How to Grow

The Gardener and the Cook

The Gardener and the Cook

Now that we are no longer in the restaurant and catering business, Mandolin and I have found we have more time for the things we like to do best; namely gardening, cooking, and playing music.

Our involvement with social media has shown us that there are many people just learning to grow their own food, which of course makes us happy. What makes us sad is the disconnect with our food that we have also seen. A lot of people simply don’t know what to do with what they are growing, or even how it grows. We were surprised a lot ourselves way back when, we understand.

So it seemed a no-brainer to us that we should share what we know on both subjects, which we have been doing here and on our food blog.

We decided to take it a step further, and put this into book form. This way the beginning gardener can have the most important information right at their fingertips. No need to get online and look things up, it’s all in the book.

Included are how to’s for over 40 of the most common veggies, with tips and techniques to help make the whole process more successful.

To that we added more than 100 of our own recipes that focus on what you grow, and numerous pictures to help show you what your veggies and some of the dishes should look like.

This really is a work of heart. I’ll be honest and tell you our royalties for a book sold on Amazon are $1.06. Of course, that does help cover the cost of maintaining the blog, but it isn’t the reason for writing the book.

Y’all are. You, if you are new to gardening and/or cooking, or someone you may know. For that reason we would appreciate it if you would help us spread the word, by sharing this link.

Happy Cooking and Garden On!
~ The Joneses
Find it:
Direct from the publisher
On Amazon


Categories: Addiction, book & film reviews, How to Grow


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More of What’s New in Gardening for 2015

save money on seeds

Here are two different seed suppliers to check out for 2015:

Mike the Gardener

While a lot of seed companies are mailing out eye candy in the form of catalogs, Mike has done something different. He lowered prices.

How perfect is that in today’s economy?

By joining his Seeds of the Month Club, you can receive 4 packs of seeds in the mail for less than $3/month. This is a great way to get started on building a seed supply, and to keep one going. Not to mention how wonderful it is to get seeds when the ground is covered in white.

Mike’s seeds are all either heirloom or open pollinated varieties, so you can save the seeds from what you grow.

We’ve never received a pack we couldn’t use, but if that happens, there is a Facebook group for trading. His website also offers a great deal of information on gardening. You can even sign up to be an affiliate and make a little extra cash.

Johnny’s Select Seeds

Based in Maine and employee owned, Johnny’s offers what we consider to be the most informative catalog we have ever seen. We probably have learned more about gardening over the years from them over any other printed source.

Johnny’s carries both heirloom and hybrid seeds and plants, and they cater more to market growers; so you’ll see many of the 318 new products for 2015 are along those lines. Because of this, they offer a lot of hybrids that are resistant to particular pests, diseases, and weather. These seeds can help insure the success of your garden if you have been having specific issues.

One new seed that caught our eye was this summer squash, don’t think we have ever seen a yellow ball type. The fact that it will turn into a pumpkin if left unattended is neat.

They carry a wonderful selection of flowers and culinary herbs, many new varieties this year to choose from.

We have found both of these companies to have great customer service and wonderful products. Note that we are not compensated in any way to write about them.

Happy garden shopping!

Categories: Addiction, all about seeds


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Popcorn – You Can Grow That!

how to grow popcorn

So much of the corn being grown in the US is now genetically engineered by crossing it with e. coli, then doused heavily with pesticides.

Although you can find organic alternatives, if you have the room you can grow quite a lot of popcorn. Just 10 plants can yield anywhere from 4000-12000 kernels, in only an area about 12″ x 30″.

Choose a variety that is recommended for popping, here are a few to look at.

Grow like you would sweet corn, just don’t harvest as soon. Let the corn stay on the stalk until the plant starts to die off, or the ears begin to fall over. Leave in the husk to dry for about a week. The longer it dries the easier it is to get the kernels off, simply by pushing on them with your thumb. You can make it even simpler by twisting the cob or breaking it in half.

When the kernels are completely dry, just store in a food grade container.

How you pop it is up to you. It can be done in the microwave, but we prefer the old fashioned stove top method of popping it in just a little oil in a covered pot on med-high heat.

And just to be on the safe side, we also have a really old popcorn popper that can be used over an open flame, back from the days before Jiffy Pop and Monsanto; you know, when corn was just corn.

you can grow that

You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage others to grow something. Click on the logo above to read many more such posts.
Garden on!

Categories: corn, you can grow that


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New Vegetable Varieties for 2015

baker creek seed catalog

And so it begins.

The catalogs are already arriving in the mail, the emails have started to show up as well; the new vegetable varieties for 2015 are here. It is always fun to see what new varieties are available to try, or what is new that a favorite seed company has stocked.

Of course we can’t list everything here, or even all the companies in one post. So for the month of December we will offer some links as well as our personal take on some of what we find.

Then you can go have at it!

Botanical Interests

A wonderful company that we have purchased from for years. For 2015 they have 50 items new to their line of seeds, including some fairly priced seed tapes.

Eggplant Listada de Gandia is a variety that has been around, but we haven’t tried yet. It was recently recommended to us by fellow GA member David G.

The Cucamelon Mouse Melon is another heirloom seed they are offering, and one we are anxious to try. We have heard some gardeners have a difficult time with this one. If you have tried it, please let us know how you made out.

Be sure to check out their new hybrid Sunstripe Summer Squash. It is a beautiful yellow striped bush variety that produces early. Just lovely.

They also have a nice assortment of seeds for edible sprouts.

Baker Creek

The people at are always on the look out for new heirloom varieties. This year they once again do not disappoint. They have over 300 new items total, it is easier to separate the veggies away from the rest of the new items by using their catalog vs. online.
Pink and purple sweet potatoes, the list goes on.

We were impressed with the Sunrise Bumblebee Tomato for its visual appeal, the Moranga Squash aka Pink Pumpkin, and the huge 1 pound Oxheart Carrot which is great for those with heavier soils.

Don’t even get us started on their selection of Amaranth.

So here are two companies to get you started. Get out your notepad, make a few lists; and the best of luck paring that down.

Been there, bought that.

Categories: Addiction, all about seeds



How to Grow Turmeric – Update #2

homegrown turmeric

The turmeric rhizomes were planted in a pot last July. By September there was significant stem and leaf growth.

Although the plants are only half way to maturity, we wanted to make sure they were doing what we wanted, and were curious to see if it was the way we expected.

In the picture above, click on it for a closer look, you can see the original rhizome, about 2 inches in length to the right. The stem sprouted from that, and the plants are about 2-2 1/4 ft. high. There has not been a lot of top growth since September, mostly it has been the leaves and stalks getting bigger.

You can see the new rhizomes growing at the base of the stem. There’s at least 2, probably more. We didn’t want to harm the plant to find out.

So basically they grow similar to ginger, living off the original parent plant as long as possible. From the looks of things, the homegrown fresh turmeric will have less of a peel on it, as did the ginger.

Come March the turmeric should be ready to harvest. It can be dried at that point, and ground as needed.

For a longer fresh supply, you can stagger plantings or simply harvest the largest plants first.

Categories: ginger, turmeric, How to Grow


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13 Items to Upcycle for Indoor Growing

a very tiny greenhouse

There are a number of items you may be recycling that can save you some money when it comes to indoor growing.

You can start seeds in a lot of clean containers, such as:

1) Yogurt Cups
2) Plastic produce containers
3) Empty toilet paper rolls
4) Likewise, scaled down paper towel rolls
5) Aluminum cans, be careful cutting these
6) Tin cans from canned soup or veggies
7) Milk cartons
8) Wax cartons such as for orange juice
9) Disposable cups such as solo cups
10) Other food grade plastic containers such as tofu tubs, guacamole, and ready to eat food trays

The main thing to remember is that you need some form of drainage holes. This is easy enough to do in plastic with a scissors or sharp knife. Use caution of course.

For metal containers hammering a nail through them in a few places should do the trick.

Keep in mind you need enough room for the plants to be able to establish their root systems. We would say no less than 3 inches.

You can aid germination by covering containers with (11) recycled plastic sandwich type bags, as shown above. You can see a tiny seedling just sprouting, surrounded by water droplets. This creates a green house effect, keeping your seeds moist until they sprout.

And when that happens, there is one more way to upcycle using a sharpie marker. (12)

plastic ware make great plant markers

Don’t tell me you’ve been getting rid of free plant markers. ;-)

13.) When you transplant, you can still use some of the larger food containers, 5 gallon buckets, as well as reuse pots from plants you have purchased. Again, be sure all containers are clean and have drainage.

Categories: all about seeds, extending the season, How to Grow



6 Tips to Growing Better Garlic

growing better garlic

The following information was learned from farmers who have been growing garlic for a living, and from years of hands-on experience:

1. Choose a permanent location.

Although many gardeners might disagree, garlic actually prefers to be grown in the same spot. An obvious example of this is in its relatives chives and perennial onions.
My Uncle was well known in his neighborhood for his garlic and every year he replanted in the same bed.
The exception would be in the rare case that your garlic gets hit with rust or white rot; otherwise, give it a forever home.

2. Replenish the soil.

Some good compost and manure goes a long way. It also helps garlic, like onions, to add bonemeal to the soil. We work some in between rows rather than right where the garlic is planted.

In most cases, that’s all you need.

3. Choose the type(s) you like, then adapt to your area.

When you save the best cloves from the garlic you have grown to replant, you are helping them learn to live under your area’s weather conditions.
If you can purchase starters that were grown in your region, you are ahead of the game.

This way your garlic will thrive and get better over time.
Yeah, that’s how you get a reputation for growing garlic.

4. Plant at the right time.

We were always told to plant Columbus Day weekend for our area Zone 5/6 Northeast Pa.
That’s was until a local farmer said that isn’t quite right.

“Plant when the soil just starts to get that first frozen crust on top. That’s when you know it is the right time of year, not by the calender.”

Makes sense, right?
Some years, that might be late October or even November.

5. Give them some compost tea.

Of course we prefer Moo Poo Tea that comes from grass fed cows. Brew up a batch and soak the cloves in it overnight. This will help a lot with their root development, the most important first step they take.
Likewise, give them another dose when the long winter is over.

6. Mulch well.

This is more for colder regions like us and farther North. A good layer of mulch helps prevent the ground from heaving so much as the temperatures change over the fall, winter and then the thaw.
This makes life a little easier on your garlic babies.

And here’s a bonus tip we haven’t personally tried:

Towards the end of the growing season, summer for us, bend back the tops of the garlic.
Many gardeners tell us this forces the garlic to put its effort into the bulb, and not into producing scapes or flowers.
We’ll be trying this one out for ourselves come August.

More on garlic growing. Use the link, then scroll down.

Categories: garlic, How to Grow



6 Things to Know About Saving Seeds

how to save seeds

Saving seeds is a great way to have some food independence.
There are a few things to keep in mind to make you more successful:

1. Which seeds to save.

Every gardener wants next season’s harvest to be as good or better, so save the best seeds. This means the healthiest squash, the biggest or best tasting tomato, and the corn that grew more and plumper ears.

2. What your seeds might be.

Natural cross pollination can easily take place in the garden. The veggies that are the most susceptible are squashes, cucumbers, melons, peppers, corn and tomatoes; probably in that order.
Not only can sweet peppers cross with each other, they can also cross with hot peppers, making the seeds you harvest questionable. Other than that a naturally made hybrid is not necessarily a bad thing, and can even be fun to grow.

3. How to get the less obvious seeds.

Everyone that has ever thought about it knows not all veggies have seeds inside, take carrots for example.
So how do you get those?
Root veggies need to be allowed to go to seed. Some, like radishes, will do this during the growing season. Others, like carrots and parsnips will need a full year to bloom and produce seeds.
Leafy veggies and herbs only need to bolt, and then produce seed you can gather.

4. How to save the seeds.

Some veggies, like peppers, are easy; just let the seeds dry on a plate then store. Corn for seed isn’t harvested until it dries on the stalk. This process is recommended for both tomatoes and cucumbers. Once you get the information you need, it becomes second nature.

5. How to store your seeds.

Be sure your seeds are fully dry first. Many gardeners recommend a simple envelope for storing. This allows for air circulation and can be labeled with the contents. Some gardeners save empty seed packets for the purpose.
We have also seen advice that suggests envelopes be placed in a food grade glass container, and a silica gel packet added. The container prevents any critters from getting at your seeds, while the gel packet insures no undetected moisture can cause an issue.

6. How to know you were successful.

Of course you don’t want to wait until you have planted your saved seeds to find out whether or not they will sprout. Just to be safe it is a good idea to test for germination ahead of time.
Take a few of the seeds, 10 if you have a lot, and place them between two paper towels. Moisten the towels, and keep them moist. Wait to see if the seeds sprout. If they all do, you have a wonderful germination rate and you are good to go.
If some do, but not all, plant a little heavier.
If none sprout, give it a little more time. You may want to have a back up though, to play it safe.

So that’s it folks, pretty easy and fun to do.
We’re off now to knock a few more corn seeds off the cob and be ready for next year.

Happy gardening!

Categories: all about seeds, How to Grow


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How to Grow Aronia for Both Health & Landscape Appeal

aronia berries

Tiny powerhouses for health.

A beautiful and nutritious perennial border?
Yep, you can grow that!

There are a number of varieties of chokecherry, AKA Aronia; we chose the black ‘melanocarpa’ because it has higher levels of anthocyanins, the substance that both produces the dark color and brings up the level of health benefits. These berries are reputed to have the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit.

The specs on it are below, but basically it is a fairly cold hardy plant that will make a border that is both beautiful in the spring with its pretty white flowers, and then healthy later in the season, with bright green leaves that turn color in the fall.

aronia plant

A little bitten, but none the worse.

This is the first year for our plant, and we did get a few of the deep purple colored berries shown above. They were on the tart side, which is why they are often processed into syrups, jams, and such.

It did get a wee bit of some of the smaller leaf eaters’ attentions, but nothing that caused much damage.

We’ll watch it come spring to make sure things don’t get out of hand. This is certainly something the bunnies would love, and we’ll keep an eye out for that as well.

Botanical name: Aronia melanocarpa
Hardiness: Zones 3-8
Size: Up to 5 ft high by 8 ft wide.
Planting: Enjoys full sun but also does well with larger trees.
Harvest: When the berries turn blackish-purple, usually towards the fall.
Storage: Can be frozen; best processed into a more palatable product. We’ve heard they are good added to chili. Hmmm.

you can grow that

You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to help everyone grow something. Read more of their monthly efforts by clicking on the logo above.

Categories: How to Grow, less common berries



How to Grow Turmeric – Update

turmeric plant

Getting bigger.

It has been 3 months since the last post about growing turmeric, and we must say the plant enjoyed the outdoor weather this past summer.

It already has grown to be about 2 ft. tall, close to the final height of 3 ft.
When you water it or get close enough, it has a very slight smell of turmeric. Mmmm.

Here’s a close up of the leaves:

turmeric leaves

Once trimmed, it will be quite lovely.

They did get some brown on the edges, which I wanted to show before I trim them off in case you are trying this as well.

Since we are going to be brewing up a batch of Moo Poo Tea for the garlic we will be planting soon, we are also going to give some to the turmeric and other plants we brought indoors.

It helps a lot with root development, and we think it will make the outside-to-inside transfer easier on the plants.

We expect to harvest fresh turmeric some time late winter or very early spring. It will be exciting to see how much better homegrown tastes.

We were shocked when we did this with the ginger!

Although we really shouldn’t have been surprised, is there anything that doesn’t taste better when you grow it yourself?

There will be more recipes coming, for now here’s what we have using turmeric.

Categories: ginger, turmeric, How to Grow



Everything here is original (unless otherwise noted) and has legal copyright 2014 by Gardening Jones (tm), and cannot be re-posted or reproduced without permission. Any re-posting of information, photographs, and/or recipes is considered theft and subject to prosecution.

As gardeners, we love to share, so just let us know what your intentions are and we can work together. Please feel free to link any post you see. They say they call that Link Love.

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