Tag Archives: Pickled vegetables

Salads and Pickles

bamboo cucumber trellis

Cucumber Bamboo Trellis

Cucumber is a tender, warm season vegetable that produces well when given proper care and protection. The vines of standard varieties grow rapidly and require substantial space. Vertical training methods and new dwarf varieties now allow cucumbers to be grown for slicing, salads and pickling, even in small garden plots.

Recommended Varieties

Long Green Slicing

Burpless (hybrid – 62 days to harvest; the original sweet, long, Chinese type hybrid; does well on a trellis).

Marketmore 76 (68 days; very uniform, dark green, straight fruit; multiple disease resistance).

Straight 8 (58 days; AAS winner a long time favorite; excellent flavor evenly dark green fruit).

cucumber wire trellis

Cucumber wire trellis

Long Green Slicing (compact plant)

Bush Crop (55 days to harvest; delicious; 6-8 inch fruit on dwarf, bushy plants)

Fanfare (hybrid – 63 days AAS winner; great taste; high yield; extended harvest; disease resistant).

Salad Bush (hybrid – 57 days; AAS winner; uniform 8 inch fruit on compact plants; tolerant to a wide variety of diseases


Bush Pickle (48 days to harvest; compact plant; good for container growing)

Carolina (Hybrid – 49 days; straight, blocky fruits with white spines; medium-sized plant with good vigor; disease resistant)

When to Plant

Cucumbers are usually started by planting seeds directly in the garden. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed in the spring. Warm soil is necessary for germination of seeds and proper growth of plants. With ample soil moisture, cucumbers thrive in warm summer weather. A second planting for fall harvest may be made in mid- to late summer.

Cucumbers may be transplanted for extra early yields. Sow two or three seeds in peat pots, peat pellets or other containers 3 to 4 weeks before the frost free date. Thin to one plant per container. Plant transplants 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart when they have two to four true leaves. Do not allow transplants to get too large in containers or they will not transplant well. Like other vine crops, cucumbers do not transplant successfully when pulled as bare-root plants.

Spacing & Depth

row-planted-cucumbers Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one plant every 12 inches in the row or to three plants every 36 inches in the hill system. If you use transplants, plant them carefully in warm soil 12 inches apart in the row.


Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require ample soil moisture at all stages of growth. When fruit begins setting and maturing, adequate moisture becomes especially critical. For best yields, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Cucumbers respond to mulching with soil-warming plastic in early spring or organic materials in summer. Use of black plastic mulch warms the soil in the early season and can give significantly earlier yields, especially if combined with floating row covers.

Side-dress with NPK 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 balanced fertilizer when the plants begin to vine. Cucumber beetles should be controlled from the time that the young seedlings emerge from the soil.

In small gardens, the vines may be trained on a trellis or fence. When the long, burpless varieties are supported, the cucumbers hang free and develop straight fruits. Winds whipping the plants can make vertical training impractical. Wire cages also can be used for supporting the plants. Do not handle, harvest or work with the plants when they are wet.

wood container cucumber trellis

Cucumber container grown on wood trellis


Pick cucumbers at any stage of development before the seeds become hard. Cucumbers usually are eaten when immature. The best size depends upon the use and variety. They may be picked when they are no more than 2 inches long for pickles, 4 to 6 inches long for dills and 6 to 8 inches long for slicing varieties. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. The large, burpless cucumbers should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Some varieties can grow considerably larger. Do not allow cucumbers to turn yellow. Remove from the vine any missed fruits nearing ripeness so that the young fruits continue to develop. The cucumber fruit grows rapidly to harvest size and should be picked at least every other day.

Questions & Answers

Q. Some of my small cucumbers are badly misshapen. Will they develop into normal cucumbers?

A. No. They should be removed from the vines. Misshapen cucumbers may result from poor pollination or low fertility. Side-dressing with a complete fertilizer may help later cucumbers to develop normally.

Q. Why do some of my plants suddenly wilt and die? Dead or dying plants are scattered all over my cucumber patch. One plant in a hill may be healthy, while another dies.

A. These are typical symptoms of the bacterial wilt disease. This disease is spread by cucumber beetles early in the season. The beetles must be controlled immediately when the plants are small.

Q. Is there really a “burpless” cucumber?

A. Yes. Burpless cucumbers are no longer considered novelties and are offered in most garden catalogs. They are mild, sweet and crisp when fresh. The skin is tender and free of bitterness, although many people peel it off. Most varieties are long (10 to 12 inches) and curved, unless grown on a trellis. These varieties are better eaten fresh, using conventional varieties for most picklng uses.

Q. What cucumber variety should I buy for gherkins?

A. Buy the West Indian gherkin. It is a close relative of the garden cucumber used for pickling. The fruits are generally oval, 1 to 3 inches long and more spiny than cucumbers. They are also called “burr cucumbers” but are usually listed in catalogs as West Indian gherkin. They are grown in the same way as cucumbers. Small-fruited, prickly varieties of cucumber are sometimes sold as “gherkins.” If small, tender cucumbers are what you want to pickle and call “gherkins,” then these misnamed cucumber varieties serve the purpose well.

Q. Why do my cucumbers fail to set fruit and yield properly?

A. The first yellow flowers appearing on the plants are male flowers that provide pollen. These flowers normally drop off after blooming. The small cucumber is evident at the base of the female flower (even before it opens) and should develop into an edible fruit if properly pollinated. Anything that interferes with pollination of the female flowers reduces fruit set and yield, including cold temperatures and rainy weather that hamper bee activity or improper use of insecticides that kill bees.

Q. What are gynoecious hybrids?

A. Gynoecious (“female-flowering”) hybrids are special hybrids of slicing and pickling cucumbers that are advertised in many garden catalogs. Because they have all female flowers, they may be earlier and higher yielding than other varieties. Usually, the seed company mixes in a small proportion of seed of a standard cucumber as a pollinator.

Q. How far away from melons should I plant my cucumbers? I am concerned about cross pollination.

A. Contrary to popular opinion, cucumbers do not cross-pollinate with muskmelons or watermelons and cause them to become bitter, tasteless or off-flavor. Because cucumbers and melons require considerable space in the garden, however, plant the rows far enough apart for proper vine growth without overlapping.

Q. What causes my cucumber plants to be stunted? The leaves are a mottled yellow, and the fruits are blotchy and taste bitter.

A. This condition is caused by the cucumber mosaic virus. Grow mosaic-resistant varieties.

Q. What causes the white mold growth on the upper surfaces of my cucumber leaves?

A. This condition is caused by powdery mildew, a fungal disease that is most severe during late summer and fall plantings. Grow resistant varieties.

Harvest cucumbers early in the morning (before have been heated by the afternoon sun) and refrigerate immediately. Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in loose or perforated plastic bags. Supermarket cucumbers are covered with an edible wax to protect them from moisture loss. The wax gives them an unnatural sheen. Fresh cucumbers are dull green in color.

Pickling cucumbers — Pickling cucumbers should be picked every day, since they can quickly grow too large for use. Do not leave over-mature, yellow cucumbers on the vine. If a single cucumber is left on the vine, the vine will stop producing altogether.

Slicing cucumbers — Slicing cucumbers should be harvested as needed. But there is no practical use for baseball bat size cucumbers. They are tough and the seeds are woody. Harvest when they are 8 inches long or smaller. As with pickling cucumbers, remove the over mature ones as soon as you see them or they will halt the growth of new cucumbers.

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits

Cucumbers add a crisp snap to salads and sandwiches, however they are not a very good source of nutrients. The most abundant nutrient in cucumbers is water. A small amount of beta carotene is found in the green peel, but once peeled the level drops to nearly zero.

Nutrition Facts (6 large or 8 small raw cucumber slices with peel)

Calories 5
Protein trace
Dietary fiber 1 gram
Carbohydrates 1 gram
Calcium 7 mg
Vitamin A 70 IU
Vitamin C 3 mg
Iron trace

Preparation & Serving

Cucumbers are often soaked in salt water to remove some of the naturally high water content. Cucumbers will otherwise give up water and dilute the salad dressing. Unpeeled cucumbers are higher in nutritional value as fiber and vitamin A are lost by peeling.

Home Preservation

Aside from pickling, there is no practical way to preserve cucumbers. There are many ways to make a pickle. They can be fermented or quick packed in a vinegar solution and processed in a boiling water bath and kept on the shelf for up to a year. There is no great challenge to making pickles. Pickles can be made by the quart or by the five-gallon crock. For those who do not know how to can, pickles can be made in the refrigerator or in the freezer. Pickling cucumbers are best to use because the skin is less bitter than slicing cucumbers and they have smaller and fewer seeds. However, you can successful substitute slicing cucumbers.

Make pickles without canning.

Refrigerator Dill Chips

Pickled cucumbers add spice and texture to sandwiches and meals. For highest quality pickles, use cucumbers that are no more the 24 hours from the vine. Use “pure” or pickling salt in this recipe. Table salt contains additives that make a cloudy brine and off color pickles.

  • 2 to 2-1/2 cups sliced cucumbers, about 1/4 inch thick
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 2 springs fresh dill, about 6 inches long or 1 tablespoon dry dill seed or 1 head of fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water

Prepare the jar, lid and screwband. Wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and drain. Combine the sliced cucumbers and 1-1/2 teaspoons of the pickling salt. Toss well. Cover with cold water and let stand for 2 to 3 hours. Drain.

In a clean, hot, 1 pint jar, put the dill, garlic, and remaining 1 teaspoon pickling salt. Add the cucumbers slices leaving 1/2 inch head space. Push slices down and firmly pack. Combine water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Pour hot vinegar solution over cucumbers.

Use a plastic knife or spatula to release air bubbles. Insert knife down the side of the jar and gently push cucumber slices toward the center so that the vinegar solution gets between the slices. Pour on more hot vinegar solution if necessary. Leave 1/2 inch headspace (the space between the rim of the jar and its contents). Wipe the rim. Put the lid and screwband in place. Refrigerate one to six weeks before eating. (Best flavor after 4 weeks).


Cucumber Yogurt Salad Dressing

This is a delicious, heart healthy, low calorie salad dressing which can be used as a dip for steamed or raw vegetables or as a topping for baked potatoes or steamed carrots. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2/3 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until creamy and smooth. Chill for about 2 hours before serving. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 pickling or slicing cucumbers, sliced lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 10 whole cilanto leaves
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, julienne (about 1 inch long)

Combine the sugar, vinegar and salt and heat in a small sauce pan until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes) do not boil. Set saucepan in cold water to cool the vinegar mixture. When cool, pour over cucumbers and garnish with red peppers. Serves four.

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Fermented Food. Your Body Will Love You

Not all fermented foods are pickled, and not all pickled foods are fermented. If you like the sour stuff, make sure you’re buying a product that also gives you the benefit of bacteria. How can you tell? Pickled items are usually “pickled” in vinegar, whereas fermented pickles would be made with just water and spices, which turn acidic during the preservation process.
Look specifically for the words, “fermented,” “cultured,” or “probiotics.”

Sourdough Bread Did you know sourdough gets its sour taste from fermentation?

Greek Yogurt Even for those who are lactose intolerant, eating fermented dairy-based foods like this Greek yogurt can be beneficial.

Apple Cider Vinegar Vinegar in general is a product of fermentation, but it’s only the unpasteurized stuff that brings you the benefits of good bacteria. These drinks made with apple cider vinegar will deliver all the goodness without having to actually take a shot of the bitter stuff.

Cheese can be good for you if you know which kind to buy. Raw cheese is your best bet for healthy bacteria because it hasn’t been pasteurized.

‘Skyr’ Yogurt This newcomer is less tangy than Greek yogurt but just as thick. Made with different bacteria cultures but with the same benefits, you might want to add eating some to your morning routine.

Kimchi This wouldn’t be a fermentation roundup without kimchi, a food that has been around in Korea since the 7th century.

Raw Kraut Not just for bratwursts, these different flavored sauerkrauts are the perfect addition to any salad, side, or sausage.

Soy Tempeh Made with fermented soy beans and brown rice, tempeh is a great meat alternative and a great source of good bacteria.

Miso Soup Did you know miso paste is made from fermented soybeans? The next time you’re out for sushi, don’t skip the soup.

Cultured Sour Relish This is what happens when a pickle and sweet relish have a baby. It’s crunchy, tangy, perfect on top of a hamburger, and has all the bacteria your belly needs to stay happy.

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Pickling Vegetables

USDA – Preparing and Canning Fermented Foods and Pickled Vegetables
Nearing the end of the gardening season you find that you have a great number of vegetables that need to be harvested and preserved for winters dinner table. Of course you may decide to freeze or can much of your garden surplus but pickling vegetables is also a good choice and so easy to do.

Everyone knows about pickled cucumbers, but what about pickled asparagus, broccoli, okra, peppers, radishes, or zucchini? Or maybe fermenting and canning a few jars of cabbage(sauerkraut). Almost all vegetables and many fruits can be pickled using the same basic recipe and procedure.

Hint Pickling salt is highly recommended and can be found in most supermarkets. However fermented and non-fermented pickles may be safely made using either iodized or non-iodized table salt. Be aware that the non-caking materials added to table salts may make the brine cloudy. Flake salt varies in density and is not recommended for use in canning or fermenting vegetables.

10 lbs asparagus
6 large garlic cloves
4-1/2 cups water
4-1/2 cups white distilled vinegar (5%)
6 small hot peppers (optional)
1/2 cup canning salt
3 tsp dill seed
Wash asparagus well, but gently, under running water. Cut stems from the bottom to leave spears with tips that fit into the canning jar, leaving a little more than 1/2-inch headspace. Peel and wash garlic cloves. Place a garlic clove at the bottom of each jar, and tightly pack asparagus into hot jars with the blunt ends down. In an 8 quart saucepan, combine water, vinegar, hot peppers (optional), salt and dill seed. Bring to a boil. Place one hot pepper (if used) in each jar over asparagus spears. Pour boiling hot pickling brine over spears, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed.
Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 to 15 minutes.

4 lbs fresh tender green or yellow beans (5 to 6 inches long)
8 to 16 heads fresh dill
8 cloves garlic (optional)
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt
4 cups white vinegar (5%)
4 cups water
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional)
8 pints
Wash and trim ends from beans and cut to 4-inch lengths. In each hot sterile pint jar, place 1 to 2 dill heads and, if desired, 1 clove of garlic. Place whole beans upright in jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Trim beans to ensure proper fit, if necessary.
Combine salt, vinegar, water, and pepper flakes (if desired). Bring to a boil. Add hot solution to beans, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed.
Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process.

7 lbs of 2- to 2-1/2-inch diameter beets
4 cups vinegar (5%)
1-1/2 tsp canning or pickling salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
4 to 6 onions (2- to 2-1/2-inch diameter), if desired
8 pints
Trim off beet tops, leaving 1 inch of stem and roots to prevent bleeding of color.
Wash thoroughly. Sort for size. Cover similar sizes together with boiling water and cook until tender (about 25 to 30 minutes).
Caution Drain and discard liquid.
Cool beets. Trim off roots and stems and slip off skins. Slice into 1/4-inch slices. Peel and thinly slice onions. Combine vinegar, salt, sugar, and fresh water. Put spices in cheesecloth bag and add to vinegar mixture. Bring to a boil. Add beets and onions. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove spice bag. Fill hot jars with beets and onions, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add hot vinegar solution, allowing 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath 10-15 minutes.
For pickled whole baby beets, follow above directions but use beets that are 1-to
1-1/2 inches in diameter. Pack whole; do not slice. Onions may be omitted.

2-3/4 lbs peeled carrots (about 3-1/2 lbs as purchased)
5-1/2 cups white vinegar (5%)
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 tsp canning salt
8 tsp mustard seed
4 tsp celery seed
4 pints jars
Wash and peel carrots. Cut into rounds that are approximately 1/2 inch thick.
Combine vinegar, water, sugar and canning salt in an 8-quart Dutch oven or stockpot. Bring to a boil and boil 3 minutes. Add carrots and bring back to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and heat until half-cooked (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, place 2 teaspoons mustard seed and 1 teaspoon celery seed into each empty hot pint jar. Fill jars with hot carrots, leaving 1-inch headspace. Fill with hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath 10-15 minutes.

12 cups of 1- to 2-inch cauliflower flowerets or small Brussels sprouts
4 cups white vinegar (5%)
2 cups sugar
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 cup diced sweet red peppers
2 tbsp mustard seed
1 tbsp celery seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
9 half-pint jars
Wash cauliflower flowerets or Brussels sprouts (remove stems and blemished outer leaves) and boil in salt water (4 tsp canning salt per gallon of water) for 3 minutes for cauliflower and 4 minutes for Brussels sprouts. Drain and cool. Combine vinegar, sugar, onion, diced red pepper, and spices in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.
Distribute onion and diced pepper among jars. Fill hot jars with pieces and pickling solution, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath 10-15 minutes.

Hints on spices Feel free to experiment. Add spices you like. Things like red pepper flakes, celery seed, dill seed and so on. Use as much or as little as you like to each jar before packing and pouring hot vinegar to fill your canning/pickling jar.

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Beets Miss Used, Under Used And Abused – New goodies

Pickled beets
Small whole beets, blanch in boiling water for 1 minute pack in jar(s), add 1 tsp mustard seed, 6 cloves, (optional 1/2 tsp sugar)cover with a mixture of 3 parts cider vinegar and 1 part water.
Store in refrigerator for 2 to 5 days before eating.
Hint Leave root and 1/4 inch of tops on beets to prevent beets ‘bleeding’ turning your vinegar/water mixture red.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, a Registered Dietitian said: Beets are gaining popularity as a superfood.
Beet juice consumption is associated with a decrease in blood pressure, which can be an effective way to treat cardiovascular conditions.
Beets are also one of the few vegetables that contain a group of pigments known as betalains, which display potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.

Its high fiber content (each cup of beets contains 4g of fiber), beets help to prevent constipation and promote healthy bowel movements.

Raw for shaved beet salad
Slicing the (raw) beets very thinly leaves them crisp without being too hard to chew. All you need is a vegetable peeler to shave the slices of beets to your desired thickness!
Beets and goat cheese is always a winning combination. Top with drizzles of balsamic vinegar and pinches of fresh herbs.

Roast for roasted beets
The roasting process helps to concentrate the sweetness, and the caramelization of beets’ natural sugar helps add a complexity of flavors.
Wrapped in foil while roasting so that they don’t dry out. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, peel and season with balsamic vinegar and orange zest to taste.

Blend for Beet Juice
Beet juice is actually delicious and rich in fiber. One cup of beet juice contains about 5g of fiber and half the amount of sugar as compared to one cup of fresh orange juice.
Beets pair well with almost any fruit or vegetable and add a vibrant color to juice drinks. The classic recipe consist of Apples, Beets and Carrots blended together.

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Refrigerator Pickles – Quick And Easy

This process applies to cucumber pickles as well as almost any vegetable you like.

This recipe makes 1 pint. Adjust recipe to make as many pints / quarts as you want.

Wash and sterilize canning jar(s) and lids.
Wash cucumbers well under cold running water.
Slice cucumbers into 1/4 inch thick slices, with or without skin on.
Pack jar(s) with sliced cucumbers (onion and pepper) if used.
1 cup 5% vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp pickle spices
1 tsp dill seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
2 slices onion
1 small red pepper(hot or mild)
1 tsp sugar
* Pickled beets benefit from adding 5 to 8 cloves to your vinegar mix.

Wrap spices in cheese cloth add to vinegar mix.
Hint If you don’t have cheese cloth add spices to vinegar mix and strain using a tea strainer.
Heat 1 cup vinegar with 1/4 cup water, added spices bring to a boil.
Remove spices. Pour over cucumbers leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Seal jar(s). Allow to cool to room tempeture.
Store in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before using.

Flowers That Repel Insect Pest

Planting a few Flowers, Flowering herbs in your vegetable garden is not a bad thing.

Careful selection of flowering plants will add color and interest to your vegetable garden as well as act as a natural barrier to many insect pest.

* Basil Repels house flies and mosquitoes. Plant basil in containers by your house doors and in outdoor areas where you like to relax.

* Lavender bouquets repel fleas, flies and other biting insects. Repels moths, fleas, flies and mosquitoes. Lavender has been used for centuries to add a pleasantly sweet fragrance to homes.

* Lemongrass repels insects like mosquitoes. You’ve no doubt seen citronella candles in stores during the summer and read how citronella will keep mosquitoes. Citronella is a natural oil found in lemongrass, it can grow up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide in one season.

* Lemon thyme Repels mosquitoes. This hardy herb can adapt to dry or rocky, shallow soil. The plant itself will not repel pesky mosquitoes. To release its chemicals, you must first bruise the leaves. To do this, simply cut off a few stems and rub them between your hands.

* Mint Repels mosquitoes. The leaves are commonly used to flavor iced tea. Containers of mint strategically placed in the garden or on the patio will help keep nearby plants insect free.

* Rosemary Repels mosquitoes and a variety of insects harmful to vegetable plants. Rosemary is available in various forms. Plants can be grown in containers or grown in herb gardens or planted in landscaped beds, some varieties can grow quite large.

In your garden
* Bay leaves Repel flies.
* Chives Repel carrot flies, Japanese beetle and aphids.
* Dill Repels aphids, squash bugs, spider mites, cabbage loopers and tomato hornworms.
* Fennel Repels aphids, slugs and snails.
* Lemon balm Repels mosquitoes.
* Oregano Repels many pests.
* Parsley Repels asparagus beetles.
* Thyme Repels whiteflies, cabbage loopers, cabbage maggots, corn earworms, whiteflies, tomato hornworms and small whites.

* Alliums are broad spectrum insecticide plants. They repel numerous insects that plague vegetable gardens, including slugs, aphids, carrot flies and cabbage worms. Alliums include small growing herbs such as chives and garlic chives, leeks and shallots.

* Chrysanthemums are famous for repelling beetles, ants, and roaches, Japanese beetles, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, spider mites, harlequin bugs and root knot nematodes.

* Marigolds Repel many garden pests. The scent from various types of marigolds repels aphids, mosquitoes and even rabbits. The roots of marigolds are known to repel nematodes. Grow marigolds mixed in along the border of your flower beds or interspersed throughout your vegetable garden.

* Nasturitiums Repel whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, many beetles and cabbage loopers. Nasturtiums could be considered the poster child for companion planting. Nasturtiums release an airborne chemical that repels predacious insects, protecting not just the nasturtium but other plants in the grouping. Many of the insects nasturtiums repel favor vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, kohlrabi, collards, broccoli, cabbage and radishes. Hint: Nasturtiums do not repel a important pollinator, the bumblebee.

* Petunias Repel aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers and squash bugs. They are popular mostly because they are available in a variety of bright colors, require minimal maintenance and are almost foolproof to grow. Plant them near vegetables and herbs such as beans, tomatoes, peppers and basil.

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Okra – Flowers – Ornamental – Eatable Fruit Pods

Okra is among the most heat and drought tolerant vegetable species in the world and will tolerate soils with heavy clay and intermittent moisture.

okra Most gardeners grow okra for it’s eatable pods. Okra can be eaten pickled, boiled, fried coated with corn meal and is often added to soups, stew and gumbos. Pods are best harvested very small, no more than 3 or 4 inches long. Mature pods may exceed 8 inches in length.

Okra is a popular health food due to its high fiber, vitamin C, and folate content. Okra is also known for being high in antioxidants, is a good source of calcium and potassium.

Okra leaves may be cooked in a similar way to the greens of beets or dandelions. Since the entire plant is edible, young tender leaves may eaten raw in salads.

Okra varieties range in size form 3 to 7 foot tall. Pod color is normally green however you can also find purple (some say it’s color is red) pod varieties.
Common Varieties grown in the United states include:
*CLEMSON variety is dark green with angular pods. This okra takes less than two months to mature.
*EMERALD type is dark green, with smooth round pods.
*LEE is a spineless type known by its deep bright green, very straight angular pods.
*ANNIE OAKLEY is a hybrid, spineless kind of okra with bright green, angular pods. It takes less than two months from seeding to maturity.
*CHINESE Okra is a dark green type grown in California and reaches 10 to 13 inches in length. These extra-long okra pods are sometimes called “ladyfingers.”
*PURPLE Okra a rare variety you may see at peak times.

Okra as an ornamental flowering plant produces lovely Hollyhock ‘like’ flowers mostly in shades of yellow and whites.
yellow okra flowerwhite okra flower

Plant okra after your soil warms to 70F to 85F. Quick germination, soaked 8 to 12 hours prior to planting to a depth of 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. Germination occurs in 7 to 12 days. Provide ample water for seedlings.
Space seeds 3 inches apart, thin to 9 to 10 inches after seedlings are 3 inches tall. Space sows 24 to 36 inches.

OKRA Nutrition value
serving size: 1 cup
calories: 31
fat: 0 g
carbs: 7 g
protein: 2 g
fiber: 3 g
Vitamin K: 66% RDA
Vitamin C: 35% RDA
folate: 22% RDA
thiamin: 13% RDA
manganese: 50% RDA
magnesium: 14% RDA
Calcium 8%
Iron 5%
Potassium 6%
Zinc 6%
Okra also contains beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin.

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Pole Beans And Bush Beans – Easy To Grow – Taste Great

Beans are easy to grow. Beans fix atmospheric nitrogen, enriching the soil, and beans, especially dry beans, are nutritious, high in vegetable protein, fiber, iron and essential minerals.

In general terms there are three types of beans.
* Bush types that require little or no vine support.
* Pole types that require poles or trellis supporting the vines. Some varieties can easily grow vines ten feet in length. Strong vine support is required.
* Runner beans produce long vines, up to ten feet, a trellis may be beneficial.

Extend your bean harvest by successive planting:
* Green bush beans varieties every 10 to 14 days until the middle of July.
* Runner beans produce long vines, up to ten feet, a trellis may be beneficial.
* Plant pole beans, lima beans, shell beans and field (dry) beans. Plant only once, since they require a full season to mature.
* Keep your green beans harvested. This will encourage them to bloom and produce more beans.
String less eatable pod types can be harvested at any size. Young tender green beans go well in salads.
Hint: Blanch green beans for 3-5 minutes in boiling water. Cool in ice water. Cut/snap into bite size pieces before adding them to your salad.

Beans grow best in slightly acidic to neutral soil, pH between 6 and 7. Clay or silt loams are better suited to bean production than sandy soils.
Incorporate well rotted manure or compost at planting time to increase soil organic matter.

Beans require full sun for good growth and large crops. Although they will
grow in a wide variety of soils, a sandy loam is best. Beans, especially limas, germinate slowly and grow poorly in cool, wet soil.
* Plant beans when your soil temperature is between 60F and 85F. Optimum temperature is 80F.

Plant bush beans 1 to 1/2 inches deep and space 2 inches apart in rows spaced 18 to 24 inches apart.
Plant lima beans 1 inch deep and space seed 4 to 6 inches apart.
Plant pole and Runner beans 1 inch deep and space seed 4 inches apart. Space slender poles 12 inches apart or set up a sturdy trellis system with post spaced 10 feet apart.

Beans need 1 inch or more of water weekly. Once blooms set, keep soil slightly damp. Do not over water beans don’t like setting in wet soil.

Dry beans (shell, field, and soybeans) should dry on the vine as long as possible (until the first heavy frost, if necessary) before threshing
and storage.
Pulling the plants and leaving them in the sun, laid out on a barn floor, or hung in small bunches from a rafter for 2 to 3 days will hasten drying. A thoroughly mature bean is hard.
Give one the “bite test” before putting dry beans into storage. A roperly-dried bean is nearly impossible to dent.

Store well dried (and insect free) beans in a can or jar with a tight cover to keep out insects and rodents. Store them in a cool, dry, dark storage area.

Hint: Food safety
Home canned beans are one of the most common sources of botulism poisoning. (Properly prepared pickled beans, because they contain so much acid from vinegar, do not cause this poisoning.)
If you wish to put up jars of beans, you must follow canning instructions exactly, including the use of a pressure canner to process the jars. If you do not have a pressure canner, plan to freeze your bean crop.

Caution: Of all common beans, only kidney beans are considered toxic when raw.
Both red kidney beans and white kidney beans (sometimes called “cannellini”) contain toxins that are denatured during cooking. It’s unlikely that anyone would actually try to eat a truly raw dried bean, but some people try sprouting their seeds, while others may be impatient with a pot of chili that’s taking a long time to cook.
Kidney beans are not suitable for sprouting, and they must be cooked thoroughly.

Bean Types

Scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) produce long vines, up to ten feet, and require a trellis. Their abundant red, pink, or bicolor blooms are attractive to hummingbirds, and this plant is often used as an ornamental. Pods have a rich, delicious flavor, and should be picked when fairly short, between four and six inches, used as snap beans. Once the pods become too tough for snap bean use, the immature seed can be shelled out, or allowed to mature and dry. Dried runner bean seed can be cooked like dried common bean seed.

Soybeans or Vegetable soybeans” or “edamame” are varieties selected for use as fresh shelled beans. Culture is similar to that of common bean culture. Plants are tall, up to three feet, but sturdy and upright, requiring no support. Inoculation with Rhizobium may improve plant performance and yield.
Soybean pods should be picked when plump seeds have caused them to bulge, but while still green. The hairy pods are not eaten, but typically the beans are cooked in boiling water while still in the pod, then shelled out after cooking.
Do not eat raw soybeans.

Lima beans are an old fashioned garden treat, shelled out or allowed to mature and dry. Limas require warm soils, warm weather, and a somewhat longer growing season than common beans.
Choose either pole or bush plant habits and grow limas just as you would common beans.
While the ideal soil for common beans is a well drained clay loam, lima bean plants perform best in a coarse textured, sandier soil. Harvest for fresh shell beans when the seed color has changed from green to cream or white, and the pods are starting to bulge in the shape of the seed.
Dried limas, allow the pods to dry completely on the vine then thresh as you would common beans.

Yard long beans are also known as “asparagus beans,” and are popular in Asian dishes. This species requires vary warm weather to produce pods, and the pods can suffer chilling injury from temperatures in the forties. The very long vine of this plant sometimes more than ten feet may require support.
Some varieties produce pods up to 18 inches, others more than two feet. Watch the developing pods, which may appear puffy or inflated while elongating. They will appear tight or constricted when they are over mature, so pick when they are long, tender, and slightly puffy looking, before seeds expand.

Blackeye peas and cowpeas are the same species as yard long beans, and have similar requirements for warm soils and warm air temperatures. These varieties are mostly grown for the mature dried seed, and usually are bush types, rather than tall vines. A short season variety to try is ‘California Blackeye 46.’

Fava beans unlike other beans, require conditions similar to those needed to grow peas. Cool temperatures with highs only into the low eighties.
Grow Fava beans as you would peas, planting early in the spring. The sturdy, erect plants do not need support. The pods will first be held upright, then begin to droop as the seed matures. Picked green, as the seed starts to bulge a bit in the pod, favas should be shelled from the pod, then the whitish outer coating of the seed removed either before or after cooking. Fully mature favas are also used as dry beans.

Caution: Some people are sensitive to raw favas and can become quite ill if they eat them. Although the sensitivity to the raw seed is most common among people of Mediterranean ancestry, it’s impossible to predict who will be affected. Favas should always be well cooked before consumption.

Hyancinth bean with its beautiful purple flowers, is most commonly grown as an ornamental vine. The green pods can be eaten, as they are in India. Harvest as for snap beans, when the pods are juicy and tender. Caution Always cook Hyancinth beans since the seed can contain toxins that are deactivated in cooking.

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Beets – Root vegetable Everyone Loves To Hate

Beets are Easy to grow and do double duty in the kitchen, producing tasty roots for baking, boiling or sautéing and fresh greens to boil, steam or eat raw in salads.
Plant them early for top quality and best flavor. (Fluctuating weather can reduce quality and create white zone rings in the roots.) Some varieties have red stems and venation in the leaves, making them a natural for edible landscaping.

Beets like full sun but will tolerate light shade. Beets will tolerate low fertility but prefers well drained sandy loam to silt loam soil, high in organic matter, with pH between 6.5 and 7 and free of large rocks.
Good soil structure is important because growth is improved by good soil aeration.
Beets grow poorly in acid soils.
They require consistent moisture. Do not plant in soils with pH less than 6.0.
Beets use boron inefficiently. Boron is less available in soils with high pH and high organic matter. Corky black areas in the roots indicate boron deficiency.

Plant beet seed when soil temperature is 50F(10C) to 85F(29C) However beets will still germinate at temperatures as low as 40F(5C)and as high as 90F(32C).
Days to germinate is 5 to 8 days. It may take two to three weeks in colder soils.

Plant in early spring, as soon as you can work the soil, plant 3/4 inch deep and 3 inches apart in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. For continuous harvest, make successive plantings every 10-14 days until midsummer. For winter crops, sow seed about 10 weeks before your first hard freeze.

Hint: The wrinkled “seedball” usually contains two to four viable seeds, making it necessary to thin plants to 3 to 4 inch spacing if you plan to harvest young, small roots, or 6 inch spacings for larger roots for winter storage.
Begin thinning when seedlings are about 4 to 5 inches tall, and eat the thinnings. Cut rather than pull plants when thinning to avoid disturbing roots of other plants.

Some “monogerm” beet varieties have only one seed per fruit also some seed companies remove seeds from the seedball.
Unlike most root crops, beets can be started inside or in cold frames and transplanted into the garden.
Use floating row covers to discourage insects.
Keep well weeded. Competition and uneven watering can make beets stringy and tough.
Hint: Too much nitrogen will encourage top growth. That’s a good thing if you mainly want beet greens. However high nitrogen retards root development.

Beets are biennials. Normally, they produce an enlarged root during their first season. Then after overwintering they produce a flower stalk. If they experience two to three weeks of temperatures below 45 F after they have formed true leaves they may bolt and develop a flower stalk prematurely.
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Cucumbers – Quick And Easy To Grow

Cucumbers seem to do best planted in a sandy loam soil. However they will grow and produce more than most families will eat planted in any well drained soil.

Cucumbers are a warm weather crop and will not tolerate frost no matter how light the frost may be. Plant seeds 2 or even 3 feet apart. Vines can spread as much as 3 or 4 feet from the stalk.
Cucumbers are easy to train to grow on a trellis, saving a lot of vaulable garden space.
Plant seeds 3/4 to 1 inch deep. Keep seed bed damp, not wet through out the growing season. Seeds will germinate in 7 to 10 days.

Cucumbers are heavy users of both water and fertilizer. Apply about 1 table spoon per plant of an all purpose NPK 10-10-10, 10-20-10 fertilizer about every 2 weeks during the growing season.

Cucumbers require full sun. They are deep rooted and benefit being grown well away from grassy areas, trees and shrubs that will compete for nutrients and moisture.

Cucumbers are generally classified as Slicing or as Pickling. No matter what variety you grow they can be eaten fresh(slicing) or can be pickled. However no matter what variety you plant, harvest them while still on the smallish side. No more than about one(1) inch in diameter. If they are to be pickled, smaller sizes may be best.

Harvest ‘Before’ they begin to turn yellow or the bottoms turn white. This is an indication they are ‘over’ ripe and will often have a strong unpleasant flavor.

Insect pest:
Banded or Spotted Cucumber beetles. Treat with a Pyrethrin based spray.
Squash bugs. Treat with Sevin spray or dust.

What ever treatment you use. Follow Application Directions very carefully.

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