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Yachtzee
04-20-2008, 10:50 AM
I didn't see a garden advice thread for this year, so I thought I would start one. I'm actually seeking advice. I'm thinking about planting things and I hope it's not too late. First off, I live near Akron, OH, so that should give you some idea of what "zone" I live in (I hear that's important). Here are some questions I have:

1. I've really been wanting to plant some herbs so that I can just go out back and snip some off when I need something fresh for a recipe. I have oregano growing on the side of my house, some chives in a pot that the previous owner left, and some sage. I was thinking I'd like to grow some parsley, basil, rosemary, and anything else that would be fairly common. What is the best way to get started? Are there any herbs I should take special measures with (to prevent them from taking over my yard, for example)?

2. I'd also like to grow chilis, but I have no idea about when I should plant them and what kind and would I need to plant new ones every year. Any advice on growing chilis?

3. The previous owner planted blueberry bushes. I started throwing coffee grounds on them last year and they started really growing after that. Now I have the issue of keeping birds and other critters off the berries before they ripen. Any advice on that?

KittyDuran
04-20-2008, 08:36 PM
Calling Sun Deck... Sun Deck... :)

AtomicDumpling
04-21-2008, 02:10 AM
My two favorite herbs are spearmint and cilantro.

Spearmint is awesome in iced tea. Just add it to the hot water along with the tea bags.

Be sure to plant the spearmint in a pot. If you don't it will take over your whole garden very quickly. That is true for all mint varieties. Mint is a perennial so you just buy the plant once and it will live forever if properly watered and fertilized.

Cilantro is an herb that I love, but some people don't like it. It is similar to parsley only with a much better, zestier flavor. It is great in mexican dishes of all sorts. It really punches up the flavor and makes things taste fresh and alive. Use it in salsa, or just add it onto tacos, fajitas etc just before eating -- don't cook it. Use it instead of or alongside lettuce on your mexican dishes. It is an annual but it will often come back from one year to the next anyway.

In addition to the ones you mentioned tarragon, oregano, lavender and thyme are other common herbs that are easy to grow.

All herbs need lots of light, good soil, good drainage and lots of water. Don't use chemicals to kill weeds or bugs. You are going to eat the plants so don't spray poison on them. Bugs don't eat herbs much anyway. Most herbs repel bugs by nature, in fact that is what the strong flavors evolved for.

Chilis are easy to grow also. There are a million different ones. I like jalapenos and poblanos. Pepper plants don't get too big, so they will be good for small spaces.

redsmetz
04-21-2008, 06:18 AM
My wife and I grew cilantro last year and had a bumper crop. We used it primarily on quesadillas that we made on a skillet, but we also added it to some other recipes. At the end of the season, we had a ton left and my wife found info on the web for freezing it.
We then had "cubes" of cilantro which I used in some soups I make, particularly a Black Bean Salsa Noodle Soup.

We've never grown chilis, but have grow green papers (and also allowed them to ripen to red) and have also frozen those for the offseason.

Yachtzee
04-21-2008, 09:00 AM
My two favorite herbs are spearmint and cilantro.

Spearmint is awesome in iced tea. Just add it to the hot water along with the tea bags.

Be sure to plant the spearmint in a pot. If you don't it will take over your whole garden very quickly. That is true for all mint varieties. Mint is a perennial so you just buy the plant once and it will live forever if properly watered and fertilized.

Cilantro is an herb that I love, but some people don't like it. It is similar to parsley only with a much better, zestier flavor. It is great in mexican dishes of all sorts. It really punches up the flavor and makes things taste fresh and alive. Use it in salsa, or just add it onto tacos, fajitas etc just before eating -- don't cook it. Use it instead of or alongside lettuce on your mexican dishes. It is an annual but it will often come back from one year to the next anyway.

In addition to the ones you mentioned tarragon, oregano, lavender and thyme are other common herbs that are easy to grow.

All herbs need lots of light, good soil, good drainage and lots of water. Don't use chemicals to kill weeds or bugs. You are going to eat the plants so don't spray poison on them. Bugs don't eat herbs much anyway. Most herbs repel bugs by nature, in fact that is what the strong flavors evolved for.

Chilis are easy to grow also. There are a million different ones. I like jalapenos and poblanos. Pepper plants don't get too big, so they will be good for small spaces.

I saw some cilantro at the store, already started. It was $1.50, so I bought a plant and planted it in the bed next to my deck. I like cilantro too. I love tossing fresh chopped cilantro into things like rice or black beans or salsa. Good stuff. I also picked up some jalapeno plants, as well as some seeds for serranos, poblanos and anaheims. I got some thyme and rosemary seeds and bought a kitchen herb garden kit so that I can have some right at hand when I'm cooking. I'm very excited.

westofyou
04-21-2008, 11:18 AM
I do the herbs, oregano, pineapple mint, spearmint, rosemary, sage, lavender, basil, parsley, cilantro, dill... good stuff, sun, water and fresh dirt... thats' all ya need.

westofyou
04-21-2008, 11:22 AM
My wife and I grew cilantro last year and had a bumper crop. We used it primarily on quesadillas that we made on a skillet, but we also added it to some other recipes. At the end of the season, we had a ton left and my wife found info on the web for freezing it.
We then had "cubes" of cilantro which I used in some soups I make, particularly a Black Bean Salsa Noodle Soup.

We've never grown chilis, but have grow green papers (and also allowed them to ripen to red) and have also frozen those for the offseason.

Here's a great cilantro recipe

Take a a couple bunches of it and clean out the stems. Take the bunch and put it in a food processor with vinegar/olive oil/salt/lemon juice/red pepper.

Mix it up and add a little more vinegar to taste.

If you like fish, try that on some... I don't so I make bruschetta out of it... makes a great appetizer.

Roy Tucker
04-21-2008, 11:49 AM
I do the herbs, oregano, pineapple mint, spearmint, rosemary, sage, lavender, basil, parsley, cilantro, dill... good stuff, sun, water and fresh dirt... thats' all ya need.

Yep, herbs seem pretty forgiving. Like woy said, just water, sun, and dirt.

woy's list is pretty much what we grow (except we do pineapple sage). The mints seems to come back year after year. If we have a mild winter, sometimes other stuff survices. The rest we buy anew every year.

Every year, we grow more and more basil since we *love* pesto and it sure is a lot cheaper to make and freeze your own that to buy it. We freeze it in ice cube trays and then keep a big bag of pesto cubes in the freezer.

We try to grow herbs indoors in the winter with mixed success. The rosemary does OK, but the rest just doesn't seem to get enough of .... something .... to thrive. It all gets leggy and sickly.

Already bought my first early girl tomato plants and am going to try these water-filled hotcaps so we can plant early (like yesterday) and get a leg up on tomato season.

klw
04-21-2008, 12:46 PM
We did hot peppers last summer- along with a number of other things. We did the peppers in pots which worked well when we moved in August. We ended up binging the plants with us and had them in a very sunny window all winter. We got new peppers all winter and continue to do so. The plants are starting to look a little ragged as I really haven't been putting any effort into their upkeep but they are still producing. Only downside is that the peppers are so hot we haven't had any use for them and have been giving them to people in my office.

Yachtzee
04-21-2008, 01:02 PM
We did hot peppers last summer- along with a number of other things. We did the peppers in pots which worked well when we moved in August. We ended up binging the plants with us and had them in a very sunny window all winter. We got new peppers all winter and continue to do so. The plants are starting to look a little ragged as I really haven't been putting any effort into their upkeep but they are still producing. Only downside is that the peppers are so hot we haven't had any use for them and have been giving them to people in my office.

You could always make your own tabasco or chili sauce. Of course I go through a lot of that stuff. One pepper I would like to grow but didn't find seeds at the garden shop was the Hungarian pepper. I make a lot of paprikas and goulash and thought it would be cool to make it with homegrown peppers.

bucksfan
04-21-2008, 10:38 PM
I'm not an expert by any means, but we grow jalapenos, bell peppers, banana peppers, etc from seed planted directly into the ground and I never plant before Mother's Day (not because that's how it should be done, that's just when I get around to it :D

My favorite thing from our garden every year is sugar snap peas. I plant double-rows about 10' long and give them some fence to climb, then munch off them constantly later. We also grow summer squash, zucchini, scallions, pumpkins, and whatever else looks good at the time. I was never any good with watermelon though....

SunDeck
04-22-2008, 07:26 AM
1. I've really been wanting to plant some herbs so that I can just go out back and snip some off when I need something fresh for a recipe. I have oregano growing on the side of my house, some chives in a pot that the previous owner left, and some sage. I was thinking I'd like to grow some parsley, basil, rosemary, and anything else that would be fairly common. What is the best way to get started? Are there any herbs I should take special measures with (to prevent them from taking over my yard, for example)?

My wife has all of those out in our back yard. For the most part, all are easy to grow, just make sure you have a lot of sun for them and that the soil is well drained and has a lot of organic matter mixed in. Many herbs are perennials and will come back every year. Basil is an annual. And speaking of basil, if you want to use it for cooking, then trim it when the leaves are nice and soft. If you wait until the plant gets woody then the leaves don't have as much flavor. And by trimming often you keep it from flowering which yields more leaves.



2. I'd also like to grow chilis, but I have no idea about when I should plant them and what kind and would I need to plant new ones every year. Any advice on growing chilis?
They are annuals. You can find them at your garden center. Can't remember where you are located, but you can pretty much follow the same planting schedule with peppers that you can with tomatoes. They like it hot. I always mulch tomatoes and peppers with straw to keep the soil moist and cool.



3. The previous owner planted blueberry bushes. I started throwing coffee grounds on them last year and they started really growing after that. Now I have the issue of keeping birds and other critters off the berries before they ripen. Any advice on that?

We use 1/2 inch black nylon netting to keep birds off our raspberries. It's nice because you really can't see it from far away so it doesn't look crappy. I imagine something like that ought to work. Garden stores have it.

Yachtzee
04-25-2008, 09:38 PM
My wife has all of those out in our back yard. For the most part, all are easy to grow, just make sure you have a lot of sun for them and that the soil is well drained and has a lot of organic matter mixed in. Many herbs are perennials and will come back every year. Basil is an annual. And speaking of basil, if you want to use it for cooking, then trim it when the leaves are nice and soft. If you wait until the plant gets woody then the leaves don't have as much flavor. And by trimming often you keep it from flowering which yields more leaves.


They are annuals. You can find them at your garden center. Can't remember where you are located, but you can pretty much follow the same planting schedule with peppers that you can with tomatoes. They like it hot. I always mulch tomatoes and peppers with straw to keep the soil moist and cool.



We use 1/2 inch black nylon netting to keep birds off our raspberries. It's nice because you really can't see it from far away so it doesn't look crappy. I imagine something like that ought to work. Garden stores have it.

Thanks for the tips.

So far, here is what I have:

3 jalapeno plants. I bought them already started and transplanted them into 6" terra cotta pots with organic potting soil so that I can move in and out doors easily. I've been putting them out on the deck during the day so that they get plenty of sun. They seem to be doing quite well and two plants look like they already have buds for chilies starting.

1 "herb garden" planter with seeds for basil, chives, oregano, and flat leaf parsley. I have plenty of sprouts for 3 varieties and 1 set of seeds seems to be germinating.

A burpee "greenhouse" thing, which is just a plastic tray that had a bunch of those disks that you add water to and they grow into a planting medium to use for starting seeds. It has a clear plastic cover to put over the tray while your seeds get started. I planted rosemary, thyme, and serrano and anaheim chilies in each of the four quadrants. The thyme quadrant is going crazy and the chili quadrants are starting to germinate. No action in the rosemary quadrant yet.

1 cilantro plant. I thought I would see what would happen if I just transplanted it right into a spot in the yard already. It seemed to be doing well, but today I noticed some of the leaves had become dry and shriveled. We haven't had any frost, but I wonder if that would have been damage from cold. The damage seems to be to the outside edges of the leaves.

SunDeck
04-25-2008, 11:01 PM
I have not grown rosemary from a seed before and from what I have read it is pretty finicky about germinating. If you don't get sprouts don't take it personally. Happily, you can buy a small plant and it will be a foot and a half tall by the end of summer.

Speaking of gardening, I just rented a Honda four stroke mini tiller on Wednesday to regrade a bed that some dork had installed sloping towards the house. What a machine! They didn't make these little devils when I was landscaping.


http://fearlessmoney.com/wp-content/themes/images/post/honda_tiller.jpg (http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/products/models.aspx?page=models&section=P2TL&category=mtc)

Yachtzee
04-25-2008, 11:38 PM
I have not grown rosemary from a seed before and from what I have read it is pretty finicky about germinating. If you don't get sprouts don't take it personally. Happily, you can buy a small plant and it will be a foot and a half tall by the end of summer.

Speaking of gardening, I just rented a Honda four stroke mini tiller on Wednesday to regrade a bed that some dork had installed sloping towards the house. What a machine! They didn't make these little devils when I was landscaping.


http://fearlessmoney.com/wp-content/themes/images/post/honda_tiller.jpg (http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/products/models.aspx?page=models&section=P2TL&category=mtc)

The instructions for the rosemary did say it might take 8-10 weeks before sprouts appear. If I see a rosemary plant, i might pick one up. I love fresh rosemary. One of my favorite dishes is a roast leg of lamb I do on the grill with a rosemary-garlic rub. I'd love to be able to just snip some from the backyard rather than paying $5 for a packet of pre-cut twigs.

Have fun with the tiller. I remember helping my dad till his garden when I was a kid. he would run the tiller through and then I would pick out all the rocks that got churned up.

Yachtzee
04-26-2008, 02:52 PM
I have not grown rosemary from a seed before and from what I have read it is pretty finicky about germinating. If you don't get sprouts don't take it personally. Happily, you can buy a small plant and it will be a foot and a half tall by the end of summer.

Speaking of gardening, I just rented a Honda four stroke mini tiller on Wednesday to regrade a bed that some dork had installed sloping towards the house. What a machine! They didn't make these little devils when I was landscaping.


http://fearlessmoney.com/wp-content/themes/images/post/honda_tiller.jpg (http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/products/models.aspx?page=models&section=P2TL&category=mtc)

Here's a question. Some of the herbs are going crazy with sprouts. At what point should I "thin the herd?" I figure that all these little sprouts are going to need to be thinned out so that the some may grow big. When should I start pulling some out?

TeamCasey
04-26-2008, 03:09 PM
Cilantro is yummy!

We're still fighting our lawn. Very shady, Very crappy soil. Need to get some ground cover to take without much luck thusfar.

It's like trying to grow in concrete in the dark. Very frustrating.