you can grow that

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.
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Forever Food – You Can Grow That!

reseeding parsnip

When most people think of perennial edible plants, they probably think of apple trees and berry bushes, and that’s a great start. Fruit trees will bear for decades, berry bushes and canes give out new growth each year, grapes new vines, and even strawberries reproduce themselves providing younger, more vigorous plants.

But you don’t have to stop there if you want a lifetime of food. Plants such as asparagus and perennial onions never seem to stop coming back, and in fact, produce more. One horseradish root can provide you with more than you probably want. Be careful with these, they can be very invasive! Likewise, sunchokes aka Jerusalem artichokes. Although also invasive these have a bonus feature of producing lovely flowers that smell like chocolate.
Can you imagine?

Many herbs like sage, chives and thyme are perennial, others such as all the mint family including the balms and oregano, as well as dill, will reseed themselves. Our oregano bed is a good 10 years old and still going strong. The joke in this area is ‘Don’t trip carrying a pack of oregano seeds.’ Yep, it is that easy to grow, and that willing to spread.

Then there are the plants that give you something to put back, most in the form of seeds. The easiest example of this would be dry beans. With little effort on your part, you can purchase seeds once and never need to buy more. Forever.

You can save the seeds from many other edibles, just watch for cross pollination. Even then, a surprise once in a while is fun.

And it doesn’t stop there. You can replant some of the potatoes you harvest the following spring. Just be sure to start with a variety that holds well, and use the best of what you grew. Garlic is the same way, except that it gets planted just a few months after harvesting.

Let a few of your sweet potatoes start growing vines or ‘slips’ and you’ll be ready to grow another crop.

There are 3 ways new to us that we are trying this year to grow forever food. The first was to bring in a sweet pepper and an eggplant to see if we can keep them alive until spring and then bring back outside to start producing again.

The second is the parsnip experiment, shown above. We let a few roots go to seed, and the bed is now full of free plants. If they can get big enough to survive the winter, that’s one less thing we’ll need to plant.
If not, well we have a jar full of seeds.

The last was an accident. When harvesting some basil, we found a number of smaller plants that still had their roots on when pulled. They are now happily growing in a jar of water by the window, with no signs of giving up.

So what it comes down to is there is very little we need to buy to have a great harvest each year.

Of course, we still do. We just love trying new varieties.

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!

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.
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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

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