There's been a recent surge of interest in growing small fruits in the landscape. That's a good thing because many small fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are not only delicious harvested fresh from the garden, they are also easy to grow. Plus, these fruits work well in the... >>more
Strawberries are one of the first fruits to mature in spring and one of the easiest to grow. While most varieties produce the second year after planting, day neutral varieties will produce a fall crop from a spring planting. Strawberry plants are small enough to fit in their own bed or among other flowers and... >>more
I first met rhubarb at my grandmother's table, served as a sweet-tart sauce over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. In her elegant dining room the table was set with a burgundy satin tablecloth and cut crystal ice cream bowls. Dessert arrived on a silver tray. Like many things both culinary and cultivated, my grandmother had... >>more
One of my favorite ways to serve rhubarb is this strudel, made with chopped fresh rhubarb folded into a batter and topped with oats.... >>more
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Question: What is the best way to convert part of my large lawn into an edible garden?
Answer: Congratulations on wanting a garden instead of a lawn. Although lawns have their place in a yard, edible gardens provide both beauty and food. While the quickest way to convert the lawn into an edible garden is to dig up the sod and replace it with fertile topsoil and compost, a better long-term solution is to use sheet mulching.
Sheet mulching takes longer than stripping off sod, but doesn't require that back breaking work of digging and hauling. It also composts the dead grass in place. While it's best done the fall before planting, you can still do it now and plant later in summer. Simply place a layer of black-and-white newspaper four sheets thick over the lawn area. Wet the pages as you lay them so they don't blow away. Cover the newspaper with a 4- to 6-inch-thick layer of hay or straw. Cover that with a 2-inch layer of compost. Then let it sit as is for a few months. The mulch will kill the lawn, the earthworms will start munching on the newspaper, and the whole area will be on its way to becoming a fertile garden without you having to pick up a shovel. To plant, simply dig holes in the mulch and plant transplants. For seeds, build raised beds with compost on top of the mulch and sow. By the time the plants get growing, the mulch will be on its way to decomposing.
Question: I'm in Tennessee and I've grown cucumbers before with good success. Last year, however, my cukes started out great then yellowed, wilted, and died. What happened and how can I avoid it this year?
Answer: It sounds like your cucumbers had a bacterial blight disease. This disease attacks mostly cucumbers and melons, causing the leaves to yellow and the plant to die prematurely. A telltale sign of bacterial wilt disease is the white, sticky juice you find inside the infected cucumber stem when you cut it open. It's commonly spread by the feeding of cucumber beetles.
To control this disease, plant blight-resistant varieties and control the cucumber beetle. Simple cucumber beetle controls include not planting cucumbers in the same area each year, cleaning up crop debris well before planting, and placing a floating row cover over the crop before flowers form. After flowers open, remove the row cover so bees can pollinate the flowers. Spray plants with pyrethrum to keep cucumber beetle adults from spreading the disease.