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pole-beansBeans (Pole)
How to Grow:
Pole beans are 5-8 foot long vines that twine up a trellis.  Before planting, wait for the soil to warm up to about 60 degrees and ensure that the last frost has passed. Pole beans are most productive when grown in full sun with approximately 1 inch of water each week. Beans, being legumes, use nitrogen-fixing bacteria to absorb nutrients from the air, so inoculating the soil with nitrogen-fixing beneficial bacteria will improve the yields and health of the crop.
Sow about 8 pole bean seeds per square foot.  For best results, put up your bean tower or trellis at the same time you plant your beans because as soon as the seedlings break through the soil surface, they’ll be looking for something to climb up. 

How to Harvest:
Pole Beans usually produce over the course of 6 to 8 weeks if you provide a sturdy vertical support and keep the plants well picked. 

Considerations:
Bean plants are susceptible to a number of fungal diseases. As a general precaution, try to keep bean foliage as dry as possible by avoiding plant overcrowding.

Beans (Bush)

How to Grow:
bush-beansWait for the soil to warm up to about 60 degrees before you plant bush beans and make sure all danger of frost has passed. Bush beans are most productive when grown in full sun with approximately 1 inch of water each week. Bean, being legumes, use nitrogen-fixing bacteria to absorb nutrients from the air, so inoculating the soil with nitrogen-fixing beneficial bacteria will improve the yields and health of the crop.  A bush bean seed will grow 2 ft. tall.

How to Harvest:
Each plant will produce for 3 to 4 weeks if you pick the mature beans every day or two.  If you’d like to extend your harvest, sow a second crop several weeks after planting the first crop. Once the plants stop producing, pull them out, compost them, and replant the area with a late summer or fall crop like lettuce, beets or fall greens.

Considerations:

Bean plants are susceptible to a number of fungal diseases. As a general precaution, try to keep bean foliage as dry as possible by avoiding plant overcrowding.

BeetsBeets:
How to Grow:

Beets are tolerant to cold temperature, so they can be planted in early spring, several weeks before the last frost date.  A fall crop of beets can tolerate temperatures down to 20 degrees; as temperatures continue to fall, you can cover the area with row cover fabric to prevent the roots from freezing.  Beets should be planted from seed, directly into the garden.  It takes up to a week for the outer seed coat to soften and allow the seeds inside to germinate. Keep the soil consistently moist during this period by covering the area with row cover until the seedlings break the soil surface.  Once the seeds have germinated, you will need to thin out some of the extra seedlings – you can eat them! 
Beets prefer growing in full sun and they like to get about 1” of water each week.

How to Harvest:
For baby beets, harvest them when the root is no more than 1 or 2 inches in diameter. Cook the leaves as well as the roots. However, if you want the most food for your garden space, wait until the root has filled out to several inches in diameter; most beets will still be tender and flavorful even when the root measures 4 or 5 inches across. 

Considerations:
Beets can be harvested and stored indoors for months. Trim off the leaves, keeping a ½” tuft of stems at the top of the root. Brush off any soil, put the beets into an unsealed plastic bag, and store them in your refrigerator crisper.

Broccoli
BroccoliHow to Grow:
Broccoli is a cool weather crop, so for best results, the plants should reach maturity either before or after hot weather sets in. For an early summer crop, get your broccoli off to a fast start by planting seedlings about four weeks before the last spring frost.  For a fall crop, seedlings should be transplanted into the garden in late summer, six weeks before the first fall frost.

How to Harvest:
The central head is ready to harvest when it looks fully formed and the buds are still tight and green.  If you wait until the buds have opened or are turning yellow, the flavor will be bitter.  A week or two after the harvest of the central head, the plant will start sending up smaller heads from the sides of the center stem.  Harvest these following the same guidelines: look for fully formed, tight green buds.

Considerations:
To protect broccoli seedlings from flea beetles and cabbage worms, cover the plants with row cover for the first few weeks after they’ve been transplanted into the garden.
Young broccoli stems are perfectly edible!  Try steaming them or using them in stir-fries like other greens such as cabbage or kale. 

CabbageCabbage
How to Grow:
In the southern states, cabbage can be grown in the winter months, but in cooler zones it does well as a spring or fall crop.  For spring planting, start cabbage seeds indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. The plants will tolerate cold, so seedlings can go into the garden as soon as the soil is dry enough to be worked and is over 40 degrees.  The roots of cabbage are shallow and can be easily damaged, so protect them by surrounding the plants with a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch: this can be shredded leaves, newspaper or straw.  Cabbages are heavy feeders, requiring sufficient phosphorous and calcium.  To avoid these nutrient deficiencies, fertilize your cabbage plants with fish emulsion or liquid seaweed in early summer. 

How to Harvest:
Early cabbages can be ready to eat in 50 or 60 days, while the big varieties that are grown for winter storage need up to 85 days after transplanting.  If you grow early cabbages, harvest them by slicing off the cabbage head as high on the stalk as you can. The stub will often produce smaller cabbages, particularly if you cut an “X” on the top of the stem.

Considerations:
If flea beetles, cabbage worms or other pests bother your cabbage plants, you can protect them with a layer of row cover fabric.

CarrotsCarrots:

How to Grow:
Carrot seeds should be sown directly in the garden, preferably a raised bed, which has the ideal soil conditions needed for them to reach their full potential.  Though the seeds will germinate in soil as cold as 50 degrees, the optimum soil temperature for germination is 70 degrees. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12” and rake the surface smooth.  Then distribute the seeds evenly over the area: about 30 seeds per square foot.  Barely cover the seeds with ¼” of soil and water well.  After planting, it’s important to keep the upper inch of soil consistently moist until seedlings emerge. The newly seeded area may be covered with row cover to help retain moisture during this critical period. Once the seedlings have a few leaves, carefully thin out any crowded areas so each carrot has approximately 2” of space around it.

How to Harvest:
Carrots seeded in very early spring will be ready to eat in mid-summer. They can be harvested as soon as the roots have filled out.  They need not be giant; flavor and texture is often more important than size. For a fall carrot crop, replant some carrots in mid-summer, using a space that has been vacated by lettuce, peas, or another early-season crop.

Considerations:
Carrots prefer full sun and relatively cool soil. In a raised bed, neighboring plants will help shade the soil and keep it from getting too hot: a great example of companion planting!


CauliflowerCauliflower:
How to Grow:
Start cauliflower from seed indoors 5 or 6 weeks before the last frost.  Although the seedlings will tolerate a light frost, they should not be planted outdoors until daytime temperatures consistently stay over 50º F.   Make sure to choose smaller seedlings that are not root-bound in their containers: slip the plant out of its container to check the roots.
Cauliflower is a bit fussy about growing conditions. It requires nearly neutral soil pH (6.5-7.2) and needs a consistent and plentiful supply of moisture.  Cauliflower are heavy feeders, so directly before planting mix in compost and an organic all-purpose fertilizer. Also consider side-dressing the plant with a little more fertilizer half way through the summer.

How to Harvest:
Don’t wait too long to harvest your head of cauliflower. Once the curd (the flower) starts to separate, it will soon lose flavor and texture.

Considerations:
Pest issues are the same as those of broccoli, including cut worms, flea beetles and cabbage worms. Covering plants with row cover will help them get through the early part of the growing season when pests usually cause the most problems. 
Some people like to grow purple cauliflowers.  Purple cauliflowers are beautiful, but they take 4 weeks longer to mature than the white ones! They also tend to be even fussier about growing conditions.  If you are successful, it’s a harvest to be very proud of.  Remember to serve purple cauliflower raw as cooking changes its color.

CeleryCelery
How to Grow:
Celery is easy to grow, but it has some very specific needs. Given plenty of water and rich soil, your celery harvest will supply you from midsummer into late fall.  Start the seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before the last frost date. Don’t cover the seeds with soil since they need light in order to germinate. To hold in moisture, give them a fine sprinkling of vermiculite.  Plant your celery outdoors when the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees F. or more, and when the nights don’t dip down below 40 degrees F.  Celery is not very frost-hardy, so select a variety that is suited to your climate and get an early start. It grows best in full sun, but part shade is acceptable.  Fertilize once a month.

How to Harvest:

It takes between three to four and a half months for celery to mature, depending on the variety. However, you can start picking the stalks whenever you want because young celery is just as good as the mature crop – and sometimes even better!

Considerations:
Celery is appealing to flea beetles, slugs, snails, earwigs and more.  To discourage pests, cover the plants with row covers during the first four to six weeks of the growing season.
Both celery stalks and the leaves can be frozen for winter use. To freeze celery, simply cut the stalks into half-inch pieces and store in freezer-grade bags.

CornCorn
How to Grow:

Growing corn in a small backyard plot is somewhat challenging due to spacing issues. Each corn plant typically produces no more than one or two ears of corn, and there can be no more than 2 plants per square foot.  Also, know that for good pollination, the minimum number of plants needed for adequate pollination in an area is about 18, which will occupy half of a 3x6 raised bed.
Sow corn seeds when soil is about 60 degrees F and there is no remaining danger of frost.  First plant four seeds per square foot, then thin to two seeds per square foot. 

How to Harvest:

Test your crop by puncturing a kernel.  If the juice runs milky rather than clear, the corn is ready for picking.  Snap each ear from its stalk with a sharp, downward twist. 

Considerations:
Native Americans would often plant “three sisters” gardens consisting of corn, beans, and squash.  You can try it, too!  Plant pole beans after the corn is a foot tall and aim for one bean plant per corn plant.  The corn provides the perfect trellis for the beans while the beans help add much-needed nitrogen to the soil! There may be room in the middle of the corn for a few squash plants, and if so, their prickly vines will help discourage critters from stealing ripening corn. 

CucumberCucumber
How to Grow:
Before planting, the soil should be close to 70 degrees.  In short-season areas, start seedlings indoors for two to three weeks before putting them in the garden, at which point the last spring frost should be over.  Make sure you know which kind of cucumber you have: either bush or vine.  The vining variety will need to be tied to a trellis with plant ties or strips of cloth.  Keep the soil consistently moist. 

How to Harvest:

When you pick cucumbers, more will grow to replace them!  Avoid letting the cucumbers sit on the vine until they get excessively big; if so, the plant will assume it need not produce any more fruits. 

C
onsiderations:
The striped cucumber beetle is a major pest that can devour a seedling overnight.  See the GEF [link] to pest prevention for dealing with the beetle.