alternative to spinach, which I never can seem to grow or freeze enough of for the long winter months here in Maine. This goosefoot family vegetable can be continually harvested over a long period of time and is entirely edible.

The leafy greens can be snipped over the season and added to salads, dishes or steamed as a mildly sweet side and the celery-like stalks can be harvested at the end of the growing season as well. Swiss chard comes in a handful of varieties and can be grown as an edible or ornamental.

My Swiss chard variety of choice? “Bright Lights” which will add a splash of color to my garden. Bright Lights grows colorful stalks of pink, red, yellow and orange topped with green leaves which are ready to be harvested in about 55 days.

Information on Growing Swiss Chard in the North


Best Varieties of Swiss Chard to Grow in the North
How to Grow Swiss Chard in the North

View Previous Garden Diary Entry
All Gibby's Garden Diary Posts

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How to Grow Swiss Chard in the North


Image: giffconstable/"Bright Lights"

Swiss chard is a great green to grow in the north because it’s a cool season vegetable and takes 60 days or less to grow to maturity. Both its leaves and stalks are edible and are commonly used instead of spinach in many dishes. To be frank, Swiss chard looks great in the garden whether it’s eaten or not.

Vegetable Type: Annual in the north
Name: Beta vulgaris var. cicla
Family: Chenopodiaceae (goosefoot)

Growing Requirements for Swiss Chard in the North


Spacing: Direct sow seeds ½” deep, 2-6” apart in rows 18-24” apart
Thinning: Thin to 6-12” apart when seedlings reach 2-3” in height
Soil Type: Loamy, fertile, well-draining
Light: Full sun to partial shade
Watering: Keep evenly watered
Fertilization: Till lots of compost or composted manure into the soil before planting.  Swiss chard prefers fertile soil rich in organic matter
Weeding: Keep Swiss chard well weeded taking care not to disturb its roots
Mulching: Mulch to prevent weeds and retain moisture

Common Diseases and Pests for Swiss Chard


Leaf Spot: To identify leaf spot, look for tannish-brown spots (color may vary) that will spread over time, often killing off foliage if the infestation is severe. Be proactive by planting leaf spot resistant varieties and rotating the crop. If a severe infestation occurs, fungicidal spray may help.

Downy Mildew: Look for yellow patches on leaves. Mildew is typically caused by too much moisture. Avoid spraying cabbage heads when watering. Plant downy mildew resistant varieties.

Aphids: Look for tiny, pear-shaped yellow, green or brown insects with long antennae and legs. Treat by spraying with a mixture of 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and ½ teaspoon of liquid soap mixed into a quart of water (shake well before using).

Leaf Miners: Leaf miners leave behind squiggly lines yellow in color. They mostly damage greens. To get rid of these pests organically, treat the greens with neem oil or introduce Diglyphus isaea wasps into the garden. These wasps will happily feed on leaf miners.

How to Harvest Swiss Chard

  • Harvest Swiss chard before it gets tough. Remember, the older it gets, the tougher the texture
  • Cleanly snip up to 5 leaves from plants at a time leaving the stalk and crown in place to encourage new growth
  • Harvest stalks before Swiss chard becomes thick and woody
  • Eat fresh or blanch and freeze leaves and stalks like spinach
Helpful Organic Gardening Articles

How to Blanch and Freeze Vegetables
How to Make Your Own Seed Tapes

Monday, May 6, 2013

Best Varieties of Swiss Chard to Grow in the North


Image: giffconstable/"Bright Lights"
Swiss chard is edible from stalk to stem and can be added to soups, stews and salads or steamed as a mildly-sweet side dish. As vegetables go, Swiss chard is pretty easy to grow and it’s 60 days or less to maturity fits well with the north’s short growing season.

Bright Lights Chard: Variety produces pink, red, yellow and orange stalks topped with green leaves. Easy to grow. Tolerates heat well. 55 days.

Rhubarb Swiss Chard: Produces dark red stalks topped with dark green leaves. Easy to grow. Variety provides a continual harvest. 55 days.

Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard: Produces thick, ivory stalks up to 2.5” topped with broad, dark green leaves. Tolerates light frost. High yielding variety. 55-60 days.
psd/"Fordhook Giant"

Ruby Red Swiss Chard: Produces ruby red stalks topped with shiny, dark green leaves. Consistent yielding variety. 55-60 days.

Magenta Sunset: Produces narrow, pink stems topped with smooth leaves. Mild in flavor. 28 days for baby, 55 days for bunching.

Bright Yellow: Produces bright yellow stems topped shiny, deep green leaves. 30 for baby, 57 days for bunching.

Living in Monrovia/"Bright Yellow"
Lucullus Swiss Chard: Variety produces ivory stalks topped green leaves. Mildly sweet in taste. Bolt resistant. 60 days.

El Dorado: Produces golden stalks topped dark green leaves. Slow to bolt and frost resistant. Vigorous variety great for baby greens. 60 days.

Peppermint: Produces pink stems with white stripes topped with dark green leaves. 33 days for baby, 60 days for bunching.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Loam for Sale in Maine


Located in Lewiston, Maine, Beaulieu Industries has loam for sale for the 2013 season. We offer delivery in and around Androscoggin county or we’ll load you up if you’d rather come pick it up yourself.

Delivery of loam in the Lewiston/Sabattus area is $16 per yard and $18 per yard for the Auburn/Poland area. Pick ups are $12 a yard. For a complete price list of our materials, please click here.

We have loam for sale by the yard or, if you only need a few bucketfuls for your garden, we can supply that too. If you’re not sure how much loam you’ll need for your project, we’ll be happy to help you figure out how many yards you’ll need.

Our loam doesn’t contain any fillers and is screened so it doesn’t contain any rocks or branches. If you have a large project in Central Maine, we offer excavation services, which means we’ll not only deliver the loam, we’ll level it for you too.

Call Roger Beaulieu (240-4499) at Beaulieu Industries to place an order or contact us via email. We’ll set up a delivery/pick up date and time that’s convenient for you.

Gibby's Garden Diary 2013

Here you'll find links to all of Gibby's Garden diary posts. Feel free to click through and leave a comment. Enjoy!

Entry #1 - 4/1/13
Gibby's Garden Diary is Back for 2013!

Entry #2 - 4/22/13
Leaves as Mulch?

Entry #3 - 5/10/13
Swiss Chard: What is It & Why Grow It?

Entry #4 - 5/22/13
Hardening Off Tomato Plants

Entry #5 - 6/3/13


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tips for Amending Garden Soil Organically


Image: OakleyOriginals/Flickr
You don’t have to be a chemist or even a green thumb to amend the soil in your vegetable garden. With a few tips and the right tools, adding organic nutrients is easy. For hardcore gardeners, figuring out what the soil is lacking is the first step (this is done with a home soil test kit). For gardeners like me, who are easy going, adding amendments means tilling in a few inches of compost and calling it a day.

Types of Organic Soil Amendments


Year-Old Manure: Very important that it’s rotted so it doesn’t burn the roots of some plants or cause them to grow enormously but not produce any flowers, fruits or vegetables.

Finished Compost: “Black Gold” Finished compost does not have a rotted odor, rather it should smell like earth. It should be dark in color and be completely broken down with no chunks of decomposing material.

Store-Bought Organic Fertilizer: Really read the label on bags of “organic” fertilizers before buying them. Look for N-P-K ratios that are lower than 8 and stay away from ingredients such as superphosphate, nitrate, urea, phosphoric, ammonium, & muriate. (Garden Smarts)

Tips for Adding Organic Soil Amendments



  • When amending the soil using an organic fertilizer, remember that too much isn’t always a good thing 
  • ALWAYS follow the directions on bags of store bought fertilizers
  • If you can, add organic amendments in fall so they have time to absorb into the soil
  • Only use year-old or fully rotted manure to avoid burning, stunning or stunting vegetables
  • Follow my guide for How Much Compost to Add to the Vegetable Garden
  • Till organic soil amendments a good 4-6” into the ground




Monday, April 29, 2013

What is a Home Soil Test Kit?


Home Soil Test Kit
Home soil test kits are found in garden centers, local hardware stores and are readily available online. Their job is to test the soil’s pH by using a small sample. They are easy to use and typically less expensive than sending a sample off to the lab.

What is Soil pH?


Basically, the pH level of the soil tells you how acidic, or not, the soil is. Acidity is measured using a numbers system, 0-14. If the home soil test kit measures 0-7, it is acidic. 7 and above is alkaline. A 7.0 means the soil is neutral, and for many plants, nutritious enough to grow.

What is Acidic Soil?


Acidic soil is what many gardeners refer to as sour. Using powdered limestone is a great way to make acidic soil neutral.



What is Alkaline Soil? 


Alkaline soil is on the sweeter side, and can be amended with ground sulfur.

Note: When amending soil, don’t expect to see results overnight. Some amendments take months to work their way into the soil. Even then, it’s okay not to have a perfect 7.0 pH. Most plants, unless otherwise stated, thrive in soil with a pH level between 6.5-6.8.

Using a home soil test kit let’s gardeners determine which types of plants will grow best in their existing soil and whether or not they need to add amendments such as lime, sulfur or organic materials.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Gibby’s Garden Diary Entry #2: Leaves as Mulch?


April 22, 2013

Despite the windy weekend, I did get some raking done and managed to get one of my gardens mulched. I decided to convert one of my vegetable beds into a permanent herb garden. The garden gets plenty of sun and is conveniently close to house so I can wonder outside while cooking and snip the fresh herbs that I need.

As far as the mulching goes - I killed 2 birds with one stone as the saying goes. All the leaves I raked went into the designated herb garden. Now, this isn’t a choice all gardeners would make because it does have some drawbacks, but I’m trying something a little new this gardening season.

Here’s the plan. Since I’m putting in herbs and I’ve decided to go with plants from my local nursery to save on time, I’m not planning on tilling my entire herb garden. I’ll be doing the tilling by hand as I plant each herb and adding my finished compost as I go.

My plan, to help save on time since I go crazy planting vegetables each season, is to mulch  my gardens before doing the planting. Since my large vegetable beds will be tilled later this month or the beginning of the next, I’ll wait to mulch those with mulch hay. As I plant my plants and seeds, I’ll rake the mulch to the side for each individual row and replace it as necessary.

I’m hoping this will save time and help me to not get worn out. Plus, it’ll keep the weeds down from the beginning of the season saving even more time. My goal is to implement new ways to save time on gardening, something that I love, that way I don’t get burnt out and I can have time to enjoy other things this summer.

Now, as for using leaves as mulch, I typically don’t do this. As I mentioned before it does have some drawbacks, but it also has a good side. First the good side. Leaves, at least in my yard, are abundant and free! They’re also organic and will break down over time. As for the drawbacks, a thick layer of leaves provides the perfect hiding spot for pests. Brown leaves are also not the prettiest things to look at.

I’ll have to wait and see just how many pests the leaves invite into my garden this season before I can tell if it’s worth the free and abundant mulch. I figure when my plants go in and begin to grow, they’ll detract the eye from the brown leaves.

For the record, I wouldn’t use leaves that have been piled up all winter long or for a few seasons. I’ve tried this before and they were full of ants and had already begun to break down. The leaves I used were the ones I was too lazy to rake up last fall.

I’ll keep you guys posted on how well my time saving experiment works throughout the gardening season. Until then . . .

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Gibby’s Garden Diary 2012

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Gibby's Garden Diary 2013


Friday, April 19, 2013

How to Grow Cauliflower in the North

Candid Charm Hybrid

Cauliflower is a long season vegetable that, under the right conditions, can be successfully grown in the north. The key is to use cauliflower transplants that take 70 days or less to mature ,and to grow them in a fertile, sunny location.

Cauliflower Information


Vegetable Type: Annual
Name: Brassica oleracea botrytis
Genus: Cabbage Family

How to Start Cauliflower from Seed


Seed Starting Supplies



  • Trays/Pots
  • Organic Potting Soil
  • Cauliflower Seed
  • Small Watering Can
  • Sunny Location Indoors


Directions


(start indoors 4-6 weeks before average spring frost)

1. Fill trays ¾ way full with organic potting mix
2. Follow spacing requirements on back of cauliflower seed packet when sowing in trays, or 1-3 seeds per pot
3. Sprinkle 1/8” of soil over seeds
4. Water lightly
5. Keep seed tray in a sunny location and keep well watered

How to Grow Cauliflower Outdoors in the North


When: When temps are consistently 55°F or warmer in spring
Soil Type: Very fertile, well-draining soil (amend with finished compost/composted manure)
Spacing: Plant cauliflower 18-24” apart in rows
Light: Full sun
Watering: Keep consistently watered
Weeding: Weed consistently
Mulching: Apply mulch to reduce weeds and retain moisture
Fertilizing: Add compost to bed before planting and side dress plants with organic fertilizer high in nitrogen 3 weeks later
Care: For cauliflower varieties that are not self blanching, wrap leaves over head and tie at top to blanch when heads are almost full size (check seed packet for size). Check cauliflower a week to 12 days after tying, at which time they should be ready for harvest.

Common Cauliflower Pests and Diseases in the North


Pests

Harlequin Bugs: Look for black and white eggs on undersides of leaves as well as nymphs pale orange or black in color with spots. Adults are red and black spotted and crest-like in shape. They leave behind wilted, browning spots on leaves, eventually killing the plant. Handpick/spray with soapy water to control organically.

Cabbage Worms: Look for green worms and white cocoons. Handpick all worms and cocoons, drowning in soapy water. Use floating row covers to prevent pests.

Aphids: Look for tiny, pear-shaped yellow, green or brown insects with long antennae and legs. Treat by spraying with a mixture of 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and ½ teaspoon of liquid soap mixed into a quart of water (shake well before using).

Diseases

Black Rot: Look for yellowing leaves eventually dying and falling off plants. Plants may also develop black spots/veins caused by bacteria. Plant resistant varieties and do not plant where members of the same family have grown in the past 2 years.

Clubroot: Caused by a fungus. Stop fungus from spreading by digging up and removing all cabbage roots and tendrils. Place in plastic bags and dispose - do not add to compost or fungus may be left behind. Test soil pH and raise above 7.2 if need be.

How to Harvest Cauliflower



  • Look for compact heads that are tightly balled and firm to the touch. Color will vary depending on the cauliflower variety planted. 
  • Cleanly slice heads just above ground level leaving a few leaves attached to the head (offers a little protection).


Tips for Storing Cauliflower


  • Cauliflower lasts for about a week when refrigerated 
  • Pickle or freeze for longer storage

Types of Cauliflower


Open Pollinated: Turns white on it’s own without wrapping the head with outer leaves of plant and tying.

White: Most common variety; easy to find in produce sections of the store. Produces all white heads.

Purple: All purple heads are mild in taste, typically turning green after cooking.

Orange: Produces orange heads full of beta carotene. This type is sometimes called Cheddar cauliflower.

Broccoflower or Green: Produces green heads. This type is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.


Varieties of Cauliflower Best for the North


Orange Cauliflower Varieties


Cheddar Hybrid
Cheddar Hybrid: Newer variety. Produces 4-7” domed heads orange in color. Full of beta carotene. Easy to grow. One of the best hybrid varieties for the north. 68 days from transplants.

White Cauliflower Varieties


Self Blanche: Self blanching variety. Produces fine grained, smooth heads with tightly packed leaves. Great for pickling/freezing. 52 days from transplants.

Snow Crown Hybrid: Vigorous variety. Produces 2 lb. heads 7-8” in diameter. Easy to grow. 55 days from transplants.

Freemont: Adaptable variety. Produces white heads uniform in size. Self-blanching. 62 days from transplants.

Candid Charm Hybrid: High-yielding variety. Produces dense heads and thick wrapper leaves for extra protection. Very flavorful. 65 days from transplants.

Snowball Y Improved: Short season variety. Produces 6” heads surrounded by curled leaves. 65 days from transplants.

Bishop: Adaptable variety. Produces uniform heads with leaves that are self covering. Strong and vigorous plants. 65 days from transplants.



Related Articles

How to Blanch and Freeze Vegetables
How to Make Your Own Seed Tapes

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Best Varieties of Cauliflower to Grow in the North


Cheddar Hybrid
The best varieties of cauliflower to grow in the north take 70 days or less to mature from transplanting. Always use seedlings started indoors or transplants from the local nursery when growing cauliflower for the best results.

Types of Cauliflower


Open Pollinated: Turns white on it’s own without wrapping the head with outer leaves of plant and tying.

White: Most common variety; easy to find in produce sections of the store. Produces all white heads.

Purple: All purple heads are mild in taste, typically turning green after cooking.

Orange: Produces orange heads full of beta carotene. This type is sometimes called Cheddar cauliflower.

Broccoflower or Green: Produces green heads. This type is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.


Varieties of Cauliflower Best for the North


Orange Cauliflower Varieties


Cheddar Hybrid: Newer variety. Produces 4-7” domed heads orange in color. Full of beta carotene. Easy to grow. One of the best hybrid varieties for the north. 68 days from transplants.

White Cauliflower Varieties


Candid Charm Hybrid
Self Blanche: Self blanching variety. Produces fine grained, smooth heads with tightly packed leaves. Great for pickling/freezing. 52 days from transplants.

Snow Crown Hybrid: Vigorous variety. Produces 2 lb. heads 7-8” in diameter. Easy to grow. 55 days from transplants.

Freemont: Adaptable variety. Produces white heads uniform in size. Self-blanching. 62 days from transplants.

Candid Charm Hybrid: High-yielding variety. Produces dense heads and thick wrapper leaves for extra protection. Very flavorful. 65 days from transplants.

Snowball Y Improved: Short season variety. Produces 6” heads surrounded by curled leaves. 65 days from transplants.

Bishop: Adaptable variety. Produces uniform heads with leaves that are self covering. Strong and vigorous plants. 65 days from transplants.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How to Grow Celery in the North


Tango Hybrid Celery
Celery is considered a long-season vegetable - meaning it takes a long time to grow to maturity. With that said, northern gardeners looking for a challenge should try and grow it themselves. For the crunchiest and most flavorful stalks, make sure to grow celery under the right conditions and always use transplants or start seeds indoors to accommodate the north’s short growing season.

Celery Information 


Vegetable Type: Annual
Name: Apium graveolens var. dulce
Family: Parsley

How to Grow Celery from Seed



  • Start seeds 10-11 weeks before last scheduled frost
  • Fill seed trays or pots ¾" with organic vegetable potting soil
  • Pour seeds into envelope, add 1-2 tablespoons of sand; shake to mix
  • Sprinkle seed mix over seed trays
  • Loosely cover with 1/8” of soil
  • Water lightly
  • Set pots in sunny window
  • When seedlings reach 2-3” tall, thin to 1 seedling per pot
  • Keep seedlings moist until transplanting

How to Grow Celery Outdoors in the North


Growing celery in the north can be a tricky process - sometimes taking a few seasons to get the growing conditions right. Wait until temperatures are steadily 50°F or higher to transplant. Transplanting celery while soil and air temperatures are cool will kill off or stunt the plants.

When: All danger of frost has past and temps are consistently 50°F or higher
Soil: Fertile, well-draining soil. Till 3-4” of compost or composted manure into new beds before transplanting to provide plenty of nutrients
Light: Full-sun to part shade. Celery needs a good 6 hours of light a day
Spacing: 12” apart in rows 18-24” apart
Watering: Keep soil evenly moist - do not let soil dry out. Check plants daily, especially during dry periods
Fertilizing: Add 1-2” of compost/composted manure every 3-4 weeks as plants grow
Weeding: Keep well weeded so weeds don’t compete for water/nutrients
Mulching: Mulch around plants to prevent weeds and keep soil moist

Celery is a very heavy feeder and requires lots of nutrients to grow thick, healthy stalks. Always keep the plants well watered because the plants are not drought resistant. A lack of water will result in woody, thin stalks with little flavor.

Special Tips for Growing Celery


Support: As stalks grow, push soil up around bottom of plants for needed support
Blanching: Place cartons or brown paper bags (no bottoms) over stalks making sure leaves receive sunlight to whiten stalks

How to Harvest Celery


Harvest individual stalks for a longer harvest period or cleanly slice entire plant slightly below ground level with a sharp knife.

How to Store Celery


Store celery for up to a month in the fridge. If stalks go limp, place in a container of cold water to make crunchy again.


Celery Pest and Disease Control



Common Celery Pests


Aphids: Look for tiny, pear-shaped yellow, green or brown insects with long antennae and legs. Treat by spraying with a mixture of 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and ½ teaspoon of liquid soap mixed into a quart of water (shake well before using).
Snails/Slugs: Set out beer traps to trap slugs and snails. Fill empty tin cans (tuna) ¾ full with beer. Pests will crawl in and drown. Empty traps once a week, replacing bait.
Flea Beetles: Adults are 1/10 of an inch long and bronze, brown or black in color with long legs. They leave behind lots of small holes in cabbage leaves. Gently cultivate soil around plants to kill flea eggs. Control adults with floating row covers.
Carrot Root Fly: Maggots that feed on roots damaging or killing them. If the carrot root fly is a problem, harvest as soon as vegetables are ready. The Royal Horticultural Society lists several ways to treat carrot root flies organically.

Common Celery Diseases


Early Blight: Common in late summer/early fall. Begins with yellowing of leaves that turn brown in wet weather. Brown stripes may appear on stems.
Late Blight: Common in beginning of growing season. Begins with yellowing of leaves that turn brown. Remove all signs of blight from plants.
Dampening Off: When seedlings fail to emerge due to wet, cool conditions. Keep seedlings well watered but in a warm environment.
Bacterial Leaf Spot: Wet spots on leaves turn from yellow to brown. The main cause of this fungus is failure to remove celery plants from the garden from the previous season.

* Rotating crops is an effective way to help prevent celery diseases. To treat blight organically, try using an organic based copper fungicide.

Pest/Disease Source: Portlandnursery.com


Best Varieties of Celery to Grow in the North


Conquistador: Early variety - good for growing in the north. Produces tall, crisp stalks that are full of flavor. Adapts well. 80 days.

Tango Hybrid: High-yielding. Produces crunchy, sweet stalks ready for harvest 2 weeks earlier than older varieties. Resists Fusariums. 85 days.

Leafy Celery Varieties

Safir Leafy Celery

Safir: Peppery and crisp in taste. Produces abundant, leafy tops and lots of thin stalks. Harvest as needed. 78 days.







Celeriac Varieties


Prinz: High-yielding. Variety produces uniform roots large in size and creamy white in color. 95 days.

Sources: Park Seed Co., Generic Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds

Related Articles
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