The Ultimate Guide On How To Grow Celery

Last update: April 8, 2020

Celery is one of those Mediterranean vegetables that is both healthy and easy to grow. With an intense crisp flavor that can be easily recognized, celery can be consumed either raw or used for the preparation of juices, soups, stews and much more.

Coming in different varieties and even in different colors, celery is one of the most cultivated vegetables around the world. And since this plant can be grown successfully both indoors and in the garden, more and more people are thinking of growing their own organic celery.

So, either you’re an aspirant gardener in search for valuable advice or someone who simply wants to grow celery in a pot, this guide will teach you how to grow celery step by step.

Celery Varieties

Celery Plant

I know, I know, you’re curious how to grow celery and want to get to that step as quickly as possible. But unless you already did your homework and chose the variety of celery you want to grow (in which case you can just scroll down), I believe I should say a few words about the different varieties of this miraculous plant.

Celery can be grown either for its leaves, for its stalk or for its root, and depending on your purpose you will have to choose the right variety.

From all those three categories mentioned above, only the leaf celery, also called soup celery as its leaves are mainly used for cooking and the preparation of soups is known as an ancient variety. Nevertheless, the high number of heirlooms all types of celery have made us believe that all three types were actually cultivated since ancient times.

Celery can be grown either for its leaves, for its stalk or for its root, and depending on your purpose you will have to choose the right variety.

From all those three categories mentioned above, only the leaf celery, also called soup celery as its leaves are mainly used for cooking and the preparation of soups is known as an ancient variety. Nevertheless, the high number of heirlooms all types of celery have made us believe that all three types were actually cultivated since ancient times.

1. Root celery

Also referred to as celeriac, this type of celery is grown for its delicious root that can be consumed raw or cooked.

Root celery is really easy to grow, although it is more suitable to grow in the garden than in a pot. Depending on the variety, the root can grow to large dimensions, with each celery root weighing about 3 or 4 pounds, or you could opt for a smaller variety if your consumption requirements are reduced.

Something to pay attention to when growing celeriac is precisely the root. You will observe that the root develops partially above the ground and it is advisable to cover the exterior part with soil until harvest. Otherwise, the root can become tough and woody in texture.

Celery can be harvested at any time after you notice the root bump above the ground, but if you want to let it fully ripe, the maturation time is about 100 to 120 days. Don’t let the celery mature for too long, though, as it will harden with time.

If you want to grow small to medium size celeriac, a variety I recommend is Apple-Shaped Celery. This variety has a purple stem and small leaves with the root almost perfectly round, with a smooth surface that grows to the size of a large apple.

Another variety I particularly like is a mini celeriac variety named Tom Thumb Erfurt Turnip Rooted Celery. This root celery plant grows to dwarf dimensions and develops lovely small roots of the size of a walnut. This celeriac is very tender and ideal to be consumed raw.

Other root celery varieties you could consider are:

  • Giant Prague – as the name says, a very large variety of celeriac
  • Brilliant
  • Early Erfurt

2. Stalk celery

As the name suggests, stalk celery is grown for its stalks. There are many stalk celery varieties, divided into self-blanching, green and red celery.

Among the self-blanching, also referred to as yellow, varieties of celery, the easiest to grow and also the most resistant is the Golden Yellow celery heirloom.

The Golden Yellow is characterized by lemon yellow stalks that grow up to 2 feet tall and by yellow leaves that make this celery appreciated for decorative purposes too. The stalks, already pale in color, can be blanched even further by building up soil piles around the stalks to keep them away from the sun. This variety is also very resistant to pests and diseases.

Another variety of self-blanching celery, probably more suitable to be grown in small gardens or indoors, is the Golden Self-Blanching celery. This variety is smaller in size and typically robust and dense. It grows well in damp soil and its green stalks will turn their color to a pale yellowish-white at maturity without any intervention.

Mostly preferred in America, however, is the green celery named Pascal Giant. As the name suggests, this is a large variety of celery that grows to about 2 feet in height. The stalk is almost white and the plant has green leaves.

Popular because of its dimensions and because of its particular butternut flavor, Pascal Giant doesn’t store well as the stalks will lose most of the water quickly. For this reason, it is recommended to grow it as an early autumn crop destined for immediate consumption.

Lastly, there is the red celery variety, characterized not only by its unusual color but also by its intense walnut flavor. Red celery thrives in cool and moist weather and it grows dark burgundy stalks and dark green leaves.

The stalks should be protected from the sunlight with piles of soil built up around them, or they might develop a bitter taste.

When cooked, the red celery stalks maintain their color and look beautiful in fresh salads.

3. Leaf Celery

Leaf celery is usually used for soups, hence the common name soup celery. It can be raised pretty much as a pot herb and develops leaves that are similar to parsley leaves. The taste, however, is intense and nutty.

Leaf celery is a type of wild celery brought under control, although in Europe wild celery can still be harvested in salt marshes in the coastal areas.

You can grow leaf celery almost all year. The plant usually reaches about 2 feet in height and thrives in cooler environments. Typically, about six leaf celery plants are enough for a household and you can increase the yield by pruning the plant regularly.

Some common varieties of leaf celery are:

  • Safir – has a crisp flavor
  • Par Cel – an ancient heirloom variety

The above information should help you decide what type of celery you want to grow. My advice is to choose a variety from each category, in this way, you will be able to make fresh salads with celeriac, fresh juices or stews and roasts with stalk celery or season your soups with celery leaves.

Since the only way to control the use of pesticides and chemicals is growing your own vegetables, let’s see how to grow celery in the garden.

How To Grow Celery In The Garden

Celery has a long growing season and doesn’t do well in extremely cold or extremely heat environments. Growing your own celery will be a challenge that will test your gardening skills, but the satisfaction of harvesting your celery varieties will pay off.

Just as with many other vegetables, you can choose to start with seedlings or from seeds.

Starting Celery Plants From Seeds

Compost

If you decide to start your celery plants from seeds, it is advisable to make them germinate and grow the seedlings indoors, planting the seeds about 8 or 10 weeks before the last announced frost in your area.

To start celery from seeds you will need:

  • Celery seeds of the desired variety
  • Seeding trays or small pots
  • Potting soil

Here is how to do it:

Before planting your seeds, make sure all the trays or pots have drainage holes, then fill 2/3 of the pot with potting soil.

Sow several seeds in each pot or tray to ensure that at least one of them will germinate. If you want to accelerate the germination process, pre-soak the seeds in cold water for about 12 hours.

After sowing the seeds, cover them with about 1 inch of potting soil and water immediately. The soil should be damp but not soaked.

Place the trays or pots in a warm and well-lit room and leave them there until the celery plants germinate. Until germination, the temperature should be constant and between 70 and 75°F.

Your celery should germinate in about 14 days. As soon as you notice the seedlings, move the trays to a cooler location with temperatures between 60 and 70°F.

If more than one seed germinated in a pot, carefully remove the excess seedlings to remain with one celery seedling in each pot.

Also, pay attention to providing sufficient light. If you don’t have enough natural light indoors, use a halogen lamp or a growing lamp.

About two weeks after the last spring frost you can transplant the celery into the garden. The seedlings should be about 4-5 inches tall by now.

Transplanting Celery

Celery should be transplanted in the garden when the outside temperature is constantly above 50°F. As I already mentioned, celery doesn’t really love too cold or two hot environments, therefore you might weaken or even kill your plants if the temperature is below 50°F.

To plant your celery in the garden, choose a sunny spot, ideally one with partial shade but where your plants will still get about six hours of sun daily.

If you live in a particularly warm climate, it is advisable to protect your celery from excessive heat during the hottest hours by providing sufficient shade. For this reason, your celery should be exposed to morning and late afternoon sun.

Terrain Requirements

Celery is a heavy feeder and thrives in moist, highly-nutrient soil. In fact, since celery was originally a wild plant growing in swamp areas, celery plants can deal with high levels of moisture that other vegetables will not tolerate.

That’s good news since you will be able to grow some crops in those moist areas of your garden where nothing else seems to be growing. The only thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid having the terrain flooded, therefore medium-draining soil is a must.

Alternatively, you can plant the celery in a raised bed, above all if you are growing stalk or leaf celery.

Celery thrives in almost neutral soils with a pH between 6 and 6.5, although it could tolerate a pH of 7.0. The soil should be rich in limestone minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. The requirement is logical since the celery originally grew in the coastal Mediterranean areas.

If your soil is missing those elements, you can add calcite or dolomites limestone and work it into your soil at a depth of at least 6 inches. If you need to add limestone to the soil, remember that you should do this about three months before planting the seedlings.

You should also enrich the nutritive properties of the soil by adding organic compost or manure. Ideally, you should add half a cup of compost to each 5-foot row.

Spacing Requirements

Celery plants don’t need excessive space to grow well, but you will have to respect a few minimal requirements if you want to grow healthy plants.

The minimum spacing requirement is 12 inches between each two celery plants with a minimum of 18 inches between the rows.

Appropriate spacing will allow your plants to get enough sunlight and they will not have to compete for nutrients and water either.

In addition, it will also help you keep pests under control. Remember that both snails and slugs like celery and will eat your plants. Having celery spaced regularly will help you spot and remove the pests easier.

Temperature Requirements

As stated above, the minimum tolerated temperature is about 50°F. On the other side, celery doesn’t tolerate well temperatures above 70°F.

In fact, the ideal temperature range for growing celery should be between 55 and 70°F. For this reason, especially if you live in a warm climate, it is advisable to grow celery at the end of summer so it will have enough time to mature until mid-autumn.

In the Mediterranean regions, in fact, celery is considered a late-autumn or winter crop.

Watering Requirements

As already mentioned, celery is a heavy feeder, which means that it will need plenty of water. The lack of constant moisture can alter the flavor of the plants, making them bitter.

For this reason, just as in the case of many other vegetables, you have to make sure that the soil is constantly moist. You should give your plants at least 2 inches of water per week, adjusting the amount based on the climate conditions.

Fertilizing And Mulching Celery

To grow strong and healthy celery plants, you should also fertilize the terrain regularly. You should start using fertilizer from about the third month of growth onwards. Use a balanced fertilizer of 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 and manure tea.

Sprinkler

Sprinkle the fertilizer around each plant, preserving a distance of about four inches between the plants and the fertilizer. One tablespoon of fertilizer per plant should suffice. Cover the fertilizer with soil and water thoroughly.

From this moment on, maintain the nutritive properties of the soil by adding a generous quantity of manure tea each week just before watering the plants.

Manure tea is an organic fertilizer that can be bought from the local nurseries or homemade.

To make manure tea at home you will need:

  • Aged manure, preferably horse, cow or duck manure
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Large cloth bag or a pillowcase
  • Clean spray container

Here is how to do it:

  • Decide the quantity of manure you want to use and fill the bucket with clean water accordingly. The ratio should be 5 parts water to 1 part manure.
  • Put the manure in the cloth bag and secure it with a knot.
  • Put the bag with the manure in the water and secure the edge of the bag to the edge of the bucket, maybe using a clothespin.
  • Cover the bucket with a cloth to keep flies away.
  • Leave the manure sit in water for about a week. By then, the water should have reached a golden brown color and the manure would have transferred its nutrients to it.
  • Remove the bag and dilute the manure tea with clean water until it becomes dark yellow in color.
  • Fill clean spray bottles with manure tea and use it as fertilizer to grow your celery and other vegetables.
  • Alternatively, you can also use manure tea to accelerate the composting process. To do this, simply add manure tea to your compost pile.
  • Don’t use cat, dog or pig manure to make manure tea.

You can also mulch your celery plants if you want to. In fact, mulch helps the soil maintain the water and avoids the growth of the weeds. There are many organic mulches you could use, the best probably being the straw mulch.

However, I find particularly useful the use of black plastic mulch when it comes to growing celery. This type of mulch offer a better control against weeds and pests and also helps the soil maintain a warm temperature, making it possible to plant the celery earlier.

Blanching Celery

If you decide to grow a type of celery that is not self-blanching, you might want to blanch your celery before harvesting.

This operation is usually done two to three weeks before harvesting and it is not essential. However, blanching will prevent your celery to have a bitter taste and it will make it sweeter.

Blanching actually means obstructing the sunlight to reach the stalks. In this way, the chlorophyll will fade away and the stalks will become whiter.

Notice that you will not have to do any blanching if you decided to grow a variety that is self-blanching.

The easiest way to blanch celery is by gently building a pile of soil around the stalks, paying attention to not damage them.

Alternatively, you can use newspaper sheets to block the light. Simply wrap the newspapers around the celery stalks and secure them with tape. Remove the newspapers in the harvesting day, then harvest your celery.

Harvesting And Storing Celery

Celery matures after about 100-120 days and it should be harvested either before the beginning of the hot season or right before the first frost.

Ideally, the lowest celery stalks should be at least 6 inches tall and the tallest ones should reach about two feet. Of course, you should also consult the seed package to see how tall your plants should be at maturity.

In the case of celeriac, you can harvest it at any time after you notice the upper part of the root bumping above the ground level. However, if you want to harvest fully ripe root celery, wait for at least 100 days before harvesting.

Remember that celeriac harvested too mature can have a woody texture, so consider this to determine when is the best time to harvest.

Leaf celery can be harvested as soon as the plant is bushy enough so you can harvest the leaves without damaging the plant.

To harvest stalk celery, simply cut the whole bunch of stalks from just above the soil. Remove the leaves, wrap the stalks in a damp cloth and store them in the refrigerator at temperatures between 32 and 40°F for up to two weeks.

Alternatively, you can freeze the celery stalks either whole or cut into pieces.

The leaves of the celery plants grown for their stalks can still be used to flavor a wide variety of dishes.

To harvest root celery, loosen the soil around each plant with a gardening fork after you have cut away the stalks. Pull out the roots either with your hands or using the fork, paying attention to not damage the celeriac.

Trim off the rootlets and remove the excess dirt, then store the celery roots in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Celeriac doesn’t store well for long periods, therefore it is advisable to leave the roots you don’t need in the ground until consumption if there are no heavy frosts in your area.

How To Grow Celery Indoors

To grow celery indoors, you can start your crops from the seeds in the same way described above. When the seedlings are about one inch tall, it is time to transplant the celery into larger pots where they will continue their growth until harvest.

To transplant the celery, you will need:

  • 8-inch diameter pots
  • High-quality potting soil
  • Compost
  • Organic or plastic mulch

Here is how to do it:

  • Mix the compost with the soil and fill the pots with the mixture.
  • Plant one celery seedling in each pot and add more soil around the plant.
  • Water thoroughly and cover the soil with a layer of mulch. This will help the soil maintain the moist.
  • Place the pots on a sunny windowsill. Your plants should receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Alternatively, invest in growing lamps and give your plants about 12 hours of light per day.
  • Check the humidity level of the soil daily, making sure that it is constantly moist.
  • The growing temperatures apply, so make sure that the temperature in the room where you grow the celery stays constantly above 55°F.
  • If pests such as aphids or spider mites occur, spray the celery with a solution of water and liquid soap instead of using an insecticide.

An alternative way to grow celery indoors is to regrow the plant from an old stalk. 

To do this, you will need:

  • An old celery stalk
  • A saucer
  • Water
  • Potting soil and compost mix
  • 8-inch diameter pot

How to do it:

celery stalk

  • Clean the old celery stalks base and place it in a saucer full of lukewarm water. The side with the cut stalks must face upright.
  • Place the glass on a sunny windowsill and wait. After about one week you will notice that the stalks started to dry out but the small leaves that were in the center of the bunch started growing.
  • At this point, check the pots and make sure all of them have drainage holes.
  • Fill them with the soil and bury the celery stalks completely, leaving on top of the soil only the green leaves that started to grow.
  • Water thoroughly and place the pot on a sunny windowsill. After a few days, you will notice that your new celery plant is starting to grow new stalks and leaves.
  • After a few more weeks, as soon as the celery is bushy enough, you can start harvesting both celery leaves and stalks to use for your recipes.
  • Care for the celery just as described above.

Celery Common Problems And Solutions

My celery tastes bitter and the stalks are tubular. Why?

Celery’s taste is influenced by the growing conditions, above all by the soil’s humidity, or more precisely the lack of it, by the temperature and by the level of nutrients.

A lack of proper watering, a low level of nutrients and cold temperatures can make the celery’s flavor turn bitter.

On the other hand, an improper watering can also cause the stalks to change shape and become tubular. They will still be edible but not as tasty as those of celery grown in ideal conditions.

Celery Common Diseases And Pests

Both outdoors and indoors, celery is subject to a number of pests and diseases. Let’s have a look at the most common and see how to deal with them.

Common diseases

  • Mosaic Virus: usually transmitted by aphids, mosaic virus develops yellow mosaic patches on the leaves, making them crinkled and curly. The plants will die shortly after.
    • How to solve: a good prevention against aphids should keep your celery safe. You should know that weeds can also increase the chances of contracting the disease, therefore it is advisable to mulch well around celery plants. Rotating the crops will also help.
  • Early Blight: this disease causes small yellow spots on the leaves that will eventually transform into circular, gray lesions. 
    • How to solve: to start with, you should be sure that you start the crop from healthy seeds, either by buying certified ones or by soaking the seeds in hot water prior to sowing. Correct watering and fertilization should also help in the management of the early blight, as this will help the plant develop its own defense system. Respecting the spacing requirement and not watering the leaves are further methods that should help prevent early blight without the use of fungicides.If you notice the disease on a plant, it is advisable to remove it and to avoid planting celery in the same spot for about four years.
  • Pink Rot: another common disease caused by a fungus, pink rot causes brown lesions on the petioles and leaves. These lesions transform quickly into soft areas of decay and the nearby tissue turn pink. Eventually, the celery base will collapse. 
    • How to solve: Pink Rot is caused by Sclerotia, a fungus that can survive in the soil for prolonged periods and that can be carried by many weeds and crops. To prevent the disease, you should respect the spacing and watering requirements and avoid watering the leaves. Crop rotation might also, although not necessarily, help. Soil inversion or deep plowing are pretty much useless in the management of the disease.
  • Bacterial Leaf Spot: causes brown spots that are soaked in water on the leaves, which will eventually turn yellow. The disease thrives in lower temperatures. 
    • How to solve: rotating the crops and removing the infected plants are two efficient ways to prevent bacterial leaf spot. You should also avoid watering the leaves, especially in the late stages of development of the crops. Using a soaker hose for irrigation is strongly advised.

Common Pests

  • Celery Leaftier: pale green or yellow caterpillars with a dark green stripe on their back, actually larvae of a moth. They eat the leaves and the stalks but that’s not the only damage. In fact, celery leaftier also build webs on the leaves, tying them together.
    • How to solve: picking the caterpillars by hand is one solution, for this reason, you will need to respect the minimum spacing requirements. You can also remove them from your celery plants by applying pyrethrum two times at a distance of about one hour.
  • Aphids: red, peach, light green or black insects that feed with the plant’s liquids, spreading diseases such as Mosaic virus and leaving a sticky residue on the foliage that will eventually attract ants.
    • How to solve: aphids have numerous natural predators you can introduce to your garden. In fact, ladybugs feed on aphids, therefore introducing them to your garden could be a great solution to keep the pest under control. Alternatively, use a mixture of water and soap and spray it on the plants. This will not only keep aphids away but it will also prevent the formation of spider mites.
  • Cabbage Looper: green worms with striped sides that feed on celery leaves and petioles.
    • How to solve: it is recommended to handpick these larvae. On the other hand, covering your crops with thin fabric covers might prevent insects deposit their eggs on your celery plants.
  • Snails and slugs: they feed on the celery leaves and talks.
    • How to solve: handpicking might be useful, but to keep them away from your plants you have to keep them away from your garden. To do this, hiring some natural predators might help. Some birds and beetles feed on slugs and snails, so it would be a good idea to attract them to your property. Planting a few natural repellents could also help keeping slugs and snails away from your garden.
  • Beet Armyworm: larvae of a brown moth, they feed on leaves and petioles.
    • How to solve: covering the crops to prevent moths from depositing larvae might help. Natural predators, such as parasitic wasps, might also help to keep these worms under control. Lastly, you can handpick them and ensure that your plants are clean.

Final Thoughts

Now, you know how to grow celery both indoors and in the garden. Don’t forget that celery is extremely sensitive to temperature and watering, therefore make sure that the weather is warm enough and that you water frequently enough if you want your plants to grow healthy and strong.

Have you ever grew celery before or is this your first attempt? What type of celery are you planning to grow? Either you have questions or tips and tricks, please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

And if you want a suggestion, go for red celery if you are growing it for the stalks or for Tom Thumb Erfurt Turnip Rooted Celery if you want to harvest tiny, bite-size celery roots to add to your salads or soups.

How To Grow Horseradish In Your Garden

Last update: April 27, 2021

Horseradish, or Armoracia Rusticana on its scientific name, is a leafy green grown for its root rather than its leaves. With a characteristic, pungent aroma, this plant can add a distinctive flavor to many dishes. But how to grow horseradish in your garden?

Fortunately, this plant isn’t picky and it adapts well to many environments. All you need is a good root cutting or horseradish seeds, fertile soil where to plant it, water and some sunshine. As soon as it’s grown, horseradish will be yours forever, delighting your taste buds with its delicious flavor.

Types of Horseradish

Most commercially grown horseradish has Czech origins. The plant is characterized by narrow leaves, which are less than 10 inches wide and a pungent flavor. Older strains of horseradish have larger leaves and are rarely found in nurseries. However, the flavor is more or less the same, and both types adapt well to most environments.

How To Plant Horseradish

Horseradish is usually started from root cuttings, but seeds are also available commercially.

If you’re starting the plant from root cuttings, plating is straightforward and all you have to do is dig a hole and bury the root with the flat end facing up. Plant it at a depth of about 2 inches and water abundantly.

The best time to plant horseradish is at the beginning of spring, a couple of weeks before the last frost.

When it comes to soil requirements, horseradish adapts to a variety of soils but it thrives in fertile, well-drained, pH-neutral soil. The plant prefers clay soils, like those found near rivers; if the soil isn’t humid enough, water regularly.

If starting from seeds, it’s essential to propagate the seeds indoors or in a greenhouse and only transplant horseradish in the garden when the plant developed the fourth set of leaves.

How To Grow Horseradish

how to grow horseradish

Once established in the ground, horseradish is easy to grow and doesn’t require much maintenance or care. The plant needs a full season to develop healthy roots and you might have to wait until next fall to harvest your crops.

Horseradish leaves are not comestible and shouldn’t be fed to people or livestock. However, you can use them for compost. Leave the plant to hibernate in the garden over winter, then start watering it again in spring.

Overwintered horseradish should develop spikes of white flowers in late spring, and you should be able to start harvesting your first horseradish in late fall after the first frosts have damaged the plant leaves.

Due to its weedy nature, horseradish requires only water and organic fertilizer to thrive. However, mulch can help keep weeds away.

How To Harvest Horseradish

After the first fall frosts have damaged the plant’s leaves, you can start harvesting your crops. Like everything else with this plant, the process is simple.

Just use a garden fork to dig the soil around the plant. Gather any broken roots for consumption, and plant a few pieces of root for the next year crop. The harvest can continue throughout the season as long as the soil is not frozen, or early in spring.

How To Propagate Horseradish

Hard to eradicate once established, horseradish propagates itself seamlessly. Roots usually grow several feet from the mother plant and sprout new plants from new root buds. Yet, if you’re concerned about the yield, just plant small pieces of root in the soil after harvest.

We recommend growing horseradish in an enclosed space in the garden or in a container, because the plant is almost impossible to eradicate once widespread.

How To Store And Prepare Horseradish

Horseradish can be stored in a cool and dark place for up to 4 weeks, or chopped and frozen. An alternative is to grate the root and preserve it in vinegar. In this way, horseradish preserves its flavor for several months.

And now that you know how to grow horseradish, go buy some roots and start your crop.

How To Grow Asparagus In Your Garden

Last update: April 27, 2021

Asparagus is one of the tastier veggies, but the plant is not easy to grow. Yet, the effort is rewarded by the satisfaction of harvesting your crops. But how to grow asparagus in your garden? While succeeding in this enterprise requires guts and patience, this guide will show you the basics of growing your first crops.

What Is Asparagus?

Asparagus, called Asparagus Officinalis on its botanist name, is part of the Liliaceae family and is a close relative of garlic, leek, and onion. But unlike its relatives, asparagus is trickier to grow.

First, to obtain a decent yield, you’ll have to cultivate a large portion of the garden with asparagus. Due to being quite cumbersome in terms of space, the crop is not very suitable to grow in small urban gardens. Yet, there have been reported numerous cases of asparagus plants grown in pots or containers, therefore if you really like this veggie, it’s worth trying.

Once established, a plant produces crops for about twenty years, although it takes a couple of years for it to produce the first crops. That’s why the cultivation of asparagus is rather laborious. However, growing asparagus is undoubtedly worth the trouble.

The exceptional organoleptic characteristic and extraordinary nutritional properties combine with the satisfaction of seeing asparagus spears emerging from the soil spring after spring.

How To Grow Asparagus: Climate And Soil

While wild asparagus is a robust plant that thrives in forests and fields in adverse climate conditions, domesticated asparagus is much more delicate. In terms of climate, the plant prefers mild temperatures. It doesn’t like extreme cold or heat, but the plant is still quite resistant and versatile. Enjoying a good exposure to the sun, asparagus plant doesn’t tolerate well air currents and wind.

In terms of space, asparagus needs plenty. A yield sufficient for a family requires several square feet of terrain, but the vegetable thrives in raised beds and boxes too, as long as the container is large enough. A bed of at least 4×4 feet is the least to consider, although most gardeners use 2×8 feet beds.

As for the terrain, asparagus thrives in well-draining soils but doesn’t tolerate well clayey terrains. To improve the quality of the soil, mix your terrain with sand or invest in a good potting soil to fill the raised bed with. Sufficient drainage can also be arranged with drainage channels.

Fertilization is also important. Before propagating your plants, enrich the soil with compost or mature manure. It also helps to soak the asparagus cuttings in manure tea before planting. All these procedures help the plants endure several years of cultivation, improving the yields.

If you’re aiming to grow organic asparagus, I recommend using exclusively homemade fertilizer and compost. Alternatively, organic fertilizers are also available in local nurseries.

Planting The Asparagus

Propagating asparagus is possible from cuttings, the so-called spears, or seeds. Seed cuttings can be obtained from the nurseries but are typically more expensive than seeds. I wouldn’t recommend starting from spears bought from the supermarket because they rarely produce any crops. Propagating cuttings is quicker and easier than propagating seeds, but both methods deliver good results.

If you’ve decided to start from seeds, start your plants indoors in sowing trays. Sow the seeds in late winter to achieve strong seedlings until summer. If you live in an area with a mild climate, it’s even possible to start your asparagus in a greenhouse, after the last winter frost.

Transplant your seedlings in the asparagus bed when the climate is constantly warm, usually in early summer.

To propagate your asparagus plants from cuttings, the first step is to source quality cuttings in nurseries or garden centers. Cuttings can be planted directly in the raised bed in early spring, after the last winter frost.

To plant your cuttings, dig 12-inch wide and 6-inch deep trenches and place the cuttings at distances of about a foot and a half apart, after soaking them in manure tea for about 20 minutes. Top with two or three inches of soil and leave them like this for about two weeks. After two weeks, add another 3 inches of soil and wait for the first seedlings to emerge. In all this time, provide sufficient water to stimulate rooting.

Growing Cycle Of Asparagus Plants

Asparagus plants have a slow-growing cycle and won’t yield in the first year. The guide below refers to growing asparagus in the Northern hemisphere in an area with a temperate climate, but the plan is easy to adjust according to the climate in your area.

First Year

Whether you’re starting from seeds or cuttings, sow the asparagus in early spring. Like mentioned above, propagate the seeds indoors or in a greenhouse, or sow the cuttings directly in the raised bed. If you started from seeds, transplant the seedlings in June.

From early summer until late fall, carry on with the normal cultivation operations that include weeding and watering. Domesticated asparagus doesn’t compete well with grass and weeds, so it’s essential to keep them under control. The first asparagus spears will emerge towards the end of summer, but you can’t harvest them just yet.

The plant has to grow and bloom in the first year, so just watch your delicious asparagus develop. In late fall but before the first winter frost, cut off the yellowed stems and spread a 3-inch thick layer of manure or compost over all plants. This will protect the plants and the roots from frost, in addition to providing nourishment.

Second Year

The second year requires constant maintenance of the crops. Constant weeding and sufficient watering should be provided throughout the whole growing season, from early spring to late fall.

In early summer, it’s possible to harvest your first asparagus spear, but keep harvesting to a minimum as the plants are still young. Only cut the spears that exceed 5 inches in height, leaving the thinner spears to develop.

In late fall, follow the same procedure of the first year. Cut off all aerial parts and place a generous layer of compost over the rows, to prepare for the winter.

Third Year Onwards

By the third year, your asparagus plants are mature enough to withstand harvesting. Start your growing cycle as usual, in early spring, with the regular weeding and irrigation operations.

Harvest the asparagus spears throughout the spring, then carry on with the maintenance throughout the summer and fall. In late fall, cut off all yellowed spears and lay compost over the rows.

From now on, the procedure is the same year after year. Asparagus is a multi-year plant and, although it takes about two years to get into production, will yield for the next 15-20 years.

How To Grow Asparagus: Maintenance And Harvest

Domesticated asparagus can’t compete with weeds and grass; for this reason, it is recommended to practice a thorough weed control throughout all growing seasons. Mulching can certainly help reduce the proliferation of weeds and grass, but it’s essential to keep the beds under control at all times.

As far as irrigation is concerned, asparagus needs a lot of water in the first two years. A drip irrigation system adapted to the size of your bed is probably the best solution to consider. Even is the water requirements drop after the first two years, a drip system can still provide just the right amount of water as needed.

Harvest asparagus spears between April and June by cutting the spears at a distance of two-three inches from the ground. It is recommended to harvest only those spears which are taller than six inches. All asparagus grown in a garden is green, but if you want to obtain white asparagus, cover the spears with soil as they grow, to maintain them softer and white.

However, since the operation for obtaining white asparagus is laborious, most gardeners and homeowners simply decide to grow green asparagus.

Asparagus Diseases And Parasites

Rhizoctonia Violacea

This is one of the most frequent fungal diseases that attack asparagus plants. The fungus infects the base of the plant and the subterranean parts, damaging the roots and rhizomes. When the disease advances, its signs are observed at the base of the spears.

Like many fungal diseases, Rhizoctonia violacea is characterized by a reddish veil, and the infected plants are hard, if not impossible, to cure.

The risk of disease increases if the asparagus is cultivated in place of root crops including potatoes, celery, turnips, or carrots. Constant weeding is the only measure of prevention, as infected weeds can easily spread the fungus to the asparagus.

Fusarium moniliforme

Fusarium is another fungus that can attack the roots and rhizome of asparagus. It manifests with yellowing and wilting of the plant, or with radical rot. The development of this fungus is favored by the stagnation of water, and in particular by damp soils and warm temperatures.

If growing organic asparagus, it is recommended to invest in a good drainage system and only grow asparagus in raised beds.

Puccinia Asparagi

Responsible for asparagus rust, this disease affects the aerial parts of the plant and manifests with the formation of yellowish or reddish spots that can cause the drying of the affected parts. Like fusarium, the fungus thrives in warm and humid climates but if identified immediately, it is possible to remove the affected parts and save the plant.

Onion Fly

Being a relative of the onion, asparagus is subject to the onion fly that can damage and eventually kill the plants. This insect is eradicated by Bacillus thuringiensis.

Aphids

Aphids are parasites that affect numerous vegetables, including asparagus. They cause underdevelopment of the plant, drying, and eventually kill the plant. In organic gardening, it’s easy to get rid of aphids by attracting useful insects to your garden, such as ladybugs.

Asparagus Crop Association And Rotation

Because asparagus is a multi-year crop, it is recommended to grow it alone in a raised bed. In the first two years, it is possible to associate asparagus with leafy greens and cucurbits. Carrots repel the onion fly, but they could be a cause of fungal infection.

To avoid fungal diseases, avoid planting asparagus in the place of potatoes or other root vegetables.

Bottom Line

These are the basics of how to grow asparagus. The plant is more demanding than other crops. You won’t see any harvest in the first two years and will have to carry on constant maintenance work. Yet, growing asparagus pays off.

This plant has countless health benefits and a delicious flavor that is unparalleled by other vegetables. It can be cooked in multiple ways, and preserving asparagus for a long time is possible, as long as you freeze it.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most rewarding crops to consider. So, if you want to give it a try, just invest in a good raised bed and rich potting soil. Happy gardening!

How To Grow Truffles In Your Own Back Garden

Last update: January 29, 2021

Extravagant, rare and revered by food lovers around the world, truffles are a pungent fungus that grows at the roots of beech, hazel, and other forest trees. So, how to grow truffles in your own back garden? And why should you?

For centuries, truffles have been a food of the rich. A sort of caviar of the ground. With prices ranging from a few tens to a few hundred of dollars per ounce, these fungi are seen as a prelibation. But thanks to dedicated farmers, almost all homeowners can – or at least can try to – grow truffles in their own back garden, either for personal consumption or for business. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it!

Understanding Truffles

A truffle is a special type of fungus that grows underground. Sensitive to the environmental conditions, this fungus grow in nature only in certain areas of the world, mainly in Southern Europe. Italy and France are two of the most famous countries for their truffle production, with some varieties selling at thousands of dollars per pound.

Such a rare delicacy is the White Truffle of Alba, for example, growing in Piedmont region in Italy.

Truffles are of two types, black and white. The black variety has a more delicate flavor and is less expensive than its white counterpart; nevertheless, it can exalt the flavor of a dish in a similar way. Both varieties like alkaline terrains and they both grow at the roots of forest trees such as beech, birch, hazels, oak, and pines, to name just a few.

The fungi develop a relationship with the roots of the trees, which means that without trees, there are no truffles. And that’s an important thing to consider if you want to grow them into your own back garden.

Another thing to know about truffles is that they like all seasons. The fungi need both warm and cold weather to thrive, therefore you are most likely to grow them in a temperate region. In other words, you might get no truffles if you live in California, but the climate of Oregon and Washington are ideal for their development.

Lastly, truffles need a lot of time to grow. It might take up to 5 years to see the results, so arm yourself with patience before planting your first truffle tree.

How To Grow Truffles

Source A Truffle Tree

If you’ve decided to grow truffles, the first thing to do is to buy a truffle tree. This is essential because by simply planting birch or hazels into your back garden truffles might never grow. But what is a truffle tree and where to find it?

A truffle tree is a tree inoculated with truffle spores. There are dedicated nurseries where you can find them, but our advice is to source the tree from a reputable grower.

Prepare The Soil

Truffles thrive in alkaline and well-draining soil, but they might never grow in another type of soil. These fungi require a soil pH around 7.5 and 8.3, so make sure to test the soil and determine its pH before planting the trees.

If the pH is lower you can still grow truffles, provided you raise the pH by adding lime every year for at least three or four years. The good news is that you can still plant the inoculated trees and let them grow until you achieve the right soil pH.

Plan A Irrigation System

This step is important if you want to plant an orchard; if you just want to grow one tree in your back garden an irrigation system might be unnecessary.

In broad terms, a tree needs about 1 inch of water per week. Therefore, depending on how many trees you want to plant you can plan an irrigation system or not.

Plant And Grow The Tree

Once established all the things above, it’s time to plant and grow your tree. This is a simple and straightforward process. Dig a hole, plant the tree, cover the hole, water.

Growing the tree is a different story though. To grow, truffles develop a complex relationship between the tree, the soil, and themselves. The symbiosis process between tree and truffles is simple, in the way that truffles provide the tree with nutrients and the tree provides the truffle with other nutrients. But these nutrients provided by the tree are beloved by many other plants, including grass and weeds.

Like it’s easy to imagine, both grass and weeds grow faster than truffles, and they simply consume all the nutrients the fungus needs. That’s why it is essential to maintain the area around the tree free of any grass and weeds.

For the first three or four years, it will be necessary to hoe the weeds. After this time, mowing or removing them with a weed eater could do the job.

To keep vegetation under control, apply generous amounts of mulch around your tree. Make sure you water regularly and that your tree gets at least 1 inch of water per week. Add lime to the soil each year to maintain the pH. And most importantly, arm yourself with patience for the years to come.

Look For Growing Signs

You’ve planted and grown your truffle tree. About three years have passed and you’re now wondering whether you have truffles or not. But how to know? Look for the signs.

The signs are easy to see because when truffles start to grow, they release a natural herbicide that kills grass and weeds. If you notice that no vegetation is growing around the trees and you don’t have to use the weed eater anymore, that’s  a sign that truffles might be developing.

Moss or puffballs growing on the tree might also be an indication that truffles are growing.

Noticing the signs doesn’t mean your truffles are ripe and ready to harvest. From this moment on, you’ll still have to wait for about a couple of years.

Harvest The Truffles

After about five years since planting your truffle tree, you might be able to enjoy the results. Dig at the base of the tree, identify your fungi and enjoy their unique flavor.

How To Harvest Truffles

truffles

Harvesting truffles is not easy, especially if you have more than one tree. Since they grow underground, it’s hard to determine where they are, whether they are ripe or not, and if they’ve developed at all. The best thing to do for harvesting is to train a truffle dog.

These dogs are trained to sniff truffles, showing you the exact point where they are. This is particularly useful if you’ve planted an orchard of truffle trees. Otherwise, just dig at the base of the tree and inspect the roots.

If you notice the truffles, just pull them out to enjoy them.

The best period to harvest truffles is the beginning of winter when the temperatures are low but the ground isn’t frozen.

How To Store Truffles

Truffles have a short shelf life and experts advise to consume them shortly after the harvest, to enjoy their full aromas and flavors. However, it is possible to store the truffles for up to two weeks, in the fridge, or up to 1 year in the freezer. Here’s how.

To preserve the truffle in the fridge, wash the fungus and dry it thoroughly. Wrap it in paper towels and place it on the lower shelf. Change the paper towels every day, or your truffle might rot. Consume it in 5 to 7 days if it’s a white truffle and in no more than two weeks if it’s a black truffle.

In the freezer, you can either store whole or sliced truffle. In either case, make sure the fungus is completely dry to avoid the formation of ice around it. Place the truffle, whole, sliced, or shredded, into a freezer bag and store it up to a year. Once defrost, consume the fungus immediately.

If you want to extend the shelf life up to a few months without freezing the truffle, preserve it in oil. This method is extremely popular in Italy, where housewives prepare a famous truffle oil. The method is simple. Just slice the truffle into thin slices, place them in a glass jar, and fill with olive or sunflower seeds oil. The truffle oil can add flavor to your dishes and you’ll be able to use pieces of truffles for at least a few months.

Alternatively, you can preserve the whole truffle in the same way, yet it will be more difficult to slice or shred it before consumption.

Final Thoughts

Growing truffle is an uncomplicated yet lengthy process. The two most important things are the tree and the soil. Other than that, truffles require little attention, as long as you provide sufficient water and keep the terrain free of grass and weeds.

Of course, truffles won’t grow everywhere. But since a truffle tree is not excessively expensive, we’d say you could give it a try. Just get a good tree from a reputable source, arm yourself with patience, and start growing your own savories.

Also Read: Dwarf Ixora

37 Creative Plant Labels To Use In Your Garden

Last update: April 27, 2021

For most gardeners, growing vegetables goes beyond seeding, watering, and caring for the plants. The aesthetics of the garden is just as important as the health of your veggies.

To make your vegetable garden or flower beds stand out, you can use creative plant labels.

Have a look at these 37 creative plant labels to use in your garden.

1. Chalkboard Paint Plant Labels

Chalkboard paint is awesome, and you can use it to create original plant labels. You can choose to paint more or less anything you want to create the labels. For example, you can paint stir sticks, pebbles, or even pots and containers if you have an indoor vegetable garden.

Once the paint dried, use white or colored chalk to write down the name of each plant.

2. Painted Rocks Garden Labels

Chalkboard paint is not the only type of paint to use. You can paint river rocks or pebbles and decorate them either with the image of the vegetable or write down the name of each plant. Just make sure to use water-resistant paint.

Either way, you can still create beautiful artworks that will bring joy to your outdoor space.

3. Wood Signs Plant Labels

Wood signs are ideal to make original plant labels. You can either recycle old furniture or buy new planks from a carpentry shop. The ideas are endless. You can either paint the whole sign in a solid color and write the name of the vegetable or paint the image of the vegetable to avoid writing the name.

For a long-lasting result, it is recommended to coat the labels with waterproof varnish.

4. Wooden Spoons Labels

Instead of making wood signs, you can use wooden tablespoons to create an original garden marker. Paint the spoons in the desired colors and decorate them to your liking.

Don’t forget to apply a layer of the waterproof coating before using them in the garden.

5. Wine Cork Plant Labels

Are you a wine lover? Then why don’t you use old wine corks to label your plants? You’ll only need sufficient corks and wooden skewers.

With a black waterproof marker, write the name of each plant on the cork. Fix the cork on top of the skewer and your cork plant label is ready to use.

6. Arts & Crafts Plant Labels

Arts & Crafts Plant Labels

Talented at arts and crafts? Use thin wooden board and wooden skewers to create the vegetable labels of your dreams. First, draw the shape of each vegetable on a piece of paper, the cut it. Use the model to cut vegetables out of the wooden board.

Paint each veggie in the desired colors, glue it on a skewer and use it to decorate your garden.

7. Scrabble Plant Labels

Scrabble tiles are great to create plant labels. Use the letters to write the words and glue the tiles either to skewers or to popsicle sticks.

Place each label next to its corresponding plant and that’s it! Your guests will be able to identify each plant.

8. DIY Aluminum Garden Labels

With an aluminum sheet, a screwdriver and a few bamboo sticks, you can make stylish garden labels. Cut the aluminum sheet into rectangular pieces and use the screwdriver to write the name of your veggies on each piece of aluminum. Glue the labels to bamboo sticks and the garden markers are ready to use.

Aluminum labels will have sharp edges, so they are not suitable if you have young children or curious pets.

9. Letter Beads Plant Labels

Talking about kids, they can help you make the plant labels. If you want to spend some fun and educative time with your children, ask them to help you make labels out of letter beads. Instead of thread or wire, you a bamboo stick or wooden skewer to display them.

10. Metal Spoons Garden Labels

In case you liked the aluminum labels idea described above but are looking for a more child-friendly solution, use old metal spoons for the labels. Engrave the name of the vegetables with a screwdriver or nail. Alternatively, you can even paint the spoons to create original decorative markers.

11. Terracotta Garden Labels

Why throw away broken terracotta pots when you can simply transform them into original garden labels? Use the broken pieces of the pots as they are. Paint the name of the vegetables on them and simply lay them on the garden, next to the row of plants.

You can also paint various motifs and decorations on each piece, to enhance the decorative effect of these labels.

12. Seed Packet Plant Labels

What better way to label the vegetables if not with the seeds packet? Fix each packet on a twig and cover it with a mason jar. This will prevent rain or water from ruining the packet.

13. Tin Lids Garden Labels

Tin lids can make adorable garden labels which can be hung on the plants. You can use tin lids of any shape and size, decorated or in solid colors. With a water-resistant marker, write the name of the plant on the solid color side of the lid.

Make a hole in each lid with a screwdriver and attach a rope. Hang each label on the right plant to identify your veggies.

14. Printed Garden Labels

Printed Garden Labels

Printed garden labels are among the simplest to make. Create the pattern you like, write the name of each plant using the desired font, and print the labels. Stick each label on a wooden tag and place it in the garden.

You can still use your creativity in designing the pattern and model of the labels.

15. Ceramic Tiles Plant Labels

Ceramic tile labels are the perfect choice for a rustic garden. You can either buy the labels at an arts and crafts shop or make them yourself using undecorated tiles.

Either bought or made by yourself, ceramic tiles are ideal if you wish to give a Mediterranean touch to your garden.

16. Popsicle Stick Plant Labels

Popsicle sticks can also make creative plant labels. You can use watercolors, paint, or markers to write the name of each vegetable on a stick and draw any decorations you like.

These plant labels are ideal to use in a square foot garden or if you grow your vegetables in pots.

17. Wooden Peg Plant Labels

In a rustic environment, wooden peg garden markers can make a true statement of creativity. Again, you can use any colors you like to paint the pegs and write the name of the plants.

If the pegs are small, use them to label your potted plants instead of the vegetable garden.

18. Plastic Cutlery Plant Labels

If you want to reduce waste and make environmentally-friendly plant labels, recycle your plastic cutlery and make garden markers out of it.

If you want to label all your plants and make a clear distinction between the areas you could use, for example, the spoons to make labels for the vegetable garden, the knives to label the plants in your pots, and the forks for the flower beds.

19. Seashells Garden Labels

Loving the seaside? Use seashells to make garden labels. You can use any type of seashells regardless of their size and shape. Write the name of each plant on the shells with a waterproof marker and that’s it.

If you don’t have access to a beach, you can buy seashells from a home décor shop.

20. Twig Plant Labels

Twigs are more versatile than you thought. You can use them not only to make plant labels but also to make other decorative objects for your garden. To combine function and beauty, you could make, for example, garden gnome labels out of twigs.

21. Painted Bricks Garden Labels

Making garden labels out of painted bricks is as easy as pie. All you need is bricks, paint, and a thin brush. Choose either white or black paint and write on each brick the name of a plant. Let them dry and place them in your garden.

22. Pearl Beads Plant Labels

Now, this is a tricky one. You’ll certainly need some artistic skills and time to make these labels but trust me, it’s worth it.

Cut the shape of each vegetable on hard cardboard. Glue colored pearl beads according to the shape to give color and life to the labels. For example, use red and green beads to make a strawberry or purple and green for an eggplant.

23. Fly Swatter Garden Labels

Fly swatters can be used for much more than swatter flies. To make plant labels, simply write on each fly swatter the name of a plant and position the label in the right spot in your garden. For the best effect, choose round or flower-shaped fly swatters.

24. Molded Clay Plant Labels

Kids love molded clay but adults can also use it for creative purposes. Such as making plant labels. Use the required letters and a mold to make the labels out of clay, then display them to beautify your garden.

This type of labels will let you play with shapes and colors, creating original markers to your taste.

25. Wood Burned Spoons Garden Labels

If you have any wood engraving skills and a beautiful handwriting, use a burner to engrave the name of your plants on wooden spoons. These labels are perfect to display in a cottage or country house garden.

26. Glass Marble Plant Labels

These labels are perfect for all gardens and are even easy to make. All you need is twigs, cute images of veggies printed on white paper, and glass marbles. Glue the pieces of paper to the glass marbles, with the pattern facing the marble. When the adhesive dried out, glue the marbles to the twigs.

Use the labels to beautify your garden, flower beds, or flower pots.

27. Bottle Cap Garden Labels

Soda caps can be transformed into garden labels with some glue, paint, and skewers. Glue a few caps together either in a rectangular or round shape. Paint them with your favorite color and write the name of each plant on a label.

Glue the label to a skewer and stick it in the ground to decorate your vegetable garden.

28. Pop Can Garden Labels

Pop cans can also be cut, flatten, then transformed into garden labels. The process is similar to the one described above, but remember to avoid making these labels if you have young kids or curious pets.

29. Wine Bottle Plant Labels

Apart from the wine bottle caps, the wine bottles can be recycled and used as garden labels. Once you’ve finished the wine, remove the label, turn the bottle upside down, and write the name of the plant.

Stick the bottle’s neck in the ground and your wine bottle plant label is ready to use.

30. Painted Canning Lids Plant Labels

If you’re looking for an original type of plant labels, make them out of canning lids. Can lids have the advantage of being easy to paint, resistant to rust, and large enough to hold the name of a plant and its image?

To display them, stick them in the ground or hang them on the plants.

31. Painted Wooden Blocks Garden Labels

Painted wooden blocks garden labels are easy to find in arts and crafts shops or you can make them yourself from undecorated wooden blocks. Regardless of your choice, they are a perfect match either in a rustic or in a modern garden.

32. Bamboo Stick Plant Labels

Adhesive Aluminum Garden

Bamboo sticks can be used either as supports for the labels or to engrave the name of the plants directly onto the sticks.

Ideal to use in a Japanese-themed garden or in a raised bed.

33. T-Shaped Plant Labels

Cheap t-shaped plastic labels can be transformed into works of art with just a little paint or colored markers. These labels are ideal to use indoors, for plants grown in pots.

34. Adhesive Aluminum Garden Labels

Adhesive aluminum garden labels are usually engraved with the name of the plants. To display the labels, you can stick the adhesive aluminum on a twig or skewer.

35. Wine Caps Plant Labels

Not only the corks but also the screw caps of the wine bottles can make original garden labels. Gather the number of caps you need and, using a cutter and a hammer, open and flatten them to obtain rectangular labels.

Cut to holes on each label and fix it on a skewer, then write the name of each plant on a label, using a marker in a contrasting color.

36. Keyboard Keys Plant Labels

If you have a few old PC keyboards, use their keys to create original plant labels. You can either arrange the keys on the ground or glue them to a skewer.

37. Poured Concrete Garden Labels

Last but not least, molded concrete plant labels are ideal to use in a classical or romantic garden. Use poured concrete letters to write the name of the plants directly on the ground. To give an aged effect to the decorations, grow some moss graffiti on each letter.

How To Make Your Vegetable Garden Fertilizer

Last update: April 26, 2020

When I first started gardening, I thought that using industrial fertilizer might be the best thing for my plants. I didn’t think about the various chemicals used in the vegetable garden fertilizer making.

It also didn’t cross my mind that I could transform household trash into important nutrients for my veggies. However, after years of study and vegetable gardening experience, I can say that making your own vegetable garden fertilizer at home is not only a good idea but a money-saving solution for growing organic crops.

Homemade fertilizer can be solid or liquid. They have different uses and in most cases, it is advisable to make both. Read on to find out how!

How To Make Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer

Organic fertilizer, also known as compost, is one of the most popular and easy to make vegetable garden fertilizers. It has numerous benefits and all plants can get from it various nutritive substances. On the market, there are various types of organic fertilizer, yet it is really easy to make it with household trash, leftovers and animal mess.

Organic fertilizer is essentially a compound made of organic substances, such as fruit skins, animals mess or blood, bones, seeds, and mulch, to name just a few. In nature, microorganisms consume these materials and the digestion process releases inorganic substances such as potassium, nitrogen, or phosphorus, minerals necessary for the healthy development of the vegetables.

Depending on the organic elements used to make it, this type of fertilizer can have various visual characteristics. However, as a general rule, it has a dark color and an aspect similar to the soil. In many ways, organic fertilizer resembles the potting soil bought from the nursery and has a particular smell of dry leaves.

The fertilizer is also porous and rich in nutrients. In many cases, it is enough to use organic fertilizer in the vegetable garden, without adding any type of industrial fertilizer to the soil.

gardening fertilizer

Benefits Of The Organic Fertilizer

As it is easy to imagine, the main benefit is the supply of nutrients to plants. Depending on the raw material used to make it, the fertilizer will have a variable composition; nevertheless, in most cases, it is suitable for all types of plants.

In many ways, organic fertilizer is similar to manure, yet many gardeners consider it a better option.

Organic fertilizer has numerous other benefits. One of the most important is the production ease. In fact, to make organic fertilizer you’ll only need kitchen refuse and other organic trash including cardboard and paper.

Another great advantage of making organic vegetable garden fertilizer is the total control on its composition. You will know exactly what you’ve put into it and will be able to make an estimate of what you’ll obtain.

For example, if your plants need more potassium, you can use a greater amount of wood ash when making the compound.

The use of organic fertilizer is also good for the soil. In fact, its action will not alter significantly the properties of the soil but it will improve it for a limited time. Unlike the chemical fertilizers, the substances present in the homemade organic fertilizer are released gradually and will not overwhelm your veggies.

The last advantage of making organic fertilizer is the economic aspect. You will be able to save important amounts by simply transforming your trash into nutrient fertilizer for your plants.

How To Make Organic Fertilizer

gardening fertilizer

When I first made organic fertilizer I was surprised by how easy it can be made. You can use numerous types of waste, preferably vegetal in nature, but also some elements coming from animals such as meat, blood, feathers, and more.

According to the provenience of the raw materials, we can classify the “ingredients” of the organic fertilizer as kitchen waste and garden waste.

You can use kitchen waste such as:

  • checkRotten fruits
  • checkFruit skins
  • checkEgg shells
  • checkCoffee grounds
  • checkFruit shells
  • checkFruit stones
  • checkCooked vegetable or fruits
  • checkPure cellulose paper towels

Garden waste is also an exceptional source for organic fertilizer production, and you can use:

  • checkPruning residues
  • checkDry branches
  • checkGrass clippings
  • checkSawdust
  • checkWood ash
  • checkDry leaves
  • checkMulch
  • checkDried flowers
  • checkDried or rotten vegetables

All these organic elements decompose and create phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. However, depending on what elements prevail, your fertilizer will have different mineral concentrations and also different micro elements.

When making organic fertilizer it is important to avoid using a nondegradable material such as plastic, wraps, tires, or anything else that might compromise the quality of your final product. Although organic in nature, it is advisable to avo-id the use of diapers, baby wipes, and other similar household waste.

Meat, blood, bones, feathers, and animal fur can be added to organic fertilizer, although I strongly suggest to avoid it. Although all these elements are a source of nutrients, the decomposition of these elements is less hygienic and may pose various health risks.

To transform all this waste in organic fertilizer you need to simply gather it in a plastic or wooden box, usually called composter. In essence, you can use any type of container paying attention to choosing a container with a lid. The smell of decomposing vegetables is not exactly a perfume.

I’d suggest placing the container in a remote corner of your garden and before adding waste to it, fill it with a thin layer of garden soil. If you don’t know what nutrients your plants need, use balanced proportions of all the elements listed above.

Made in this way, your fertilizer will be ready to use after about six months. If you keep adding new waste to the container on a regular basis, try to use the fertilizer from the bottom of the container first, as this will give new waste enough time to transform into fertilizer.

How To Use Organic Vegetable Garden Fertilizer

Organic fertilizer can be distributed on all plants. Moreover, it can be used either in your garden or to fertilize potted plants.

To use it, sprinkle a generous layer of fertilizer directly on the soil, around the plants. Water will transfer the nutrients from the fertilizer to the ground and they will eventually reach the roots of your veggies.

How To Make Liquid Vegetable Garden Fertilizer

A liquid fertilizer worthy of this name must contain at least three essential elements, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. All vegetables need these nutrients in various concentrations, as well as several other elements that are known as micronutrients.

However, you should still remember that each plant has different nutritional needs and these needs can change dramatically during the different phases of their growth, such as blossoming and when growing fruits.

Let’s have a brief look at the role of each macronutrient.

  • checkNitrogen favors the development of the stems, leaves, and branches. A lack of nitrogen results in stunted growth and other various vegetal malnutrition symptoms easily identifiable by expert gardeners. However, an excess of nitrogen also has a negative impact on the development of the plant. In fact, too much nitrogen delays blossoming and lower the yield.
  • checkPhosphorus is an element that is never found in its pure form in nature. In fact, phosphorus combines easily with oxygen and it forms the phosphorus anhydride, an element with a vital role in fruit formation and also in the development of the tissues of the plant. Its deficiency leads to stunted fruit production and overall depreciation of the plant.
  • checkPotassium favors the absorption of the other elements and micronutrients, and its deficiency has negative effects on the foliage, with consequences on the overall health of the plant.

Benefits Of The Liquid Fertilizer

To understand the benefits of the liquid fertilizers, we must first understand how they are different compared to the solid ones.

Solid fertilizers have various natures. We can talk about compost, organic fertilizer made with vegetable waste, animal litter, ox blood, bird mess, and even industrial granular fertilizer.

All these fertilizers have a common characteristic, namely, they have a high content of organic matter and most of this matter produces vegetable macro nutrients that are specific for certain deficiencies. Their main feature, besides providing useful nutrients to the plants, is that they can become a good soil modifier, depending on their composition.

For example, most types of solid fertilizers can be used to lighten a very compact soil, at least at a superficial level. Their presence can also promote the development of certain microorganisms that can eventually enrich the nutritional characteristics of your garden’s soil.

However, their effectiveness is not always immediate and, depending on their structural composition, moisture level and fermentation degree that occurs within solid matter, nutrients may be more or less available for absorption.

In essence, if we apply a certain quantity of manure or generic compost to the ground, the nutrients will be absorbed gradually and will reach the roots of the plants after a certain amount of time. This time varies according to the parameters reminded above.

As such, solid fertilizer can be a good solution in many cases, but it is never an immediate solution. As I highlighted above, the deficiencies of macro nutrients have immediate effects on the plants and in most cases, gardeners are looking for immediate solutions to fix these situations.

And here comes into the scene the liquid fertilizer.

The liquid fertilizer, thanks to its composition, has a great advantage over all solid types. It contains all the nutrients in a dissolved form that is ready for immediate absorption by the plant. Without a doubt, this is a huge advantage and often, especially when the plants present the symptoms of nutritional deficiency, liquid fertilizer is seen as a sort of treatment.

In fact, nutritional deficiencies usually lead to a quick depletion of the plant and the application of liquid fertilizer to the soil or directly on the foliage can favor a rapid recovery, a recovery that wouldn’t be possible with the use of solid fertilizer.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that liquid fertilizer is some sort of magic potion ready to fix all the problems of your plants. In all cases, it is necessary to evaluate carefully the pathologies of your plants, as many symptoms induced by various types of parasites, bacteria, viruses, and insects are similar to the ones produced by nutritional deficiencies.

The use of liquid fertilizers is not limited to this purpose, in fact, they can be administered in a targeted manner. This means that it is possible to make a solution composed only of certain elements and that can be used as nutrient only for certain type of plants.

Another huge benefit of the liquid fertilizer over the solid type is the fact that it can be applied directly to the ground. The fertilizer will penetrate the soil with ease and there is no need to make anything to facilitate its absorption. The liquid rich in nutrients will flow to the roots of the plants and it will be immediately available.

If all these benefits convinced you, let’s see how to make your own liquid fertilizer at home.

How To Make Liquid Fertilizer

In many ways, liquid fertilizer is easier to make compared to the organic fertilizer. Moreover, you can decide its composition by simply selecting a certain type of materials over the others.

You can use a wide range of waste or vegetal materials to make liquid fertilizer. Here are a few materials you can use:

  • checkFruit skin and stones;
  • checkRotten fruits;
  • checkRotten vegetables;
  • checkExpired wheat flour;
  • checkStale bread;
  • checkCoffee grounds;
  • checkVegetable skins.

These items are easy to find in any kitchen and they are the base of the macerate. To make liquid fertilizer, the first step is to shred and crush these materials as much as possible. In this way, once immersed in water, they will release nutrients with more ease.

The simplest way to shred this type of waste is with the help of a blender. Alternatively, you can buy a compost shredder. This tool allows shredding much more than kitchen waste and you can use it to add small branches, mulch, straws and other solid elements to your mixture.

Besides the kitchen waste, another great material to use for the liquid fertilizer is cow or horse manure. Manure is rich in urea and is a great source of nitrogen, an element all plants need. Alternatively, you can use compost or organic fertilizer for the macerate, and transform these types of solid fertilizers into liquid.

Once you’ve put together all the materials, it is time to add water. The ratio between the solid matter and water should be 1:10, which means that you should use 10 liters of water for each kilogram of solid matter. Next, you’ll have to stabilize the pH of the solution, by adding one or two tablespoons of baking soda.

Seal the barrel or bucket with a cover and leave it to macerate for one or two weeks. After this period, filter the coarse substance into a clean bucket using a fine mesh.

Alternatively, you can use a cotton bag and gather all solid matter in it, before adding the water for the macerate. In this way, when the liquid fertilizer is ready, you will only have to remove the bag of solid matter and keep the clean liquid.

At this stage you can pour the fertilizer into a sprinkler or watering can and use it either for potted plants or in the garden.

Regarding the solid matter removed from the liquid fertilizer, you can use it to make organic fertilizer. In fact, this macerated matter is a great nutrient for the micro fauna responsible to transform solid waste into compost.

Final Thoughts

Either you’re fond of the solid organic fertilizer or an adept of the liquid type, you can now make both by simply reusing kitchen and garden waste.

Of course, there are numerous ready-to-use solutions available on the market. In many cases, these solutions are more convenient. Yet, nothing compares to making your own, one hundred percent home-made vegetable garden fertilizer.

If you’re a true gardener, you have to give it a try!

What Is Compost? The Gardener’s Guide

Last update: April 15, 2020

You might notice that in many gardening guides compost is recommended as an alternative to animal origin fertilizer.

Good for the plants and easy to make, compost is one of those elements you would want to use to grow strong and healthy veggies. But if you’re new to gardening, what is compost might be one of your most frequently asked questions.

So, let’s see what is compost, how to make it and why you should use it.

What Is Compost

Compost is a blend of natural substances, the result of the controlled composting process, used as fertilizer or manure in agriculture. To understand what compost is we must first understand composting.

Composting is the equivalent of the natural process of decomposition through which nature decomposes the organic matter that is no longer useful. In nature, the decayed organic matter such as rot fruits, dead leaves, dead animals and animal feces are decomposed by insects and microorganisms present in the soil to humus, carbon dioxide, water, and minerals.

If you have doubts about the humus, no, we didn’t misspell the name of that delicious dish, we actually speak about a chemical compound present in the terrain that has a dark brown color and that is formed of various degraded materials.

As said above, composting is the equivalent of this natural process but made in a controlled environment, either at home or industrially, in reduced time.

Compost, and subsequently composting, are not new to agriculture and gardening. In fact, our ancestors used a form of composting by mixing animal feces with decayed fruits and vegetables and straws, creating in this way a highly nutrient fertilizer.

Humanity evolved, but composting and compost remained pretty much the same. The techniques of making compost are definitely improved, the time to produce it is reduced, but compost is still made of a mixture of moist and dried organic materials that are no longer needed.

Types Of Compost

There are three major types of compost: young, ready and mature.

Compost

Young compost is the compost in its early stage, usually at two to four months after beginning the composting process. This type of compost is very rich in nutrients and can be successfully used as a fertilizer if you want to apply it on the soil’s surface.

I wouldn’t recommend applying young compost on the roots of a plant, though, because it is little stable and the decomposition process might damage the plant.

Ready compost is the compost that already finished the composting, thus decomposition, process. This type of compost is stable but less adequate to be used as manure. You could use it to fertilize the soil before seeding or transplanting the vegetables. You will have ready compost after 5 to 8 months.

Mature compost, the compost after a year or more of composting, is the most stable type of compost. It is less effective as a fertilizer but it is safe to be added to the roots of the plants. Mature compost can also be used as soil for potted plants or for the raised beds.

Advantages Of Using Compost

1. Compost improves the structure of the soil, according to the University of Illinois. In fact, the soil structure refers to how organic and inorganic particles combine to create the structure of the ground. A terrain that is rich in compost will have a crumbly texture, allowing a proper airflow and a good water drainage. On the contrary, a clay-like soil will not allow a proper drainage and airflow and the roots of your plants will most likely struggle to grow.

2. Compost also increases the nutrient content of the soil. This happens especially with the fresh compost if let to completely decompose directly on the ground. The decomposition of the organic matter present in your compost will add vital nutrients to the soil, such as potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus and other minerals.

3. The use of compost reduces the water consumption. Generally, fertile soil keeps moisture for a longer time compared to unfertile soil, so compost will actually help you keep the costs of the water bill low.

4. Compost also reduces pests and plant diseases. In fact, the insects and microorganisms that feed on decomposing organic matter rarely attack the plants but they keep away the natural pests of your vegetables.

5. Compost is good for the environment. It helps reduce the greenhouse gasses and to clean up the contaminated soil. In the first case, organic matter decomposing on the soil transfers a great part of its compounds to the ground and not to the atmosphere. That includes the methane, a gas that contributes to the global warming. In the second case, through the composting process, the organic matter absorb the volatile organic substances emitted by pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

Having so many advantages, it is easy to understand why many gardeners promote the use of compost. Compost is even easy to make, and I have to admit that I rarely buy it. Let’s see how to do it.

How To Make Compost

To make compost, you must first understand what organic matter you can use. You will be surprised to find out that you will be able to use almost all of your organic trash.

For the moist fraction of the compost, you can use fruit and vegetable skins and stones, rot fruits and vegetables, egg shells, bones, rotten bread, coffee grounds, organic tea bags, grass.

For the dry fraction, you can use shredded leaves, sawdust, straws, wood chips, branches and sticks, paper, cooking paper, cardboard.

As you can see, a great part of your trash can be used to create highly nutrient fertilizer or soil. With this true “gold mine” staying in your trash bin, the only logical thing to do it to make your own compost as frequently as you can.

Making compost begins with a compost pile.

To build your pile, you should choose a shady spot where you can easily add your organic trash all year long. Ideally, the spot should have easy water access and you should build your compost pile below some trees that lose their foliage during winter.

This is important because in winter you would want to keep the compost in full sunlight to dry the humid matter faster.

Before beginning to build the pile, place a generous layer of wood chips on the ground and build your compost pile on top of it. It will avoid the formation of mud if it rains or when the snow melts.

Add organic trash to the compost pile until it reaches a height between 2 and 5 feet.

The secret to making a good compost lays in a correct mixing of the trash. A correct mixing will help you avoid problems such as putrefaction, with the consequent bad odor. In fact, correctly made compost shouldn’t have a bad smell at all.

To mix the trash you have to alternate layers of humid trash and layers of dry trash. If in doubt, check the indications above to find out what humid and what dry trash you can use. The water contained by the humid trash is enough to create a good compost. For this reason, if you experience heavy rainfalls, cover the compost with a plastic foil.

A proper airflow is also essential to promote the composting process. For this reason, try to not compress the layers excessively.

If you don’t have a proper spot where to make compost, you can make it in a compost heap. A compost heap is usually a hole dug in the ground where you can simply throw the layers of trash. It might be an alternative to the pile, but the truth is that it will be difficult to maintain the humidity under control.

For this reason, if you can’t or don’t want to make a pile, I suggest investing in a composter.

A composter is a plastic, wood or wire container with volumes up to 250 gallons. The composters have various types of closures and you can either find a suitable one in commerce or build your own.

The advantage of using a composter begins with the aesthetic aspect, as you will not have your landscape ruined by a pile of trash decomposing in the background. The compost will also be protected from the atmospheric conditions and everything will be more hygienic.

Many composters present lateral doors that will allow easy access to the content. Plastic composters usually have openings that allow a proper airflow. Beware of those plastic composters that don’t present these openings as they might ruin your compost.

Making compost in a composter is really simple. Put a layer of wood chips on the bottom of the composter than add layers of trash as described above. After about 3 or 4 months you will have to remove the compost from the composter, mix it and put it back in.

After about 6 months you will notice that the bottom part of the trash has been transformed into a brown material similar to the humus found in the woods. This compost is already ready to use. However, I suggest leaving the compost to dry in the sun for a few days before using it.

Secrets For Making A Good Compost

Making compost is simple, but a few secrets can help you make compost like a pro.

The first secret when making compost is choosing the right spot where to make the pile or locate the composter. You should choose a spot that is not exposed to direct sunlight but that is not excessively humid either.

Another essential characteristic of the terrain is the inclination of the spot. Ideally, you should make your compost on a flat terrain.

To make a high-quality compost, you should also learn what to add to the pile and what organic trash you’d better discard. The truth is that there are a few types of fruit you might want to avoid adding to the compost pile and also some organic trash you would never have thought to be compostable.

In fact, while you can add most of the fruits to the compost, others, especially citrus fruits, and the walnuts shouldn’t be added to the compost pile. Citrus fruits can make the compost acid and the walnuts contain a natural aromatic substance that is toxic to some plants.

Speaking of organic trash you would never have added to the compost pile, here is a list:

  • Cork caps: if you opened a bottle, or more, of wine, don’t just throw away the cork. Cut it into small pieces and add it to your compost pile.
  • Leftover wine or beer: cork is not the only wine-related element you can add to the compost. In fact, in the unlikely event of not consuming all your wine or beer, you can add the leftovers to the compost pile. Both wine and beer can stimulate bacteria to grow, therefore they will facilitate the composting process.
  • Latex gloves or accessories: many don’t even think about it, but latex is a natural, organic material. You can add to the compost latex gloves, balloons, condoms and other latex objects.
  • Cotton disks: cotton disks are used especially to remove makeup, but they can be added to the compost after use without negative effects on its composition.
  • Natural tissues and fibers: from old clothes to linens, carpets, and bamboo accessories, everything made of natural fibers can be used as composting material.
  • Dry animal food: if you have leftover dry food from your cat or dog, just throw it in the composter.
  • Hair, animal fur, and feathers: all these are organic materials that transform into highly nutrient compost.

Final Thoughts

Now, you not only know what compost is, but you actually learned how to make your own.

Have you ever tried making your own compost? Do you have any tips or questions? Please leave a comment below.

And don’t forget, if you don’t want to make compost, you can always buy it from a nursery!

Strategies for Proper Carrot Spacing

Last update: April 12, 2021

Spacing carrots is a vital part of routine maintenance. You’ll use best practices for spacing during planting and later when you thin plants to give the strongest plants their best shot at maximum growth.

Spacing varies with the stage of life. As seedlings, carrots can tolerate nearby seedlings within a ½-inch space. Later during their growth, competition from nearby carrots can compromise carrot quality. You should aim for two to three inches of space. Generally, the smaller the carrot and its above-ground foliage, the less space you’ll need.

Carrot Spacing When Planting

Carrots have different needs for spacing, depending upon the stage of growth. When planting carrots, you should place seeds about ½ inch into the ground with a similar distance apart. This spacing allows you to grow more than you need to compensate for seeds that don’t germinate and those that you will later thin.

Spacing will also vary with the variety. Carrots with a larger diameter like Shin-KurodaCarrots will need more room with their 3-inch girth than the pencil-thin Mukum Carrots. But it’s not just the size of the carrot itself that warrants this spacing.

You will also need to account for carrot spacing between rows. While you’ll plant seeds close together, you should place rows between one and two feet apart, again, depending upon the variety. Carrots with larger, robust foliage need more room than smaller varieties with more compact bunches.

Larger carrots, naturally, have larger bunches of above-ground foliage. The extra space is needed to allow for air circulation around the plants. It also ensures that sunlight can adequately reach the leaves where photosynthesis occurs. With carrots, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind.

Spacing After Thinning

Thinning carrots will also affect carrot spacing. Carrots are slow to germinate. But when they do, it will soon signal a shakeup in spacing requirements. When carrots reach about two inches high, they’ll undergo their first experience with thinning.

Rest assured this is a necessary part of the process of growing carrots. Their space requirements change with time. All you’re doing is making sure they have the space they need to yield a high-quality harvest.

First-Time Spacing

Thinning optimizes the space available so your carrots can grow to their maximum size. From that small ½ inch spacing, you should thin carrots to two or three inches apart, depending upon the variety. You needn’t break out a ruler and thin plants exactly this distance apart.

Rather, use good judgment and cull seedlings that are noticeably smaller or damaged. The purpose is to give the most robust and healthy plants their best shot at making it through to harvest.

Subsequent Spacing

You may need to thin carrots another time to optimize your space, especially with varieties with longer growing periods like Healthmaster Carrots. If carrots are not thinned, they become obstacles to themselves.

They can form twisted roots and take on misshapen forms. While it doesn’t hurt a carrot technically, it is certainly more pleasing to have a harvest of uniform straight carrots than a lot of weird-looking Franken-carrots. This video from CaliKim29 Garden & Home DIY explains how spacing works.

Multiple Plantings

One of the advantages of growing carrots is that you can have multiple plantings. While the physical distance applies, you will also need to consider the temporal spacing. If you plant successive crops, you can continually harvest carrots throughout the growing season.

You should space carrot plantings time-wise to about three weeks apart. This period gives the first lot enough time to germinate. It also allows you to separate harvests visually to detect the differences in size. These guidelines vary with certain cases.

Special Situations

The actual spacing is not necessarily a hard-and-fast rule. Remember, the key is optimizing your space. So, there is room for discretion—especially in special situations like container gardening.

Pots

Containers represent a different spacing situation because of the small space with which you are dealing. Optimization is still the order of the day. Instead of spacing carrots ½ inch apart, the plan starts off with an endgame in mind.

One way you can space carrots is to create a pattern of plantings that have a three-inch space around all sides. Instead of a single seed, you can plant a few with the idea that some may not germinate or thrive. When it comes time to thin your carrots, you’ll follow the same guidelines to select the strongest contenders from each planting. Here’s a quick video to illustrate:

Boxes

Alternatively, you can create parallel rows of plants that are about three inches apart. The idea is the same. Only the fittest will make the cut. Bear in mind that in a container garden, you are growing smaller carrots. You have more leeway in these cases because their personal space is less.

Weeds and Carrot Spacing

Spacing requirements apply whether you’re talking about other carrots or weeds. While the former is okay, the latter is never all right. Weeds that fill in the space between carrots are robbing your carrots of nutrients they need. The only solution for them is to get rid of them.

Because carrots exist relatively closer together than other vegetables, you need to be careful and avoid disturbing the soil even when weeding. Carrots, especially when young, are shallow rooted. Yanking weeds forcibly from the ground risks damaging fragile roots struggling to get a foothold.

Why Is Spacing Necessary?

You may be wondering why spacing is such a big deal with carrots. They seem small enough, right? Why bother with spacing? The reason for the spacing lies with the carrots themselves. For a plant that can occupy such a small space, they don’t handle competition well.

The soil can provide only so much. In fact, it turns out that nutrients are the limiting factor. Carrots thrive best in fertile soils. That requirement sets a high bar. If carrots are forced to compete against each other for nutrients, all the carrots may suffer from few winners.

Your goal for planting carrots is to maximize your yield. Carrot spacing balances the relationship between yield and nutrients. And when you’re dealing with plants that exist in such proximity to one another, you have a thin margin for error.

Spacing carrots gives your garden its best chance for a successful harvest by towing the line between yield and soil quality. Because of their slow growth and delicate early stages, the soil quality must be at its best to avoid damage from disturbing the soil. Spacing is one of the easiest ways to give your carrots what they need.

Photo by WikimediaImages licensed under CC0.

When To Harvest Spaghetti Squash

Last update: April 27, 2021

You have to admit it: squash is delicious! I like the fresh flavor of the summer squash, but when it comes to winter squashes, I simply lose my mind. They have a somehow creamy texture and a sweet flavor that pairs well with both sweet and salty dishes.

If you love squash too, one type of squash you definitely must grow is spaghetti squash. Its spaghetti-like filaments look good, are tasty and can replace a bowl of pasta with success. But if this is the first time you’re growing it, you might wonder when to harvest spaghetti squash.

Read on to find out how to know if your squash is ripe and when to harvest it.

How To Know If Spaghetti Squash Is Ripe

As a logical answer to this frequently asked question, you should harvest spaghetti squash when is ripe. And now raises the second question: how to tell if spaghetti squash is ripe?

Actually, determining how mature is your squash is not complicated. You only have to pay attention to a few signs and make some simple tests. Here is what you can do:

  • Monitor the color: fully ripe spaghetti squash should have a golden yellow color. If your squash is rather grayish or green, it must still mature.
  • Check the brightness of the skin: spaghetti squash, just as most of the types of winter squash, tend to become dull when mature. If the skin is shiny, you can leave the fruit on the vine for a few more days.
  • Check the vine: if it is rather dry and turns brown, your squash is fully ripe.
  • Test the skin with your fingernail: if you can easily push your fingernail into the skin of the squash, then you should wait for it to mature properly before harvesting.

However, remember that in the case of spaghetti squash, there is a fine line between fully ripe and overripe. You might now think that overripe squash might be sweeter, but the truth is that overripe spaghetti squash is inedible.

For this reason, it is essential to understand when to harvest spaghetti squash.

Read on to find out all the tricks.

When To Harvest Spaghetti Squash

Depending on the type of soil and climate conditions you have, spaghetti squash, just as many other types of winter squash, will be ready to harvest anywhere from 60 to 110 days from sowing. This is quite a large period, therefore more specific information might help.

To narrow the average, it would be ideal to check what type of spaghetti squash you’re seeding in the first place. Yes, you read that right: there are several varieties of spaghetti squash and each of them has a different maturation period.

Here is a list of all spaghetti squash varieties and the average harvest time for each of them.

  • Pasta squash can be harvested at about 90 days after sowing.
  • Stripetti and Pasta Spaghetti squashes will need more or less 95 days from sowing to fully mature.
  • Tivoli Spaghetti squash will be ready to harvest after about 100 days.
  • Vegetable Spaghetti squash will need about 90 to 110 to mature.

To make sure you know what type of spaghetti squash you sowed, you should conserve the packaging of the seeds or remember the name of the variety, together with the sowing date, in your gardening journal.

Knowing the average maturation time, you can then simply check the other signs described above to determine if the squash is ripe and ready to be harvested.

If the squash is ripe, you should proceed to harvest as soon as possible.

Spaghetti Squash

You should harvest the squash on a sunny day, ideally after the morning dew dried out. Harvest the squashes by cutting the stems with a garden scissor or pruner, then leave them outside for a couple of days to dry completely.

You should pay attention to leave a few inches of stem attached to the fruit, as this will prevent early rotting. You should also proceed with the harvesting before the first winter frost.

Once you harvested all your spaghetti squashes, you can store them throughout the winter.

How To Store Spaghetti Squash

After harvesting, leave the squashes outside for a couple of days. Once the skins are completely dry, put the squashes in boxes, arranging them in single layers, and store the boxes in a basement or cellar for up to 6 months.

Consume immediately the squashes that present bruises on their skins, as they will rot earlier.

Final Thoughts

Have you ever grown spaghetti squash? Do you have any tips or questions to share? Please leave a comment below!

And don’t forget, it’s better to harvest unripe squashes than harvesting after a frost!

When To Pick Banana Peppers

Last update: April 27, 2021

So, you planted your first banana peppers. You cured them throughout the summer, dreaming about tasting their sweet or hot flavor and now that the fruits are almost ripe you’re wondering when to pick banana peppers.

I admit it, banana peppers are one of my favorite pepper varieties. I like them sweet just as much as I like them hot, and I love all of their colors: yellow, light green, orange and red.

The only problem I have with banana peppers is the fact that their skin color is not an indicator of their maturity. Therefore, understanding when is the right time to harvest might be a little tricky.

But there is nothing you should worry about. I’ll tell you when to pick banana peppers and how to figure out if they are ripe or not, so stay tuned!

When To Pick Banana Peppers

Like many pepper varieties, banana peppers reach their maturity after about 70 to 75 days after germinating. The real maturation time will obviously depend on the climatic conditions, type of soil they grow in and other less important factors, but this average time will help you monitor the status of the fruits.

Because there are slight growing differences between the two varieties of banana peppers, I believe that it is better to discuss each type separately.

When To Pick Sweet Banana Peppers

Sweet banana peppers usually reach 4 to 6 inches in length at maturity. The length of the fruit can be an indicator of their maturity, but remember that the composition of the soil and the overall growing conditions can influence the final size.

Sweet banana peppers are usually ripe when their color turns yellow and they are close to the average length. And here comes the beautiful part: at this stage, you can decide if you want to pick the peppers or leave them to continue their maturation.

In fact, banana peppers will not turn inedible when overripe, they will actually become sweeter and their skin will turn from yellow to red.

To harvest the peppers, wait until the morning dew dries out, then, with the help of garden shears or scissors, cut the peppers leaving about a quarter of an inch of the stem attached to the fruit.

When To Pick Hot Banana Peppers

Hot banana peppers are usually larger than their sweet cousins and reach an average of 6 inches in length. Just as for the sweet variety, the yellow color of the skin is an indicator of maturity, but this color doesn’t mean that you have to pick them right away.

If you prefer mild hot peppers, then it would be a good idea to harvest them as soon as you notice that the fruits are yellow and the length is more or less average. On the contrary, if you like really hot peppers, you can wait until the fruits turn red.

Hot banana peppers can be simply pull off the plant. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to not damage the plant when harvesting, therefore you should support the plant with one hand and grasp the peppers with the other.

To minimize the damage, you can use the same harvesting method described for the sweet variety.

How To Store Banana Peppers

Banana Pepper

Like almost all the other vegetables out there, banana peppers are usually tastier when fresh. For this reason, you should grow the number of banana pepper plants that produce enough fruits for you to consume immediately after harvest.

Since this is a tricky issue, sometimes you might face the need of preserving your peppers somehow.

If you intend to use the peppers as quickly as possible after harvest, you can store them in the vegetable drawer in your fridge for up to two weeks. Of course, you should only store the peppers that are healthy and don’t present any bruises or rotting signs on their skins.

If you want to preserve the banana peppers for a longer time, there are several options to choose from.

1. Pickle the banana peppers: a method especially used for the hot variety.

2. Freeze the peppers: cut them in halves, put them in freezer bags and freeze them for up to six months.

3. Dry the banana peppers: drying the peppers is easy, then you can use them to cook several dishes.

Final Thoughts

And now you finally know when to pick banana peppers. What is your preferred variety? What is your favorite preservation method? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!