Vegetable Gardening Articles

Few vegetables are as commonly liked as carrots. They provide a great complement to many meals and can be cooked in many delicious ways. However, the more you can eat them raw the better, since cooking (especially in water) leaches out the essential nutrients.

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Carrot Nutrients
They provide huge amounts of vitamin A, as well as vitamins C, K, beta carotene, calcium and iron. Vision, skin tone, cell reproduction, and bone growth benefit from the nutrients in carrots.

Growing Conditions for Carrots
Originally from the Mediterranean region, carrots are a good choice for growing here in our valley, with its similar climate. You’ll have your best luck in spring and fall, since they like cooler weather.

They can even survive a little frost, which makes them something we can get started in the garden by mid-April.

Carrots' Soil Demands
Carrots love and arguably need a finer soil with good depth to match whatever variety you might be growing.

If finer soil is out of the question, choose a carrot variety that has a short to medium length. Amend the soil at least to the depth of your carrot variety, using lots of sand. It is well worth the investment to develop a carrot patch. You don't have to work up the soil in the entire garden to the carrot’s high standards…just its own patch!

Few things are quite as pleasant as sweet corn on the cob during a summer barbecue in the Rogue Valley.* Combine that with the all around seasonal use of corn in a variety of dishes from soups to salads and you'll likely find more than enough reasons to try your hand at growing some corn in your garden.

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Germination
If you're getting started with corn, consider fighting the common problem of sluggish germination by pre-sprouting it.

  • Soak your kernels in warm water for about 12 hours
  • Drain the kernels and spread them out on a damp paper towel
  • Place a second damp towel over the seeds
  • Slide the seeds/towels into a re-sealable plastic bag, leaving about 2 inches open at the top of the bag
  • Leave them like this in a dark, warm place until they sprout (2 to 4 days).
  • Check each day and add moisture to the towels as necessary to keep them damp.
Celery in the ground

Celery is probably not one of the first things that comes to mind when you're planning which vegetables will go into the garden, but it does provide a wonderful companion for strong flavors in a variety of dishes. Celery has the unfortunate distinction of being the worst offender of the dirty dozen, topping out at 60-some pesticides that you can't wash off.

Good news, though. You can grow celery, minus the pesticides, in your own garden. And it'll probably taste better, too. Fair warning, celery's kind of a high-maintenance veggie to grow. It can be done, but it requires some dedication. Here's how to grow celery in the Rogue Valley.

Overview
Celery is a cool-season crop. It takes a fairly long time to mature, requiring about four months. It demands a specific temperature range, above 55 and below 75 degrees. You'll plant it in the spring and harvest in the fall.

Planting
You won't need to do celery starts until April; like carrots, celery is an ancient Mediterranean crop so fit for growing in our valley. Finding seeds or starts may take some doing, so start looking in early spring. The most reliable source may be a major mail order vegetable catalog.

Few vegetables are as notorious as the Brussels sprout. I remember the first (and last) time my mom served them for dinner. I was ten, and no lightweight when it came to eating cruciferous veggies (broccoli has always been a favorite). Earlier in the day, word reached me that the infamous sprout was on the menu for dinner, and I thought to myself that there was no way they could live up to their torture-grade reputation.

For all my reasoning and vegetable open-mindedness, I have never been more wrong in my life. The smell of sulfur hit my nose as soon as I came in the door from playing outside, and I knew at that moment that it would be a dinner to remember, in the worst possible way.

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Photo: Rasa Malaysia

Like most other veggies, having your own fresh, homegrown peppers around the kitchen can spoil you. Peppers picked right off the plant feature all kinds of different flavors that get muted somewhere between the picking and the trucking and the refrigerating that a grocery store pepper has to endure before ending up on your plate.

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Strictly speaking, peppers are not among the more temperamental vegetables to grow. They like the basic winning mix of sunshine, fertile, well-drained soil and regular watering. Soil pH should be between 5.5 and 7.0. Because peppers don't get as massive as, say, a tomato plant, they make great raised-bed vegetables. With all the different varieties (bell, Anaheim, banana, pimiento...and LOTS more) you'll probably find a few that are just right.