The Potager

"Those sowing seed with tears
Will reap even with a joyful cry.
The one that without fail goes forth, even weeping,
Carrying along a bagful of seed,
Will without fail come in with a joyful cry,
Carrying along his sheaves." -- Psalm 126:5, 6


The potager in its first year.

Click for a diagram of the Herb Circle, Potager, and Tropical Vegetable Area.

Potager Update Fall 2004

This is the latest part of the edible back garden to be installed - in December of 1999.  It is a group of 4 raised beds in which I grow vegetables intensively. Raised beds are useful because you can have the soil mix you want without digging, they offer excellent drainage (our sandy soil actually drains too quickly here, while a mix with a lot of organic matter will hold more moisture without becoming waterlogged), and possibly protect crops from nematodes if there is enough organic matter in the mix (nematodes dislike oganic matter and would rather inhabit our very sandy unimproved soil). Also, there is very little weeding if you plant closely.  Raised beds can be made of wood (try to avoid pressure-treated wood, which can leach chemicals into the soil, though the rate of contamination decreases exponentially with distance from the wood), bricks, or concrete blocks, and decorated with paint or left "natural".  Containers have similar advantages to raised beds and protect even better from nematodes, but they require water more often, so have to be watched carefully.  You need a container large enough to hold the roots of the plants you want to grow and the price goes up quickly with the size, whereas raised beds are less expensive in the long run because you make them yourself and the only extra cost for a bigger bed is more space and more wood or blocks. 

Intensive planting makes the most of the area available by spacing plants in a staggered pattern of triangles - each plant only as far away from the next as the packet recommends inside a row.  If the package says 6" apart in rows that are 1' apart, you plant all the seeds 6" apart each way.  This can be done in blocks or in wide rows (which are really just long blocks, after all).

Intensive Spacing


It can be helpful to group vegetables by their maturation rate (1 month, 2 months and 3 months) to plan how many successions you can plant of each, and where.  It is also good to practice crop rotation to cut down on disease and pest problems.  This means grouping related plants together, then growing them in different places each year so pests and diseases specific to each family do not build up in the soil over time.  There are four main families of vegetables we grow: Cole crops (a.k.a. Brassicas - arugula, broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustards, most Oriental greens, radishes, and turnips - these are also called Crucifers because of their 4-petalled cross-shaped flowers), Legumes (beans, peas, and clovers), Cucurbits (cucumbers, melons, and squashes), and Solanums (the Nightshade family - eggplants, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes).  It's best to work out a rotation scheme using four different areas, so the same family does not grow in the same place for 4 years.  If this is not possible, make sure it is at least a year in between.  Then there are a few crops that do not fall into any of these categories - artichokes, celery, onion relatives (garlic, leeks, onions, and shallots), and Umbelliferae (carrots, dill, fennel, herbs like anise and caraway, and flowers like Ammi majus and Queen Anne's Lace) - which can be tucked in between the others (bonus - onions and garlic can be planted to repel pest like aphids and Umbelliferae attract beneficial insects which prey upon pests).  To complicate things further, some crops are heavy feeders (salad greens, cole crops), some medium feeders (fruit-bearers, like solanums), some light feeders (root vegetables and the onion family) and some that actually build soil fertility (legumes, including some cover crops like alfalfa and clover).  Try this sample rotation plan: If you have the patience, grow a nitrogen crop cover crop over the whole garden area a few months ahead, then plow it under.  Either way, amend the soil before planting with the things mentioned in the second paragraph on this page several weeks before planting to give them time to get activated in the soil.  At the proper time, plant the four families in your four spots.  Follow the legumes with heavy feeders, heavy feeders with medium feeders, medium feeders with light feeders, then light feeders with legumes again to build fix nitrogen in the soil.  Alternatively, follow legumes with brassicas, brassicas with solanums, cucurbits with solanums, and solanums with cucurbits, then start again (see diagram below).  You may want to try a clockwise rotation if that makes it easier to remember.  The detailed descriptions below list the family each crop is a part of.

Sample Crop Rotation Plan

Another useful technique is companion planting, which is planting certain plants together to benefit one or both.  For example, planting mints with cucurbits repels squash bugs, a cucurbit pest. Companion plants for most crops are listed in the detailed descriptions below, along with some combinations to avoid.

There used to be two smaller boxes of 1" x 6" x 3' cedar boards salvaged from another project and nailed together, in which Blackberries and Raspberries were planted.  The boards rotted and separated, the Raspberries did not survive and the Blackberries suckered everywhere, so I started over.  The 4 new raised beds are made of 8 boards 2" x 10" x 8', each precut in half at Home Depot to make 16 side boards.  This would be less work than any more complicated size or design.  I painted all surfaces of each board with one coat of blue paint.  Then my father assembled them with galvanized deck screws and liquid nails into 4 simple boxes measuring 4' square and about 9" high.  He even countersank the screws and puttied them in to give a finished look and further protect the screws from moisture.  I sanded the dried putty, painted the bottoms of the boxes with a second coat, placed each on the ground where it would go (after much careful measuring), cut the grass around the edges so it would not grow underneath (the grass inside the box, of course, would rot), and applied the second coat of paint with the boxes in place.  These boxes are small enough that we took a chance on not reinforcing the corners with brackets or posts.  The wood will probably rot about the same time the boxes fall apart at the seams anyway.  Including paint and screws and lumber, the new beds cost about $100.

After they were dry, the boxes were filled with bags of Compost, Humus, and good Potting Soil (all for good drainage and soil structure), and composted cow manure.  I fed the first year garden solely with Fish Emulsion and Liquid Kelp every week or two. The second year, along with adding more organic matter as before, I also included severalorganic soil amendments, including composted Manure (for Nitrogen - Alfalfa Meal is also a good source), Bone Meal (for Phosphorus - you could use Rock Phosphate instead), SulPoMag (for Potassium - instead of Greensand and Gypsum), and ground Sesame plants (supposed to repel nematodes).  All these soil amendments and a lot of other organic supplies are available at Uncle Bim's on Belvedere Road in Lake Worth

The first year, I placed a large Mexican pot in the center of each box, sitting on top of a concrete half-block, filled the pots with good potting soil, made teepees in them with tall green metal "bamboo" stakes, and planted tomatoes in them.  Three things went wrong: first, I let too many plants grow in each pot, which caused overall lower yields; second, the half-blocks were placed so the roots grew right out of the pots and into the ground, thus exposing them to the nematodes I had planted them in pots to protect them from in the first place; third, the plants grew so luxuriantly (owing to all that extra root space) that whenever the wind blew, the pots tended to fall over - and they were very heavy!  So this year I moved the pots to the temporary Melon Patch (really the Butterfly Border during its downtime) and set them on concrete stepping stones and pot feet to allow good drainage and keep them from rooting in the ground.  They yielded less, but this was because I didn't water them enough - this will be ultimately solved with the drip system I hope to install this coming fall.  I used 10' x 1/2" copper plumbing pipes (the sturdier of two choices), which I had precut to 8' long for 4 substantial teepees (5 pipes each), one to be placed in the center of each bed to grow Beans on.  The 2' lengths are used as short stakes for things like bush beans and snow peas.  All the copper is left natural so it will age to a nice greenish patina.  I marked a circle in the center of each bed, stuck the stakes in about 1' deep angled toward the center of the circle, and wrapped the tops together with the thickest copper wire they had - probably could have gotten thicker wire from a florist's supply but the 18 gauge has worked fine.  Beans do not need further support, so there was no point wrapping lines around to the bottom.

Each box is divided into 4 triangle-shaped quarters.  The first year, I planted the triangles with various vegetables and separated them with lines of Marigolds, Pansies, and Sweet Alyssum. Dwarf Lobelias and Johnny Jump-Ups would do well also.  Just remember which of your flowers are edible (in this case, only the pansies and Johnny Jump-Ups).  The flowers were very pretty until some things got too large and overshadowed them.  Now I know not to bother with the flowers with robust greens such as Chard, Kale, Mizuna, Mustard, or Pak Choi.  However, they will do fine between staked Bush Beans and Sweet Peas, Celery, small Eggplants, Florence Fennel, Peppers (in other words, things that stand up straight or leave 9" or more of stem before leafing out), and Salad Greens, like Arugula, Lettuce and Upland Cress, which do not grow so large.  Garlic, Onions and Scallions are good separators as well.  Nasturtiums are lovely kitchen garden flowers and would be nice spilling out over the edge of a box, but are too big across to serve as separators.  Calendulas, even dwarf varieties, are likewise a bit too large.  Simple designs are the best, perhaps only one type or color of flower per box. 

I like to grow the most colorful vegetable varieties, e.g. purple Kohlrabi, red-top Turnips; Peppers in brown, purple, yellow and white; Tomatoes in red, yellow, white, pink, and stripes; purple and yellow Tomatillos; red and green Lettuces; red-stalked Celery; purple, yellow, and striped beans; violet, orange, white and green Eggplants; red and Bright Lights Chard; red Kale; Easter Egg Radishes; red Mustard; red Onions and Scallions.  You can contrast the vegetable and flower colors for visual punch.  This makes the Potager more exciting and fun to work in each day.  The plantings are all annuals, which allows for crop rotation and the fun of a whole new design each year, which one appreciates more and more as the rest of one's garden matures.

Here is the basic diagram for the boxes, which I use each year to plan the plantings:

Yearly Potager Plan


This past cool season, I started fresh again with the following: 

A - Swiss Chard

K - Snow Peas staked with Radishes edging

B - Kale

L  - Bush Beans with Radishes edging

C - Hon Tsai Tai and Tah Tsai

M - Mustard red 

D - Pak Choi 

N - Lettuce

E - Eggplant edged with Beets, separated by Onions

O - Mizuna and Upland Cress

F - Peppers edged with Beets, separated by Scallions

P  - Arugula 

G - Peppers edged with Beets, separated by Onions

Q - Pole Beans

H - Summer Squash separated by Garlic

R - Pole Beans

I  - Kohlrabi edged with Radishes 

S - Pole Beans

J -  Florence Fennel and Celery edged with Radishes

T - Pole Beans

I discovered the brassicas overgrew the salad greens too quickly, and since salad greens do so well in large shallow containers, I decided to buy 4 long planters from Home Depot (attractive terracotta-colored plastic ones about 30" long, 10" wide, and 10" deep) and will plant one each week for the first 4 weeks of the growing season.  The first greens will be ready within 5 weeks and will be harvested on a cut and come again basis.  The first box will be harvested the fifth week, then the second box the sixth week, and so on.  By the time all 4 boxes have been harvested, the first will be ready again, having put out new growth.  The greens (a selection of Lettuces) can be harvested this way about 3 times before they need reseeding.  This will provide the two of us with salad for 4 months before the first box needs renewing (we eat lots of salad), and the overall harvest (because of replanting) will go on until anywhere from March through May if the weather is cool enough.  It has been getting cool later in the year and hot earlier, so the end of the harvest will depend on when the heat causes the greens to turn bitter.  After that, young Kale and Mustard and Amaranth will take over.  The Mustard will continue another month, while the Kale will last longer, and the Amaranth will grow throughout the warm season.  While the weather is still cool, any of the young brassicas will also be good in salads. Succession planting also works well with Radishes (sow one row a week for 4 weeks, ready in less than a month, harvest & reseed one row a week), young Oriental greens, and Carrots (try one row every 2 weeks).

The brassicas got going before the copper teepees went in as well, leaving the beans planted on he teepees at a disadvantage.  Planting them all at the same time should work fine because both types of plant germinate and grow quickly and strongly.  My back patio has no roof over the last 2' of space, only screen.  This gives me a bright space for starting seeds, as well as a vertical area for growing containers of  vegetables with relatively little trouble from pests, but also means they will not be pollinated by insects.  The perfect solution is cucurbits that need no pollination, since pests often bring the diseases that usually attack them.  This worked very well last year with Cucumbers, (Johnny's Selected Seeds carries 'Aria', Pinetree Garden Seeds 'Cool Breeze' and 'Sweet Success') and I am hoping to grow Zucchini with similar needs this year.  (Cook's Garden offers 'Type 1406', but they were out last year.)   The Solanums grow well in large containers, so I may grow them this way, leaving more raised bed space for other things.  Consequently, this year's cool season plan will look like this:

A - Bush Beans

K - Summer Squash separated by Garlic, Carrots edge

B - Bush Beans

L  - Celery separated by Scallions, Carrots edge

C - Snow Peas

M - Arugula, Radishes edge

D - Snow Peas

N - Beets, Radishes edge

E - Oriental Greens

O - Kohlrabi, Radishes edge

F - Kale

P  - Turnips, Radishes edge

G - Mustards

Q - Pole Beans

H - Swiss Chard

R - Pole Beans

I  - Summer Squash separated by Scallions, Carrots edge 

S - Pole Beans

J -  Florence Fennel, separated by Garlic, Carrots edge

T - Pole Beans

This means two of the boxes are planted with brassicas, but at least they are separated in the rotation so the same family will not grow in the same space two years in a row. 

Other major changes this year will be the installation of a drip system, which will include the containers, and the replacing of the grass with mulch.  This will cut down on weeding and fertilizing, and give more room to place containers without the concern that the grass underneath will die and look ugly.

Following are details for annual vegetables that you can grow successfully here in the Cool Season.  Warm season and perennial crops are detailed in the Tropical Edibles Area .  See the Annual Vegetable Chart for planting times and other information for many edible plants at a glance. 

Artichokes (Cynara scolymus) -- Related to Cardoon and a statuesque, silver-leaved, ornamental plant if grown well.   Needs lots of nutrients - prepare the soil with a shovelful of composted manure, 1/2 cup feather meal, and 1/2 cup bone meal per plant, and feed seedlings with fish emulsion.  Plant seedlings 4' apart in slightly acidic soil rich in organic matter, in a spot that receives afternoon shade.  Keep the bed moist.  Water well for tender buds, since that is the part you eat, and remove all but the 1 or 2 strongest shoots on each plant to produce the biggest, most flavorful buds.  'Imperial Star' is the earliest annual variety.  Try to choose a quick-maturing one, since the plants dislike too much heat and may not produce buds.  If allowed to mature, these become pretty purple thistle flowers.  This past season I grew beautiful plants in 3 gallon pots, but they did not bud, possibly because the pots were too small - I will grow them in 7 or 10 gallon pots next season and see what happens.  Also, conventional wisdom says to refrigerate the seedlings 1 month, then transplant them; I sprinkled the seeds on a damp paper towel for that long, then planted them and got 100% germination, but no buds, so maybe it is indeed the seedlings that should be cold-treated. 

Arugula (Rocket, Roquette, Rucola spp.) -- Green in the Brassica family with a nutty, slightly bitter, delicately peppery taste.  It is not fussy about where it grows and can be tucked in around other vegetables.  Plant early and often for a continuous harvest.  Thin plants to 6" apart, and feed and water regularly.  The first young leaves will be ready in 25 to 30 days.   Harvest outer leaves or entire plant, or use as a cut and come again crop. The bitter greens are good fresh in salad, or cooked as a pot herb.  Try sauteeing garlic in some oil, then add arugula greens and wilt them; serve over pasta.  Or stuff pasta with chopped greens.  After the leaves are 6" long, the flavor becomes too strong.  The plants also bolt in heat.  The edible flowers are pretty cream crosses with a maroon line down the center of each petal, and taste like a milder version of the leaves. R. selvatica is a compact wild form with yellow flowers that is more more heat-resistant than ordinary arugula, but it takes longer to produce usable size leaves. Cook's Garden offers this form as 'Sylvetta' - try planting both types at the same time for a longer harvest from one patch.

Beans -- pole beans should be planted in March; grow w/tomatoes, celery, beets, radishes, lettuce, cucumbers, cabbage & chard but not w/peas, fennel, garlic, leeks or onions; interplant with cilantro to attract parasitic wasps that feed on Mexican bean beetles; can take a shadier spot w/at least 1hr sun in morning, rotate w/kale, chard, root crops & greens; pick often to keep plants producing; 'Low's Champion' bean 68 dys to snap, 90 dys to dry, broad, meaty, 4-5" Romano-type pods mature mahogany red, good fresh, shelled or dry JSS & SG; Fava/Broad beans: plant fall for spring harvest, wind string around row/clump at 18" high, can eat tops (cut off if aphids give problem oncepods set), can eat pods, fresh beans & dried beans; 'Loreta' heat res; Shell Beans: see Horticulture J/J 1995 pp36-39, 'Madeira' from Park Seed, 'Borlotto' & 'Chevrier Vert' from SG, 'Limelight' from FGS

Fava BeanBroad Bean, Horse Bean, Windsor Bean -- likes cool weather, unlike most other beans; most bushy & don't need trellising though some heavy producers do; harv & use as shell beans; plant seeds eyes down 4in apart; not heavy feeders; interplant w/celery, beets, carrots &  brassicas; prone to aphids - use insecticidal soap & remove infested tips of plants; to save seeds select best plants & allow pods to mature & dry; they do not cross-pollinate easily; seeds remain viable for 4 yrs 

Lablab Bean (Dolichos lablab) -- comes in purple and white varieties; must be staked, edible pods & seeds, seeds from Echo; sow seeds Aug-Apr;  can be used fresh & young as green bean, as fresh shell bean or as dry shell bean 

Runner Beans -- red Scarlet Runner, red Scarlet Bees short, White Runner, Painted Lady two-toned flowers; sow seeds Aug-Apr 1-2in deep 3-6in apart; snap & steam until tender or shell & cook like limas or dry & cook; fl edible 

Shell Beans -- bush or vine vars: Navy, Pinto, Cranberry, Red Kidney, Great Northern, Jacob's Cattle; sow seeds 1-2in deep, bush 2-3in apart, vine 3-6in apart, in early Spr or late Fall; pull pl w/maturing pods & hang to dry; usu 2 mos to shelling time for fresh beans; Limelight extra-early bush w/good young pods also; Madiera & Borlotto are red & white, Chevrier Vert stays green; bushes are earlier & produce fewer beans all at once; poles need longer season, produce more beans & mature over longer period 

Snap Bean -- rec vars: Bush Blue Lake, Contender, Roma, Harvester, Provider, Cherokee Wax; sow seeds Sep-Apr; 55-70 dys 

Thailand Long Bean -- edible seeds & pods, seeds from Echo; sow seeds Aug-Apr;  can be used fresh & young as green bean, as fresh shell bean or as dry shell bean 

Winged Bean (Asparagus Pea, Goa Bean, Princess Bean) -- some day-neutral, some w/red pods, seeds & pods & fl & tubers edible, leaves as cooked greens, sow seeds 1-2in deep 3-6in apart late Sum or early Fall; harvest young pods at 3in & steam or at 4-5in & snap to cook; tubers raw or  cooked taste similar to sweet potato, tendrils & fl stir-fried, will resprout from tuber left in ground; tastes like asparagus; roasted or dried ripe beans; prefers cool weather, 35 dys for greens & roots, 50 dys for pods & roots;  some vars need pea-type trellis, short vars do not; propagate by leaving pods & vines in place & letting them ripen & dry, seeds remain viable for 3 years 

Yard Long Bean (Asparagus Bean, Peru Bean, Snake Bean) -- like Thailand Long but longer, edible pods & seeds, seeds from Echo; sow seeds Aug-Apr 1-2in deep 8-12in apart, harvest young pods 12-15in long & snap to cook; watch for aphids on pods;  can be used fresh & young as green bean,  as fresh shell bean or as dry shell bean 

Beets -- grow w/onions, cucumbers & garlic, no bad companions; sow 3" apart (2 to hole) in succession every few weeks, thin to 3" (eat - don't transplant unless only for leaves), give plenty of nitrogen, begin harvesting in 60 dys; 3 non-bleeding vars that can be harvested at any size & are good fresh: 'Albina Verduna' white sweet, 'Golden' less sweet but fuller flavor - cooks up deep orange red - sow more seeds per hole; 'Golden Globe' 55-60 dys, orange, turns yellow when cooked, remains ender & mild even when pulled late; 'Kleine Bol' 50 dys, true baby var, tender & round, grow early & harvest small; 'Chioggia' 55 dys, red & white bull's eye when sliced - cooks up bled into sunset color (no more bull's eye); 'Cylindra' 56-60 dys & 'Formanova' long cylindrical reds for uniform slices; leaf types (lightly harvest tops for large roots as much as 4 mos after seeding): 'Lutz Green Leaf' 60-80 dys, gets large roots if left a long time & pale green fol gets size of chard, doesn't get woody or lose sweetness left long; 'Sangria' 55 dys, great for areas where temperatures fluctuate, harvest early for tender baby beets or later for mature ones that are not corky or rough-skinned; 'Sweetheart' 58 dys; 'Early Wonder' 50 dys, tall tops, dk redroots, grows fast w/uniform roots; 'Bull's Blood' dk maroon fol from OE, 'MacGregor's Favorite' elongated irridescent fol varies from dk red to green w/red veins; from OE, CKG, PT, SSC & TER; rec vars: Sangria, Early Wonder, Detroit Dark Red, Cylindra; sow seeds Oct-Feb; 50-65 dys, salt-tol; like cool, moist weather; presoaking seeds is optional; plant 4-6in apart in soil enriched w/compost & bone meal; part shade ok; interplant w/kohlrabi & onions; rotate w/any heavy feeder that is not a root crop; plant succession crops every 6-8 wks; may require thinning; baby beets good boiled whole w/stems attached; need consistent moisture; young greens stripped from stems dehydrate well; biennial - leave some to seed 18in apart - cross-pollinate readily so isolate vars or grow 1 var/season - when seeds are ripe, hang stalk in dry place; seeds remain viable for 4-5 yrs

Broccoli -- Sow seeds from mid-September to January.  Usually ready to harvest in 75 to 90 days from seed, or 55 to 70 days from transplant.  Plant 12" to 15" apart; 18" for larger varieties.  Likes a top dressing of bone meal for calcium.  Broccoli will cross-pollinate, so isolate it from other Brassicas if you are planning on saving your own seed.  Seeds  remain viable for 5 years, especially if kept dry and cool.  Interplant with light feeders, legumes, beets, onions, celery, potatoes, and aromatic herbs like dill, mint, and sage.  Many of these companions will either repel pests or attract beneficial pest predators.  Aso, try protecting young plants from cabbage loopers and other pests with screening or floating row cover.  Prune off any heads or buds that begin to flower to keep the plant  producing.  Young leaves are good in stir-fry.  The most widely recommended variety for Florida is 'Waltham 29', but there are many colorful and roductive ones to try.  Look for ones that produce a primary head that can be harvested early, then side shoots for a while afterward.

Cabbage -- prepare beds with compost and extra manure in July; in August, mulch 2" thick and water well, then pull away mulch in rows 20" apart & direct-seed into 2" deep holes spaced at 12" (firm bottom so seeds won't sink further), sow 5 seeds to a hole & cover w/1 tbs damp soil and 1/4 cup vermiculite, germ 3-5 dys, when come up snip off all but 2 seedlings, then snip strongest when 2 true leaves appear, keep mulched and feed weekly with half-strength fish emusion unless you have rich composted manure, spray with Bt if needed, as soon as plants have 6" heads pull off leaf near forming head and taste it - if sweet and crunchy it will be ready soon - if not be patient and wait for the flavor to mellow, to harvest cut head off with sharp knife and leave plant for several golf-ball sized loose-leaf heads to form just below cut or just pull entire plant; grow w/tomatoes, beans, spinach, celery, radishes, lettuce, peas, leeks, chard, cucumbers & strawberries but not w/potatoes, garlic or onions; scented geraniums repel cabbage butterfly; transplant round types up to 1st set of true leaves - Oriental types do not transplant well so are best direct-seeded in late summer; try 'Dynamo' 70 dys small, heat-tol, green, firm, holds well without splitting, better in heat, from GUR, Jung, PS & SG; 'Scarlet O'Hara' 6" tight head, most colorful heat-res red, from SG; 'Early Jersey Wakefield' early heat-res w/strong flavor, from SHU & SSE; 'Red Varone' savoy colorful & heat-res, mild flavor, from SSE; 'Early Dutch Flat Head' (from SHU) & 'Titanic' good for sauerkraut; ornamentals must have cold to color up; rec edible vars: Gourmet, Marion Market, King Cole, Market Prize, Red Acre, Chieftain Savoy, Rio Verde, Bravo; sow seeds Sep-Jan, Orientals Nov-Jan; 90-110 dys from seed, 70-90 dys  from trnspl;  Orientals 70-90 dys from seed, 60-70 dys from trnspl; try Early Jersey Wakefield small tasty conehead; heavy feeder - supply organic matter & bone meal; transplant up to leaves; transpl 12-18in apart;  can tol part shade; interplant w/onions, celery, potatoes, beets & mint, follow w/light feeders or legumes in rotation; harvest when heads reach usable size; biennial - to save seed let at least 2 remain in garden & cage to isolate since  they will cross-pollinate w/other brassicas - cut an x in the head to allow seed stalk to emerge - gather seedpods as they turn brown (before they burst & scatter seed); seeds remain viable for 5 yrs

Cabbage, Non-Heading Chinese (Celery Cabbage, Napa Cabbage, Wong Bok, Hakusai) -- mild flav; begin picking thinnings & outside leaves (except for those w/hairy aouter leaves) at 3-4in (3 wks), try cutting young plants to 1in & fert to regrow, better for here than most greens, tends to bolt in lengthening  days of spring, fertile soil & steady water; good fresh, boiled, stir-fried, steamed or in soups, mesclun; not as heavy a feeder as regular cabbage; annual - isolate for seed-saving; seeds remain viable for 5 yrs 

Cantaloupe, Musk Melon -- rec vars: Smith's Perfect, Ambrosia, Edisto 47, Planter's Jumbo, Summet; sow seeds Aug-Sep & Feb-Mar; 75-90 dys from seed, 65-70 dys from trnspl; interplant w/dried bush beans; heavy feeders & need constant moisture; side-dress  when plant blossom; ripe when skin is well-netted & cracking slightly and stem detaches easily from fruit when picked; to save seed, isolate & hand-pollinate only if growing more than one variety - clip or tape female blossom  shut before it has a chance to be pollinated & after hand-pollinating, mark fruit by tying ribbon around main stem, harvest fruit when fully ripe but before it begins to rot, scoop out pulp & let ferment in a glass jar for a few days  - skim off pulp & immature seeds & clean good seeds which will have settled to bottom, dry thoroughly before storing - or just eat fruit & spit out seeds; seeds remain viable for 5 yrs

Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) -- Large (3' wide x 6' high), with ornamental silver leaves. Looks a bit like Artichoke, to which it is related.  The stems (peeled) and buds are eaten.  These grew well for me this past season, but did not get as large as I would have liked.  I started seeds in a flat and transplanbted them directly into barely improved ground.  I may grow them in large pots next time, or simply in richer soil. 

Carrots -- in the Umbelliferae family, like Dill and Fennel.  grow w/onions, tomatoes, leeks, radishes, garlic & chard - no bad companions; follow legumes in rotation to completely or almost avoid need for additional nitrogen; weed control - 7 days after sowing, rake bed w/leaf rake perpendicular to rows (kills 90% of annual weeds w/out harming carrots, which won't come up for another 7-14 days & which send out taproot before top growth & will be better anchored than weeds), on day 14 go out early in the morning (for sun angle) to repeat the process but 1st check to see if carrots are coming up - they look like grass w/2 thin straight leaves & can handle cultivation but don't press too hard, repeat this process every 4 days until carrots are completely sprouted - this timing is the most crucial point & spells success, once carrots are up & established use a hand hoe or wheel hoe once a week to cultivate between rows; try to sow so you won't have to thin - pelleted seed is much easier to work with; if ground does not freeze in winter you can leave carrots in ground until ready to use them; unusually colored varieties: purples (color comes from anti-oxidant anthocyanin) - 'Dragon' Kuroda type 65 dys spicy sweet flavor does not get harsh in hot weather & reveals contrasting interior colors when sliced raw but purple layer will bleed when cooked unlike yellow or orange interior pigments, yellows (color comes from xanthophylls) - 'Sweet Sunshine' 72 dys blunt glowing yellow Chantenay type grows well in shallow or heavy soils & is sweeter than many standard orange vars; 'Lubiana' 75 dys Danvers type w/vigorous tall tops that shade out weeds after just one cultivation & is a bit dry & starchy when first pulled but sweetens w/age & stores well (actually tastes better afteracouple of months in winter storage, during which carbohydrates turn into sugars), true reds (color comes from lycopene; these look & taste best when cooked & have a rich, earthy, almost zesty flavor) - 'Nutri-Red' 80 dys Imperator type is only red variety currently available & best harvested when roots are diameter of index finger & 4-5" long, whites (have no pigments, hence no phytonutrients, also have tall shoulders that will grow 3-4" out of the ground & turn green w/clorophyll but are sweet & safe to eat) - 'Berlgian White' 90 dys Flakee type w/very aromatic quintessential carrot flavor & soft texture when cooked; *for heat Scarlet Wonder from VT Bean Seed Co, some vars can be picked sm for baby carrots, 'Thumbelina' 1in round, 60 days from seed, interplant w/vegs that take longer, sow every 2 wks for continual harv; rec vars:  Imperator, Chantenay, Nantes, Gold Pak, Waltham Hicolor, Orlando Gold; sow seeds Oct-Feb; 65-80 dys; for baby carrots try Amsterdam Forcing, Minicor, & other early-maturing types that don't get big; for  sweetness plan for harv during cool nights & warm days; always harv late in day; wait 1-2 wks after roots are mature before harv to allow sugars to accumulate; taste a few every day after size up & pull all when flavor is at  peak; don't need much nitrogen; interplant w/beans, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas, tomatoes, chives, rosemary, sage & heavy feeders like cabbage but not other root crops unless planting radishes to trap wireworms; biennial  - will cross-pollinate w/other plants so isolate if saving seed; seeds remain viable for 3 yrs 

Cauliflower -- Does not grow as well here as Broccoli, and does not produce side shoots.  Sow seeds October to January.  Ready for harvest 75 to 90 days from seed; 55 to 70 days from transplant.  Cauliflower is a heavy feeder and likes added bone meal.  Partial shade is ok.  Needs constant moisture.  Plant in succession a few at a time for a continuous harvest.  Interplant with short-season greens or long-season legumes, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, beets, beans and srawberries.  Protect from insects with screen or floating row cover.  Biennial - to save
seed, isolate from other Brassicas by caging.  Seeds remain viable for 5 years.  Overwintering varieties for zones 8 to 10 are 'Purple Cape' (200 days), 'Armando' Series (210 to 270 days - try Territorial Seed).  Some early varieties to try: 'Snow Crown' (50 days), 'Cashmere' (55 days), 'Violet Queen' (55 to 65 days).

Celeriac (Celery Root) -- Grows and tastes like Celery, but it's the big, knobby root you're after.  Plant in deep, rich soil in the cool season and allow around 3 months before harvest.  Can also be grown in a 10-gallon pot.

Celery -- Needs rich, moisture-retentive, loose soil with afternoon shade.  Can plant on the north side of something taller like a short trellis of peas, beans or cucumbers.  Interplant with leeks.  Will cross with Celeriac so isolate from each other for seed-saving.  Seeds remain viable for 5 years.  Needs a long cool season and constant moisture.  Add a source of potassium to the soil.  Mulch deeply, water well and feed often.  Preochill seeds in a damp paper towel in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator for a month, then place bag on top of refrigerator and check every few days for germination.  Transplant tiny sprouts to flats or small pots, being careful not to disturb their roots more than is necessary.  You may transplant a second time before planting them out in their final locations, 8" apart.   Store and blanch plants in the garden by hilling up soil around them and mulching them heavily.  Pick stalks from the outside to extend harvest.  Dehydrates well for stoing in the off-season. I like 'Giant Red' because the stems are lightly blushed with color.

Chard, Swiss -- This Brassica grows well in Florida even in summer.  Handles heat better than spinach, and can be used similarly.  Sow seeds 1/2" deep.  At 3" high, thin to 6" to 12" apart (use widest spacing for large white-ribbed types, tighter for ruby or rainbow types).  Takes 50 to 60 days from seed to harvest; 40 to 50 days from transplant (I find it easiest to direct-seed).  Partial shade is ok.  Interplant with corn, cucumbers, onions and kohlrabi.  Biennial - crosses readily with Beets so don't try to grow both for seed in same year.  Seeds remain viable for 4 years.  It is most important to water regularly until plants are 12" high.  Use smaller leaves in salad; steam or stir-fry larger ones.  Try to keep plants going through the summer by harvesting outer leaves and providing a little shade as the weather gets hotter.  Red and multi-colored types are less productive and less  sweet than white ones, but very decorative and still delicious.  'Bright Lights' does well as a cut and come again crop.

Chicory (Chichorium intybus) -- A bitter, cool-season green best harvested before the plant flowers, and eaten raw or cooked.  The blue daisy flowers are a pretty edible garnish that may be used fresh or candied.  The root can be sauteed as a vegetable, or dried and roasted, then ground as a coffee substitute or added to ground coffee to make Louisiana-style coffee.  This plant is also used medicinally.  The tops make a dayestuff that gives a variety of color-fast yellows and greens, depending on the mordant used.  See also Endive / Escarole.

Choy Sum (Flowering White Cabbage) -- Better for here than most greens, it has a pleasantly peppery taste.  Grow like other Cabbages.  Needs fertile soil and steady water.  Pick when bud clusters are young and tight.  Six-inch flower stalks with attached leaves make a good broccoli substitute.   Good fresh, boiled, stir-fried, steamed or in soups or mesclun.  Tends to bolt in the lengthening days of spring.  Brassica.

Chrysanthemum, Edible (Garland Chrysanthemum, Shungiku, Chrysanthemum coronarium) -- Green eaten in Japan, China and Southeast Asia.  Sow 1/4" deep in full sun.  Fertilize at planting time and 1 month later with nitrogen.  Keep plant moist.  Ready in 40 to 80 days.  Harvest at 6" for greens.  Pick individual leaves or entire plant - the younger the plant the milder the leaves.  The leaves turn bitter in warm weather, but you may want to leave them to flower at maturity.  The edible flowers are single and good as garnishes, dried for tea, or used in tempura.  In Japan, young leaves are steamed and dressed with soy sauce, sesame seeds, and Shiso, or added to one-pot dishes and fish and shellfish recipes, stir-fries and soups.  Young leaves are also good raw in mesclun.  The taste is bitter, sweet and peppery.  The flowers also attract beneficial insects. Cook's Garden and Pinetree sell seeds. 

Collard Greens -- scatter seeds & don't thin for continual harvest of tender baby greens; cooked greens, pick young; rec vars: Georgia, Vates, Blue Max, Hicrop Hybrid; sow seeds Sep-Feb; 70-80 dys from seed, 40-60 dys from trnspl; biennial - cage 2 or more plants together for seed saving; seeds remain viable  for 5 yrs 

Corn --white geraniums trap crop that kills Japanese beetles; sow 4" deep in hot weather, follow legumes in rotation, cultivate around for 1st month then mulch, check for ripeness 3 wks after silks appear, watch for beetles on silk & hand pick every day or dust silk w/rotenone; harvest when pests begin to decimate, silks are brown & completely dry, leaves around tops of ears feel loose or milk squirts out of a kernel when pushed w/a fingernail; protect from raccoons by wrapping ear w/duct tape before ripe; save seed by isolating varieties by 300'-1000' & isolate selected ears by tying bags (not plastic) around them, then hand-pollinate by cutting off tassel of one plant & brushing it against silk of one of the selected ears, then recover it until silks turn brown, after removing bags from ears, mark them & guard them from marauders, leave them to mature & dry on stalk - seed remains viable for 5 yrs; try 'Yukon Chief' 55 dys dwarf 3' w/5-6" yellow ears from Gdn City Sds; 'Colossal Yellow' 58 dys from trns, lg fat ears, very early, super-sweet holds sugars SSC; plant at least 3'x3' patch (square, not sing row) for pollination, be careful of planting vars together, start w/3in spacing & thin for baby corn (use .5-1 lb high nitrogen fert per 100 sq ft, older open-pol vars or popping corns for more & tender ears harvest 2-4 dys after 1st silks appear) to 1' spacing & allow to mature, allow grain or ornamental vars to dry in field, watch for pests (racoons, rabbits, oil on silks for corn borers), rec vars: 'Silver  Queen', 'Guardian', 'Bonanza', 'Florida Staysweet', 'How Sweet It Is'; sow seeds Aug-Mar; 60-95 dys from seed; SE vars good - sweeter but not as much isolation requirement; sidedress at 3'; interplant w/pumpkins, winter squash &  beans; freeze fresh corn: boil 5 min, then put in cold water until cool enough to handle, cut off top half of kernels, then gently scrape out germ & juices (try standing cob in a cake pan to catch everything), freeze in meal-size  freezer bags in coldest part of freezer - mark w/date, should keep well for a year - older vars freeze better than sugar enhanced ones - must use very fresh corn; to dehydrate: first cut off cob & microwave shallow to fix sugars plant dried corn types in fall & allow to dry on stalk; more insect-res & not as heavy feeders as sweet corns

Crucifers (cabbage, broccoli, collards, etc.) -- plant collards in March, scented geraniums repel cabbage butterfly; if seeding  in hot weather, dig 1-2" deep trench, line w/compost or good soil, lay seeds in trench, cover shallowly w/compost or soil, water, lay board across trench, check every day & remove boards when seedlings appear; keeps cooler for germination; also try pushing for another season (Garden Hints pp. 173-4); undersow w/white clover 1 month after transplanting (or of that size), when it's time to replant turn clover under; Gai Lon 'Little Guy' 40 dys, very compact, from PSR.

Cucumber -- plant in March, plant w/nasturtiums, beans, mint (repels squash bugs), California poppies, daisy-type flowers, radishes & sweet corn (the flowers bring bees which will pollinate the cucumbers); if needed, pollinate w/Q-Tip; plant in 12" x 12" wood or plastic pot for every 2-3 pl w/slow-rel fert & mulch; 1/2 strength liquid fert once a wk if needed; check soil moisture deep w/popsicle stick or pencil; plant every 2 wks; trellis or tomato cage; pick often to keep plants producing; try 'County Fair' 50 dys lack bitterness & don't attract cucumber beetles so are res to bacterial wilt, from Territorial; 'Arkansas Little-Leaf' (H-19) dis-res needs no pollination Park; 'Bush Baby' hybrid very small gynoecious var (fem fl only) & dis-res Stokes; 'Fanfare' monoecious (male & fem fl) & dis-res Park; 'Pickalot' hybrid gyn & very prolific Burpee; 'Salad Bush' hybrid mono & dis-res Park; 'Sweet Burpless' 60 dys gynoecious, dis-res, few seeds BP; pick young, keep picked to keep producing, protect from insects, monoecieous needs no pollinators, try inside patio or under row cover, Fanfare J.W. Jung & Stokes, rec vars: Poinsett, Ashley, Sprint, Sweet Success, Pot  Luck (slicing), Galaxy, SMR 18, Explorer (pickling); sow seeds Sep-Mar; 50-70 dys from seed, 40-50 dys from trnspl; need frequent light watering & mulch for constant moisture during hot dry months; keep fruits picked to  keep plants producing; seeds remain viable for 4 yrs - hand-pollinate & mark female flowers, leave fruit on vine until fully mature (way past harvesting stage), place fruit in shallow dish to ferment, reove mature seeds & rinse &  spread out to dry completely before storing; interplant well w/pole beans, peppers & tomatillos.  This plant is a cucurbit.


Cucumbers growing on trellis netting inside the screened patio.  These partcular types need no pollination, and keeping insects away helps keep the plants from getting diseases as soon as they usually do outside.  The low wide bowl contains salad greens.

Eggplant -- try heat strategies as for tomatoes, vars: Florida Market 80 dys open-pol adapted to high heat & humidity lg teardrop black, Little Fingers 60-68 dys open-pol cylindrical purple vig producer, Ping Tung Long 65 dys open-pol cylindrical lavender good heat- & dis-res, Asian Bride 70 dys hy cylindrical white w/lavender streaks very tender skin, Neon 65 dys hy cylindrical deep pink; *some mini vars, rec vars: Florida Market, Black Beauty, Dusky, Long Tom, Ichiban, Tycoon, Listada de Gandia (SESE), Slim Jim for baby fruits; sow seeds Aug-Oct & Dec-Feb; 90-110 dys from seed, 75-90 dys from trnspl, watch for potato beetles; lightly brush slices w/olive oil, sprinkle w/salt & pepper, grill or roast until just done; roast whole fruit in 450 deg oven or in mature coals of barbeque until skin is lightly charred & flesh softened,  scoop out flesh & serve as is or spread on crusty bread or tossed w/pasta & roasted garlic & peppers; interplants well w/onions & celery; bush beans & aomatic annual herbs can help deter insect pests; greens are good  rotation plantings to follow eggplants; to save seed hand-pollinate & mark flowers, leave fruit on plant until as ripe as possible but not rotten, mash pulp, wash out seeds, rinse & dry completely - seed remains viable for 5 yrs 

Endive / Escarole (Belgian Endive, Witloof Chicory) -- Escarole is a broad- & smooth-leaved chicory; Endive is a curlier-leaved chicory; both slightly bitter and used mainly as salad greens; bolt in heat; plant 12-15in apart in moderately rich soil; when heads are almost mature, blanch: tie heads w/string, cover w/boards forming a V around them or dig up & bring into root cellar; interplant w/any heavy feeder like corn or brassicas; Witloof chicory is a leafy plant that produces the roots needed to cultivate Belgian endive - plant the leaf crop early and leave a few months, then dig up entire plant, cut off the leaves to 1" of roots and force it in a cool, dark place. Plant it upright in moist soil in a pot with the top just peeking out, invert  a pot of the same size over the top to block out all light, keep moist and dark for 3 or 4 weeks, and harvest heads when they are 5-6" tall.  Each root produces one head.does not need to be isolated for seed saving, nor does this require more than 1 plant - if grown in fall, they will go to seed in spring; seeds remain viable for 4 yrs 

Fennel, Bulbing (Florence Fennel, Finocchio, Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum) -- prone to aphids, do not grow near bush beans, caraway, tomatoes, kohlrabi, coriander or wormwood; has leaves like regular fennel but bulb is mildly  anise-flavored when raw & retains little of this flavor when cooked; direct-seed 6-10in apart; does not transplant well; better not grown w/other vegetables; no real pest or disease problems; harv bulbs at 3in across for  best flavor; can hill up soil around bulbs to blanch but mulch is cleaner; biennial - fall-grown plants will go to seed in spring

Gai Lon (Gai Lohn, Chinese Kale, Brassica napus) -- like sprouting broccoli, eat cooked or fresh, seeds from Cook's Garden; sow seeds Sep-Jan; 75-90 dys from seed, 55-70 dys from trnspl; presoak seeds & plant 6in apart; needs consistent moisture; part shade ok; does not  need very fertile soil; harv whole small plant or just outer leaves befor bud forms; harv whole plant after bud forms & before it blossoms; interplant w/onions, beets & celery; to save seed just let a few of the best plants  blossom - time this for before other brassicas bloom since they will cross readily; seeds remain viable for 5 yrs 

Garlic (Allium sativum) -- cloves should be stored at 40 degrees several months before planting; proven heart-healer, natural blood- thinner, can deter clogging of the arteries and reverse atrery damage, lower cholesterol levels, people who eat lots of garlic have fewer cancers esp stomach, mild antibiotic, aids digestion; I have read there is a variety grown especially for the greenmarket near Miami, one that has been bred for Dade County, and am currently trying to track it down; improve soil in Jun, pl cloves Oct-Jan 2in deep & 6in apart; chilling at 38 deg F a few wks helps germ.; water every 3 days; fert every other mo until mo before harvest; mulch to control weeds; remove fl heads; leaves start to  yellow, then collapse when ready to harvest; hang stalks upside down to dry 3 wks, then cut roots back to bulbs, shorten tops to 4in & continue drying 3 wks more; elephant may do better in heat & humidity; harvest May; try Filaree Farm's Creole group, taper off watering when first 2 leaves (on bottom) dry, harvest w/5-6 green leaves left, clip roots when hanging to cure; topdress soil w/bone meal; best grown by itself; eat flowerheads just  like bulbs 

Greens -- try pre-sprouting for heat, plant weekly, space tightly in part shade or in nooks between other crops, thin so leaves don't touch, feed & water frequently, mulch, use shade cloth above 80 degrees, harvest outer leaves or tops w/scissors in morning for crispness, when plant elongates pinch out top center to prevent bolting, turn spent plants under; in low-light or shady conditions try mache, endive, mustards, spinach & any others, but not lettuce because it accumulates high levels of nitrates in the leaves (ok w/supplemental lighting)

Hanover Salad (Spring Kale, Siberian Kale, Brassica napus) -- like collards, sow seeds or trnspl Sep-Mar, use young tender leaves fresh in salad or as cooked greens, broadcast seed 1/4-1/2in deep & use young pl to thin to 18in apart; cut high, pluck top leaves without stems so they will keep replenishing themselves

Huckleberry, Garden -- seeds, fr edible when cooked, use in pies, solanum family; basically a tiny-fruited eggplant

Kale -- (Brassica oleracea and B. napus) -- easy winter vegetable; thin to 12-18in apart; grow & use like collards; interplant w/parsnips, salsify or leeks; sweetens w/frost; harv outer leaves first; biennial - if planted in fall will go to seed in spring; for seed saving,  isolate at least 2 plants - will cross w/other brassicas; seeds remain viable for 4 yrs; 'Red Russian' does not need cold to sweeten it and it grows very well for me, as does 'Dwarf Blue Scotch Curled'; 'Lacinato' is very lacy dk green Italian heirloom; protect seedlings from slugs w/waxed paper cup collars; susceptible to aphids & cabbage loopers & cabbage worms - check undersides of leaves often & crush orange eggs & clusters of aphids or spray off w/hose; pick outer leaves to extend harvest; crucifers linked to lower incidences of colon & lung cancer; large amounts of Vitamin C E & A & magensium & iron, has more calcium & beta carotene than spinach & twice as much lutein; vegetable stir-fry, stews, soups, bean dishes, lasagna & other pasta dishes

Kohlrabi -- leaves used like all brassica greens, bulbs good raw or like turnips; steady watering needed; time to mature before warm weather; harvest at 2in; Kolibri pu better in heat and long-standing in the garden - swollen stems picked 2 months after they were ready were still crisp, moist and sweet; Kolpak quickly forms gr bulbs that stay tender;  Gigant Winter, Gigante & Superschmelz  get large & stay tender (S better for heat because of large root system); prefers rich soil; mulch; interplants well w/long-season main crops, esp. beets, potatoes, onions, celery & mint; biennial;  leave & isolate best plants for seed - cross-pollinates readily w/other brassicas; seeds remain viable for 5 yrs 

Leeks (Allium porrum)-- sow seeds Oct 1-2in apart, thin to 5in apart; harvest late Wtr & Spr; rec vars Titan & American Flag (Broad London); when transplanting, drag hoe at 45 degree angle to make rnch 3in deep, for each transplant make  3in deeper hole w/broom handle, drop plant in & water - idea to settle roots in mud at bottom of hole without caving in sides - as plant grows add soil up sides from trench for 6in of blanching before ever having to hill; frost  improves flavor; interplant w/low-growing light feeders; won't cross w/anything, so select one or more of best plants & harvest seed ball when mature; seeds remain viable for 1-2 yrs; plant w/celery, celeriac, onions or carrots (repel carrot fly), not w/broad beans or broccoli; also interplant w/faster growers like early cabbage, lettuce & herbs; rich soil & plenty of water, transplant at twine thickness in 6" deep trench, hill up 1-2" every 2 wks; cut in half lengthwise & fan out to rinse under water; 'Albinstar' 115 dys harvest at pencil-thickness or at maturity, retain crisp texture & mild flavor throughout, from SG; can be blanched by surrounding w/cedar shingles tied w/string, then filling enclosure w/fallen leaves (this last tip by Ruth Lively, from Tips section of Kitchen Gardener, June/July 2000)

Lettuce -- chill seed in refrigerator 2 wks, plant w/French marigolds (repel pests), beets, strawberries, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage & radishes (repels radish beetle), encourage birds & lizards; interplant with sweet alyssum to attract predatory insects that feed on aphids; best not to grow in low-light conditions as the leaves will accumulate high concentrations of nitrates - this problem is remedied w/supplemental lighting; 'Jericho' 60 dys romaine bred in Israel retains sweet flavor & crisp texture in heat, from SOC; 'Red Oak Leaf' 50 dys finely-cut red-blushed from Burpee; 'Merlot' 50 dys, deep red loose-leaf, frilly CKG; 'Cardinale' 55 dys, French Batavian loose-leaf, good heat- & bolt-tol, brilliant red, upright JSS; loose-leaf types are most heat-tol - try Red Salad Bowl, Cocarde, Lollo Rossa & Deer Tongue; Romaines are 2nd most heat-tol - try Rosalita, Rouge D'Hiver; Butterheads are next - try Nevada & Sierra, then Nancy & Buttercrunch; grow quickly, harvest young, use fresh greens, leaf vars better in heat,  Simpson Elite Stokes; rec vars: Minetto, Great Lakes, Fulton, Floricrisp, Bibb, White Boston, Prize Head, Ruby, Salad Bowl, Parris Island Cos, Valmaine,  Floricos & Dark Green Cos; sow seeds Sep-Jan; 50-90 dys from seed, 40-70 dys from trnspl; part shade ok; likes top dressing of compost or manure & manure tea; transplants well - try starting a new seed patch or flat every 4-6  wks & transplanting to wherever there is space; interplant w/other salad greens like arugula, brassicas & root crops like radishes; do not grow in full shade, as this produces a toxic condition; isolate vars for seed saving;  seeds ripen in stages so when half the plant is white & furry place a bag over & around the seed stalk & shake mature seeds into bag; seeds remain viable for 5 yrs 

Luffa (Chinese Okra, Vegetable Sponge, Dishcloth Gourd) -- eat immature fr & fl like summer squash; sow 3-4 seeds in cluster near trellis; edible fr 120 days; moist mulched soil; feed lightly every 3-4 wks; mature gourd for sponge 5 mos (2-3?); pl Sep-Mar; leaves eaten fresh in salads or  cooked as greens; L. cylindrica (or macrocarpa or marylandia - smooth luffa) is the larger type, in FL plant seeds in shady area where vining is poss, harvest when stem yellows & skin begins to dry & fade, for softer sponges  pick when skin first turns yellow, for harder sponges leave on vine longer, dry until skin turns brown, open larger end & shake out seeds, rinse several times, soak in weak bleach solution 

Mache (Corn Salad, Fetticus,Lamb's Lettuce, Valerianella locusta) -- small-seeded vars are more flavorful but need cooler weather - large-seeded vars are more bland & heat-resistant; mild taste, good in salad; plant every 3-4 wks for continual harv; direct seed 3in apart; does not transpl well; does well in cool weather plnted w/just about anything, even heavy feeders that will shade them - try around &  under larger winter vegetables like kale, leeks, parsnips & carrots; bolts easily so saving seed is easy; seeds remain viable for 3 yrs 

Malabar Spinach (Indian Spinach, Ceylon Spinach, Malabar Nightshade) -- vining leafy green, pick young as hot-weather substitute for spinach; sow seeds 10-12in apart, moist soil, feed every 4-6 wks; start new pl from stem ends; can tolerate partial shade; slow to germ - soak seeds; good to interplant w/onions; support on 3' trellis 

Melons -- long-season types are often more flavorful, plant 2 seeds per med to lg cell, water well at planting (2 cups per hole) w/1 tbs 20-20-20/gallon water; use thick mulch, use row covers right on top of the plants until 1st fl appear, dead ripe fruits will detach from vine (full slip), almost ripe fruits will begin to detach & can be picked w/gentle tug (half slip) will ripen in 8-24 hrs, charentais types do not slip but still begin to detach, eat or refrigerate ripe fruit immediately, can try growing on trellis but fruits must be supported by up-turned pots or cloth slings; 'Goldstar' cantaloupe very flavorful, from HS; 'Summet' cantaloupe flavorful & dis-res, from SSC; 'Passport' honeydew 73 dys, 1st set fruits have better taste, from SSC & JSS; 'Morning Ice' honeydew very flavorful, does not slip, tends to split before reaching maturity but if left to ripen will not lose much flesh, icy green skin turns yellowish when getting ripe, from HS; 'Savor' french charentais type exceptionally flavorful, does not slip so pick when skin has beige undertone & hard tug detaches fruit, from JSS; 'Golden Jenny' 85 dys, compact, vigorous, productive, 1.5 lb fr, orange flesh SE; 'Charmel' charentais type powdery mildew-res; seeds, try Galia from Cook's Garden; interplant w/dried bush beans; heavy feeders & need constant moisture; side-dress when plant blossom; ripe when skin is well-netted & cracking slightly and stem detaches easily  from fruit when picked; to save seed, isolate & hand-pollinate only if growing more than one variety - clip or tape female blossom shut before it has a chance to be pollinated & after hand-pollinating, mark fruit by tying ribbon  around main stem, harvest fruit when fully ripe but before it begins to rot, scoop out pulp & let ferment in a glass jar for a few days - skim off pulp & immature seeds & clean good seeds which will have settled to bottom, dry  thoroughly before storing - or just eat fruit & spit out seeds; seeds remain viable for 5 yrs 

Mesclun --  sow heat-tol vars in rows 3in apart w/.5 to 1in between plants in row; leave 2in when cutting & water w/weak fish emulsion or manure tea; sow every week & harvest each stand 3-4 times; sow 3 feet of row per person; in heat sow indoors & use shadecloth over rows

Mizuna -- Oriental salad green.  Has long, thin, dark green, toothed leaves and a peppery flavor. Very attractive.  Grow during the cool season.  This is a brassica.

Momordica (Chinese Cucumber, Balsam Pear, Balsam Apple, La-Kwa, Bitter Melon) -- 3-4 months; sow 2 feet apart near a trellis; boil immature fruits before eating.

Mustard Greens -- (Chinese Mustard, Indian Mustard, Leaf Mustard, Gai Choi, Gai Choy, Bok Choi, Bok Choy, Pak Choi, Pak Choy) -- very peppery; begin picking thinnings and outside leaves at 3-4 inches (3 weeks), try cutting young plants to 1 inch & fertilize to regrow, better for here than most greens, tends to bolt in lengthening days of spring, fertile soil &  steady water; good fresh, boiled, stir-fried, steamed or in soups, try 'Osaka Purple' or 'Red Giant', smaller leaves are milder, larger leaves should be cooked, mesclun; plant in succession, 6-10 inches apart; interplant with onions and corn or  any heavy feeder that is not a brassica; partial shade ok so all right next to trellised peas or beans; dehydrate well after steaming - good in Oriental soups; must be isolated for seed-saving since they will cross-pollinate with many  different vegetables and weeds; seeds remain viable for 5 years ; pick young leaves, cooked or raw greens, grind seed as spice, looks like wildflower if large amount is grown in patch and let flower; sow seeds September to March; greens 40-60 days; some types are more heat-tol than others; thin to 10-12 inches apart;  use as cut and come again (side dress with manure) or harvest outer leaves; if companion planting, interplant with anything but other brassicas; can be used as a trap crop for other brassicas; isolate from other brassicas for seed saving; seeds remain viable for 5 years. 


'Red Giant' mustard greens growing in a potager bed.  They get very large and overgrew the onions, so it is best not to plant things as separators between the greens and other leafy crops.

Mustard Collard (Brassica carinata) -- taste milder than collards & without pungency of mustard, 53 dys, grow & use like collards, seed scarce 

Mustard Spinach (Chinese Mustard Spinach, Komatsuna) -- harvest greens young, mild flav; 40-60 dys, begin picking thinnings & outside leaves at 3-4in (3 wks), try cutting young plants to 1in & fert to regrow, better for here than most greens, tends to bolt in lengthening days of spring, fertile soil & steady water; good fresh, boiled, stir-fried, steamed or in soups or as part of a mesclun mix

New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides) -- hot-weather spinach substitute; soak seeds & sow 3/4in deep 1' apart; begin harvesting new shoots 60 days when pl 1'h, continual harvest of 2-3in tender tips only, moist soil, feed every 3-4 wks; low, drought-res ground cover; can tolerate partial shade; slow to germ - soak seeds; good to interplant w/onions 

Okra -- pick young, keep picked every 2 days to keep producing, rec vars: Clemson Spineless, Perkins, Dwarf Green, Emerald, Blondy; sow seeds Feb-May & Aug-Sep; 50-75 dys; there is a climbing Chinese variety; grow 12-18in  apart; slow to germ; interplants well w/untrellised cucumbers or New Zealand Spinach; to save seeds just let a few seedpods remain on best-looking plant & let dry; seds remain viable for 5 yrs; needs long days - do not plant Oct-Feb - best planted in & March, when begins flagging cut off top 1/3 to revive, protect from nematodes & harvest  every 2 days to keep plants producing; try 'Cajun Delight' 50 dys early, 5"  green fruits, highly productive, stays tender longer, compact, beautiful fl PS & PT

Onions (Bulbing Onions, Bunching Onions, Scallions,Allium cepa) -- sprouting types better than bulbing here, buy seeds or sets; rec vars: Excel, Texas Grano, White Granex,  Granex, Tropicana Red, White Portugal, Evergreen, Beltsville Bunching, Perfecto Blanco; short-day are best bulbing  types for here; try Red Beard scallions; sow seeds Sep-Nov; 120-160 dys from seed, 110-120 from trnspl; Potato or Multiplier types pl sets Sep-Mar; Egyptian, Walking or Tree types are topsetting & do not bulb underground, use   base of stem & bulblets, pl sets Sep-Nov, try Red Egyptian Topset; Welsh or Spring type is similar to leeks, pl seeds or divisions Fall, Wtr or Spr 6in apart, can be pulled at 3-4in h or leaf portions snipped; broadcast soaked seed  over small area, use foliar feed at 2in tall; when 6-8 wks old gently separate & transplant 6-10in apart; must have constant moisture; for fresh use interplant w/celery, root crops, tomatoes, lettuce & brassicas; for  storage plant separately; if stalks of storage onions are bending down naturally, help them out by bending them all; pull up during dry weather & let cure for a day or so, then bring into a dry place to cure for a few weeks more,  then store in baskets in cool dry location; to save seeds leave a few onions in garden until seed stalks are produced - if more than one variety is grown, they will cross-pollinate; seeds remain viable for one yr; use sets to fill in anywhere. The scallion gets its name from Ashkelon, the Biblical Phillistine city, which was known for these small onions, as well as apples and figs. 

Onions, shallots & garlic: plant onion sets in March; plant w/cabbage family (?), zucchini, beets, carrots, cucumbers, strawberries, summer savory, lettuce, tomatoes, roses (repel aphids, enhances rose fragrance) & chamomile but not cabbage family (?), peas or beans; keep well fed & watered while growing but let get dry when tops start to die back to help cure, before harvesting bend tops over & let turn brown, new growth from center stops when bulbs start forming. Short-day onions to try: 'Yellow Bermuda' med size, deep, flat, from DIG; 'White Portugal' large, thick, flat, for bunching, pickling or sets, good keeper MLG; 'Red Creole' hard, flat, reddish w/red pungent flesh, good keeper if kept dry LHS & RWS; 'Emerald Isle' bunching, heat-tol, long, white, non-bulbing shank from Stokes; 'Red Beard' bunching, red stalks resemble rhubarb from Stokes

Orach (Mountain Spinach, Atriplex hortensis) -- use young fol in salads, mature fol cooked as greens, try Ruby w/Pk var fol, taste milder than spinach; sow seeds 1/2-1in deep & 1' apart Oct-Jan, bolts quickly, 40-60 dys 

Orychophragmus violaceus -- violet-like fl eaten as veg in China, seeds from T&M 

Peas -- plant w/carrots, corn, turnips, cucumbers, cabbage, radishes, lettuce, fennel (?), potatoes (?), beans (?) & aromatic herbs but not w/onion family, potatoes (?), beans (?) fennel (?) or strawberries; rotate - follow w/asparagus, rhubarb, caraway or perennial herbs; plant black-eyes in March; snap peas have edible pods & seeds; best snap pea is Sugar Snap - sweetest w/long abundant harvest beginning about 10 wks after sprouting - grow to 7 ft tall & should be trellised - Sugar Ann (or Sugar Bon - 60 dys) is 18-24" & needs no trellis but should be propped up w/sticks; snaps germinate best in soil between 50-75 degrees & will fruit until weather turns hot (consistently over 80 degrees in daytime) - harvest when peas swell the pods (younger pods won't be as sweet) - sow 1/2" deep & 1-2" apart over 2-3 wk period to prolong harvest - plant tall peas in 3" wide band under trellis rather than in rows, short ones in 6" wide band - try planting in trench 3-4" deep & filling as vines grow to add support - can plant short vines close together in a block & stake 4 corners & encircle with twine, or use pea brush to support peas sown in 6" wide trench, or use trellis or a teepee with closely spaced mesh - slugs & aphids are problems but not severe & no real disease trouble - pick every other day because the more you pick the more you will get - cook as soon after harvesting as possible & only briefly to keep them crunchy & sweet - pull off the 2 strings (one on either side of the pod) unless pod is very young; to freeze edible pod peas and snow peas, blanch 1st: warm a dry baking sheet in a 00 degree oven, take out  quickly cover with a single layer of trimmed pods on it, place on top rack of oven, cook sugar snap peas exactly 2 minutes & snow peas 1 minute, transfer peas to cool tray & spread evenly, place in freezer uncovered for 1 hour, then transfer to freezer bags & mark with date - when stir-frying cook frozen peas no more than 2 minutes at the end - they were cooked already before being frozen

Snap Pea -- sow seeds Sep-Mar, more heat-tol than English Peas, 70-75 dys, try Sugar Snap, steam or fry lightly, overheating destroys structure, do not can; can use in salad; for best flavor harv only pods that have filled out w/peas; harv all peas  as soon as mature to keep plants producing; direct seed 3-4in apart; trellis climbing vars; topdress soil w/bone meal; interplant w/potatoes; don't need much nitrogen - will fix it in soil; good rotation crop to follow or  precede heavy feeders; isolate vars & mark best plants to save seed 

Snow Pea -- grow like garden peas, try Oregon Sugar Pod & Dwarf Sugar, good fresh or cooked lightly like snap peas; harv all peas as soon as mature to keep plants producing; direct seed 3-4in apart; trellis climbing vars; topdress soil w/bone meal;  interplant w/potatoes; don't need much nitrogen - will fix it in soil; good rotation crop to follow or precede heavy feeders; isolate vars & mark best plants to save seed 

Peppers (Capsicum) -- plant in March, grow w/basil but not apricots; watch seed leaves for yellowish tinge - signals need for nitrogen, feed seedlings as soon as 1st true leaves appear, legume cover crop should provide enough nitrogen when turned under (3-4 wks before planting peppers), place 18" apart in rows 12" apart, 2 level trellis is helpful - straight lines along base on either side & zigzag on upper level, in sandy soil can be planted up to base of 1st leaves, mulch, if leaves turn yellow or lose dk green color feed w/some nitrogen (not too much), pick 1st fruits green & low since they may rot, for 1s 2-3 wks pick crown set (1st pepper produced at 1st fork in plant) then move up the plant & thin fruits so they are not touching & have good air circulation, pick at mature color for sweetness, pick half-colored for longer storage, wait out hot weather & plants will bear again when cool, shade cloth helps in heat; try 'Islander' goes through green, yellow, purple, orange & red, from JSS; 'Valencia' orange sweet; 'Orobelle' yellow, also good green; 'Fajita Bell' 68 dys green, 77 dys red, mildly hot, from TGS; 'The Godfather' 64 dys from trns, Italian sweet, good for grilling, turns red in 80 dys, 7" fruits, high yielding; 'Centennial Rainbow' 100 dys small tapered hot fruits go from cream to violet to orange to red w/all colors on plant at once, from Fox Hollow; 'Big Chile' lg fruit, bushy, mild heat, strong chile flav, high production, turns red early, good roasted GUR & NGN; 'Ace' sweet ripens quickly to red; 'Lipstick' sweet sets fruit in heat; 'Sweet Banana' for all weather; 'Garden Salsa' mild chile 80 dys but can be picked green; 'Sugarchile' mild 80 dys but can be picked green; *try in PSh in Sum, rec sweet vars: Sweet Banana, Early Calwonder, Yolo Wonder, Big Bertha, Cubanelle; rec hot vars: Hungarian Wax, Jalapeno; sow seeds Aug-Apr; 80-100 dys from seed, 60-80 dys from trnspl; Pimento  Elite sweeter than bells 3in red, also try Pimento Perfection; Japanese Hot Claw (aka Hahong Koch'o) does esp well in FL; soak seeds before sowing; interplant well w/onions & smaller cabbages; some can be perennial here;  harvest fruits from green through fully ripe; if saving seed, separate varieties to avoid cross-pollination, let fruit ripen fully on plant, then remove & dry seeds; seeds remain viable for 4 yrs 

Potatoes -- buy seed potatoes; rec vars: Sebago, Red Pontiac, Atlantic, Red LaSoda, LaRouge, Superior; plant Sep-Jan; 85-110 dys; for heat try Viking Purple & Yukon Gold (both avail from Ronniger's); pinch off flower clusters to  increase yield; in S FL grow in 20 gal nursery pots in mixture of lt potting mix w/lots of perlite & vermiculite - cover drainage material w/1in mix, add sprouted potatoes (Publix white & red best, then Yukon Gold -  Idaho not so good, mail order spotty), cover w/1-2 in mix, add low-N fert when sprouts apear, wait until stems are halfway to top of pot, then add mix up to bottom leaves, add high-phos fert, small potatoes will appear  along stem, harvest some regularly, larger potatoes will form in deepest part of pot by late spring, when plants start to die, dump pot & harvest rest; alternate method is growing in old tire & stacking tires as the plants grow  (fill 2nd tire when adding 3rd & so on); like new ground that is acidic & not fert w/animal manure - use compost instead; use screening or floating row cover to protect from pests; plant w/corn, beans, horseradish, spinach, kohlrabi, strawberries, celery (?), summer savory, nasturtiums, nettles, marigolds, cabbage & peas (?) but not w/tomatoes, celery (?), apples, pumpkins, cucumbers,  peas (?), beets, sunflowers or raspberries; pre-sprout (Garden Hints p187), grow in a bin (pp188-9), cover a few inches at a time & keep building up as plants grow; potatoes from seed: Catalina germ 2 wks 30 seeds 2.50 from NGN

Pumpkin -- A cucurbit.  Seminole or tropical best for here, seeds from Echo; feed every4-6 wks, up to 15 fr per vine, moist mulched soil, fr 6-8in dia; sow seeds Jan-Feb & Jul-Sep; 90-120 dys from seed, 80-110 dys from trnspl; try Small Sugar for flavor,  sow late Mar-early Apr for Jun-Jul harvest, or sow early Aug for Fall; use shovelful of manure under each hill, mix handful 6-6-6 into soil & sidedress every 3 wks w/handful 6-6-6; try naked-seeded vars for eating seeds grow on edges of garden rather than in main area; direct-seed in hills 4-5' apart; heavy feeders; ends can be tipped to force remaining fruits to ripen before plant would normally die; fruits should cure on the vine & be stored  in a dry cool place; if saving seeds, isolate varieties because they can cross-pollinate - hand pollinate & close blossoms & mark fruits; remove seeds from ripe fruits you prepare for the table, clean & dry; seeds remain viable for 5 yrs; plant w/corn, nasturtiums, mint (repels squash bugs), beans & radishes but not w/potatoes; rich well-composted soil in sun (see also squash listing)

Quinoa -- thin flavorful leaves for salads or cook like spinach (steam w/garlic & drizzle olive oil on them or add to blends of vegetables for steaming), dry leaves at end of season for adding to soups & stews, seed heads come in vibrant colors & are good in arrangements, dry seeds on plant, to harvest seeds rub them into a bowl then pour back and forth between 2 bowls in a light breeze; grain can be cleaned & steamed as a side dish, ground for porridge or added to soups; can use dried stalks as garden stakes (Susan M. Grelock, from Tips section of Kitchen Gardener, June/July 2000)

Radicchio (Chicory) -- some ready quickly, others for blanching (tie up leaves), use fresh bitter greens; feed every 3-4 wks; 65-70 days; rec vars Augusto & Otello, beautiful just for color & form; plant 10in apart for greens or 18in for root types;  interplant w/radishes, cucumbers & trellised peas; force by taking up & replanting in ox of sand in cool dark place; biennial - grow only one var for seed each yr; viability depends on var but most seeds remain viable for 6 yrs; blanch under lg white plastic pots

Radishes (Daikon, Lobok, Raphanus sativus) -- sow every 1-2 wks; try Japanese daikons (for Fall: 'Miyashige' & 'Summer Cross #3' heat- & dis-tol - sow late summer; for Spring/Summer: 'April Cross', 'Omny', 'Spring Light' & 'Spring Song' these mature in 50-60 dys & resist bolting better than Fall types - sow every month), Chinese red-fleshed ('Mantanghong', 'Misato Rose', 'Red Meat' & 'Tricolor' - 50-60 dys, plant late summer for fall harvest), green-fleshed ('Korean Green' & 'Misato Green' - 55-60 dys, less finicky about planting times, more cold-tol) & white-fleshed ('China Rose' & 'Cherokee' - 60 dys), black Spanish ('Long Black Spanish' & 'Round Black Spanish' - plant in summer for fall harvest); seedpods great for stir-fry ('Rattail' for seedpods, 'Munchen Bier' plant in late summer for roots or spring for seedpods in 50 dys) - thin large types to 4-6", many Orientals grow 1/3 of root aboveground (green part safe to eat); 25-30 dys, 60-70 for winter types; interplant short-season radishes w/vegs that take longer; sow seeds Nov-Mar; winter types: sow seed Sep-Dec in high raised beds & hill up soil higher at each cultivation, good usable size in  60-70 dys, usually cooked; plant 3-4in apart; if problems w/root maggots, pull & dispose of (do not compost) infested plants & grow new crop far away from original - cover w/floating row cover or screening ; constant uniform  groth needed, so a heat spell or dry spell can also cause crop to fail; plant quick ones weekly for a steady supply; try mixing seeds w/those of a slower-germinating crop - radish emerge quickly & mark the rows & are harvested  before crowding the other crop; light feeders, grow well in part shade; intercrop w/trellised peas or beans or almost anywhere except w/other root crops; harvest for table use & select best for replanting for seeds - best ones  for seed are grown in cool weather - here, plant in fall for seed in spring - trim leaves to 1in & replant 8in apart - isolate since they cross-pollinate w/other brassicas - harvest seedpods when they turn brown & dry; seeds  remain viable for 5 yrs, Oriental types 4 yrs

Rattail Radish just coming into flower.

Rattail Radish (Pod Radish, Raphanus caudatus) -- An Oriental podded radish - you eat the seedpods, not the root.  This is a graceful-looking plant as long as you stake it before it gets tall.  They handle our weather well, and reliably reseed in my garden every year.  Th eplants look like a radish plant on steroids - leaves about a foot long by the time flowers form.  The flowers are pretty clouds of white or light purple - you can tell what color the flowers will be by the rib color of the leaves - purple-flowered plants will have purple-ribbed leaves.  Seed pods form in about two months from sowing.  Each has two or three seeds, round like peas, inside.  Pick before the seeds fill out completely.  They taste beany and mildly radish-like when eaten raw - great in salads and for grazing in the garden - and almost like green beans when steamed briefly.  In fact, you can stretch a small bean harvest by adding radish pods, cooking them along with the beans.  No one will be the wiser.  Picked too mature, the pods will be hot like radishes and a little dry.  Pinetree Garden carries seeds.  The plant can get 2 feet across and 24-36 inches tall, but it can be grown in a small area if staked, as below. 

Rattail radishes in flower.

Shallots -- rec for S FL; plant cloves in Fall 6-8in apart; grow like garlic; harvest May; rec vars: Bayou Pearl, Louisiana Pearl & Wilmington; multiplier or potato onions grow best here; soil must be very well-drained as bulbs tend to rot in the ground; loosen soil & plant in ridges w/tips just emerging - dig trenches, mounding soil into gentle ridges about 2' apart; do not fertilize - overly rich soil cause top growth rather than bulb formation & encourages  worms; can scatter seeds for greens between ridges; if flower sttalk begins to form, cut it off at base to encourage bulb formation; harvest bulbs when top die back (early summer); firm smaller bulbs store best - save for planting -  large bulbs don't keep as well; shallots mellow during storage - need cool dry pantry since humidity causes sprouting & rot - some vars store better than others; try Southern Exposure Seed Exchange 

Southernpeas (Blackeye Peas, Crowder Peas, Cream Peas, Pinkeyes) -- some need staking, good in heat, even in summer, rec vars: Carolina Crowder, Magnolia Blackeye, Mississippi Silver, Texas Cream 40, Zipper Cream, Texas Pinkeye, Sadandy; sow seeds Aug-Apr, English Oct-Feb; 60-90 dys  from seed; can be eaten as snap bean, fresh shell bean or shelled dry bean; vining types have no tendrils so need to be tied to their support; all need frequent light watering 

Soybeans (Glycine max) -- Another legume.  These are often grown for the dry, mature bean (try 'Vinton' from Pinetree Garden Seeds), but they can also be steamed and eaten when the pods first fill out.  Served this way, they are calledEdamame and are a popular bar snack (sprinkled with a little salt) in Japan.  To grow your own Edamame, try sowing in September for harvest in November.  Sow seeds 1" deep and 2-4" apart, mulch, and sidedress at flowering time with 10-20-20 or organic equivalent.  The quality is best when the beans fill 85% of each bright green pod.  Boil or steam 2 cups at a time for 5 minutes, let cool, salt and eat beans, not pods.  Beans cooked this way can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.  Some varieties bred for fresh eating: 'Envy', 'Lucky Lion', 'Sapporo Midori', 'White Lion' and 'Butterbean'.

Spinach -- must grow quickly w/lots of food & water, pick young leaves, cooked or raw greens; rec vars: Virginia Savoy, Melody, Tyee, Bloomsdale Longstanding; sow seeds Oct-Jan; 45-60 dys, salt-tol; plant 6in apart; interplant w/peas,  onions & brassicas; use screen to shade & protect from insects; harvst when leavesare 6-7in long, outer leaves first; raw leaves dehydrate well - can be ground to powder to flavor pastas, breads & soups; wind-pollinated;  for seed-saving, grow only one var/season; seeds remain viable for 4 yrs 

Squash -- plant in March; plant w/nasturtiums, beans, mint (repels squash bugs), California poppies, daisy-type flowers, radishes & sweet corn (the flowers bring bees, which are the best pollinators); blossoms great dried for out-of-season stews, cut in ribbons as garnish for salads or pasta, filled w/cheese & dipped in egg batter & fried, store fresh cut flowers in water w/a bit of stem attached until ready to use, to prepare snip stem close to flower or cut from base of fruit & rinse carefully & remove stamens & pistils &gently pat flowers dry - once prepared can be stored in refrigerator between damp paper towels for a few hours; a winter squash w/a break in it can be saved by cutting out a shallow crater down to clean flesh - even a picked squash will heal itself by formng a normal scab; Snake Gourd has long narrow fr, use as summer squash when young, seeds from Echo.  All squashes are cucurbits.

Italian Squash, Cucuzzi -- must be staked, use young fr 10in long like summer squash, immature seeds of older fr taste nutty in stir-fry, seeds from Echo; older fr hardens & can be used for dippers, birdhouses, etc; volunteers readily. Cucurbit family.

Summer Squash -- sow seeds Jan-Mar & Sep-Oct; rec vars Early Prolific Straightneck, Dixie, Summer Crookneck, Cocozelle, Gold Bar, Zucchini, Peter Pan, Scallopini, Sunburst; 40-55 dys from seed, 35-40 ds from trnspl; side-dress  when plants begin to flower; good interplanted w/beans & radishes; harvest small fruits often to keep plant producing; make good dehydrated chips; to save seed: identify flower buds that will open next day by their green  rather than orange color, isolate an equal number of male & female buds overnight using paper bags stapled or tied shut to keep out pollinators, next day cut one of the male blossoms & carry it to one of the female  flowers, carefully remove petals of both & brush male stamens against female so pollen clings, rebag & isolate females for a few days, then remove bags & mark pollinated fruits w/yarn or ribbon around main stems, leave  these fruits to ripen fully on vine but be sure to harvest before they begin to rot, scoop out seeds, rinse & dry before storing; seed remains viable for 5 yrs.  Cucurbit family.

Winter Squash -- rec vars: Sweet Mama, Table Queen, butternut, spaghetti (cook whole 20 min), Jersey Golden Acorn, Table Ace, Blue Hubbard; sow seeds Jan-Feb; 80-110 dys from seed, 70-90 dys from trnspl; grow on edges of garden rather than in  main area; direct-seed in hills 4-5' apart; heavy feeders; ends can be tipped to force remaining fruits to ripen before plant would normally die; fruits should cure on the vine & be stored in a dry cool place; if saving seeds,  isolate varieties of same species because they can cross-pollinate - hand pollinate & close blossoms & mark fruits; remove seeds from ripe fruits you prepare for the table, clean & dry; seeds remain viable for 5 yrs; 4 species: C.  maxima (buttercups & hubbards), C. mixta (most cushaws), C. moschata (butternuts & others), & C. pepo (acorns & most pumpkins).  Cucurbit family.

Tat Soi (Tah Tsai, Nonheading Bok Choi) -- mild peppery flav; begin picking thinnings & outside leaves at 3-4in (3 wks), try cutting young plants to 1in & fert to regrow, better for here than most greens, tends to bolt in lengthening days of spring, fertile soil &  steady water; good fresh, boiled, stir-fried, steamed or in soups, mesclun 

Tomatillo -- (Husk Tomato, Ground Cherry, Physalis spp.) -- like citrusy tomato, best for salsa, fresh, fried, baked, stewed, salads, soups; stake; grow like tomato; some sweet, P. ixocarpa 3-4' A Toma Verde Johnny's or Purple de Milpa Redwood & Sds of Ch, P. philadelphica sm wild  Native/Srch, P. pruinosa 1-2' spr Goldie & Cossack Pineapple sweet Johnny's & Southern, P. peruviana or P. edulis 1.5-3' P Y J.L. Hudson & Sds of Ch Golden Berry lgr pineapple-strawberry T&M; harvest when fruit fills out  husk or husk turns from green or yelllow to tan; best to stake or grow inside trellis cage like tomatoes; no special fertilizer or insect protection needed; like cool cloudy conditions better than hot & dry; interplant w/any  shorter vegetable but not tomatoes or potatoes; easy to parboil & freeze; save seeds from best fruits, wash them off & dry; seeds probably viable for at least 3 yrs; these grow very well for me and are relatively expensive at the store so I highly recommend them

Tomatoes -- grow w/herbs like basil, sage & parsley, onions, chives, spinach, radishes, lettuce, garlic, leeks, corn, asparagus, peas, celery, carrots, marigolds, kohlrabi (?), nasturtiums, nettles & brassicas but not w/fennel, peas, cucumbers, kohlrabi (?), apricot trees or potatoes; plant cherry tomato in 3" hole in bottom of 5 gal pail - hang upside down once established; for heat: transplant deeply (6"), water in early morning & mulch soil w/white plastic to reflect heat; for indeterminate types make tepees of 4 7' bamboo poles each lashed together w/twine 1' from top; place tepees 2' apart in 3' wide beds; plant a seedling by each stake & prune to a single stem; may stabilize w/stakes between tops of tepees in rows; or could plant in lg pots w/twine tied around pot bottoms & over top of frame in herb circle (2-4 strings per pot) - leave some slack for gradually wrapping stems; pruning: wait until sucker produces 1st flower cluster, then cut off flower cluster & everything above it, leaving foliage below (increases foliage to fruit ratio & improves flavor), leave 1-4 vines per plant; when main stems are pencil-thick thread a 3" piece of 18-20 gauge copper wire through each equally placed to make greener & ward off diseases;. Other pruning & staking options (from "Pruning Tomatoes" by Frank Ferrandino, in Kitchen Gardener June/July 2000): to encourage a strong stem, remove all suckers & wait to tie to support until first flowers appear; for determinate types, only pruning required is to remove all suckers below first flower cluster; for indeterminate types keep free of side stems below the first flower cluster & train to 1-4 stems; for single stem remove all suckers; for more, allow second stem to grow from first node above first fruit, third (if desired) from second node above first set fruit, fourth from third node above first fruit; this will make side stems vigorous but not overpower main stem; to remove a sucker, bend it back & forth & snap it off while very young - if too leathery, cut w/knife; or try Missouri pruning, which is pinching out tip of sucker, leaving 2 leaves - this increases suckers but provides more leaf area & is also best if suckers are large; even if things have gotten out of hand, tip all suckers anyway.  Cages are good for plants 3-5 stems - ready made one are too small, so try 5' galvanized fencing w/openings at least 4" square - a 4' section makes a 15" cylinder - secure w/baling wire & stabilize w/2 stakes, one at least 6' long - drive stakes in within a week of planting but wait to set cages over plants until first fruits form - space caged plants about 2/3 their final height in all directions; use same fencing to make a tomato fence for plants w/1-2 stems - secure w/6' stakes every 4' - loop each non-end stake through bottom rung of fence, then start to drive it into ground so its bottom is angled away from previous stake - once it's 4" into ground, bring stake upright & drive in rest of way - set single-stemmed plants 18" apart & double-stemmed plants 24" apart - if staggering planting (successive plants on opposite sides of fence), you can knock 6" off these distances - erect fence before planting tomatoes; stakes for plants of 1-4 stems - use 1"x1"x6' oak or cedar sharpened on one end - drive 8-12" into ground (deepest for sandy soil) - do this within a week of planting - space plants 18" for single stem, 24" for 2, 36" for 3 or 4 stems; ties: pantyhose are not biodegradable & will cause problems w/tiller tines but they are gentlest, cloth strips work well, twine must be at least 1/8" thick to avoid cutting vines & if made of natural materials will break down in compost pile or ground - gentle training ties direct growth upward, supporting ties keep it there - wrap short piece of twine around middle of leader, cross it over on itself & loosely tie to support, making a figure-eight - as stem toughens it will take a tighter tie - to support a fruit cluster, loop a 12-18" piece of twine around stem just above cluster to create a sling - gently pull up to take weight off stem - wrap twine twice around stake & firmly tie to stake 6-10" higher than point of attachment to vine - knot underneath point where sling meets stake to keep it from slipping; about 30 days before plant would die (from frost or excessive heat), top plant& remove all growing tips to cause remaining fruit to mature 9end of section). For heat: Heatwave, Roma, & 'Black Prince' (paste; deep rich garnet color - darker in warmer weather, round, egg-size, indeterminate but restrained, good fresh in salads & pasta or combined w/'Viva Italia' in salsa); also try: 'Molly Stark' 70 dys hy semi-det & dis-res med red, 'Taxi' 65 dys op det lg yellow mild flav, 'Dona' 65 dys hy semi-det reliable med red, Red or Yellow 'Currant' 65 dys op vig indet tiny fr; 'Sungold' 65 dys hy good flav sm orange, Yellow or Red 'Pear' 70 dys op indet good flav for drying, 'Artela' 70 dys hy det good for canning & sauce, 'Green Zebra' 80 dys op semi-det green & yellow striped med good prod mild flav, 'Big Rainbow' 85 dys op indet lg yellow/gold/red marbled when sliced good prod & flav, 'White Beauty' 80 dys op indet lg almost white very mild flav, 'Heat Set' from Petoseed try Johnny's or Park; 'Yellow Wendy' 80 dys yellow cherry from Fox Hollow; 'Florida Pink' 85-90 dys beefsteak from Tom Grwrs Sup; 'Santa' 75 dys trusses of 50-60 red grapelike fruits from T&M; 'Sub-Arctic Tiger' tomato 45-55 dys from trns, 1-4oz red & yellow striped fruits, fuzzy silver fol PSR; paste tomato varieties - 'Early Cascade' (early, dis-res, vigorous, best staked or caged, rounded slightly heart-shaped, produces almost continuously until end of season, good all-purpose, easy to peel, good for canning), 'Italian Gold' (long golden yellow, proific, dis-res, easy to peel, high in pectin, firm flesh, refreshing taste, perfect for canning & freezing, good all-purpose), 'Saucy' (space-saver, determinate, dis-res, prolific, easy to peel, hold well on vine, good fresh or w/pasta for salsa or canning), 'Sausage' (indeterminate, meaty, long, heirloom, late season) & 'Viva Italia' (midseason, hybrid, dis-res, determinate but vigorous, pear-shaped, easy to grow, sets fruit during hot weather, fresh zesty flavor, good in salads, holds up to caning & freezing & cooking, excellent for a piquant sauce or salsa esp. combined w/'Black Prince'); tea made from horsetail plant (Equisetum hyemale) may protect against tomato blight - boil fresh or dried plant in water for 20 minutes, strain & dilute to nice tea color, then spray or mist before disease appears - also effective for mildews, rusts & other fungal diseases; high in Vitamin E, also contains useful levels of Vitamin Cand beta carotene, rich source of quercitin and lycopene, two powerful anti-cancer agents; lycopene is only activated when heated so to get healthy amounts of it, try eating tomato sauce or soup at lest once a week; canned tomatoes & soup contain less Vitamin C and lycopene and often have more sodium, though some brands have no added salt & you can have more control if you can your own.  also use in salads, pizza, relish, sandwiches, sauces, soups, ratatouille, or grilled.  For a quick grilled sauce, cut the tops off several tomatoes & hollow them out, fill centers w/olive oil & seasonings, then grill over indirect heat (move to side where there are no live coals, or over gas burner that is turned off but next to one that is on) for a few minutes, then take off & cut up w/2 sharp knives; sow seeds Aug-Mar; rec vars: Floradel, Solar Set, Manalucie, Better Boy, Sun Coast, Floramerica, Flora-Dade, Duke, rec for containers: Florida Basket, Florida Petite, Micro Tom, Patio, cherry, Sweet 100; 90-110  dys from seed, 75-90 dys from trnspl; interplant w/lettuce, bush beans, basil, Chinese cabbage & short-season Chinese greens; save seeds from non-hybrid vars - pick 2-3 mature fruits from best plants, scoop out  pulp & let ferment in a glass jar for a few days - good seeds will settle to bottom, skim off floating pulp & strain out good seeds, rinse & dry; seeds remain viable for 4 yrs 

Turnip -- greens good cooked w/roots; sow seeds Oct-Feb; rec vars Shogoin & All Top Hybrid for greens, for roots & greens Purle Top, White Globe, Just Right, Royal Crown, Tokyo Cross, Tokyo Top Hybrid; 40-60 dys; new vars for  early sweet young roots: Hakurei 38 dys has hairless tops good even in salads from JSS, De Milan 35 dys, Market Express 30 dys, Presto 30 dys, Tokyo Cross 35 dys, White Lady 35 dys; thin to 2-6in apart & eat thinnings as  greens, harvest young greens sparingly 1in above crown, harvest young roots at 1.5-2.5in; one of the most nutritious vegetables & easiest to grow; interplant well as edge crop w/peas & leeks; lettuce interplants well w/a main crop of  turnips; annual - isolate from other brassicas for seed saving; seeds remain viable for 5 yrs 

Turnip, Chinese -- small white sweet-tasting vegetable w/edible greens; 35-70 dys; plant 4-6in apart in soil 45-80 degrees; tolerate most soils but like topdressing of bone meal or rock phosphate; need consistent moisture, interplant well along  edges of most main crops except other root crops or brassicas; isolate best individuals for seed saving since they readily cross-pollinate w/many different vegetables & weeds; seeds remain viable for 4 yrs 

Upland Cress (Garden Cress, Peppergrass, Indian Pepper, Lepidium virginicum, L. sativum) -- *sweet-hot salad green, tastes like radish; thin to 6-8in apart; like part shade to full sun, turn bitter in heat; grow well in containers; need constant moisture; best not grown with other plants; keep tops & flowers pinched back to  prolong harvest; goes to seed quickly; isolate for seed saving 

Vine Peach -- solanum family, nutritious, seeds, hard to find

Watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris) --  some bush vars; sow seeds Jan-Mar & Aug-Sep; rec vars Charleston Grey, Jubilee, Crimson Sweet, Dixielee, Sugar Baby, 'Seedless Sugar Baby' watermelon 8-9 lb fr, dis-res; Minilee, Mickylee, Tri-X-317; 85-95 dys; interplant w/dried bush beans; heavy feeders & need  constant moisture; side-dress when plant blossom; when ripe, fruits will make a hollow sound & bottom where fruit touches soil will turn from white to yellow; to save seed, isolate & hand-pollinate only if growing more than  one variety - clip or tape female blossom shut before it has a chance to be pollinated & after hand-pollinating, mark fruit by tying ribbon around main stem, harvest fruit when fully ripe but before it begins to rot, scoop out pulp & let ferment in a glass jar for a few days - skim off pulp & immature seeds & clean good seeds which will have settled to bottom, dry thoroughly before storing - or just eat fruit & spit out seeds; seeds remain viable for 5 yrs.  Cucurbit family.

Wax Gourd (Chinese Watermelon, Winter Melon) -- 15-20 lb fr, grow like watermelon, boil alone or w/meat, include in cooked dishes, slice raw & use like cucumber; sow seeds Mar, Jul & Sep; fr keeps 2-6 mos in cool dry place.  Cucurbit family.

Zucchini -- plant with nasturtiums, beans, mint, California poppies, daisy-type flowers, radishes and sweet corn (the flowers bring bees, which are the best pollinators); squash vine borers appear to like zucchini better than most squashes, and they are more prone to blossom end rot because of their large flowers; see Squash for use of blossoms.  Cucurbit family.


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