Growing Mustard in the Home Vegetable Garden

I'm a huge fan of mustard.  There are few snacks I enjoy more than pretzels dipped in a delicious honey mustard.  I love it on sandwiches and as an ingredient in all sorts of things from chicken dishes to potato salad. Mustard is simply awesome.  That's my opinion anyway.  It's also extremely easy to grow. A couple weeks ago I planted a row of 'Giant Red' Mustard from seeds in one of my raised beds.  There are several types of mustard which give you various colors depending on the variety.  Giant Red Mustard has the botanical name Brassica juncea which will make a spicy mustard if harvested for the seeds.  Mustard leaves are great to eat and have a sweet, tangy flavor.  The leaves are great in fall garden salads mixed with lettuce, spinach, and kale.  Mustard matures in about 40 days but can be eaten at any point. Planting…

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Growing in the Fall Vegetable Garden

Fall vegetable gardening can certainly be interesting in Tennessee!  You never quite know how the weather is going to shape up.  Is it going to frost early?  Late?  Will the temperatures be normal or extra warm like we'll be having this week?  You just never know.  For gardening weather this October we've had a couple light frosts but nothing damaging which means our summer garden still has more to give - and we're going to happily harvest until the end.  With temperatures set to be in the 80's this week with no frost chances we have a good chance of continuing to get summer vegetables through the end of October!  Tennessee is a great place for a vegetable garden! This morning I picked a few orange bell peppers.  I didn't realize I had this many still coming.  In fact I had given up on the peppers a couple weeks ago…

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Pak Choi and Other Fall Greens

A few weeks ago I planted our fall greens from seed in the vegetable garden.  I planted a mix of kale, chard, lettuce, spinach, pak choi, and Brussels sprouts.  The seedlings are all located in one of my long 10'x3' beds made from scrape lumber. They were orginally meant to be 10'x2' like in this raised bed layout but I altered the size a little. When the days begin to stay a little cooler, without the peaks of 80 degree weather, I'll install PVC pipe for a hoop house to keep my greens growing. Otherwise the greens need little care at the moment except for occasional watering during the dry spells.  Fortunately rain has been fairly frequent compared to normal this fall.  I sowed the seeds fairly thick but I'll harvest some of the younger greens to thin out the bed. Earlier in the summer I planted a few pak choi (or…

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5 Vegetables I Will Always Grow In My Garden! (The Friday Fives)

It probably seems early and with scattered snow it certain feels early but it's never too early to start thinking about the vegetable garden! Store bought vegetables just don't thrill me the way the fresh garden picked varieties do. It makes sense when you consider that garden grown vegetables don't have to be picked days before use just to be shipped across the country.  The other huge advantage is that you know exactly what chemicals have or have not been on your vegetables!  Peace of mind is priceless isn't it?  That's enough with why you should grow vegetables in the backyard, side yard or anywhere in your vicinity - at least for today (I sense another Friday Five post coming on that topic!)  Let's take a look at the five vegetables that I will always plant in our raised beds! Woodle Orange Tomato Let's start the list off right with…

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The Surprise Vegetable Garden

You've seen it before I'm sure.  A surprise plant or two coming up where you would least expect it.  A bird may have moved the seed around, or maybe it was caught can carried along on the wind. But have you ever had a whole garden just appear ready to go?  I have!  Now it's not the perfect fall garden.  It doesn't have everything I would have chosen to plant but it does have several different edibles that we can definitely make use of.  So what is planted in my surprise vegetable garden?  Lettuce, arugula, and cilantro!  Arugula, lettuce, and cilantro self-sown in the lawn. The next thing you are probably wondering is how did this surprise crop appear?  A planting by aliens perhaps? Or bigfoot? Maybe Elvis?  Nope as much as I hate to disappoint those who wish to keep Elvis alive, I planted this vegetable patch without even…

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6 Steps to Prepare for the Winter Vegetable Garden

This year I'm determined to grow more out of my vegetable garden than the typical summer tomato!  In the past I've managed to sustain herbs like cilantro throughout the winter but haven't been determined enough to nurture many vegetables other than spinach throughout the cold months. (It's hard to get psyched up to run out in the cold for garden maintenance!) The spinach I've done in the past usually lasts fine on it's own for a while but my garden could produce much, much more.  I've even had lettuce make it through the winter to produce in the spring but it really wasn't harvestable during the winter months. If we could have fresh garden greens rather than the greens from the store we would not only be saving money but eating healthier too. Here's what I need to do to get ready for my winter vegetable garden: Radish Seedling Finish…

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August 2011 GROW Project Update

Marigold 'Yellow Splash' It's the second day of August which means it's time to see how the GROW project seeds have fared since our July Update!  'Yellow Splash' Marigolds As you can see in the picture to the right we're starting to get a few flowers on the 'Yellow Splash' marigolds in the vegetable garden.  I started more seeds a while back but haven't gotten them planted in the garden yet. Here's a look from July: And here are the same seeds now (in the same container): They've grown a little but since they are still in a relatively nutrient deficient soil mix they haven't grown much. 'Garden Babies' lettuce  The 'Garden Babies' lettuce has come a long way since July.  It's too hot to grow lettuce outside but with a couple grow lights indoors you can grow lettuce nearly any time of the year. From July: Now: 'Italian Cameo'…

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A Little Green for St. Patrick’s Day!

Since today is St. Patrick's Day and tradition dictates that we do all things green and as Irish as possible here are a few things green from my garden! We have green in the vegetable garden in the form of sugar snap peas, spinach, and lettuce! Other things haven't come up yet for a visit like the asparagus (which I just planted) and the potatoes. Time and the warm weather coming will give our plantings a growth spurt. I've mulched lightly around the sugar snap peas with grass clippings for an organic fertilizer (approximate NPK: 4-1-2) and for increased water retention in the soil.  Little 'Tom Thumb' lettuce is coming up! When it's time to harvest the lettuce these little lettuces will be somewhere between 3-4 inches in diameter. It's a cute little lettuce that kids should love. If you need ideas for a vegetable that will encourage your kids…

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That Really Is Lettuce Among Those Weeds!

Yep, the title says it all. I really have lettuce growing among the weeds in one of my garden beds. I planted it in the fall and despite a few nights of subzero temperatures and several cumulative inches of snow over the course of winter it's still there! The lettuce is small, barely even 3 inches wide but it's there! It's the reddish purple leaves you see hiding among the chickweed and henbit.  I'll bet you want to know what lettuce can withstand that kind of cold and snow here in Tennessee? I won't keep it a secret. It's an heirloom lettuce called Rouge D'Hiver that I bought from Baker Creek.  Rouge D'Hiver heirloom lettuce seems to be extremely cold tolerant. I suspect if I had gotten around to putting a cold frame over this bed I would have been munching on backyard garden lettuce all winter.  Once the warmer…

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Into the Lettuce

Lately around our house we've really been getting into the lettuce from the vegetable garden - in fact quite literally! This red Romaine lettuce called Rouge d'Hiver is a very tasty selection we made from Baker's Creek. The red coloring is fading as the temperatures are beginning to warm. It won't be long before this heirloom vegetable begins to bolt and I can collect seed from it for use next year. Until then we're eating salads like they're going out of style! I commented last night to my wife how we always seem to eat better during the growing season. The explanation is simple: we grow more of our own food, it's healthier because it is organically grown, it tastes better because it's fresh from the garden, and the vegetables get used more because I see them and don't forget about them in that deep dark place in the refrigerator…

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