The Flowering Onion

“don’t jump, onion!” by loco’s photos

TheGardenLady received this question from Cat (you can read her blog here).

Recently my onions (the ones I bought to eat) decided to demand “freedom” and grow! So much I had to plant them as I was not able to eat them anymore. Some of them didn’t survive too long but one even has a beautiful flower! But I don’t know if they require any extra care? I live on a six floor so right now they are on a pot (a big one) in the balcony. That should do, right?

When you buy onions- Allium cepa is the common onion, squeeze to see if the bulbs are hard. If any onion is soft when you squeeze it, don’t buy it because it will not last long. It will rot or send up leaves as yours did. I often think that when onions are on sale, that is because they are old onions and they are often soft.

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More vegetable suggestions for the flower garden

Edible Front Foundation Planting by Chiot’s Run

When plant breeders want to discover new plants to breed for the flower garden, they will go all over the world searching. They will even look at vegetable plants they think they can breed into pretty flowers or show pieces. Then they will work to develop some aspect of the plant that will be most interesting for the flower garden often at the expense of something else the plant might have had. So, for instance, if they see a pretty leaf that will lend garden interest, the breeders will work to create larger or more interesting leaves; sometimes this will change some other aspect of the plant.

Garden vegetables like kale, when developed for their pretty colors that make them more ornamental, make their leaves tougher when eaten -unless you eat the leaf when it is young and tender. That was why TheGardenLady suggested planting the vegetable form of kale in the flower bed instead of the ornamental variety if you want to truly landscape with vegetables and eat them, too.

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Landscaping your garden with ornamental cabbage or ornamental kale

Julia’s Garden by Allie’s.Dad

You have decided that you do want to landscape your front yard with vegetables. You know it is permissible in your neighborhood. But do you wonder where to start?

How about starting with ornamental cabbages or ornamental kale? These are easy choices because these days ornamental cabbages are very popular as plants in the fall flower garden. Ornamental cabbages are edible; but since they are bred for the showy qualities they tend to be tougher.  So if you want to eat the foliage, you will have to eat the leaves when they are very young. (see here)

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Creative Vegetable Gardens

vegetable garden by mazaletel

When TheGardenLady recommends making an edible garden instead of merely a flower garden in the front yard, it should be as attractive as a flower garden can be. It should not be the long straight rows of one type of vegetable, the type of field a farmer would make to grow commercial vegetables. Just because you are using vegetables doesn’t mean that the artist in you cannot create a beautiful masterpiece. You can create a landscape with vegetables that are beautiful as well as edible. When one reads gardening catalogs it is apparent that vegetable plants of today are often as pretty as flowers. Go through the Park Seed Catalog or the Burpee Seed catalog or any catalog that has photos of the plants. You will find vegetables as pretty to the eye as they are to eat.

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A Vegetable Garden to Beautify your Front Lawn

Hanging Vegetable Garden by me’nthedogs

I wrote a post about putting a vegetable garden in your front lawn, if your neighborhood allows it . There are horror stories of cities not allowing it. (see here )  Remember vegetables and herbs need sun- a full day of sun, so these are not suggestions for shade gardens.

What would be some pretty plants, plants that have attractive flowers or look like flowers, to plant in your front lawn vegetable garden or among your flowers?  I have a list of some vegetables (I include herbs in the vegetable category) that either have pretty or interesting foliage or pretty flowers or both. I have chosen 10 that I think are particularly pretty. These plants add another dimension to any garden.

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FreshPaper – A Product that Might Keep Refrigerated Produce Fresh for Longer

Fridge (before) by pat+sarah

Yesterday when reading one of my favorite newspapers, I found out about a new product that I want my readers to know about.  The new product is manufactured by a company I do not know; nor do they know TheGardenLady when I tell you about this product. So this is NOT an advertisement.But let me digress.

I have to clean out the vegetable bins in my refrigerator. This is a job I hate doing. And one of the reasons I hate doing this job is that I feel sick to my stomach when food goes bad on me. Growing up poor, on a farm, we never wasted anything. So it is difficult for me to see waste. Yes, I compost any rotting food, so it is not a complete waste. However, I believe in the adage, ” Waste not, want not.”  But sometimes, when company is coming, I buy more produce than I can consume in a short time or sometimes the produce is sold in larger packages than I can use. So the produce in my refrigerator spoils waiting to be used. I understand that one quarter to one third of the world’s produce is wasted each year. “American and European consumers toss out between 210 to 250 pounds of food per person each year. A study at the University of Arizona at Tucson in 2004 estimated that household food waste in the United States alone adds up to $43 billion each year.” I feel guilty of wasting my share.

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The 2012 Burpee Seed Catalog – Part II

Queen Sophia French marigold closeup by OrganicNation

In the last post, TheGardenLady discussed  some of the flower part of the Burpee Seed Catalog.   In this post, TheGardenLady will talk a little more about Burpee’s flowers, but more about their vegetables.

In the vegetable part of the catalog you will find sweet corn that is red, tiny golden colored peppers, bright orange tomatoes, white tomatoes and swiss chard that is rainbow colored – all Burpee Exclusives. Together with the regular colored vegetables and such vegetables as the purple carrots or blue potatoes, your harvest can decorate your house as fancifully as any bouquet of flowers. You have to see this catalog to believe what is being offered for this year’s garden.

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More about the farm TheGardenLady grew up on

Bell pepper, with both green and red colors, natural color by Martin LaBar

My parents’ farm was small. They raised the usual crops that everyone in the area who wasn’t a chicken farmer raised. And some of the chicken farmers also had small farms that raised the usual crops – tomatoes and strawberries were the basics for sale. These were called truck farms because farmers could truck the produce to the big cities- in our case it was Manhattan or Philadelphia- to try to sell. Or we would truck the produce to the canneries that were in our county. Ritters and Seabrook Farms were the two big tomato purchasers. These companies made ketchup and canned tomatoes.

Canned tomatoes by Unhindered by Talent

There were a lot of truck farms. That was why New Jersey was given the name The Garden State. Competition was fierce so the prices for the harvest was usually low. If everyone raised tomatoes and the season was good, the tomatoes were plentiful and the price the farmer got was low. Those years we had tomato fights. My mother canned a lot of tomatoes.

strawberries by Donald Lee Pardue

My mother started her own farm stand. Mostly she sold strawberries and flowers. Neighbors copied her. There were so few cars on the road in those early days that the farm stand did not bring in much money. What little was brought im, though, was greatly needed and appreciated. What didn’t sell became strawberry jam.

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Grow Lights for Growing Food in the Dorm

Indoor Gardening with LED Grow Lights by Rachael & Zane Ross

TheGardenLady received this question from Kayleigh.

I really want to grow food in my dorm room. It doesn’t have a particularly large amount of sunlight. Is there a type of lamp I could buy? I want to plant some sort of easy-to-grow vegetable and/or some herbs.

Before considering any lamp for raising plants indoor, please CHECK with your college or university and dorm to find out what is and what is not allowed. They may reject having lamps for growing plants in the dorm room for a number of reasons including: extra electricity costs, insurance restrictions, light pollution and fear of fire.

For vegetable plants to grow successfully, electric lights have to be on for long periods of time. Even if your college and your dorm will allow lights and will allow them to be on for extended periods every day, will your roommate/s want to sleep with lights on in the room? And will you want to sleep with the light on? Grow lights have to be on for up to 16 hours each and every day.

Scientists seem to recommend that for best rest, one should sleep in a totally dark room; some scientists say that even light from your phone or digital clock may not be healthy. One article said that sleeping with your TV light on may lead to depression.  See here.

Know also that raising plants indoors is tricky in that the plants can attract insects. You may be lucky and not get any insects; but most greenhouses use insect traps- another thing to think about when raising vegetables in a small space like a dorm.

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Eggplant Problem

Eggplant by Gare and Kitty

TheGardenLady received this question from Terri.
Why does the eggplant blossom dry up instead of producing a vegetable?
Though eggplants like hot weather, they do need good irrigation. Your eggplants should have been planted in a warm spot facing south, and near a water supply. The soil should have been a soil that drains well and is high in organic matter. Soils that dry rapidly, pack, cake, or crust are not desirable. Irrigation is essential during the eggplant’s long growing period. Excessive dry periods like we are having this summer can cause eggplants to lose the flowers.  See here.  Eggplants have fairly deep roots that have to receive water. The amount of irrigation water you need also depends on soil type and growing conditions. See here.