Friday, March 30, 2007

Growing Lettuce in the Home Garden

Growing Lettuce in the Home Garden

Marianne Riofrio

An ever-expanding selection of greens for salads in the supermarket, as well as salad bars popping up in nearly every restaurant, is a reflection of the new health-conscious eating habits sweeping the United States. Several types of lettuce can be grown in the home garden adding variety, texture and color to the family diet.

Lettuce varieties can be loosely categorized into four groups: crisphead, butterhead, leaf, and romaine or cos. Each group has its own growth and taste characteristics.
Types of Lettuce

Crisphead lettuce is probably the most familiar of the four. It is characterized by a tight, firm head of crisp, light-green leaves. In general, crisphead lettuce is intolerant of hot weather, readily bolting or sending up a flower stalk under hot summer conditions. For this reason, plus the long growing period required, it is the most difficult of the lettuces to grow in the home garden.

The butterhead types have smaller, softer heads of loosely folded leaves. The outer leaves may be green or brownish with cream or butter colored inner leaves. There are several cultivars available that will do well in Ohio gardens.

Leaf lettuce has an open growth and does not form a head. Leaf form and color varies considerably. Some cultivars are frilled and crinkled and others deeply lobed. Color ranges from light green to red and bronze. Leaf lettuce matures quickly and is the easiest to grow.

Romaine or cos lettuces form upright, cylindrical heads of tightly folded leaves. The plants may reach up to 10 inches in height. The outer leaves are medium green with greenish white inner leaves. This is the sweeter of the four types.
Suggested Cultivars
Mesa 659 (fall), Ithaca
Salad Bibb
Summer Bibb
Thumb (miniature)
Salad Bowl
Grand Rapids
Black Seeded Simpson
Green Ice
Red Sails
Lollo Rosso
Red Fire
Parris Island Cos
Climatic Requirements

Lettuce is a cool-season vegetable and develops best quality when grown under cool, moist conditions. Lettuce seedlings will tolerate a light frost. Temperatures between 45 F and 65 F are ideal. Such conditions usually prevail in Ohio in spring and fall. Seeds of leaf lettuce are usually planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Butterhead and romaine can be grown from either seeds or transplants. Due to its long-growing season, crisphead lettuce is grown from transplants. Transplants may be purchased or started indoors about six weeks before the preferred planting date.
Soil Requirements

Lettuce can be grown under a wide range of soils. Loose, fertile, sandy loam soils, well-supplied with organic matter are best. The soil should be well-drained, moist, but not soggy. Heavy soils can be modified with well-rotted manure, compost, or by growing a cover crop. Like most other garden vegetables, lettuce prefers a slightly acidic pH of 6.0 to 6.5.
Cultural Practices

Since lettuce seed is very small, a well-prepared seedbed is essential. Large clods will not allow proper seed-to-soil contact, reducing germination. Lettuce does not have an extensive root system so an adequate supply of moisture and nutrients is also necessary for proper development.

Fertilizer and lime recommendations should be based on the results of a soil test. Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for information on soil testing. As a general rule, however, apply and work into the soil three to four pounds of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet of garden area.

Seed may be sown in single rows or broadcast for wide row planting. Wide rows should be 12 to 15 inches across. Cover the seeds with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. Water carefully but thoroughly. Several successive plantings of leaf lettuce will provide a more continuous harvest throughout the growing season. Leave 18 inches between the rows for leaf lettuce, and 24 inches for the other types. To achieve proper spacing of plants, thinning of lettuce seedlings is usually necessary. Thin plants of leaf lettuce four to six inches or more between plants depending on plant size. Butterhead and romaine should be thinned six to ten inches between plants. Finally, crisphead transplants should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart in the row.

An organic mulch will help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and keep soil temperatures cool. If weeds do become a problem, either pull by hand or cultivate very shallowly to avoid damage to lettuce roots. Planning your garden so that lettuce will be in the shade of taller plants, such as tomatoes or sweet corn, in the heat of the summer, may reduce bolting.

Insect pests and diseases can occasionally cause problems on lettuce. For proper identification and control recommendation, contact your local Cooperative Extension office.

All lettuce types should be harvested when full size but young and tender. Over-mature lettuce is bitter and woody. Leaf lettuce is harvested by removing individual outer leaves so that the center leaves can continue to grow. Butterhead or romaine types can be harvested by removing the outer leaves, digging up the whole plant or cutting the plant about an inch above the soil surface. A second harvest is often possible this way. Crisphead lettuce is picked when the center is firm.

The author gratefully acknowledges James D. Utzinger, on whose original fact sheet this is based.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Colleen Announces Mouse & Trowel Awards!

I saw this interesting post over at May Dreams Garden Blog on voting on your favorite garden blogs.

Here is the post.
Colleen Announces Mouse & Trowel Awards!

Colleen at In the Garden Online has started the first Mouse & Trowel awards for garden blogs. Visit her site to get all the details on what to do to nominate your favorite garden blogs in a variety of categories. Nominations are due by April 13th. Thanks, Colleen, it is about time that garden bloggers got some recognition!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Did some planting over the weekend

I did some planting over the weekend here in my hoosier gardens.
I put out some purple,orange,and pink pansies along with violas in some pots on the porch.

I got some daffodils at the garden center,and planted them as well.My forsythia bush is in full bloom,and is beautiful this year after pruning it back last fall.

I need to get in the strawberry patch next to do some weeding,and plant some new plants.

What are you doing in your garden?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Things that are budding,and blooming.

Looking over the yard this afternoon I have found my cone flowers are up about one inch,my daisys are coming on slowly,the forsythia bush is bloomed out,the red maple tree is budding out nicely,and a couple of my pea plants are peeking through the soil.

It wont be long now here in Indiana to get the garden season into full throttle.
What is budding or blooming at your place?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Make a Garden Water Fountain

While doing some research on simple water fountains I came across this simple,but unique water fountain at bluegrass gardens.

Water fountains are a fun,and relaxing addition to your garden plans.

Here is the link.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Radish is a cool-season, fast-maturing, easy-to-grow vegetable. Garden radishes can be grown wherever there is sun and moist, fertile soil, even on the smallest city lot. Early varieties usually grow best in the cool days of early spring, but some later-maturing varieties can be planted for summer use. The variety French Breakfast holds up and grows better than most early types in summer heat if water is supplied regularly. Additional sowings of spring types can begin in late summer, to mature in the cooler, more moist days of fall. Winter radishes are sown in midsummer to late summer, much as fall turnips. They are slower to develop than spring radishes; and they grow considerably larger, remain crisp longer, are usually more pungent and hold in the ground or store longer than spring varieties.

Read More Here

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cleaning Out The Garden Shed

I have spent most of this day cleaning out my garden shed getting ready for the growing season.I found all kinds of little treasures I had forgot that I had.

I even found a garden hoe,and rack I did not even know was in there.

What have you been doing to prepare for the growing season?

If granny gruners garden had a grid garden system,how many garden grids,could granny gruners grid garden system have?
Say that five times fast.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tips For Preparing a Planting Bed

Tips For Preparing a Planting Bed

by Michael J. McGroarty of

Whether you preparing beds for landscaping around your house, or preparing a bed where you plan on growing landscape plants for profit, this article should simplify the process for you. I say that because of everything that is written about this subject, some of it is accurate, some of it is just plain wrong, and much of it is much more complicated than it needs to be. I like to think of myself as simple Simon. I find the easiest, yet most effective way to do things, and they work.

Let’s assume that the area where you are planning your bed is now planted in grass. How do you get rid of the grass. Chemicals or no chemicals? Chemicals are easy, so we’ll look at the chemical method first.

My favorite chemical for killing grass is RoundUp, and used properly it is effective. Rule number one: Read the label on the package, and mix the chemical exactly as recommended by the manufacture. Rule number two: Assume that every plant that the RoundUp touches is going to die. It is a non-selective herbicide.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tater Planting Time

Here in Indiana it is almost tater planting time again.

The old farmers always plant taters on good friday.

Tater Planting Time

Although some dedicated gardeners may have already planted their seed potatoes, for most of us, the ground has been a little too soggy. Some gardeners aim for planting on or around St. Patrick's Day, while others of us will be lucky to have them planted by Mother's Day!

Potatoes are considered to be cool-season plants and can be planted just as soon as the ground has thawed and dried enough to safely work the soil. However, it is critical to allow the soil to dry adequately. If worked while still too wet, soil forms compacted, hard clumps, leading to misshapen tubers later in the season.

The potato plant can adapt to most types of soil but must have good drainage to prevent the tubers from rotting before they can be harvested. Choose a sunny location and work in about 2-3 pounds of a balanced, low-analysis fertilizer, such as 12-12-12, per 100 square feet to promote vigorous plant growth.

The part of the potato plant that we eat is called a tuber, a technical name that refers to an enlarged modified stem that grows underground. Potato tubers that are used to create a new planting are called seed potatoes. You'll want to start with the best quality seed potatoes you can, so look for those that are labeled as certified disease-free at garden shops and in mail-order catalogs.

To start a new planting, cut the seed potato into pieces so that each individual piece has at least one healthy-looking bud (eye). That bud will become the shoot of the new plant and, as the stem develops, it will also produce new roots. The piece of old tuber attached to the bud provides a source of carbohydrates to sustain the young plant until those new roots and shoots develop. Plant the pieces 2-3 inches deep and space them about 12 inches apart within the row and 24-36 inches between rows.

New tubers that will become this year's harvest generally begin to form sometime in early to mid summer and continue to grow in size until early fall, as long as adequate moisture, air and nutrients are available.

The tubers can be harvested as new potatoes in mid to late summer, before they reach full size and before the skins start to toughen. New potatoes are tender and tasty, but they don't keep very long, and, since the plant must be pulled up to harvest the tubers, yields are generally small.

If you want bigger yields of full-size tubers, it's best to leave the plants until they begin to die back on their own, usually by late summer or early fall. As the plants begin to turn brown, gently lift the tubers with a digging fork and remove them from the plants. If the potatoes are going to be used immediately, no further treatment is needed. However, to be able to store the potatoes for later use, you'll want to allow the tubers to cure, or air-dry, for 1-2 weeks to allow the skins to thicken and dry.

The biggest challenge for gardeners is finding dark storage conditions at a temperature of 40-45 degrees. Both light and warmth promote sprouting of the buds. Store only the best quality tubers, which are free of cuts, bruises and diseases, for best results. Potatoes can be stored from 2 to 9 months, depending on the cultivar and storage conditions.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Forsythia

My forsythia bush has gotten buds all upon it today.It should be in full bloom in a couple of days if the cold front coming in does not set it back.

What is budding out in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What have you planted so far?

What have you planted in the garden so far this season?I planted peas,and lettuce this past sunday afternoon in my garden beds.I am looking forward to watching them sprout up.

I have been busy this week building mulch bins for our garden center in Nineveh In.I will post some pictures as soon as they are done.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Garden Peas

It is time to plant peas here in the midwest where I live.Here are some tips on the garden pea.

Garden Peas


Peas should be planted in early spring, well before the last frost. For an extended harvest, different varieties in successive plantings. Successive plantings of the same varieties tend to catch up with each other, resulting in one big harvest.

Peas will germinate faster if soaked in water overnight before planting.

Location and Planting

Peas are one of the first crops you will plant in your vegetable garden. Plant them as early in spring as the soil can be worked. They don't mind frost.

Peas need as much sun as possible. If you plant them in the shade the plants will grow and produce a crop of peas, but the sugar content will be low and the peas will taste old and starchy.

Peas grow best in a 16-inch wide double row, with a 16 inch wide pathway between rows. They won't need staking if planted this way because the plants will hold each other up, and a dense crop will shade the soil to help eliminate weeds.


Friday, March 9, 2007

What are you planning in the garden this weekend?

Weekend temps here in indiana are expected to be in the fifty's this weekend with highs in the 60's next week.So I am going to get out in the garden,and yard,and look over all my beds to see what I might do to them.

I am going to re- mulch my flower beds,and get rid of all the debris that still is in them.I think I will take a trip to the garden center as well to see if they have any cool weather flowers out yet.

What are your plans for the garden this weekend?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Top Ten Perennials

The Top 10 Are...

By now, you're hooked. Your garden is increasingly a perennial one. Your yearly investment in annuals gets smaller and smaller, and every year more and more of your plantings return in the spring. Who was it who said, "Friends don't let friends plant annuals"?


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Strawberry Collection Full Season

Enjoy sweet strawberries all season! You get ten plants each of Ozark Beauty and Surecrop.

Ozark Beauty - Perfect for canning, freezing, preserves and eating right off the plant! They taste great any way you serve them. Very hardy. Fruits all season in full sun.

Surecrop - Enjoy giant spring-bearing Surecrop strawberries for a bounty of delicious fruit that's big on size and taste!


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Spring is Near

While out on the job today I saw my first flock of Robins here in Indiana.

It was such a delight to see them running all around looking for worms,and such.
Seeing them let's one here in Indiana know it is almost time to get back out in the garden beds.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Propagating Roses

Today let's take the mystery out of propagating
roses. Roses are one of the most beautiful plants
in our gardens, and despite what many believe, they
can be grown from cuttings.Read this method from my good friend Mike McGroarty

The simple method is

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Growing EggPlant

Growing Eggplant


Eggplants need warmth throughout the growing season to do well. Eggplants need soil temperatures above 70° and daytime air temperatures above 70°. Eggplant seeds will not germinate in cool soil. Nighttime temperatures should be above 60°. Eggplants have a growing season of 100-150 days in ideal conditions. Although they do best in warm climates, they can be grown in northern climates if mulches, row covers, or hot houses are used.


Eggplants prefer well-drained sandy loam of pH 5.5 to 6.5 with high organic matter content. Eggplants need a moderate amount of nitrogen and high amounts of phosphorus and potassium. Eggplants like temperatures between 80° and 90° for optimal growth.

Eggplants are typically spaced 18-24" apart in rows 30-36" wide. Rows should be 30-36" apart. Don't crowd eggplants, they will do better with a little extra room. They can be staked and supported like tomatoes to ensure proper air circulation.

Direct Seeding

In hot climates with long growing seasons, eggplants can be direct seeded in rows 1/2" deep and 18-24" apart after soil and air temperatures have warmed. Keep seeds evenly moist. For best results soil temperature should be 80°-90°.
Seeding For Transplants

Eggplants are most commonly started indoors or in a greenhouse. Soak seeds in water overnight to encourage germination. Eggplants are very sensitive to transplant shock so use peat pots that can be planted directly into the ground. Plant seeds singly in peat pots 1/4" deep and grow under lights if available. Use bottom heat to keep the soil warm, optimal soil temperature for germination is 85°. Air temperature should be above 70° during the day and above 60° at night.

These seeds germinate best in soils around 75°F - 90°F.
Germination will take 7-10 days.
Transplanting Into the Garden

Eggplants are very sensitive to transplant shock and benefit from several days of hardening off. About one week before transplanting, gradually expose them to the outside air by bringing the eggplant starts outside during the day and inside at night. Gradually increase the exposure each day (weather permitting, of course) until the plants are out until after dark.

When the eggplants are ready to be transplanted carefully place the peat pots in moist garden soil. In the north, use mulch to keep the soil warm and row covers over the plants to keep them warm at night.

Eggplants need regular watering, but they do not like to be kept too moist. Water eggplants to maintain uniform moisture. Water plants in the morning so the leaves are not damp through the night.

Eggplants are ready to harvest when the skin takes on a high gloss, at a third to half their mature size. To test for readiness, press the skin with your finger. If the indent does not spring back, it is ready to harvest. Fruits with dark brown seeds inside are past their prime.

Harvest eggplants when they are tender by clipping the fruit off with garden shears. Harvesting fruits regularly stimulates further production.
Post-Harvest Handling

Be careful not to damage the skin of eggplants. Wash and dry eggplants thoroughly.

Eggplants are not suited to long-term storage but they can be kept 1-2 weeks at 55° with a relative humidity of 85%-90%.

Eggplants are sensitive to ethylene gas so do not store them with fruits and vegetables that produce ethylene gas.

Verticillium wilt

Flea beetles, aphids, potato beetles

Use black plastic to increase the yield of eggplant by helping to warm the soil, conserve moisture, and control weeds.

Rotate crops to prevent diseases.

Insects love eggplant. Use row or mesh covers help alleviate this problem. If covers are used, however, the flowers must be pollinated by hand.

Oregon State University, "Eggplant, Commercial Vegetable Production Guide", Last modified 2002-12-27, Oregon State University,, Accessed 2003-05-16

Bradley, F. M. and Ellis, B. W.(Ed.). (1992), Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: The Indispensable Resource for Every Gardener, Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press.

Smith, E.C. (2000), The vegetable gardener's bible: discover Ed's high yield W-O-R-D system for all North American gardening regions., Storey Books: Pownal, VT.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

March Gardening To Do List

March Gardening To Do List

Zone 1

Order indoor seed starting kits and seeds
Cut back on feeding houseplants (do not feed dormant houseplants)
Water indoor cymbidium orchids weekly until they bloom
Sow seeds indoors for tender perennials and annuals
Clean, oil and sharpen tools
Zone 2

Order seeds and seed starting systems
Sow seeds indoors or cold frame
Remove mulch from early bulbs
Cut back on feeding houseplants (do not feed dormant houseplants)
Sow seeds for cool-weather vegetables
Sow frost-tolerant perennials indoors
Clean, oil and sharpen tools
Order or construct a cold frame for starting vegetables outdoors

Zone 3

Order seeds
Sow seeds for hardy spring-blooming plants
Remove mulch from early bulbs
Cut back on feeding houseplants (do not feed dormant houseplants)
Sow seeds for cool-weather vegetables
Sow frost-tolerant perennials indoors

Zone 4

Plant bare root trees
Cut back on feeding houseplants (do not feed dormant houseplants)
Sow seeds for cool-weather vegetables
Sow frost-tolerant perennials indoors

Zone 5

Plant dormant, hardy container and balled and burlapped plants
Sow seeds of warm-season annuals indoors
Remove winter mulch, lightly cultivate soil if thawed
Prune out winter damage
Apply dormant spray to fruit trees
Plant or transplant frost-tolerant perennials
Sow seeds for tender perennials indoors
Plant bare-root roses
Plant bare-root trees, shrubs, and vines
Prune winter-blooming shrubs and vines just after bloom
Plant bare-root perennial vegetables (asparagus, rhubarb etc.)
Plant seedlings of cool-season vegetables
Sow seeds for cool- and warm-season vegetables
Protect tender plants from frost

Zone 6

Sow seeds of warm-season annuals indoors
Prune out winter damage
Feed cool-season lawns
Remove winter mulch, lightly cultivate soil if thawed
Sow seeds for cool-weather vegetables
Sow frost-tolerant perennials indoors
Divide and replant summer- and fall-blooming perennials
Plant bare-root and container roses
Prune roses (when temperatures remain above freezing)

Zone 7

Sow seeds of warm-season annuals
Set out summer-flowering bulbs
Plant fall-blooming bulbs
Plant balled-and-burlapped, container, and bare-root fruit trees
Apply dormant spray to fruit trees before buds swell
Spray apples, peaches, and pears that have been affected with canker problems
Plant bare-root perennial vegetables
Plant seedlings of cool-weather vegetables
Sow fast-growing warm-season vegetables
Sow seeds for frost-tolerant perennials
Sow seeds for tender perennials
Plant container and bare-root roses
Plant balled-and-burlapped, container, and bare-root trees, shrubs, and vines
Plant summer-blooming shrubs and vines
Plant frost-tolerant trees
Plant conifers and broad-leaf evergreens
Zone 8

Prune winter-flowering shrubs and vines after bloom
Plant summer- and fall-flowering bulbs
Spray for peach leaf curl, peach leaf blight, and canker
Plant permanent ground covers
Plant or repair lawns
Plant ornamental grasses
Plant bare-root and container roses
Plant or transplant warm-season annuals
Plant fruit trees
Feed houseplants that are growing or blooming
Plant heat-loving perennials
Plant ornamental and evergreen trees, shrubs, and vines
Prune spring-flowering or tender shrubs and vines during or just after bloom
Plant warm-seasoned vegetable seedlings

Zone 9

Set out warm season annuals
Plant summer-flowering bulbs
Plant container fruit trees
Prune fruit trees after bloom and fruit setting
Spray for peach leaf curl, peach leaf blight, and canker
Repair or plant lawns with warm season grasses (Bermuda, St. Augustine etc.)
Plant ornamental grasses
Plant fall-blooming perennials
Prune tender deciduous shrubs and vines
Prune spring-flowering shrubs and vines during or just after bloom
Prune flowering fruit trees during or just after bloom
Sow seeds for warm-season vegetables
Plant seedlings of warm-season vegetables

Zone 10

Get ahead of the bugs by hand-picking or spraying with organic preparations
Fertilize oleander, Bauhinia, hibiscus and citrus while in bloom with a low-nitrogen plant food
Mulch with at least two inches of decomposed hardwood material such as pine bark, pine needles, or cypress bark to conserve moisture in flower and vegetable beds
Plant avocados, papaya, breadfruit and mango, tababuia and tibuchina trees
Plant seed, seedlings, or rooted starts of herbs and vegetables such as peppers, okra, cantaloupe, watermelons, peanuts, sweet potatoes, luffa, chayote, lemon grass and mint
In drought-prone areas, install simple drip-irrigation systems to take care of summer watering needs

Zone 11

Get ahead of the bugs by hand-picking or spraying with organic preparations
Fertilize oleander, Bauhinia, hibiscus and citrus while in bloom with a low-nitrogen plant food
Mulch with at least two inches of decomposed hardwood material such as pine bark, pine needles, or cypress bark to conserve moisture in flower and vegetable beds
Plant avocados, papaya, breadfruit and mango, tababuia and tibuchina trees
Plant seed, seedlings, or rooted starts of herbs and vegetables such as peppers, okra, cantaloupe, watermelons, peanuts, sweet potatoes, luffa, chayote, lemon grass and mint
In drought-prone areas, install simple drip-irrigation systems to take care of summer watering needs.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter

Growing Beets in the Home Garden

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet
Horticulture and Crop Science
2021 Coffey Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43210-1086
Growing Beets in the Home Garden

Pamela J. Bennett

Beets are popular in the home garden because they are relatively easy to grow and practically the whole plant can be eaten. Beets can be grown for their root qualities which include different shapes and sizes as well as red, yellow or white colors. The tops or greens, when young, are excellent in salads and when the plant is older, can be cooked. The greens are even more nutritious than the roots.
Climatic Requirements

Beets prefer a cooler climate although they are tolerant of heat. Temperatures of 60 to 65 F and bright sunny days are ideal for beet plant growth and development. They can withstand cold weather short of severe freezing, making them a good long-season crop.

Beets prefer loose, well-drained soils but will tolerate a wide range. Remove stones and debris since this will hinder growth. In high clay soils, add organic matter to improve soil structure and to help avoid crusting after rainfall. Beets also make an excellent raised bed crop since soils are generally less compacted and there is less foot traffic. Beets are also sensitive to soil acidity. A low soil pH results in stunted growth. They prefer a pH of 6.2 to 6.8 and will tolerate 6.0 to 7.5.

Fertilizers and lime are best applied using soil test results as a guide. Arrangements for soil testing can be made through your local Extension office. A fertilizer with the analysis of 5-10-10 can be applied at the time of seeding and again when the plants are about three inches high.
Establishing the Planting

Plant the seeds in a well-prepared seedbed as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Sow the seeds 1/2-inch deep and in rows 12 to 18 inches or more apart depending on the method of cultivation.

Space the seeds, which are actually fruits containing several seeds, one inch apart in the rows. When the seedlings are one to two inches tall, thin to about one plant per inch. As they grow, thin to about three to four inches between plants.

Succession planting can be done at three week intervals throughout the season. Avoid seeding during daytime temperatures of 80 degrees F, wait until it is cooler. Most varieties will mature within 55 to 70 days and can be planted until late summer.

After plants are well established, the application of a mulch will conserve soil moisture, prevent soil compaction and help suppress weed growth. Any mechanical cultivation should be very shallow in order to avoid damage to the beet roots.

In order to obtain the highest quality, beets must make continuous growth. Soil moisture and plant nutrient element supply must be adequately maintained to prevent checking of the growth. Supplemental watering may be necessary during dry spells.

Weeds, insects and diseases must be controlled in the planting. Principal insect and disease problems of beets are flea beetles, leaf miners, aphids and Cercospora leaf spot. Regular inspection of the crop can help deter a major pest infestation. Check with your local Extension office for current control recommendations when you notice a problem.
Harvesting and Storage

Beets can be harvested at any time in their growth cycle. Greens are best when four to six inches tall. Beet roots are generally most tender after growing for 40 to 50 days. The best size is between 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. As beets get larger, they tend to become more fibrous. When harvested, leave at least one inch of foliage on the root to avoid bleeding during cooking.

Beets are suited to long-term storage if kept at temperatures near freezing and with high humidity to prevent wilting.

Choice of cultivar depends on your tastes. Excellent varieties for Ohio home gardens include Early Wonder, Detroit Dark Red and Little Ball for red beets. More recent introductions include Pacemaker III, Red Ace Hybrid, Warrior and Avenger. Burpee Golden and Albino White are alternatives for a different color of beets. Below are some varieties and their characteristics.

Burpee Golden - Round type with a unique yellow-orange color.

Pacemaker III - Uniform, smooth a tender round beet, cercospera leaf spot tolerant, high quality tops.

Red Ace hybrid - Exceptional weather tolerance, cercospera leaf spot tolerant, early maturity.

Little Mini Ball - Sliver-dollar sized round roots.

Detroit Dark Red - Excellent canning, pickling quality, tender & sweet, good boiling greens.
Additional Extension publications that may be useful include:
Bulletin 287 - Home Vegetable Gardening
Bulletin 736 - Vegetables for Ohio Gardens.

The author gratefully acknowledges James D. Utzinger, William M. Brooks, and E. C. Wittmeyer, on whose fact sheet this is based.

This fact sheet was reviewed by Marianne Riofrio, Dr. Robert Precheur and E.C. Wittmeyer.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Selecting Plants

Selecting Plants:

It is a good idea to plan your garden ahead of planting time. It may be helpful to make a sketch of your garden area indicating what types of plants you want as well as where they will be planted.

The following is a list of considerations when selecting plants:

Choose plants that have a desirable flower color and foliage.

Know the potential size of the plant in order to fit proportionally within the garden.

Select plants that bloom throughout the growing season.

Determine the amount of sunlight in the garden area and select plants that will thrive with that amount of light.

Select plants that will grow well in the soil condition of the garden area.

Look for healthy plants that appear vigorous.

Choose plants that all have the same water requirements.

Avoid rootbound plants

Avoid plants that have insects or disease.

Keep in mind that some flower colors may not compliment other flower colors.

Flowers of red, pink, blue, and purple are "cool" colors and will soften a garden. Flowers of orange and yellow are "hot" colors and will brighten a garden.

Written by Kathleen Lewis
Copyright 2000-2005 Lewis Gardens