I imagine all of us have heard this from our parents. EAT
YOUR VEGETABLES!!! Some
vegetables taste good but others do not taste so wonderful. My mother
was pretty good on nutrition so she would tell us why we should “EAT
YOUR VEGETABLES”. I like carrots but the idea of my “eye
medicine” made them even better.
Now I read they help prevent night blindness and lower
cholesterol. I used to like
to separate the two parts (core and shell) and eat them separately. They
are easy to grow but need fairly deep, loose soil for them to be nice
and straight. The seeds are
tiny and sometimes slow to get started.
I like to plant a few big strong radish seeds in the row to break
the crust if it forms, or you can cover them with sand or a board to
keep the soil moist. They
do well in raised beds as it gives them a longer root zone. Carrots need
60 to 80 days to grow up. When I was a kid we dug a pit, lined it with
straw and had fresh carrots most of the winter.
Next on my list of “must haves” are beans.
Their magic occurs in the amount of protein, fiber, and
magnesium. Many years ago
beans, rice, and potatoes made the major portion of the diet.
All were cheap and available. With no refrigeration they all kept
rather well. If you lived
in the country you grew most of your own food and seldom went to the
store. I have a collection in a BIG jar of different dry bean
seeds. They range from
white to black. Some are streaked, some are spotted, and come in all
Beans are a good crop for a kid’s first garden.
The seeds are big and easy to plant, and they grow fast.
We generally think of two kinds (snap and dry) which can be the
same plant. They are a warm season crop, so unlike carrots that can be
planted in the fall before the last frost, beans need the soil to be at
least 60 degrees F. A variety of insects and diseases can affect the
crop such as aphids, bean beetles, leaf miners, cucumber beetle,
anthracnose, blight, mosaics, and rust. Their harvest time varies from
40 to 60 days. They need to
be picked when slender and before a bulge of seeds is prominent.
When this happens one can let them finish maturing and use as dry
Cauliflower is a plant I find to be a little temperamental.
Too many hot days when they are very young, or a lack of enough
water will cause very tiny heads or none at all. They like moist, well
drained soil with lots of organic material in full sun. Most people
fasten the leaves over the heads soon after they appear in order to get
the white heads. If you don’t mind green cauliflower, they have more
vitamins, etc. from those not covered. Since they are a member of the
cabbage family, the little white butterflies find them a good place to
lay their eggs. Using Bt
(Bacillus thuringensis) several times during the summer will take care
We hear all the time about rotating where we plant tomatoes.
The same is true of cauliflower as they have their own set of
disease problems. All
members of this family are listed under “anti-cancer powers”. If you
don’t like broccoli, try cauliflower! They are a good fall crop as
they like cool nights. Since
varieties vary in maturing time (50 to 115 days) check the seed packet
to know when to plant.
Beets don’t seem to be as popular as some crops in the grocery
store but there is nothing better than hot buttered beets or pickled
beets. They are also easy to grow as the seeds are large and the plants
have fewer diseases or pests than many others.
They are a 3 season crop as an early crop of leaves can be
treated as spinach, then the summer crop, followed by winter as they
will keep in a root cellar or buried in straw in the garden. The last
few years some very fancy leafed ones have been available.
I like to plant them under my lilies as a skirt.
Here in Lincoln with its clay soil, digging in as much
compost as possible or making raised beds makes it much easier
for any of the root crops to expand. Beet seeds are not single season
seeds but actually a multiple season crop as they can be planted 2 to 4
weeks before the last frost in the fall. Have you noticed the food signs
about eating color to stay healthy? Beets are a must.
Onions have an interesting history of aiding allergies.
They contain querietin, an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Some studies show they may aid in preventing cancer.
They need adequate amounts of water as they are actually a high
percentage of water. You
need to decide on whether you want your onions for spring salads or the
large bulbs for slicing. You can have both but read the seed packets as
some varieties do better than others.
Every year we hear complaints about blackbirds ruining the onion
crop as they start with the tops and eventually drill into the bulbs.
Row covers will keep them off and since you don’t care about
pollination they can be left on until you are ready to pull and eat.
Sweet onions such as Vidalia’s don’t do well in Nebraska and
they don’t keep very well which is why we see them for a few weeks
each spring. If you choose the right variety they store in a cool place.
If you don’t want to start them from seeds you can purchase the sets
(small bulbs) and plant them for the green pulling onions. The plants do
best for growing the big slicing onions.
I read in “Magic and Medicine of Plants” that the ancient
Egyptians swore on an onion, not a Bible.
They thought of its pattern of layers wrapping around each other
as symbolic of their gods care for them.