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Gardening Tips

Brussel Sprouts Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/4” -1/2”
Row Spacing:24”-30”
Plant Spacing:18”
Days to Germination:9-15 days
Germination Temperature:70°-75°F

For best results, raise as transplants, sowing seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the set out date, in a cool greenhouse or protected growing area. Plant 3 to 4 seeds per 3" pot in a sterilized seed mix. Keep evenly moist. Thin to the strongest individual seedlings. By late spring/early summer, approximately 12 weeks before the first fall frost, plant out in well-draining, moderately fertile soil in full sunlight. Fertilizer lightly: too much nitrogen can cause mottling and black centers in the sprouts. For gradual harvest, cut sprouts while small, sweet and tightly-wrapped, starting low on the stem, allowing the higher ones to keep growing. To harvest all the sprouts at once, pinch the growing top of the plant, forcing the entire stem to mature at once. A member of the Brassica family, Brussels Sprouts should not be grown in the same site as other Brassicas for 4 years. Light frost brings out their innate sweetness!

Harvesting Sprouts
If you want your Brussels Sprouts to mature quickly and uniformly, nip off the top at the time the lowest ones on the stem are nearly harvest size. Bear in mind however that this will remove the protective leaves at the top of the stem. These would normally droop down over the sprouts, protecting them from frost. So, if you want a long, late harvest, leave the top alone. You’ll be able to pick the sprouts all during the fall and early winter. We serve them on Christmas Day! If very cold weather threatens, cut the entire stalk, bring indoors and store it in the fridge. It will keep for weeks that way!

Brussels Sprouts for Christmas
Most of the Brassica family—such as Kale, Cabbage, Broccoli and Mustard Greens—are famously frost tolerant, but Brussels Sprouts are among the most stalwart. Even when ice and snow cause the big floppy leaves to sag, those little elfin Cabbages clustered about the stem are still firm and sweet. In Maine we count on them as an early winter treat, and it has become a tradition to have buttered Brussels sprouts on our Christmas table. If the weather turns beastly we pick whole stems and keep them in a cold room for a side dish on December 25.

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Cucumber Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: 1"
Row Spacing: 6”
Seed Spacing: 4”
Days to Germination: 5-10 days
Germination Temperature: 60°-70°F

Cucumbers thrive in heat. Start transplants indoors 4 weeks before the soil is at least 60°F (the last expected frost date), planting 3 seeds per 4" pot or 1 seed per peat pot in sterile starter mix. Provide heat, light, ventilation and good drainage. At the seedling stage, Cucumbers are vulnerable so keep soil lightly moist but not wet. When third true leaf is expanding, transplant out carefully. Cucumbers may be direct-sown 1 to 2 weeks after the danger of frost has passed to a sunny, well-draining spot: sow 6 seeds per hill; then thin to the strongest 3 plants. Cukes need regular watering and prefer a rich garden bed; fertilize prior to planting and again as needed. Support with large tomato cages, stakes or netting. Harvest cukes when small, well before they set seed. ‘Cornichon’ varieties should be harvested when they are the size of your little finger.

String Theory for Cucumbers
If you have plenty of space in your garden it’s fine to let Cucumbers sprawl on the ground. But in today’s small, often shaded yards, gardeners must make the most of every sunny foot of row. That’s where trellising comes in. A Cucumber support need not be an elaborate structure. A simple but sturdy frame will do fine, with strings dangling from an overhead bar. Tie the bottom end of each string to a cuke plant in a loose knot, then wind the vine around the string as it grows. Train to one stem, by pruning out all side shoots up to 3’, then letting one fruit form at each leaf node. When the vine reaches the top, train it over the bar, then allow two stems to come down. You’ll get a huge harvest from just one row. Use string that is at least 2-ply, so it won’t break. If it’s untreated, you can put all the vines on the compost pile at summer’s end, strings and all.

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Kale Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: ¼”-1/2"
Row Spacing: 18”-24”
Seed Spacing: 2”-4”
Days to Germination: 5-10 days
Germination Temperature: 45°-75°F

This leafy member of the Brassica family prefers cool weather for optimal growth. Start Kale in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked or in late summer for fall and winter harvest. You can grow Kale in partial shade as long as it gets at least 4 hours of mid-day sunlight. When growing as individuals, thin to 12" to 16" apart. Or, broadcast seed to harvest in the “cut and come again” method. Kale prefers well-draining, moderately fertile soil amended with compost and/or wellrotted manure. Seedlings thrive in evenly moist soil and enjoy occasional supplemental feedings of organic fertilizer. Hardy and pest-resistant, Kale becomes more tender and sweet after being kissed by frost. Harvest large leaves by cutting them at the base, leaving the plant to keep producing. Harvest as “cut and come again” greens when plants reach a height between 3" to 6".

A Boost For Brassicas
Kale and other leafy Brassica crops such as Cabbage, Broccoli, Arugula and Tatsoi all benefit from an extra dose of nitrogen. Forgo the chemical sources and look for what nature has put together for you. Aflalfa meal, blood meal, crab meal, soybean meal and cottonseed meal - these are all great nitrogen sources. The best time to give the crops their dose of "Vitamin N" is in early spring, at planting time. Follow the directions on the bag for the correct amount and work the product into the top 3" to 4" of soil. Then, put in your transplants or seeds and water thoroughly. Healthy, dark green leaves will be your report card and your reward.

Hail to the Hardy Greens
Most garden greens can hardly wait for cool weather to come. They perk up and sweeten up as the mugginess of August fades away. Crops such as Spinach, Arugula, Claytonia and Mâche, if protected by a cold frame or simple unheated greenhouse, survive the winter in cold climates, to be cut and re-cut for a continuous harvest. Sow them in September in the north, October in warmer parts of the country. They do best hunkering down, close to the earth. Lettuce and Endive over-winter best when cut at baby leaf size rather than full-sized heads.

Kale, Collards and Brussels Sprouts fare better if grown to full size and left outdoors to soldier on as long as they can, since they do not re-grow if cut back in winter. We can often harvest them for our Christmas table, even in snowy Maine.

Everyone's Delicious Darling: Kale

Shade Tolerance
Nasturtium Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1”
Seed Spacing:2”-3”
Plant Spacing:8”-12”
Days to Germination:7-14 days
Germination Temperature:65°-70°F

Tropaeolum majus. Easy to grow in full to filtered sunlight, it is best to direct-sow in well-draining, loamy soil after the last frost. Plant 1" deep, since they require darkness for optimal germination. Keep uniformly moist until the seedlings emerge, about 10 days after sowing. Weed and keep well-watered until established. Or, start indoors 5 weeks before the last frost date. Sow in a good seed-starting mix at 65° to 70°F. 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. Thin or transplant the seedlings 8" to 12" apart in the garden. Drought-tolerant, water moderately once established. They flower best with cooler nights. Summer flowering. Dwarf varieties: 12" to 18" tall. Taller varieties: 5' to 8' tall.

The Eminently Edible Nasturtiums
Sweet Corn Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: 1"-1 1⁄2"
Row Spacing: 24"-30”
Seed Spacing: 3"-4”
Days to Germination: 4-14 days
Germination Temperature: 60°-80°F

Direct-sow Corn when the soil is reliably warm, above 60°F, well after the last spring frost date. Prepare a well-draining area with rich soil in full sunlight. Amend the soil as necessary with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well-rotted manure. Corn is pollinated by the wind, so grow a minimum of 4 rows, even if they are short rows, to ensure good pollination. If the weather gets wet and cold, you might want to re-seed just to be safe since Corn has a long maturation cycle. After thinning to 10" to 12" between the plants, water regularly and mulch with hay or straw to deter weeds and retain ground moisture. Corn is particularly hungry for nitrogen: feed regularly as needed.Harvest when the silk begins to turn brown and a kernel, pinched with your fingernail, releases its sweet,milky liquid.Harvest shortly before cooking by holding the stalk and twisting the ears off at their bases.

Note: Try growing Corn in the ancient “Three Sisters”method: in hills spaced 5' apart, sow 3 seeds in the center of each hill. Sow 6 Pole Bean seeds adjacent to the Corn seeds and then sow Pumpkin or Winter Squash seed in the valleys between the hills. The Beans will scramble up the Corn and the Squash will ramble on the ground, creating a living mulch.

Winning the Corn Olympics
Corn is easily grown by sowing it directly into the ground. This is the simplest, most logical way to grow Corn. But if you're in a race to be the first in your neighborhood with Sweet Corn, try this trick. Since Corn needs a much warmer temperature to germinate than it does to grow, start the seeds indoors and then transplant them into the garden the minute you see the Sprouts emerge. This must be done immediately, since the little seedlings grow quickly and can easily become potbound.

Space Saver
In July or August, after the Corn crop is well on its way toward harvest time, set out some Broccoli transplants in between the rows. The shade cast by the cornstalks will help keep the Broccoli from going to seed in hot weather. After the Corn has been picked, cut the stalks down and turn the space over to the Broccoli, which will bear a nice fall crop. A Bean crop would work also, but choose a bush variety. Vining Beans will climb all over the Corn plants and fell them like timber.

Cooking Tip: Uncanny Creamed Corn
Why do most people think creamed Corn always comes in a can? You’ll never touch that sweet, gummy stuff again after you’ve tried creaming fresh Corn. Just cut the kernels off the cob and simmer them in cream until the kernels are cooked and the cream has reduced and thickened. No sugar needed!
Direct-Sow Basics

Lettuce Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: ¼”
Row Spacing: 12”-18”
Plant Spacing:12”
Days to Germination: 7-12 days
Germination Temperature: 45°-90°F

Lettuce prefers cool weather. To raise transplants, start seeds 5 to 8 weeks before setting out. Transplant out as soon as the soil can be worked. Sow thinly in flats or pots using sterilized starter mix, cover lightly and water. Provide light, moderate warmth and good ventilation. Avoid crowding: thin to 2" apart. Amend Lettuce beds with compost, organic fertilizer and/or well-rotted manure. Gradually acclimate seedlings to outdoor temperatures and moderate sunlight, water well at transplanting time, shade seedlings from scorching sun and protect from heavy frosts. Keep soil moist with regular watering and feed with a liquid fertilizer as needed. For “baby” greens, broadcast seed, harvesting leaves when 3" to 4" high with scissors. Make successive sowings every 2 weeks for continuous harvest.

Shade Tolerance
Just because legumes are known to improve the soil in which they grow, it does not mean that they needn't be planted in good soil themselves. This is especially true of Beans. If you dig in well-rotted manure at the time of planting, your bean plants will grow better, be more free from disease and give you a better yield.

Beans Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: 1"
Row Spacing: 18"-36"
Seed Spacing: 3"-4"
Days to Germination: 6-10 days
Germination Temperature: 60°-80°F

Beans love sun and well-draining, fertile soil. Plant Beans when the soil has warmed to 60°F and all danger of frost has passed. Amend the soil as needed with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well-aged manure. Cool, wet weather may necessitate a second planting: bean seeds rot in cold, damp soil. After planting, do not water until the sprouts emerge, unless it is very hot and dry. After emergence, and throughout the season, avoid watering the foliage. Water as needed by soaking the soil around the Beans and fertilize with kelp or fish emulsion as needed.

For Pole Beans, provide support with rough poles, teepees, netting or a trellis. Harvest when the Beans are young, slim and on the small side for the best eating! It is vital to keep Beans picked regularly since seed formation slows and eventually halts production. Sow Bush Beans every 10 to 15 days until 2 months before the first frost date in the fall for continuous yields.

A mainstay of the kitchen garden, homegrown Beans outshine those that are store-bought in their delicious, just-picked flavor, crisp-tender texture and rich vitamin content.

Beans Show Their Colors
My favorite use for purple-podded Beans is to pick them while slim and tender, along with green and yellow ones, and arrange all three on a platter with a hummus dip.

Beans, Beans & More Beans

Shade Tolerance