you can grow that

Organic Onions 75 Cents per Pound-You Can Grow That!

organic onions

4 Varieties with different colors, flavors, and storage potential.

This year, we did the math.

Onion plants from Dixondale Farms, 6 bunches: $30.72
The more bunches you buy, the lower the cost.
If you don’t want a lot, see if a friend will go in on an order with you.

Harvest: 43 pounds.
Note that this does not include the quart of roasted green onion tops, nor the ones we pulled early as scallions, or the ones we gave to our daughter to plant.

Soil Amendment: Free horse manure and about 50 cents worth of bone meal. Though that’s probably an over estimate.

Cost/pound: $0.73

Recently our local organic market had onions on sale for $3.69 for a 3 pound bag.
Plain yellow onions, no choice of variety.

No freedom to choose based on flavor and storage capability.
No green tops!

The freshness and freedom to grow the kinds of onions you want organically, plus the perks of roasted tops?

Yep,
you can grow that
You Can Grow That! is a monthly collaborative effort by garden writers around the world to encourage others to grow something.

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$100′s of Food in a Small Space – You Can Grow That!

The Jones' Garden System

Early light harvest of greens while zucchini heads up vertically.

Since you are reading this you are probably already a gardener, congrats!
Perhaps you have a lot of space that you would like to optimize, or maybe you just want to get more from a smaller area.

There are gardening techniques that have been around for thousands of years that can help you do just that.

The Jones' Garden System

25 corn plants with bush and pole beans

Intensive gardening is a technique that incolves planting veggies close together, even in the shade of one another, to get more from the space. Of course you will need to be diligent so as to not have disease issues, and to be sure all plants have the water and nutrients they need.

Succession planting allows you to replenish then refill up spaces as they open.
So you have pulled those early planted carrots, how much time do you have for another crop?

Growing vertically, from the typical peas and beans to the more unusual squash and melons adds even more bounty in the same space.

The Jones' Garden System

Keeping plants warm in early spring.

When you utilize season extenders like those pictured above, you can increase the quantity you harvest by as much as 50% here in the zone 5/6 area. The actual amount depends on your climate.

That’s a lot.
These pics are of the test model of a garden system we designed primarily for those in suburban areas, but with everyone in mind.
After 3 years of testing we found we can pretty much double our harvest by using the techniques mentioned above, as well as the built in critter protection.

The Jones' Garden System

10 tomato plants with basil below.

Now we don’t want to be a commercial on our blog. :-P
If you would like to learn more, click here.

In the meantime, know that however much space you have, there are fun and really easy ways to make the most of that.

More veggies? Yeah…

you can grow that

You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world who want to help everyone enjoy growing.
For more posts on other gardening topics, just click on the logo above.
Happy Gardening!

Categories: gardening, techniques, you can grow that

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Broccoli Raab – You Can Grow That!

broccoli raab

Perfect little harvest.

Newer to many home gardens than its brassica relatives, broccoli raab is gaining favor rapidly.
And for good reason.

Like cauliflower, cabbage and of course broccoli, you can start the seeds indoors to be ready to transplant about a month before the last spring frosts.
Similarly, it prefers cool weather and is perfect for that spot in the garden that gets a wee bit more shade than the rest.

broccoli raab

See the numerous side shoots?

It has a few advantages over the others, especially broccoli which has always been difficult for us to time just right.
Actually, that is one of the pros of broccoli raab; the timing doesn’t matter much.

You see, you can eat the mini heads even if they have started to flower. Just harvest the heads as they begin to mature.

Or, you can pick the entire plant when the heads first appear, and enjoy stem, leaves, shoots and all.

broccoli raab

Small heads beginning to flower.

It is also a heck of a lot faster from seed to table.
We planted our transplants out at the end of April, and they were ready to harvest in just 4 weeks.
Seriously, the other transplants were just coming out of transplant shock.

We found the flavor to be much milder than broccoli, so it is a good intro veggie for young ones and those who do not favor broccoli.

Whether you have had issues growing broccoli, have a short season, a small garden or are in a hurry to get some good eating, give broccoli raab a try.
Because…

you can grow that

You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort on the part of garden writers around the world, to simply help others learn to grow. For more fun reads, click on the logo above.

Botanical name: Brassica rapa
Common names: broccoli raab, rabe, broccoletti
Hardiness: Prefers the cool. Transplant out early or direct seed well into spring and again in the fall. May over winter in some areas.
Days to maturity: From transplants 4 weeks, direct seed 6 weeks.
Height: About 24″
Seed source: Open pollinated.
Use: Culinary. Use the leaves, stems and heads as you would beet or turnip tops; raw in salads or cooked.

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Basil Bonsai – You Can Grow That!

Aww, isn't it a cute little thing?

Aww, isn’t it a cute little thing?

There are numerous varieties of basil, including Lime and Lemon, Thai, Cinnamon, Italian Large Leaf and even Bazel Warv.

Admittedly, you can’t actually grow that last one.
But when we came across this Basil Bonsai, it looked almost like a plant from science fiction.

It is an ornamental and edible grafted plant that has the trunk of a bonsai tree and the top portion of a fine leaf basil.

This combination allows you to have fresh basil all year round, no matter what your climate.
And, well, it is cool to look at.

Great taste awaits.

Great taste awaits.

Plant grafting can afford the gardener some great opportunities.
Our gardens sport a number of grafted fruit trees for example. One pear tree produces three different types of fruit in a much smaller area than three trees would.
For trees that need more than one variety for pollination reasons, these 3 in One or All in One fit the bill.

But back to the basil.
Be careful when transplanting.
Like any plant that is grafted, be sure the area where the plants meet remains above the soil line.
Otherwise the plant will grow new roots and go back to its original state.

It is easy to see where the graft is in the picture below.

Where green basil stem meets brown bonsai trunk.

Where green basil stem meets brown bonsai trunk.

So far our bonsai is only a few weeks old, and standing a little over 5 inches high. They can get to about 12″ or so tall.
The directions suggested it be harvested lightly and from below, eventually creating a dome shape on top.

We’re adding this post to the category The Experiments, and will keep you posted.

you can grow that

You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort on the 4th. day of each month among gardeners around the world to encourage everyone to grow something.
Find more posts by clicking on the logo above.

And then go ahead and grow something!

Categories: The Experiments, you can grow that

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Curry – You Can Grow That!

Getting ready.

Getting ready.

It was about 3 years ago that I brought home a curry plant from the local nursery.
My husband giggled “You can’t grow curry.” he said, “Curry is a combination of herbs and spices.”

Of course it turned out he was right; after all, food is his field. Apparently what I had purchased was a delightfully smelling ornamental plant. Drat.

But telling me “You can’t” do anything only makes it a challenge, and I finally figured out that you really can grow curry.
Well, close enough.

It started out with me trying to grow as many of our own herbs and flavorings as possible.
Some, like mints, are simple. Others, like garlic, take a little more work. Still others, like ginger, take more know-how and time.

As the seasons came and went, there was less and less from the store on our herb shelves and more from the garden.

Still that curry thing bothered me.
Until recently that is, when I actually read the list of ingredients from the back of the bottle, given in order of amount:

Coriander- A No brainer. How often do gardeners complain their cilantro has bolted? Yep, those little seeds are coriander. We got this one!

Turmeric- Okay, it is getting a little harder. Turmeric is a root that takes almost as long to grow as ginger, specifically about 8 months. It is a perennial in zones 9-11, but like ginger it can be grown indoors in colder zones like we have. You can sometimes find it fresh at Asian or India food supply stores and in some markets. I couldn’t find it locally, but was able to order some from Amazon.com. The price wasn’t too bad, and you can replant some of what you harvest so it is a one time purchase.

Mustard- It doesn’t say on the bottle of store bought curry, but most often it is the mustard seed that is used as a spice. All we need to do is let it bolt and harvest the seed. Now we’re talking!!

Cumin- This relative of parsley is a new herb for our garden this year. It is often confused with the biennial caraway, but cumin is actually an annual plant. It can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked, so here it will be going in the ground this weekend. What you harvest are also the seed heads. We will be posting more on all of these as the season progresses, hopefully with lots of pictures!

Fenugreek- Another new one for us. This should be a fun season! Also easy to grow, prep your seeds first by soaking (we recommend Moo Poo Tea, link above right) or scarify. Soaking is much easier. Fenugreek will be great because both the leaves and seeds are edible.

Paprika- Another easy one. Paprika is simply a dried and powdered pepper from the group Capsicum annuum. These can range from sweet to rather hot. I’ll let him decide which ones he want to use, as we are growing quite a variety of peppers this year.

Cayenne- This seemed a little redundant to me, but I guess they are looking for a cayenne specifically. Yeah, we have that covered as well.

Cardamon- This very expensive herb actually can be grown at home. I have read that you can plant the brown type found in the grocery store, but I don’t know if that is true. Instead I found seeds online; after all, I’ve gone this far I can almost taste victory! It looks like another plant that may need some special attention, but that’s okay by me.

Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Cloves- What? No! All 3 of these, the least of the ingredients, are derived from trees; and ones that I highly doubt grow in our area. When I looked up a substitute for nutmeg, it said cinnamon. When I did a search on a substitute for cinnamon, I found cloves.
It began to look like I really couldn’t grow curry after all.

Until my husband read this post on varieties of basil.
“There’s a Cinnamon Basil?” he asked. “You should grow that!”

“Why would you want cinnamon basil? I responded, “That sounds like an odd combination to me.”

“No, they are great together. When I use curry powder, I always add some basil. I love the way they taste together.”

So there you have it my friends, never say “You can’t grow that” to a gardener.
Unless, of course, you want them to prove you wrong.

We will post updates on the plants throughout the season. When we make the curry powder, we will add that recipe to our recently revived foodie blog page here.
Of course, we will also add some recipes that feature curry.
We’re betting this will taste much better than the store bought stuff.

you can grow that

is a collaborative effort on the part of a number of gardeners around the world. Each month they write a post specifically to help and encourage everyone to grow something. Find more posts by clicking on the logo above.

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A More Beautiful (YourTownNameHere)? You Can Grow That!

You Can Grow That! is a wonderful group of garden writers led by C. L. Fornari whose mission is to take a few minutes each month to encourage others to garden.

Occasionally C. L. will have an optional topic suggestion, and I’m sure when she posted this one her intention was to have others actually insert the name of the town they live in.

But that’s where the snag came in. You see, we don’t live in a town, not even close.
We live in an Unincorporated Community of somewhere around 5000 people.

Small ‘town’ living doesn’t get much smaller than that.

We put in a roadside garden.

We put in a roadside garden.

We have a grocery store, 2 churches and a post office. We even have a dollar store.
We have no sidewalks or street lights. We don’t even have a traffic light.
You could probably fit all the stop signs in the back of your truck.
Of course, the police would make you put them back.

The bank is in the same building as the farm & garden; you get the idea.

fence of trees

One neighbor grew a fence.

So how could we put up a post on this topic?
Then the idea struck… let’s turn this over to you.

Go ahead, insert the name of the town you live in.
How could you make where you live more beautiful?

Perhaps you can get other gardeners to Plant a Row for the Hungry, or start a community garden.
How about starting an annual Seed Swap Day or Plant Exchange.
Maybe form a Garden Club that will spruce up some of the local community areas.
(We don’t have those either.)

fence posts

And another decorated theirs.

What do you say?
Where are you from, how’s the weather, & what are your thoughts on the subject?

We would love to hear what you think!

you can grow that
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A Plant Based Diet – You Can Grow That!

dry shell beans

Easy to grow, nutritious and delicious.

If you have seen Forks Over Knives then you know of the overwhelming amount of evidence that shows consuming 20% or less of your protein intake from animal products can stop and even reverse health issues, as well as promote weight loss.

They’re not talking mild issues either, but rather heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some cancers.

Okay, I know, I know… Bacon.

That’s what we thought, too. But it has been almost 2 years now since we decided to limit meat to once per week, and almost 1 1/4 years since we decided we really didn’t want it at all anymore.

Perhaps being a cook and a gardener, making the change was a tad easier.
Still there are many books out there, including a few by the cast members of the documentary, that will help making that switch to be easier and very delicious.
Once you see how much better you look and feel, well- even Bacon just does not hold up.

So what foods can you grow to keep this a tasty and healthy lifestyle change?
Pert near anything, actually.

Most veggies have a good amount of protein in them.
The highest numbers are found in beans, peas and legumes; especially in dried beans.
Think you’ll miss the bacon in your homegrown baked beans?

Probably not, but in the beginning try adding a smoked salt, Liquid Smoke, or Truffle oil to get that smoked flavor.
You won’t want to ever go back.

Soy is a member of the legume family, and often processed soy is substituted for meat. If you buy it, look for Non-GMO labels.
You can grow your own soybeans and enjoy them roasted in the form of edamame.

Homegrown soybeans.

Homegrown soybeans.

Nut trees will also provide a delightful abundance of vegetable protein. Check to see what is hardy in your area.

Quinoa (pron Keen-wa) has the most complex proteins of any veggie, similar to meat.
It is a relative of spinach, which is also high in protein when it is cooked down. You can grow it and harvest the seed, if you live in a cooler climate and have the room.
If you have the space and love a new seed to try out, go for it!

Really, even though getting enough protein is what concerns most people new to limiting their intake of meat, it probably will never be an issue.
Think about it… if we couldn’t get enough easily from plants, wouldn’t all animals be meat eaters?

The only way Mandolin will eat beets.

The only way Mandolin will eat beets.

If you have thought of limiting your meat intake, or even becoming vegetarian or vegan, this is what we would suggest:

1. Never say never.
Start off easy, and give yourself one day each week to eat whatever meat you want. After a while, you may just lose interest. Even if you don’t, you are still better off.

2. Be creative.
Eating is one of the few basic human needs we enjoy in public. Have fun with your dishes. Experiment. Share.

3. Grow what you can.
You know it will taste better if it is homegrown.

4. Don’t be defensive.
We did find that some people react strongly when you tell them you are giving up or even limiting meat in your diet. Don’t let them get to you.
The simplest answer when they ask “Why?” is
“For my health.”

For some reason, that does not bother them and after all, it really is the truth.

you can grow that

You Can Grow That! is a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to help others learn to grow.
Click on the link above for more.

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Healthy Seed Sprouts – You Can Grow That!

Day 2 and already well on the way.

Day 2 and already well on the way.

Recently we were out at a local market when I came upon this neat plastic lid that you simply place on a wide mouth canning jar to turn it into a sprouting system.

After reading a lot on the subject, I discovered that as long as you keep your sprouts well rinsed and refrigerated after they are ready, they are safe to grow at home and extremely healthy for you.

You just place a small amount of sprouting seeds in a jar, add water, and let sit overnight in the dark.
The next morning you begin to rinse them 2-3 times per day, tilting the jar to let out any extra moisture, and keeping it covered.

Day 4, almost ready.

Day 4, almost ready.

Rinse heavily when they are ready, to remove any leftover seed hulls.
Let ‘green up’ in indirect sunlight for a day.

You can choose specific seeds for particular health benefits or flavor, or try a mix at first like we did.

Caution: Check to be sure the seeds you use are meant to be used for sprouting, or at least have a very high germination rate. Unsprouted seeds, according to the manual we purchased, may ferment and spoil the whole batch.

Greening up.

Greening up.

We really enjoyed these sprouts on our Thanksgiving Day salad, with fresh greens and carrots from the garden.

Knowing you are giving your family something healthy that you grew yourself, really is something to be thankful for.

And a healthier year ahead? Yeppers- you can grow that too!

you can grow that

This post is a part of a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to help others learn to grow.
Click on the link above for more posts.

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Thankfulness and Giving – You Can Grow That!

Fall is the time of year when many people’s thoughts turn towards expressing gratitude for what they have, and to giving to others.

Commercialism aside, gardening affords you the greatest opportunities to do just that.
Whether it is bringing a small basket of fresh produce to the elderly woman down the street who can no longer grow a garden; or a dozen eggs to the disabled vet next door who not only enjoys them himself, but loves to share with his dog; being able to give really is more rewarding than receiving.

Plenty to share.

Plenty to share.

It means you have more than enough, that you think of others and care about them, and your heart grows bigger with each act.

Whether you share produce, pickles or seeds, or even just the information to help others grow their own, it is a wonderful way to connect and improve someone’s life every day.

This is a lesson I have learned well these past few years blogging.
What began as a simple attempt to share what I know about growing food, has given me in return wonderful new friendships and connections, a whole lot more information, and expressions of gratitude that truly touch my heart.

“What do you get out of this blogging thing?” a more cynical acquaintance asked me recently. “Look at how much time you spend, what’s in it for you?”

“Much more than I could ever have dreamed.” :-)

you can grow that

This post is a part of a collaborative effort by gardeners around the world.
Click on the link above to read more.

Want a very simple way to give?

When you read a post that teaches you, uplifts you, or just makes you laugh- share it using the icons below, or share from another source.
You are not only changing someone else’s life, you’re making yours better too.

Even if you don’t see it right a way, trust me.
You will.
It is a bonus to be truly thankful for.

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Gluten Free Low Carb Bread Crumbs – You Can Grow That!

Whether you are allergic to wheat, have a problem with gluten, are trying to reduce carbs in your diet, or are just looking for a healthier alternative to the typical store-bought bread crumbs, your garden is the place to go.

It was a few years back we looked at making flour from pumpkin flesh. The same can be done with a slew of other veggies, in fact I’m sure you could combine different vegetables to make a very healthy flour.

Note here that if you are going to bake with it, you can only substitute 1/3 of your vegetable flour in the recipe.

But then the same line of thinking led to… what about bread crumbs?

How to fit a head of cauliflower into a canning jar.

How to fit a head of cauliflower into a canning jar.

So the theory was tested by dehydrating an entire head of cauliflower. The result was about 1 3/4 cups of dried vegetable. Pretty potent stuff.

Some of that was then ground up in a good coffee grinder. Tofu was chosen for the experiment since it has pretty much no flavor of its own, a good test to see how strong the cauliflower taste would be.

Tofu slices were dipped first in organic corn meal, then in some beaten egg, then into the cauliflower. Some pieces were baked, some were fried. Just for comparison sake, some were also made with rice flour instead of the cauliflower.

Happy Tofu.

Happy Tofu.

Mandolin was the unknowing taste-tester. Good thing he trusts me!
“Is that cauliflower?” he asked, “It’s good, I like cauliflower.”

The taste was much milder than we expected, and we agreed if it were anything other than tofu you would probably not taste the cauliflower at all.
We both liked it better than the rice flour, as it was crunchier. We also preferred the fried to the baked.

We then served it with a nice orange-ginger sauce, and it was wonderful.

This weekend we’re looking forward to trying it again, when SaveTheWorld is home on fall break; but this time with fried green tomatoes.
Maybe we’ll even try a variety of veggies for the breading, just to see how it tastes.
I’m betting she doesn’t notice the difference at all, though she will be happy to know it is a healthier alternative.

With younger kids, you may want to keep this a secret for a while. :-)

This post is part of a monthly group effort by gardeners around the world to encourage people to grow. Click on the link below to find a variety of posts with that theme.

And always remember-
you can grow that

Categories: drying-roasting, gardening people, places & things, How to Store, organic, preparedness, you can grow that

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