welcome... bookmark this site !!!

growing vegetables in your home garden

gimme contact
gimme goals
gimme a plan
gimme no hang ups!
lifestyle diet
marvelous miscellany
lifestyle exercise
exercise defeat
endurance training
strength training
tai chi
water aerobics
lifestyle sleep
lifestyle relaxation
relaxation breathing
relaxation techniques
lifestyle counseling
behavioral therapy
cognitive behavioral therapy
electroconvulsive therapy
group therapy
interpersonal therapy
lifestyle medications
lifestyle emotions & feelings
lifestyle quit smoking
relationships - making some changes

Hi all!
Growing vegetables at home in your own garden, whether it be container gardening or a small backyard garden or even a small courtyard garden is a wonderful learning experience as well as nutrition as good as it gets. Being in control of what you're eating from the very beginning empowers you.
Feeling the sense of accomplishment, especially if you have a brown thumb like I do, is what you need to get you on the right track to a new lifestyle diet of completely healthy & nutritious foods!


Growing Broccoli & Cauliflower in the Home Garden

Broccoli & cauliflower are 2 popular garden vegetables belonging to the cabbage or cole family. Other commonly grown cole crops include:

  • brussels sprouts
  • collards
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • cabbage

These vegetables go a long way to add variety & nutrition to the family diet.

slowly absorb the information....

Climatic Requirements

Cole crops are cool weather vegetables, growing best when daytime temperatures are between 65 & 80 F. Cauliflower is more sensitive to hot weather than broccoli. In Ohio, broccoli is grown as a spring & fall crop, while cauliflower does best when planted in mid-summer for a fall harvest.

Both broccoli & cauliflower do best when set out as transplants rather than planted from seed. It is important to use sturdy transplants & that they become established quickly or the plants may not develop properly.

Suggested Cultivars


For good side shoot production after harvest of the main head, try Green Comet & Packman. Two other excellent cultivars for the home garden are Green Hornet & Premium Crop.


Snow Crown, Snow King, Snowball 123, & Imperial 10-6 are good cultivars for the home garden. Also, try Self-Blanche using a 12" spacing for support & effective blanching.

Violet Queen is a purple-headed cultivar that doesn't require blanching.

Planting Suggestions

All cole crops are frost tolerant. Broccoli transplants may be set out in the garden as early as April 1. For a fall cauliflower crop, set out transplants on July 1.

Broccoli may be spaced 18" apart in the row with 24" between rows. Cauliflower requires a little more room. Set cauliflower plants 24" apart in the row with 30" between rows.

As cauliflower plants begin to mature & the head or curd starts to form, gather together & tie the leaves over the curd with soft twine or tape. This "blanching" is required to ensure the curd will be white & tender at harvest. There are some 'self-blanching' types available where the leaves curl naturally over the head when grown in cool weather. However, some tying of the leaves may still be necessary.

An even moisture supply is needed for transplants to become established & to produce good heads. As mentioned earlier, an organic mulch will help keep soils cool & moist & suppress weed growth.

Hand-pull or use shallow cultivation if additional weed control becomes necessary. Apply 1 to 1.5" of water per week if an equal amount of rainfall does not occur. An additional side dressing of a nitrogen fertilizer when the plants are well-established may be desirable.

Principle insect & disease problems are the cabbage looper & imported cabbage worm, cabbage root maggot, aphids, flea beetles, blackleg, black rot, clubroot & yellows. 

Soil Requirements

All of the cole crops grow well in reasonably fertile, well-drained, moist soils with plenty of added organic matter. A mulch will help keep the ground cool & moist.

The pH should be between 6.0 & 7.0 for optimum growth. A pH within this range will discourage clubroot disease & maximize nutrient availability.


Fertilizer & lime are best applied using the results of a soil test as a guide. Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for information on soil testing.

In the absence of a soil test, 2 - 3 pounds of 8-16-16 fertilizer applied uniformly over 100 square feet of garden area is suggested.

Work the fertilizer thoroughly into the soil about 2 weeks before planting time.

A liquid starter fertilizer applied to the transplants at time of planting will help get them off to a good start. Apply a half pint of a 20-20-20 or similar solution to each plant, preparing the fertilizer according to label directions.

Harvesting & Handling

Harvest the center green flower bud cluster of broccoli while the buds are still tight & before any yellow petals begin to show.

Cut the central stem 5-6" below the head. Many cultivars will continue producing bonus side shoots as long as a few leaves are left on the plant.

This can extend the harvest period for a month or more. Green Comet, an All-American Selection, is a good producer of side shoots.

The cauliflower curd, like the broccoli head, is actually a group of tightly clustered white or purple flower buds. Harvest the curd when it reaches the desired size but before the buds begin to separate. This is about 2 months after transplanting. Cut the head so that at least 2 wrapper leaves are present.

Growing Carrots in the Home Garden
Because they're easy to grow & a wonderful source of Vitamin A, carrots are an excellent crop in the home garden. The new varieties are easy to grow & make a great addition to children's gardens.
Climatic Requirements The carrot is a hardy, cool season crop that can be planted in the garden as soon as the soil can be prepared in the spring.
Carrots require relatively large amounts of moisture & aren't tolerant of drought. Prolonged hot weather in the later stages of development may not only retard growth but result in an undesirable strong flavor & coarseness in the roots.
At the other extreme, prolonged temperatures below 55 degrees F tend to make the roots longer, more slender & paler in color than expected.
The best temperature for highest quality roots is between 60 & 70 degrees F.
Carrot plants thrive in deep, loose, well-drained soil. Avoid stony, cloddy or trash-laden soils as they increase the incidence of root defects. Because raised-beds usually have loose soil & receive little compaction from foot traffic, they're an ideal location to grow carrots.
Carrots grown on heavy soils may produce considerable leaf growth & forked roots. Carrot plants don't grow well in strongly acid soils; therefore, a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8 should be maintained for best results.
Fertilizers & lime are best applied to soils for carrot production using soil test results as a guide. Arrangements for soil testing can be made thru your local Extension office.
Carrots require large amounts of plant nutrient elements, particularly potassium, for good production. A fertilizer with the ratio of 1-2-2 such as a 5-10-10 analysis would be appropriate at the time of seeding & again when tops are 3 to 4" tall & 6 to 8" tall.
Too much manure & fertilizer applied just before seeding can result in forked roots. Establishing the Planting Direct seed carrots into a well-prepared soil early in the spring. Suggested planting depth is 1/4" deep in rows spaced 12 to 18" or more apart depending on the method of cultivation used.
It's important to avoid crusting of the soil around the seed-bed. Covering the seed with vermiculite or fine compost & keeping the soil evenly moist until the seedlings have emerged will help prevent this problem.
After the seedlings have emerged, thin them to 1" apart. When the tops of the carrots grow thicker, thin them to about 2 to 3 inches apart. Some seed companies are now offering pelletized seed, making the seeds easier to plant & thin.
Cultural Practices
After plants are established, applied mulches will help conserve moisture & suppress weed growth. Cultivation, if necessary, should be shallow in order to avoid root injury. Carrots require an evenly-distributed & plentiful soil moisture supply throughout the growing season.
However, avoid too much moisture towards the end of the season as this will cause roots to crack. Watch for the appearance of orange crowns at the soil level as the plants mature. If this occurs, mulch with soil or compost as the sunlight will turn them green.
Potential pest problems include leafhoppers, wireworms, carrot rust worm larvae, aster yellow, leaf spot & soft rot. Contact your local Extension office for current control recommendations.
Harvesting & Storage
Harvest can begin when carrots are finger size. In general, the smaller carrots are juicier & more tender. You don't have to harvest the entire crop at once. They can remain in the soil until you're ready to use them. Carrots will last until winter in the soil if mulched well.
Carrots are best stored at temperatures near freezing in a moist environment.
Choosing a variety depends upon your preference & your soil type. Shorter types such as Red-Cored Chantenay & Short & Sweet are better suited for heavy soils. Other varieties include Nantes Half-long, Danvers Half-long, Pioneer & Spartan Bonus.
Gourmet varieties such as Little Finger are also excellent in container gardens. Below are some varieties & their characteristics.
Red-Cored Chantenany - 6" roots, grow well in heavy clay soils, crisp & tender, red-orange cola to the core.
Danvers Half Long - Tapered roots average 6-1/2 to 7" long, heavy yields & good storage capabilities.
Little Finger - 3 to 5" long &1/2" across, exceptionally high sugar content, performs well in heavy soils.
Thumberline - 2" golf ball sized round carrot, excellent for heavy clay soils.

Growing Cucumbers in the Home Garden
Cucumbers, either for pickling or slicing, have become one of the most popular planted crops in today's home garden. Despite the fact that they require substantial growing space, they can still be grown in small gardens by training vines onto vertical structures that conserve garden space.
They may also be grown in containers. The cucumber ranges in size from the small gherkin type to the long, thin slicing variety. There are also yellow & fruited varieties.
As a gardener you can choose from the many varieties available to suit your needs. Cucumbers are a subtropical crop, requiring long warm days, plenty of sunshine & balmy nights. Many new varieties have shorter growing seasons making them ideal for the short summers in our area.
Vines bear two kinds of flowers, pistillate (female) & staminate (male). The first flowers are staminate, will drop from the vine & will not bear fruit. Subsequent flowers will include both male & female & pollination will occur.
Recently, gynoecious plants (those bearing female flowers only) have been introduced. The seed packet will have specifically marked seeds indicating that the marked seeds must be planted as well for proper pollination.
Climatic Requirements
Cucumbers thrive best at relatively high temperatures, 65-75 degrees F being the ideal temperature range. The plants don't tolerate a frost. Since it's a quick-growing crop, it must be well supplied with moisture & plant nutrient elements throughout the growing season.
Cucumbers can be grown successfully in many types of soils. The preferred soil is loose, well-drained & well supplied with organic matter & plant nutrient elements. Work in organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost before planting. The soil pH should be between 6.0 & 7.0.
Lime & fertilizers are best applied using soil test results as a guide. Contact your county Extension office for information on soil testing. Prior to planting, you should add a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or similar analysis according to label recommendations.
One week after blossoming begins & again 3 weeks later, use a high nitrogen fertilizer to side-dress the hills. Don't over fertilize as this encourages vine growth & retards fruiting.
Establishing the Planting
You can gain growing time by starting the plants indoors 10 to 14 days before anticipated planting time. Use peat pots or pellets & avoid disturbing roots when transplanting. Planting outside should be delayed until the danger of frost has passed in the spring.
Cucumber seeds can be planted in hills consisting of four or five seeds per hill spaced at 4 to 5 feet apart. They can also be planted in rows 2 to 3 feet apart with rows 5 to 6 feet apart.
Certain varieties make excellent container plants. Some suggested varieties for Ohio gardens are:
Sweet Slice Burpless
Straight 8
Dasher II 
Marketmore 80 for slicing
Boston Pickling are good for pickles & Bushmaster & Spacemaster are good for container gardening.
Unusual varieties include Lemon, a small yellow type & Armenian, a long, slender, sweet variety. There are many new & excellent hybrid varieties available as well. Refer to the end of this fact sheet for varieties & their characteristics.
Cultural Practices
Applied mulches can conserve soil moisture, prevent soil compaction & rotting of the fruit & help suppress weeds. Black plastic mulch can be a valuable aid in keeping the soil moist & minimizing weed problems.
Weeds, insects & diseases must be controlled in the planting. Cucumber beetles, aphids, mites, pickle worms, bacterial wilt, anthracnose, powdery & downy mildew & angular leaf spot are potential problems in the cucumber-pickle planting.
The early & continuous control of the cucumber beetle is critical to success in growing cucumbers. The cucumber beetle can infect the plant with bacterial wilt as early as the cotyledon stage, when seedlings are just emerging from the ground.
Bacterial wilt causes plants to wilt and die. Avoid using insecticides in the garden when pollinating insects such as bees are working the flowers.
Cucumbers are ready for harvest 50 to 70 days from planting. Depending on their use, harvest on the basis of size. Cucumbers shouldn't be allowed to reach the yellowish stage as they become bitter with size.
Harvest by cutting the stem 1/4 inch above the fruit. Don't trample the vines any more than necessary to harvest the crop. Frequent picking of cucumbers is essential as they grow and reach optimum quality. Delayed harvest results in reduced quality products and less productive plants because fruiting is an exhaustive process for the plant.
Straight Eight - Heavy yield of smooth, 8-inch long straight and smooth cucumber, dark skin and pure white flesh.
Spacemaster - Excellent for baskets on containers, 7-1/2 inch dark green fruits, mosaic and scab tolerant.
Seman - Sunny yellow skin, lemon shaped and lemon sized cucumbers, crisp and mild.
Sweet Slice Burpless - mild 10 to 12-inch fruits, never bitter, resists several diseases.
Bush Pickle Hybrid - 2-1/2 to 3-inch plants, early crop of white-spined 5-inch fruits.

Growing Eggplant in the Home Garden
The eggplant is probably a native of India & has been cultivated for a long time. It's a member of the nightshade family, making it a close relative of the tomato, pepper & potato.
When compared to its relatives, the eggplant is of limited importance. Its use in appealing dishes make this vegetable highly desired by those familiar with it.
The eggplant is a very tender plant that requires a long, warm season for successful production. The plants are killed by light frost & are injured by long periods of chilly, frostless weather. Plants shouldn't be set out until all danger of frost has passed.
Fertilizer & Lime
Lime & fertilizer applications are best based on a soil test. Soil sample bags, forms & instructions are available from your county Extension office.
In general, two pounds each of actual nitrogen, phosphorus (P2O5), & potash (K2O) per 1,000 square feet of garden space is adequate. An additional application of one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. after the fruit has set may be helpful to maintain plant development.
Apply lime only if indicated by soil test results; pH should be maintained between 6.0 & 6.8. Culture The use of plastic mulch can increase the yield of eggplant by helping to warm the soil, by conserving moisture & by controlling weeds.
Plants may be planted in staggered double rows on each strip of plastic. Place the plastic on 5 foot centers & allow 18" between plants in each of the staggered rows.
Because of the need for a long, warm growing season, it's best to use transplants. These may be purchased or started in peat pots or pellets 8 to 10 weeks before the anticipated planting time.
Varieties Extension Bulletin 736, Vegetables for Ohio Gardens recommends the following cultivated varieties, or "cultivars:"
Oval or elongated oval shaped
Harris Special Hibush
Burpee Hybrid Black Magic
Classic Dusky Black Beauty
Long, slim shaped
Little fingers
Ichiban Tycoon
White skinned, oval shaped
Casper Easter Egg
Insects, Mites & Diseases
Insect & mite pests of eggplant include flea beetles, Colorado potato beetle, aphids & spider mites. Potato flea beetles eat small holes in leaves & can be particularly serious on small plants. Colorado potato beetle adults & larvae feed on eggplant leaves & can completely defoliate small plants if not controlled.
Some Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) insecticides will control small larvae & are very safe to use. Hand removal of larger larvae & adults is also useful.
Four-year rotations with non-related crops & using plants grown from disease-free seeds will help control some eggplant diseases. A particularly damaging disease in eggplant is Verticillium wilt.
It causes stunting in plants & interveinal yellowing, wilting & dying of leaves. Avoid tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, okra, raspberries, or strawberries in rotation with eggplant.
Contact your county Extension office for current control recommendations for insects, mites & diseases.
The fruits of the eggplant are edible from the time they are one-third grown until ripe. They remain in an edible condition for several weeks after they become colored & fully grown. Skin should be shiny; seeds inside should not be brown or hard. Harvest will continue over an extended period if the fruit are removed when they are well-colored & of adequate size.
The fruits are usually cut from the plants since the stems are hard & woody. The large calyx (cap) and a short piece of stem are left on the fruit. Plants of most cultivars have sharp spines, so care is necessary when harvesting to prevent injury.

Growing Lettuce in the Home Garden


Marianne Riofrio

An ever-expanding selection of greens for salads in the supermarket, as well as salad bars popping up in nearly every restaurant, is a reflection of the new health-conscious eating habits sweeping the United States. Several types of lettuce can be grown in the home garden adding variety, texture and color to the family diet.

Lettuce varieties can be loosely categorized into four groups: crisphead, butterhead, leaf, and romaine or cos. Each group has its own growth and taste characteristics.

Types of Lettuce

Crisphead lettuce is probably the most familiar of the four. It is characterized by a tight, firm head of crisp, light-green leaves. In general, crisphead lettuce is intolerant of hot weather, readily bolting or sending up a flower stalk under hot summer conditions. For this reason, plus the long growing period required, it is the most difficult of the lettuces to grow in the home garden.

The butterhead types have smaller, softer heads of loosely folded leaves. The outer leaves may be green or brownish with cream or butter colored inner leaves. There are several cultivars available that will do well in Ohio gardens.

Leaf lettuce has an open growth and does not form a head. Leaf form and color varies considerably. Some cultivars are frilled and crinkled and others deeply lobed. Color ranges from light green to red and bronze. Leaf lettuce matures quickly and is the easiest to grow.

Romaine or cos lettuces form upright, cylindrical heads of tightly folded leaves. The plants may reach up to 10 inches in height. The outer leaves are medium green with greenish white inner leaves. This is the sweeter of the four types.

Suggested Cultivars


  • Mesa 659 (fall), Ithaca


  • Bibb
  • Salad Bibb
  • Summer Bibb
  • Buttercrunch
  • Tania
  • Tom
  • Thumb (miniature)


  • Salad Bowl
  • Grand Rapids
  • Black Seeded Simpson
  • Slobolt
  • Oakleaf
  • Green Ice
  • Prizehead
  • Red Sails
  • Lollo Rosso
  • Ruby
  • Red Fire


  • Valmaine
  • Parris Island Cos

Climatic Requirements

Lettuce is a cool-season vegetable and develops best quality when grown under cool, moist conditions. Lettuce seedlings will tolerate a light frost. Temperatures between 45 F and 65 F are ideal. Such conditions usually prevail in Ohio in spring and fall. Seeds of leaf lettuce are usually planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Butterhead and romaine can be grown from either seeds or transplants. Due to its long-growing season, crisphead lettuce is grown from transplants. Transplants may be purchased or started indoors about six weeks before the preferred planting date.

Soil Requirements

Lettuce can be grown under a wide range of soils. Loose, fertile, sandy loam soils, well-supplied with organic matter are best. The soil should be well-drained, moist, but not soggy. Heavy soils can be modified with well-rotted manure, compost, or by growing a cover crop. Like most other garden vegetables, lettuce prefers a slightly acidic pH of 6.0 to 6.5.

Cultural Practices

Since lettuce seed is very small, a well-prepared seedbed is essential. Large clods will not allow proper seed-to-soil contact, reducing germination. Lettuce does not have an extensive root system so an adequate supply of moisture and nutrients is also necessary for proper development.

Fertilizer and lime recommendations should be based on the results of a soil test. Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for information on soil testing. As a general rule, however, apply and work into the soil three to four pounds of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet of garden area.

Seed may be sown in single rows or broadcast for wide row planting. Wide rows should be 12 to 15 inches across. Cover the seeds with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. Water carefully but thoroughly. Several successive plantings of leaf lettuce will provide a more continuous harvest throughout the growing season. Leave 18 inches between the rows for leaf lettuce, and 24 inches for the other types. To achieve proper spacing of plants, thinning of lettuce seedlings is usually necessary. Thin plants of leaf lettuce four to six inches or more between plants depending on plant size. Butterhead and romaine should be thinned six to ten inches between plants. Finally, crisphead transplants should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart in the row.

An organic mulch will help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and keep soil temperatures cool. If weeds do become a problem, either pull by hand or cultivate very shallowly to avoid damage to lettuce roots. Planning your garden so that lettuce will be in the shade of taller plants, such as tomatoes or sweet corn, in the heat of the summer, may reduce bolting.

Insect pests and diseases can occasionally cause problems on lettuce. For proper identification and control recommendation, contact your local Cooperative Extension office.


All lettuce types should be harvested when full size but young and tender. Over-mature lettuce is bitter and woody. Leaf lettuce is harvested by removing individual outer leaves so that the center leaves can continue to grow. Butterhead or romaine types can be harvested by removing the outer leaves, digging up the whole plant or cutting the plant about an inch above the soil surface. A second harvest is often possible this way. Crisphead lettuce is picked when the center is firm.

The author gratefully acknowledges James D. Utzinger, on whose original fact sheet this is based.

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868


Growing Peppers in the Home Garden


Marianne Riofrio

Many different types of peppers can be grown in Ohio vegetable gardens. The most popular peppers are the sweet bell and banana types, and the pungent Hungarian wax types. Peppers are normally harvested in the immature green stage for use in relishes, salads, for stuffing, and for flavor in many cooked dishes.

The garden pepper, often mistakenly called mango, is unrelated to the spice pepper plant that produces the ground black pepper commonly found on American tables. The mango is a tropical fruit unrelated to either type of pepper. Peppers grown in various parts of the world are used for making such products as paprika, hot sauces, pickles, and stuffed olives.

Climatic Requirements

As peppers are of tropical origin, plants thrive best when temperatures are warm. Being sensitive to the cold, planting should be delayed until the danger of frost is past in the spring. Ideal temperatures are 70 to 80 degrees F during the day, and 60 to 70 degrees F at night.

Extremely high temperatures (90 degrees F or above) during flowering often results in blossom drop. Fruit that set when temperatures average above 80 degrees F may be small and poorly shaped due to heat injury to the blossoms. Temperatures below 60 degrees F at night will also result in blossom drop.

A shortage of water at bloom time can also result in blossom drop or failure to set fruit. Usually, the plants set satisfactory crops when temperatures are between 65 and 80 degrees F and the soil is well-supplied with moisture. Avoid a soggy, water-logged soil condition when growing peppers.

Soil Requirements

Pepper plants grow best in warm, well-drained soils of moderate fertility and good tilth. The plants are not particularly sensitive to soil acidity, but best results are obtained in the 6.0 to 6.8 pH range. Adjust soil fertility as indicated by soil test results. Arrangements for soil testing can be made through your local Cooperative Extension office. Fertilizers of a 1-2-2 ratio, such as 5-10-10 or 8-16-16 are often used for growing peppers.

Suggested Varieties

The choice of variety is important and depends on the gardener's preference. In addition to the standard varieties, many excellent hybrids are available. Some suggested varieties for Ohio gardens are as follows:

  • Green (sweet) - Big Bertha, California Wonder, Yolo Wonder strains, Keystone Resistant Giant, North Star, Staddon's Select, Canape, Lady Bell, Jupiter, Bell Boy
  • Yellow (sweet) - Summer Sweet 860 (green turning yellow)
  • Banana Type - Sweet Banana
  • Hot Type - Hungarian Wax, Long Red Cayenne, Large Red Cherry
  • Pimento - Sunnybrook, Early Pimento

Establishing the Planting

Peppers are usually grown in Ohio home gardens by using transplants rather than by direct seeding. If you are buying transplants at a local garden center, select stocky, sturdy plants that have 3-5 sets of true leaves. Avoid plants that already have flowers and fruit.

Space plants 18 inches apart in rows 24 inches apart or more, depending on the type of cultivation used. Water plants thoroughly after transplanting. Avoid planting under conditions that will stunt the plants and lead to poor production, such as cold weather, lack of sufficient soil moisture, or lack of sufficient fertilizer.

Cultural Practices

After the plants are well established, apply a mulch to conserve soil moisture, prevent soil compaction and help suppress weed growth.

Once fruits have begun to set, an additional sidedressing of fertilizer will help promote greater plant productivity. Use a 12-12-12 analysis fertilizer or other high nitrogen fertilizer at the rate recommended on the package.

Control weeds by hand-pulling or shallow cultivation to avoid injury to the plant roots. The incidence of disease can be reduced by proper spacing and by watering early in the day so leaves dry quickly or by using soaker hoses.

Aphids should be controlled as they may carry viral diseases that can affect peppers. European Corn Borers may make small holes near the stem of the pepper and cause internal rot of the fruit. Contact your Cooperative Extension office for the latest control recommendations.

Harvesting and Storage

Bell peppers are usually picked green and immature but when they are full-sized and firm. However, if they are allowed to ripen on the plant they will be sweeter and higher in vitamin content. Other peppers are usually harvested at full maturity.

Care should be taken when breaking the peppers from the plants, as the branches are often brittle. Hand clippers or pruners can be used to cut peppers from the plant to avoid excessive stem breakage. The number of peppers per plant varies with the variety. Bell pepper plants may produce 6 to 8 or more fruit per plant.

In general, peppers have short storage life of only one to two weeks. Cool, moist conditions (45 to 50 degrees F) and 85 to 90 percent relative humidity are the ideal storage conditions for peppers.

The authors gratefully acknowledge J.D. Utzinger and W.M. Brooks for their 1984 fact sheet on which this is based.

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868


container gardening navigational menu
gardening - the main page - you are here!
container gardening - what plants to grow & pots to use
container gardening - the dirt about gardening
container gardening - putting it all together - planting your garden
container gardening - tools you need
container garderning - watering methods
the perfect greenhouse

Growing Beets in the Home Garden

Beets are popular in the home garden because they're relatively easy to grow & practically the whole plant can be eaten. Beets can be grown for their root qualities which include different shapes & sizes as well as red, yellow or white colors.

The tops or greens, when young, are excellent in salads & when the plant is older, can be cooked. The greens are even more nutritious than the roots.

Climatic Requirements

Beets prefer a cooler climate although they are tolerant of heat. Temperatures of 60 to 65 F & bright sunny days are ideal for beet plant growth & development. They can withstand cold weather short of severe freezing, making them a good long-season crop.

Establishing the Planting

Plant the seeds in a well-prepared seedbed as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Sow the seeds 1/2" deep & in rows 12 to 18" or more apart depending on the method of cultivation.

Space the seeds, which are actually fruits containing several seeds, 1" in the rows. When the seedlings are 1 - 2" tall, thin to about 1 plant per inch.

As they grow, thin to about 3 to 4" between plants.

Succession planting can be done at 3 week intervals throughout the season. Avoid seeding during daytime temperatures of 80 degrees F, wait until it is cooler. Most varieties will mature within 55 to 70 days & can be planted until late summer.

Soil or (the dirt)

Beets prefer loose, well-drained soils but will tolerate a wide range. Remove stones & debris since this will hinder growth. In high clay soils, add organic matter to improve soil structure & to help avoid crusting after rainfall.

Beets also make an excellent raised bed crop since soils are generally less compacted & there's less foot traffic. Beets are also sensitive to soil acidity. A low soil pH results in stunted growth.

They prefer a pH of 6.2 to 6.8 & will tolerate 6.0 to 7.5.


Fertilizers & lime are best applied using soil test results as a guide. A fertilizer with the analysis of 5-10-10 can be applied at the time of seeding & again when the plants are about 3" high.


Choice of cultivar depends on your tastes. Excellent varieties for Ohio home gardens include Early Wonder, Detroit Dark Red & Little Ball for red beets. More recent introductions include Pacemaker III, Red Ace Hybrid, Warrior & Avenger.

Burpee Golden & Albino White are alternatives for a different color of beets. Below are some varieties and their characteristics.

  • Burpee Golden - Round type w/a unique yellow-orange color.
  • Pacemaker III - Uniform, smooth a tender round beet, cercospera leaf spot tolerant, high quality tops.
  • Red Ace hybrid - Exceptional weather tolerance, cercospera leaf spot tolerant, early maturity.
  • Little Mini Ball - Sliver-dollar sized round roots.
  • Detroit Dark Red - Excellent canning, pickling quality, tender & sweet, good boiling greens.


After plants are well established, the application of a mulch will conserve soil moisture, prevent soil compaction & help suppress weed growth. Any mechanical cultivation should be very shallow in order to avoid damage to the beet roots.

In order to obtain the highest quality, beets must make continuous growth. Soil moisture & plant nutrient element supply must be adequately maintained to prevent checking of the growth. Supplemental watering may be necessary during dry spells.

Weeds, insects & diseases must be controlled in the planting. Principal insect & disease problems of beets are flea beetles, leaf miners, aphids & Cercospora leaf spot. Regular inspection of the crop can help deter a major pest infestation. 

Harvesting & Storage

Beets can be harvested at any time in their growth cycle. Greens are best when 4 to 6 inches tall. Beet roots are generally most tender after growing for 40 to 50 days.

The best size is between 1-1/2 to 2" in diameter. As beets get larger, they tend to become more fibrous. When harvested, leave at least 1" of foliage on the root to avoid bleeding during cooking.

Beets are suited to long-term storage if kept at temperatures near freezing & w/high humidity to prevent wilting.

Fresh beets are always in good supply. They are grown in more than 30 states in the US, and crops are harvested and shipped throughout the year. June through October, however, are peak months, and at the start of the season you can find young beets with small tender roots that are suitable for cooking whole.


Beets are notable for their sweetness, they have the highest sugar content of any vegetable, but they are very low in calories. Their sweet flavor comes through whether the beets are fresh or canned. Unlike many other processed vegetables, canned beets are perfectly acceptable in both taste & texture; if not pickled, their sweet flavor is largely unaffected by the canning process.


Fresh beets, however, have twice the folate (folic acid) & potassium & have a distinctive flavor & a crisp texture not found in canned beets. Fresh beets also supply a nutritional bonus: their green tops are an excellent source of beta carotene, calcium & iron.


If the leaves are attached, and especially if you're planning to eat them, it's preferable that they be small, crisp, and dark green. Leaves that are larger than about 8" are probably too mature to be palatable. Limp, yellowed leaves have lost their nutritional value. However, beets with wilted greens may still be acceptable, because the leaves deteriorate much more quickly than the roots. If the leaves on the beets offered at your market look less than fresh, be sure to check the roots for soundness. If the beets are clip topped, at least 1/2" of the stems (and 2" of the taproot) should remain, or the color will bleed from the beets as they cook.


To reduce moisture loss from the roots, cut off beet greens before storing, but leave at least 1" of the stem attached (tiny leaf topped baby beets can be stored for a day or two with their tops intact). Place the unwashed roots in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper for up to three weeks. Store the greens separately in the same fashion and use them as soon as possible; they are perishable and will keep for only a few days.

Generally speaking, to preserve their color and nutrients, beets should never be cut or peeled before cooking them in liquid; otherwise, they will "bleed" their rich red juices while cooking and turn an unappetizing dull brown. Scrub the beets gently and rinse well, but be careful not to break the skin, which is thin. Leave at least 1" of stem and don't trim the root.

Cooked beets hold their color better if some acid ingredient is added to the cooking water; vinegar or lemon juice, used in many beet recipes, will keep them a beautiful crimson.


Bake: Dry heat cooking locks in nutrients and intensifies the natural sweetness of beets. It's not a quick method, though: To save time, cook a large quantity of beets at once, then chill some for later use in salads. You can also bake beets when you're baking or roasting something else. Wrap beets in foil, place them in a baking pan, and bake in a 350 to 400°F oven until tender. Unwrap and let stand until they're just cool enough to handle, then peel them while still warm. Cooking time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on size.

Boil: This is the most common way of cooking beets, but some of the color (and nutrients) will be lost in the cooking water. Place beets in a pot of boiling water, cover, and simmer until the beets are just tender. Cooking time: 40 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size and the age of the beets.

Microwave: Place one pound of whole beets in a microwaveable dish with 1/4 cup of liquid. Cover and cook until tender. Cooking time: 10 minutes. (Micro waving food has caused them to lose some, if not all, of their nutritional values)

Steam: Beets can be cooked in a vegetable steamer over boiling water. Tiny beets can be steam boiled with their leaves attached in a little water with lemon juice and herbs added. Cooking time: 40 minutes.


Good source of iron.

Good for hypoglycemia.

Contains anti-cancer compounds


Preparation, uses, and tips

Beets are best when cooked whole, to retain the flavor, color, and nutrients. To prepare beets, cut off the green tops, leaving an inch of the stem to prevent bleeding and flavor loss. Scrub beets, wrap them in foil, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on their size, at 400°F (200°C). Let them cool slightly and then peel the skins off. Baby beets can be steamed whole for about 30 minutes, then peeled and sliced. Beet leaves have a rich flavor resembling that of spinach. If they are crisp and bright green, they can be steamed or braised with onions and garlic in a little olive oil.

Nutritional Highlights

Beets (root, raw), 1 cup (135g)
Calories: 58
Protein: 2.2g
Carbohydrate: 13g
Total Fat: 0.23g
Fiber: 3.8g
*Excellent source of:
Folate (148mcg)
*Good source of:
Potassium (442mg), and Vitamin C (6.6mg)

*Foods that are an excellent source of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value, based upon United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. Foods that are a good source of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the USDA Recommended Daily Value. Nutritional information and daily nutritional guidelines may vary in different countries. Please consult the appropriate organization in your country for specific nutritional values and the recommended daily guidelines.


In Michigan, sugar comes from sugar beets from the root of sugar beet plants, to be precise. Sugar from sugar beets is identical in chemical formula, nutritional value, taste, appearance and sweetening powers to cane sugars. And, since sugar cane does not grow in our cooler climate, sugar beets provide a locally grown, inexpensive source of sugar to feed our sweetest desires.

Michigan farmers have been harvesting sugar beets in our state since the late 1800s, and today, Michigan ranks fourth in the nation in the production of sugar beets. Michigan sugar beet farmers planted about 179,000 acres of sugar beets in 2002, primarily in Michigan's Saginaw Bay/Thumb area. Huron and Tuscola were the top sugar beet-producing counties in 2002. Total production of sugar beets in 2002 was 3,204,000 tons!

It takes only 12 beets to make one pound of sugar. In addition to granulated white sugar, sugar beets are made into various sugar products, including brown sugar and confectioner's, or powdered, sugar. Beet pulp, a sugar beet by-product, is processed into cattle feed. Molasses, another by-product, is used to make citric acid, vinegar, yeast, antibiotics and other products.

The Beet Goes On

The sugar-making process begins with the planting of sugar beets in May. Maximum yields are obtained with a long growing season, so beets are planted early in the spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. To allow for the sugar content to be as great as possible, beets are harvested as late into the fall as possible, but before the ground freezes. Harvest wraps up by the middle of November.

Sugar beets are harvested mechanically in Michigan. Multiple-row harvesting machines dig the plants, cut off the top of the root and leaves, and deliver the roots into trucks. The leaves with crowns are used for livestock feed, either as they are, or as silage (chopped and stored in airtight silos and allowed to ferment). The roots are delivered by truck to the sugar mills, where piling machines unload the beets and convey them to large "air conditioned" storage piles. The beets are stored in piles at the mill until processing time.

The process of obtaining pure sugar from a raw sugar beet is highly automated. First, the sugar beets are washed and cut into long thin strips known as "cossettes." Then the sugar beets go through five main processing steps:

The cossettes enter the diffuser that extracts the raw juice and discharges the pulp to a dryer. Sugar is removed from the cossettes by running them through hot water in a series of vats separated into compartments. As the hot water travels from compartment to compartment, the sugar content increases, until the hot water emerges as "raw juice" with a sugar content of about 10 to 15 percent. The raw juice then travels to an automated juice purification station. The dried pulp that remains after the raw juice is removed from the cossettes is used as cattle and sheep feed - nothing is wasted in sugar beet processing!

At the juice purification station, the raw juice is mixed with milk of lime, which causes non-sugars in the juice to precipitate, or form solids. These non-sugars are filtered out of the raw juice using carbon dioxide gas. At this point, the product is called "thin juice."

The thin juice is heated in a series of steam-heated vacuum evaporators, to remove excess water. Flowing from one evaporator to another, the juice's density increases and a heavy syrup-like liquid remains. The juice from these evaporators is filtered once again and then enters the crystallization process.

The final super-saturated solution is "seeded" with sugar crystals to promote crystallization of the sugar. The finished product of this process of crystallization is called "massecuite" and consists of sugar crystals and syrup.

The massecuite then travels to the centrifugal machine to be separated. The massecuite is placed in a finely perforated cylindrical basket, and the centrifuge spins at 1,000 revolutions per minute, throwing syrup up toward the screen-like holes. The pure white sugar crystals remain and are bathed by hot filtered water. The syrup thrown out of the centrifuge is re-boiled and eventually becomes molasses. The remaining slightly damp sugar crystals then move to the granulator where hot filtered air dries them. Finally, the manufacturer packs the final product - pure white sugar.

Michigan sugar is shipped to processing plants that make baked goods and other processed foods. It is also packaged in packets, canisters and bags for use by restaurants and bakeries, and to grocery stores for us to purchase and use in our homes.

Now that you know where Michigan sugar comes from, check out these web sites for some easy-to-make, sweet recipes made with Michigan sugar!


4 large beets, fresh

1 medium red onion

2 Tbsp (30mL) vegetable oil

1 Tbsp (15mL) cider vinegar

1/2 tsp (3g) salt (sea salt if on a corn-free diet*)

1/2 tsp (1g) pepper


Scrub beets to remove any dirt or soil. (Do not peel, as the peel slides off easily after cooking).

Place beets and enough water to cover them in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 45 minutes, until beets are tender, but not mushy.

Drain and rinse with cold water. Hold each beet under cold running water and slip the skin off. Slice crosswise into 1/4-inch (1/2cm) slices, and place in a shallow bowl.

Slice onions into rings. Add to beets.

Mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl and pour over beets and onions. Gently mix to combine.

Chill for several hours before serving.

* Allergy notes: People following a corn-free diet should avoid iodized salt since it contains dextrose, which should be avoided by those allergic to corn.

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 75
Total Fat: 5g
% Calories from fat: 53%
Protein: 1g
Carbohydrate: 8g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 221mg


2 Tbsp (30mL) olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

3 Tbsp (7g) parsley, chopped

3 Tbsp (7g) fresh basil, chopped

2 medium zucchini, whole

1 can (425g) garbanzo beans, (15 ounces)

1 tsp (6g) salt (sea salt if on a corn-free diet*)

3 cups (720mL) water

1 bunch beet greens or other mild flavored greens

Pepper to taste

4 tsp (10g) Parmesan cheese*, grated, optional


In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and add onion. Sauté onion until transparent. Add garlic, parsley and basil and cook for a few minutes more.

Add zucchini and cook just until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally. Add garbanzo beans, salt, and water and bring to a boil.

Turn heat down and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place greens in a sink full of water and swish around to thoroughly wash them. Drain water, and shake the greens to partially dry them. Place them on a cutting board and cut the leaves into pieces measuring approximately 2x1/2 inches (5x1.5cm).

Cook for about 10 more minutes, until the greens have cooked down. Add fresh ground pepper, and serve with about 1 tsp (3g) of Parmesan cheese per serving.Add the greens to the soup pot and stir well.

* Allergy notes: People following a corn-free diet should avoid iodized salt since it contains dextrose, which should be avoided by those allergic to corn. The egg protein lysozyme is an unlabeled additive in some cheeses. People allergic to eggs should eliminate any cheese in this recipe.

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 279
Total Fat: 11g
% Calories from fat: 32%
Protein: 12g
Carbohydrate: 37g
Cholesterol: 1mg
Sodium: 589mg

Beautiful red beets contrast with the pasta in this unusual way of using fresh beets.


4 medium beets, scrubbed

12 ounces (340g) linguine, uncooked

1 Tbsp (15mL) extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/2 tsp (3g) salt (sea salt if on a corn-free diet*)

4 ounces (115g) feta cheese*, crumbled

Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Boil beets in their skins for about 45 minutes.

While beets are cooking, cook linguine in boiling water until done. Drain linguine, reserving about 1 cup (250mL) of the liquid.

Rinse beets well under cold running water and slide the skins off. Chop beets into 1/2-inch (2cm) cubes (or smaller).

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch (30cm) nonstick skillet and add onions. Cook onions until tender, and lightly browned. Add chopped beets and salt to the onions. Transfer the pasta into the skillet with the beets and onions. Stir until the pasta and the beets are well combined. Top with the crumbled feta cheese and the freshly ground pepper.

* Allergy notes: People following a corn-free diet should avoid iodized salt since it contains dextrose, which should be avoided by those allergic to corn. The egg protein lysozyme is an unlabeled additive in some cheeses. People allergic to eggs should eliminate any cheese in this recipe.

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 461
Total Fat: 11g
% Calories from fat: 21%
Protein: 16g
Carbohydrate: 74g
Cholesterol: 25mg
Sodium: 653mg

Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden

One of the most popular of all home garden vegetables is the tomato. Originating in Central and South America, the tomato was thought by early American colonists to be poisonous and was not recognized as a useful vegetable until the 1800s. Eaten raw or in innumerable cooked dishes, today the tomato is an almost daily part of the American family diet. When grown as staked plants, tomatoes require a relatively small amount of space, yet are capable of producing 8 to 10 pounds or more of fruit per plant. Tomatoes are low in calories and a good source of vitamin C.

Climatic Requirements

Tomatoes are warm-season plants and should be planted only after danger of frost has passed. Temperature is an important factor in the production of tomatoes, which are particularly sensitive to low night temperatures. Blossom drop can occur in early spring when daytime temperatures are warm, but night temperatures fall below 55 degrees F as well as in summer, when days are above 90 degrees F and nights above 76 degrees F.

Soil Requirements

Tomatoes can be grown on many different soil types, but a deep, loamy soil, well-drained and supplied with organic matter and nutrients is most suitable. As with most garden vegetables, tomatoes grow best in a slightly acid soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8.


Tomatoes respond well to fertilizer applications, especially phosphorus. Excess nitrogen fertilizer can result in plants with extremely vigorous vine growth but little fruit production. Apply 2-1/2 to 3 pounds of a complete fertilizer, such as 5-10-10, 5-20-20, or 8-16-16 per 100 square feet of garden area. Work the fertilizer into the soil about 2 weeks before planting. An additional sidedressing of a nitrogen fertilizer may be desirable after the first cluster of flowers have set fruit.

Recommended Cultivars

There are probably more tomato cultivars available to the home gardener than any other garden vegetable. A few will be named here, but it's worthwhile talking to other local gardeners to find out what other cultivars do well in your area; or just experiment by trying one or two new cultivars each year. When choosing cultivars, keep in mind the different ripening periods.

Tomatoes are usually categorized as early, mid-season or late. Another consideration is whether the tomato cultivar you choose is determinate or indeterminate in growth habit. Determinate (D) tomato plants grow to a certain height and then stop. They also flower and set all their fruit within a relatively short period of time. This is an advantage if the tomatoes are being grown primarily for canning purposes. Indeterminate tomato plants grow, flower, and set fruit over the entire growing season.

Another characteristic to look for when choosing tomato cultivars is disease resistance. Many cultivar names are followed by one or more letters indicating resistance to Verticillium wilt (V), Fusarium wilt (F), or nematodes (N). Disease resistance can be an important consideration, especially if you have experienced these problems with tomatoes in the past.

Early: Moreton Hybrid (V), Jet Star (VF), Pik-Red (VF)(D), and Pilgrim (VF)(D).

Mid-season: Heinz 1350 (VF)(D), Better Boy (VFN), Burpee(VF), Roma (VF)(D)(paste type), Floramerica (VF), Celebrity (VFN)(D), Red Star (VFN), Market Pride (VF)(D), and Mountain Delight (VF).

Late: Supersonic B (VF), Ramapo (VF), Supersteak (VFN)(D), Mountain Pride (VF), Beefmaster (VFN).

Yellow and Orange: Jubilee, Sunray (F), Lemon Boy (VFN).

Large vine with small fruit (not suited to cage or container culture): Small Red Cherry, Large Red Cherry, Red Pear, Yellow Pear, Small Fry, and Sweet 100.

Dwarf vine with medium fruit: Patio, Pixie. Dwarf vine with small fruit: Tiny Tim, Presto, Baxter's Bush Cherry.

Establishing the Plants

Due to their long growing season and temperature requirements, tomatoes are set out as transplants in Ohio gardens. In central Ohio, the last spring frost date is about May 20, and tomatoes may be planted anytime after this.

When purchasing tomato transplants, choose those with straight, sturdy stems about the thickness of a pencil. They should have 4 to 6 young true leaves, no blossoms or fruit, and be free of insect pests and diseases. Plants in individual containers or cell packs experience little or no transplant shock and become established quickly.

Tomato plants will develop roots along the stem and may be set deeply at transplanting with the first set of leaves near the soil surface. If transplants are in peat pots, remove the rim of the pot or be sure the rim is below the soil surface, so that the soil ball will not dry out. A soluble starter fertilizer, high in phosphorus can be applied at planting time. Use according to label directions.

Tomatoes grown unstaked are usually planted 3 feet apart in rows 5 feet apart. Plants to be staked are planted 2 feet apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. Plants to be caged are planted 30 to 36 inches apart. Stakes and cages should be placed at planting time or soon after so as to not disturb the roots. Unstaked plants should be mulched with clean straw, black plastic or some other suitable material to keep the fruit off the ground and prevent rotting.

Where space is limited or soil conditions poor, tomato plants can be grown in containers using a disease-free planting mix. Most any container is suitable as long as drainage is provided. Pay special attention to water and fertilizer needs of container-grown tomato plants.

Cultural Practices

Once the tomato plants are established, apply a mulch to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth. If weeds do appear, they may be pulled by hand or removed by shallow cultivation. An even moisture supply is important, especially once the tomato fruits begin to develop. If the soil becomes too dry, blossom-end rot can be a problem. If too much water is applied at one time, ripening fruit may split.

Staked plants are usually pruned to a single or double stem and periodically tied loosely to the stake with soft twine. Pruning is accomplished by removing all the branches or "suckers" that grow from the leaf axils, leaving only the main stem or the main stem and one additional branch near the base. Unsupported and caged tomatoes may be left to branch normally. Staked and pruned tomatoes produce fewer but larger fruit than caged or unsupported plants.

There are numerous insect and disease problems of tomatoes that space prohibits describing in detail here. If problems arise, contact your local Cooperative Extension office for identification and control recommendations.

The author gratefully acknowledges the work of James D. Utzinger, on whose fact sheet this is based.

All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868


click here to send me an e-mail & say hello!

Enter supporting content here

help the red cross help hurricane victims!

Click here to visit the Red Cross page that allows you to access your local chapter of the Red Cross by entering your zip code in the specified box, to see how you can help in your area.

thanks for visiting changes!
this website is part of the emotional feelings network of sites...
for more emotions, feelings & important info
this is simply an informational website concerning emotions & feelings. it does not advise anyone to perform methods -treatments - practice described within, endorse methods described anywhere within or advise any visitor with medical or psychological treatment that should be considered only thru a medical doctor, medical professional, or mental health professional.  in no way are we a medical professional or mental health professional.