“Growing your own food allows you to enjoy vine-ripened produce fresh from the garden.”
So says a Cooperative Extension Service page for the Master Gardener program at the website for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The overview notes that Master Gardener volunteers believe that the benefits of backyard growing—both in edible gardens and edible landscaping—satisfy the desire to keep a family’s food fresh, safe and organic.
And backyard gardeners can supplement traditional garden space by tending what Master Gardeners call edible landscape.
“Edible landscapes are designed to produce food, as well beauty. They include fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, fruiting vines, herbs, edible flowers and vegetables not just hidden away in a designated garden, but throughout the landscape,” the Master Gardener page explains. “Have fun with the many beautiful edible plants. Try Swiss Chard for a stained glass effect. Grow a variety of colorful peppers. Enjoy nasturtiums, violas, borage and calendula flowers in salads. Plan for year-round harvest.”
Following are a few bits of monthly advice taken from a list of tips offered by Ohio State University Extension for extending your garden’s life—planning, sowing, tending and harvesting—well beyond the traditional growing season.
• Clean, repair or replace garden tools and equipment. Sharpen shovels, spades, hoes and pruners. Organize.
• Inspect stored roots, corms and tubers.
• Read a few OSU Extension fact sheets at webgarden.osu.edu.
• Purchase vegetable seeds from your favorite suppliers.
• Start garden plants from seed indoors.
• Plan your garden plot and include extra vegetables to share with the needy.
• Sow seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant and pepper indoors.
• Remove tops and dead leaves from asparagus and rhubarb, then sidedress asparagus and rhubarb with nitrogen fertilizer.
• Fight the urge to till. Soil that sticks to the spade is too wet to work. Wait to dig until it dries a bit.
• Plant carrots, Swiss chard, early cabbage, broccoli, peas, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, onions, parsley, parsnips, radishes, salsify and spinach as soil and weather conditions permit.
• Sow tomato seeds indoors.
• Add organic matter to soil to improve soil tilth and drainage.
• Sow a second crop of beets, carrots, radishes, leaf lettuce and chard for continuous harvest. Seed cabbage for a fall crop.
• Plant seeds of bush and pole lima beans, corn, pumpkin, and watermelon. Grow vining crops on trellises to save space.
• Harvest mature asparagus beds for six to eight weeks. Harvest rhubarb by pulling off leaf stalks rather than cutting them.
• All vegetable crops should be in the ground by now.
• Remove radish, spinach and lettuce plants when they send up seed stalks. Store unused seeds in a cold, dry location.
• Shave off weeds in the garden using a sharp hoe. Pull weeds before they go to seed.
• You can still sow beets, beans and carrots. Plant late-season cabbage transplants in the garden. Sow another row of bush snap beans. Allow broccoli to develop side shoots after central head has been harvested.
• Sow parsley, dill and basil in pots for use indoors during winter. Pinch mint, oregano and savory to promote bushy growth.
• Inspect your garden daily.
• Allow a few green peppers to turn red before harvesting. Ripen tomatoes on the vine, not the windowsill, harvesting them when their color is fully developed.
• Sow spinach for fall harvest.
• Properly can fresh vegetables, using safe methods and effective equipment, to preserve them for later use.
• Potatoes are ready for harvest when their tops begin to turn brown.
• Harvest green tomatoes before a killing frost. Ripen green tomatoes in a warm place away from direct sunlight.
• Eat imperfect fruits; store perfect ones.
• Harvest frost-sensitive produce (squash, pumpkins and gourds) when frost is forecast.
• Dig up and pot chives and parsley for winter use.
• Gather leftover seeds for next year.
• Record gardening successes and failures now for reference next growing season.
Stark County Master Gardeners operate a Garden Information Line 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays from March through October, which people can call to ask garden-related questions and get advice from Master Gardener Volunteers. Call 330-832-9856, and press 2 for Ohio State University Extension Office, ext. 3473 or 3474. You also can email firstname.lastname@example.org.