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  • Sowing Method: Direct
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Gardening Tips

Direct-Sow Basics

Endive-Escarole Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/8”-1/4”
Row Spacing:12”-18”
Plant Spacing:10”-12”
Days to Germination:5-12 days
Germination Temperature:45°-60°F

Endive\Escarole is easily grown in cool weather. Sow directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Endive\Escarole may also be started as transplants 5 to 8 weeks before setting out. Sow thinly using sterilized seed starter mix, cover lightly and water. Provide light, moderate warmth and good ventilation. A second crop may be sown in late summer to early fall. Grow Endive\Escarole quickly with plenty of moisture for the most pleasing taste. Most will bolt (go to seed) and taste a bit unpleasant in hot weather. Amend the soil with moderate amounts of compost and a sprinkling of organic fertilizer. To blanch the tender centers (pale hearts) of Endive\Escarole, place a clay flower pot over the plant 2 weeks prior to harvesting. Harvest by cutting the entire head at soil level.

Blanching Chicory
In European winter markets, huge heads of Escarole and Endive (Tres Fine) are displayed with centers as blond and wild as Harpo's wig. The growers blanch the hearts by outfitting them with little hats (like upside-down Tupperware bowls) just a week prior to harvest. It is quite a comical sight to see these hatted fields. Since both of the varieties listed here are mild, self-blanching types, you can grow them bareheaded, but it is still fun to try this technique. You'll have creamy heads that are especially mild, crispy and tasty.

Go Blonde This Summer
I love the way Escarole tastes in cool weather, with just enough bitterness to be interesting, but not enough to turn you off. Grown in summer, its bitterness is more pronounced, but if you blanch it you might get away with a warm-season crop as well. In France, in wintertime, the hearts of the plants are covered with white plastic hats, secured to the ground with wires, for the last week or so of growth. The result is heads with gorgeous, tender, sweet, pale centers. Last year I tried this in summer using inverted plastic plant saucers, held in the place with Potato-sized rocks. It worked like a charm!

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Direct-Sow Basics

Radicchio Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/8”-1/4”
Row Spacing:12”-18”
Plant Spacing:10”-12”
Days to Germination:5-12 days
Germination Temperature:45°-60°F

Radicchio is easily grown in cool weather. Sow directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. But Radicchio can also be started as transplants 5 to 8 weeks before setting out. Sow thinly using sterilized seed starter mix, cover lightly and water. Provide light, moderate warmth and good ventilation. Radicchio can be grown in the “cut and come again” method, broadcast seed and water lightly. When the leaves are 3" to 6" tall, harvest with scissors. A second crop may be sown in late summer to early fall. Grow Radicchio quickly with plenty of moisture for the most pleasing taste. They will bolt (go to seed) and taste a bit unpleasant in hot weather. Radicchio dislikes added nitrogen as it causes bolting. Amend the soil with moderate amounts of compost and a sprinkling of organic fertilizer.

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Okra Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/2”-3/4”
Row Spacing:24”-36”
Plant Spacing:24”
Days to Germination:7-14 days
Germination Temperature:65°-70°F

Except in the warmest climates, Okra must be started indoors as it needs a long, warm growing season. Sow Okra in a good seed-starting medium 4 to 6 weeks prior to the last frost date. Use deep pots to accommodate its long taproots. Provide even moisture, strong light and good ventilation. Prior to transplanting, acclimate the seedlings by gradually exposing them to outside conditions for 1 to 2 weeks. After the soil has warmed up, gently transplant the seedlings 24" apart in a sunny spot with fertile, well-draining soil. Okra is a heavy feeder so fertilize regularly to increase harvest yields. Five to 7 days after flowering, pods will form on the plants, which grow to over 3' tall. Pick pods daily while young and tender; if pods mature, they become quite woody and pod production diminishes considerably.
Parsnip Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: ½”-3/4”
Row Spacing:4”-5”
Seed Spacing:1”
Days to Germination: 14-21 days
Germination Temperature: 45°-85°F

Parsnips can be slow to germinate. Use fresh seed, since it does not have a long shelf life. Soak the seed in water for 24 hours, then sow directly into a well-draining, deeply dug bed, in full sun or light shade as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Sow thickly but evenly. Cover well, tamp down firmly and keep evenly moist until the seed germinates. Once the seedlings are 2" tall, thin to 4" apart. To prevent the Parsnips from forking, do not add extra organic matter to the soil. Keep the bed well-weeded. Allow Parsnips to be kissed by the frost to develop a sweet, nutty flavor. Harvest anytime after the first hard frost and store in a cool place. You may also leave them in the garden to be harvested as needed or overwintered for an early spring treat. After harvest, twist off the leaves since they draw water from the roots.

Tips for Harvesting and Storing Root Vegetables
Peas Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1”-2”
Row Spacing:18”-20”
Seed Spacing:1”-2”
Days to Germination: 4-14 days
Germination Temperature: 60°-70°F

Since Peas dislike heat, direct-sow in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked or in the late summer for fall harvest. Peas prefer rich soil. Amend the soil as necessary with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well-rotted manure. Plant in full sunlight. Plant seeds 1" to 2" apart or in double rows 4" to 6" apart. Provide a supportive structure if the Pea vines grow over 24" tall. Space the rows the distance equal to the height of each variety. Water regularly and mulch to deter weeds and retain ground moisture. Install floating row covers to protect the plants from birds if necessary. Harvest Shelling Peas while they are small and tender. Harvest Snow Pea Pods when their pods are flat and shiny. Harvest Snap Peas when their pods are fat and tight but still smooth. Pick Peas on a daily basis once mature to prolong pod formation. For an early crop, prepare the bed completely in the fall, digging in lots of manure. By doing so, you will not have to wait for the soil to be workable and prepared: all you will have to do is pop the seeds in the ground as soon as it has thawed in the early spring. Peas are open-pollinated, thus ideal candidates for seed saving.

Cues for Minding Your Peas
Picking Peas is easy, but you need to do it at least every other day for best quality and freshness, and to keep production going. Here are a few tips:
~For Pea vines that flop over but are too short to trellis, flip them to one side and pick the ones exposed on top. The next day flip the whole row back again and pick the other side.
~For tender shelling Peas, pick when the Peas are round and filled out in the pods. When you squeeze the pod they should feel solid but not hard.
~Pick snap Peas such as Super Sugar Snaps when they feel hard, but while the surfaces of the pods are still smooth.
~Peas grown for their pods, such as Snowflake, should be picked while they are still flat, before the Peas swell inside. The pods can be picked while tiny, but have more flavor at a larger size.

Win the Race for Spring Peas
A local restaurant we know used to award a prize for the earliest Peas brought in. To me, that heavenly fresh taste is reward enough. Here are some tricks for extra-earlies: prepare the bed completely in the fall, digging in lots of manure. It can even be fresh manure, since it will rot during winter. You won’t have to wait for the soil to be workable; just pop the seeds in the ground as soon as it has thawed. In warm climates, you can even plant in late fall or winter for spring germination.

Shade Tolerance
Pumpkin Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1”
Row Spacing:5’
Hill Spacing:5’-6’
Days to Germination: 5-10 days
Germination Temperature: 65°-75°F

Pumpkins need space to ramble, as well as a hot growing site in full sunlight. They may be started outdoors shortly after the last frost. Direct-sow 3 to 5 seeds per hill, then thin to the 2 strongest seedlings. To start seedlings indoors, sow singly in pots 3 to 4 weeks before transplant date. Provide seedlings with good ventilation, strong light and even moisture. Transplant outdoors after the last frost date. Enrich soil with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well rotted manure. Cover seedlings with cloches if it gets cool, water regularly and feed as needed with kelp or fish emulsion. (Powdery mildew on leaves won’t affect the pumpkins.) Harvest when mature with a sharp knife, leaving 2" of stem at the top. To cure Pumpkins, if there is no danger of frost, leave outdoors in the sun for 10 days or place in a warm, dry room for 5 to 7 days. Store in a cool, dry place until use.

Our Pollinators are in Peril

Tips for Harvesting and Storing Pumpkins and Winter Squash

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties

Cooking Tip:
The Frost Is on the Pumpkin

We’d be happy just to grow Rouge d'Étampes Pumpkins for their beauty alone, but they also make heavenly, velvety soups. Since they often grow quite large, we cut them up into large chunks, blanch briefly in boiling water, then wrap the chunks individually in foil and put them in the freezer for a winter-long supply.

Direct-Sow Basics

Asian Greens Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: ¼”-1/2"
Row Spacing: 12”
Seed Spacing:2”-3”
Days to Germination: 5-10 days
Germination Temperature: 70°-75°F

Our versatile, easy and popular Asian Greens thrive in cool temperatures, tolerating mild frost. Sow when the danger of heavy frost has passed. Asian Greens appreciate soil with a moderate amount of organic matter dug in. Keep the soil evenly moist for a mild, sweet taste. When growing individuals, thin them to 8" to 10" apart. For ‘baby leaf’ harvesting, lightly broadcast seed, sprinkle with soil and water lightly. As the plants grow to about 3" tall, give them a “haircut” for salads and stir-fries. Feed regularly to enjoy one or two more cuttings from the initial sowing. In cool summer areas, seed at 10 to 14 day intervals, ensuring a steady harvest of fresh, vitamin-rich greens. Hot weather causes hot and/or bitter flavor and bolting. Your last sowing may be toward the end of summer for fall harvest. Protect with shade cloth at the hottest part of summer days if necessary.

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Direct-Sow Basics

Salad Greens Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/8”-1/4”
Row Spacing:12”-18”
Seed Spacing:2””
Days to Germination: 5-14 days
Germination Temperature:45°-70°F

Salad Greens yield the tastiest and most tender leaves when grown quickly in cool weather. Sow directly as soon as the soil may be worked in the spring and/or in the fall, about 6 weeks before the first fall frost. Follow the spacing on the chart above or broadcast seed in a well-dug bed in moderately fertile soil amended with compost and/or well-rotted manure. A light sprinkling of soil over the seed is sufficient, tamp down lightly and water well. For larger plants, thin seedlings to 10" to 12" apart. To harvest in the “cut and come again” method, you don’t need to thin them out. Just give them a haircut when they are 3" to 4" tall. Weed scrupulously and keep soil evenly moist. Feed with kelp or fish emulsion. Make successive sowings at 2 week intervals until hot summer weather sets in for a steady crop. Hot weather causes bolting and a bitter taste!

Shade Tolerance

Cooking Tip: Flavor Enhancer
We eat salad nearly every day in our house, so I¹m always looking for a way to vary the mix and give it some zing. I often turn to Sorrel, a perennial crop that is always in leaf--even in winter if I give it the protection of a cold frame or greenhouse. I pick a small handful of leaves, then make a “chiffonade” by stacking them in a neat pile, then slicing them thinly into ribbons with a sharp knife. Instant lemony tang!