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Radish!Radish
How to Grow:

Radishes are great for younger kids to grow because they are hardy, germinate quickly and easily, and are ready to eat in less than a month. They also come in a rainbow of colors! Radishes are best grown in spring and fall, so plant them four weeks before the last spring frost and again in early fall; the heat of summer turns them bitter and woody.

Radishes will mature in three to four weeks if they are well maintained. Avoid giving them too much fertilizer or their tops will grow big while the roots become stunted. Thin them so that the plants are no more than 2-3” apart.

How to Harvest:
Radishes turn bitter if left to grow too large, so pick the entire crop as soon as it matures. Radishes store well in the refrigerator for a week or two. 

Because radishes germinate quickly, gardeners who want to use their space very efficiently may plant them among other crops, knowing that they will be harvested and eaten before the other crops need that space.

Considerations: 

Flea beetles and cabbageworms can be problematic. Row covers and crop-rotation both help to deter these pests.

Radish fun facts and recipe ideas

 

Spinach
How to Grow:

SpinachFirst, know that to have a plentiful supply of spinach throughout the season, you must plant an abundant amount because this leafy green cooks down to almost nothing when steamed or sautéed! Spinach is a cool-weather crop; plant it directly in the garden four to six weeks before the last spring frost. If you like, soak the seeds for several hours before planting to ensure quicker germination time.

Spinach does not require a huge amount of nutrients, but it performs best in soil rich in organic matter at a near neutral pH- between 6.5 and 7.5.

 

How to Harvest:
Harvest spinach either by cutting off all the leaves an inch or so above the soil level (it will grow back), or harvest the largest leaves as needed. 13 hours of sunshine or more will cause most spinach varieties to turn bitter, so harvest before it goes to seed. Once the plants start to bolt, or form a flower spike, pull them in order to make room for second plantings of beets, lettuce or kale.

Considerations: 
It is impossible to grow spinach during the heat of the summer in most of the country unless it is the frost-sensitive New Zealand spinach. It is not a true spinach, but produces flavorful green leaves and does not bolt in the heat. 


Spinach fun facts and recipe ideas

 

Winter SquashWinter Squash
How to Grow:
Winter Squash grow best on a trellis, where their vines and fruit can be supported, or on an outside corner of your raised bed where their foliage can grow freely over the ground without disturbing other crops. Their soil must be enhanced with compost and the weather must be warm. It takes 90 to 100 days from planting the seeds until the squash are ready to harvest, so cold-climate gardeners sometimes get an early start by starting seeds indoors about three weeks before the last spring frost. Plant two seeds per 3” pot and prune to one if they both germinate and grow successfully. Then, transplant the seedling into the garden a week or two after the last spring frost. Consider warming the soil a few days prior to planting by covering it with clear plastic.

 How to Harvest:
Harvest your squash in the fall before they can be damaged by frost. Before storing in a cool, dry, indoor room, first cure them in a warm, dry place for several weeks to allow their skin to toughen. Most pumpkins taste better after they have been cured and stored than they do straight from the garden!

Considerations: 
Squash varieties are extremely diverse: butternut is high-yielding and almost the entirety is edible, delicata are very tasty, buttercup and acorn are great for storage, and hubbard is especially good for soup.

 

Summer Squash
Summer squashHow to Grow:
Summer squash plants are extremely productive and easy to grow. Start the seeds directly in rich, organic soil once the last frost has passed. Or, plant indoors in 3” or 4” pots a few weeks before the last frost date, but ensure that the delicate root structure does not get damaged while planting.

Summer squash do not need quite as much room as the rambling winter squash, growing our from a central point rather than running through the entire garden. They need full sun and consistent moisture, translating to about 1” of water per week. Mulching the squash bed before the plant get big will impede weed growth and retain moisture.

How to Harvest:
Summer squash start producing edible fruit just seven weeks after the seeds are planted. If you pick the fruit consistently, the plants will continue producing until the weather gets frosty. All summer squash fruits are best when eaten young and tender, and any that are larger than a silver dollar are ready for harvest.

Considerations: The striped cucumber beetle is a major pest, but can be prevented with row covers. Remove the covers once the squash reach the flowering stage to allow for pollination by insects.

 

Swiss ChardSwiss Chard
How to Grow:
Chard is quite frost tolerant and may be planted directly into the garden one or two weeks before the last spring frost. It is also somewhat heat-resistant. Just make sure to keep the plants well-watered, meaning about an inch of water per week. Chard does not require much fertilizers, but prefers well-drained soil with a pH of 6 to 7.

The Swiss Chard “seeds” are actually a clump of several small seeds, which means that your crop will definitely need to be thinned, even if you carefully space the seed clumps four inches apart.

How to Harvest:
To harvest, you can cut the entire plant off at about an inch above the ground. The plant will send up a new crop of tender leaves. In this case, plan ahead and grow your plants closer together in a group of six per square foot. Another option is to remove leaves from the outer edges of the plant as needed, a process that will yield harvest from these full-size plants for many months. If this is your plan, do not grow more than one or two plants per square foot.

Considerations: 
The variety of chard known as “rainbow chard” is so strikingly beautiful that it is grown for use as an ornamental decoration in flower beds. Best of all, rainbow chard is just as delicious as the other varieties.