Let’s Talk Pumpkins!

With Halloween just around the corner, you may be wondering about the link between the pumpkins scaring the neighborhood kids and the ones in the can you’ll be using to make pumpkin pie in less than a month. Can you use the Jack-o-Lantern to make the pie? Short answer: Yes, but you might not want…

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When Can We Plant Vegetable Seeds?

As this long and snowy winter finally eases its grip, many gardeners are wondering how much they should adjust their vegetable planting schedule. By some reports, we are a good three weeks behind the usual weather and planting for Minnesota. Of course, many gardeners have already started seeds under lights in hopes of getting them…

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Book Review: Homegrown Pantry

Who among us has not accidentally planted six zucchini plants—only to be buried in summer squash come August? Or, harvested a huge number of potatoes and later found them soft, growing something strange from their beady little eyes? In her new book, Homegrown Pantry: A Gardener’s Guide to Selecting the Best Varieties and Planting the…

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Plant Profile: Pumpkins and Squash

With Halloween just around the corner and pumpkin spice invading the culinary scene again, it’s time to salute the Cucurbits—that family of plants that includes pumpkins and squash. It’s a large family, with more than 900 members including winter and summer squash of all types, gourds as well as cucumbers and melons. We’re focusing on…

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Pepper Passion at the Minnesota State Fair

Let’s start with a few facts about peppers: The second bite of a hot pepper is typically hotter than the first. Most of the heat in hot peppers is in the seeds and the flesh near them. Once that hits your tongue, wow! The heat is on. Chile peppers have more Vitamin C than oranges…

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Growing Greens in Early Spring

Lettuce and other greens, such as kale, spinach and Swiss chard, are among the vegetables that grow well starting in early spring. Growing greens is easy and this weekend, with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s, would be perfect for planting greens. Greens don’t like weather that is too hot and most…

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New Vegetable Varieties for 2017 Shrinking

Judging by the new vegetable varieties being offered this year, gardens are shrinking. More varieties are being marketed for patios, pots and raised beds. Everything from tiny eggplant to mini-squash and patio peas are in the catalogs for vegetable gardeners to consider this year. Here are new varieties (or at least newish) that look especially…

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Fresh From the Garden: Hot Off the Press

This review originally appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of Northern Gardener. Growing fresh, clean food. How hard can that be? Well, in USDA Zones 3 and 4, growing organic vegetables and berries sometimes feels like hoping for a series of miracles. In Fresh from the Garden: An Organic Guide to Growing Vegetables, Berries, and…

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Hot Off the Press: Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden

This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of Northern Gardener. The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb (Ten Speed Press  2015) is an up-to-date revision of her 1975 debut of postage stamp gardening. The author pulls together virtually everything one needs to know to begin growing organic vegetables in tiny to not-so-small gardens.…

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When Can I Plant Tomatoes?

One of the most common questions we hear from northern gardeners in the spring is: When can I plant tomatoes? Our advice is: Don’t rush it. The University of Minnesota Extension Service recommends waiting until “after all danger of frost has passed and soil has warmed.” The last-frost date in Minnesota is generally between May…

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