Category Archives: Grow

Amid pandemic, interest in gardening surges across metro Atlanta

Amina Robinson works in customer service for an airline, and while she is grateful to still be employed, the past two months have been particularly stressful.

Most days she deals with people who need to fly, but are afraid to or who want to cancel a planned trip because of the coronavirus crisis. She does her best to answer their questions and make changes for them. She tries to keep a calm, friendly tone in the face of their fears. It is not easy. At least once she has listened as a potential passenger wept because the person was petrified about boarding a plane, Robinson said.

Which is why, on her days off, Robinson heads either to a friend’s backyard where she shares a garden or to a community garden in Mechanicsville where she volunteers.

“You feel their fear and stress, and you pick up on that,” Robinson said of the people she listens to each day. “So, it’s imperative for me to get out and get into that soil because I have to deposit it somewhere,” Robinson said. “(Gardening) allows me to reconnect with something that’s stable and solid.”

Her father and grandmother gardened, and last year Robinson followed in their footsteps and took her hobby more seriously. But now, Robinson isn’t just looking to relieve stress as she tends to kale and young bunches of lettuce.

“The fact that I have a garden, I feel more secure in the knowledge that if I need some food, I’ll have it,” Robinson said.

As the pandemic has escalated from hot spot to hot spot, so has an interest in gardening, say seed and plant companies, nurseries and a leading garden research association. Plant distributors and growers, large and small, are describing the uptick in demand for both plants and advice on gardening from the public as “staggering” or “overwhelming.” At least one major seed distributor said it has seen a nearly 75% increase in sales since the virus was declared a pandemic. Driving the spike are people under stay-at-home orders looking for something to do safely outside. But fears over the stability of the national food supply chain are also a major factor, observers say, as some grocery stores have struggled to keep bins and shelves replenished with certain foods while panicked shoppers continue to hoard.

Khaiye Robinson, 11, runs kale clippings to the compost pile to help his mom, Amina Robinson, at the Habesha community garden in the Mechanicsville neighborhood Thursday, April 9, 2020. (Jenni Girtman for Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“There is an undercurrent of food security in this,” said Dave Whitinger, executive director of the National Gardening Association, a research and advocacy group. “If the supply chain does break down, but it probably won’t, you’ll still be able to grow something to eat. And if you can grow food in your yard, you can still eat and remain safe.”

Resurgence gardens

Whitinger said traffic to the association’s website has increased 98% in the last year, from 390,00 unique visitors from April 1-13, 2019, to 774,000 during the same period this year. The organization does an annual trend survey of gardeners and related companies but is thinking of adding a second one this year. Based on traffic and the questions the website’s visitors ask — such as when to plant tomatoes or how long it takes corn to ripen —Whitinger and his staff can tell most of the people seeking help are novice gardeners.

“We’ve been telling people you don’t have to rent a roto-tiller and tear up your yard to have a garden,” he said. “You can grow in containers. You can even dig up a couple of shrubs and plant in your landscape. Chard and peppers can look nice.”

Whether they’re called Victory Gardens, after the World War I and II backyard plots that swept the nation and kept thousands of families fed during scarce times, or resurgence gardens as some are now calling the burgeoning trend, patches of fruits and vegetables are symbols of both fear and hope.

“When this started, people went to stores. There were crazy long lines. You had to wait. When you finally got in, the shelves were empty or picked over and what was left, you could only take two of,” said Tenisio Seanima, owner of Nature’s Candy Farms in South Fulton. “That woke people up to the reality that food will not always be around. Now, in whatever way, people are trying to increase that level of security with their own ingenuity.”

In the past month, Seanima said, he has expanded his business, largely through Facebook, by offering consulting services to new gardeners, helping experienced gardeners improve their soil to boost yields, and even installing complete gardens for those who have no clue how to do it. Charles Greenlea, who has been a manager for the non-profit Habesha Gardens in southwest Atlanta, is doing similar work. He said he recently helped K. Rashid Nuri, a longtime national leader in the urban gardening movement and founder of Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture in Atlanta, work on Nuri’s personal home garden. Greenlea said a constant conversation among growers, particularly since the outbreak began, is how disconnected most people are from the source of the foods they eat.

“They don’t know that food comes from someplace other than the grocery store,” Greenlea said.

‘You can’t trick the plants’

Earlier this year, Habesha purchased about 1,500 seedlings from southwest Georgia farms then gave them away to home gardeners here in Atlanta, Greenlea said. Greenlea was heartened by the interest, but cautioned that a lot of new gardeners have plenty of zeal but perhaps not enough tenacity or skill to see a garden successfully through several seasons.

Amina Robinson gets help from her oldest son, Khaiye Robinson, 11, at the Habesha community garden in the Mechanicsville neighborhood. Jenni Girtman for The AJC
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“The average person doesn’t understand you can’t meet all your nutritional need right out the gate,” Greenlea said. “You have to put time into it. You can’t trick the plants. There are laws of nature you have to work within.”

Rules such as not trying to grow cool-weather plants like tender lettuce and parsley in the heat of summer or planting an apple tree in the back yard in spring and expecting a bumper crop by fall. Still, seed companies and nurseries are seeing overwhelming traffic. Some nurseries have been deemed essential businesses under state and local ordinances and are either delivering plants to customers homes or providing curbside pick up at their stores which are closed to foot traffic, such as Pike Nurseries in metro Atlanta. Even Home Depot’s garden centers in Midtown and Buckhead were swarming with customers over Easter weekend, although the stores were only allowing a certain number of shoppers in at a time.

Bonnie Plants, the 101-year-old supplier to Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart and 5,000 independent garden retailers, has had to ramp up production from “coast to coast,” said Joan Casanova, spokesperson for Bonnie. “The increase in demand is staggering,” Casanova said.

The same is true for another major supplier, Burpee, one of the oldest in the nation.

“We’re working now almost seven days a week,” said George Ball, chairman of Burpee, the 144-year-old Pennsylvania seed and plant company. “We can’t keep up with the orders. We’re probably running a 50% to 75% increase in sales. I’ve been here 30 years, and we’ve never seen this kind of growth. It’s stunning.”

Burpee supplies big-box stores, but also sells heirloom varieties of okra, tomatoes and other vegetables and flowers directly to consumers through its classic mail-order catalog as well as its website. In a typical year, a rise in sales picks up in April, which is also National Gardening Month. By this past Good Friday, April 10, however, demand had become so high, the privately held company posted a notice on its website saying it wouldn’t accept any new orders until after April 15.

Read the full article at the AJC

12 Fruit Trees You Can Grow Indoors For An Edible Yield

12 Fruit Trees You Can Grow Indoors For An Edible Yield

Why on earth would you want to grow a fruit tree in your house?

Why on earth wouldn’t you?

If you’ve got the space, growing a dwarf fruit tree in your home has some excellent perks. Aside from the usual benefits of a houseplant such as beautiful foliage and clean air, you get the added benefit of fruit.

Fruit trees are visually appealing and offer a nice change from the average spider plant or philodendron.

Related Reading: 10 Indoor Trees You Should Try Growing In Your Home

Some things to consider

A dwarf tangerine tree

What you are looking for as far as fruit trees are concerned are dwarf varieties. These are trees that are grafted onto specific rootstock that will stay small and compact.

That being said, even dwarf varieties can grow much larger than is reasonable for an indoor plant, so the occasional pruning is necessary to keep their size manageable.

These days, it’s easy to find dwarf fruit trees.

While I always encourage you to support your local nursery, even your big home and garden chains like Lowes and Home Depot carry them.

If you can’t find the fruit tree variety you are searching for locally; you can find it online.  One of the best reasons to grow fruit indoors is the ability to provide the perfect growing environment.

I have three peach trees in my front yard. In the past five years, I have had only one good season of peaches. I’ve had bears eat the peaches and break branches in the middle of the night. I’ve had bugs and mold wipe out my fruit. And forget about controlling the weather. A cold or rainy season means little to no fruit.

Growing indoors means you get to control everything from the light to humidity, right down to the nutrients your tree gets.

In general, most fruit trees won’t produce fruit until they are around 1-2 years old. While you can start most of these from seed, you won’t be harvesting fruit any time soon. If the fruit is what you’re after, purchase the most mature tree you can find.

Your tree will most likely start in a smaller pot. If it’s healthy, resist the urge to transplant it into a large container right away. Plants will spend their energy where it’s needed most.

If they are snug in a smaller pot, they will produce fruit. When they are transplanted to a larger container, they will put their energy into filling that new space with roots, and it will be a while before they produce fruit again.

Repotting a sizeable indoor tree can be quite a hassle. Instead, replace the first top two inches of soil with fresh potting soil every year.

Eventually, though, moving your tree into a larger pot will become a necessity. Be sure to give your tree room for its roots to grow. You’ll also need one to two inches of drainage material in the bottom. Move up one pot size at a time when transplanting.

Another thing to consider is how heavy your tree will be in its large container. Depending on the tree, moving it to get better light or to put it outdoors in the summer can be difficult.

Pick up a plant stand with casters on the bottom to make the job easier. This dish-style stand prevents water from getting on your floor as the container sits in the dish.

Of course, if you’re serious about getting fruit, then your trees will eventually need bright light to ripen your crop.

This can be accomplished in several ways – you can move the plant outdoors during warmer months when it’s fruiting. You can move the plant closer to a window that gets longer and brighter light. Or you can purchase a couple of grow lights to help mother nature along.

With the use of LEDs, grow lights are relatively inexpensive these days. They come in all shapes and sizes. Hanging grow lights and gooseneck lights are popular and easy to set up to give your fruit trees a boost.

And when you aren’t using them to produce fruit, they are excellent light sources for starting seedlings for your garden.

12 Fruit Trees You Can Grow Indoors

Citrus is probably the first and obvious choice for an indoor fruit tree. A few rules apply to all citrus.

  • Don’t let their soil dry out. Citrus trees like moist (not water-logged) soil, and prefer a loamy soil mixture.
  • Keep them misted with a fine-mist plant sprayer.
  • Fertilize citrus trees regularly with a fertilizer blend made specifically for citrus, such as Jack’s Classic Citrus FeED.
  • Most citrus takes anywhere from six to nine months to ripen; the tangerines can take up to 18 months.

1. Lemon Tree

Indoor lemon tree

The Meyer lemon is probably the most well-known indoor fruit tree, and for a good reason. It’s compact size, and delicious fruit makes it a natural choice for your sunny living room.

Meyer lemons are self-pollinating and take a couple of years to bear fruit.

Even the dwarf trees can grow up to 8’ tall, so pruning your tree is necessary to keep it small.

The Meyer lemon needs around 6 hours of full sun a day. It does best in well-drained soil that is kept slightly moist.

 2. Lime Tree

Key lime and kaffir lime are popular dwarf citrus trees.

The key lime produces small, thin-skinned fruits. This tree will need to be hand-pollinated. This is easy enough to do with a small, clean paintbrush by gently brushing the insides of each flower.

Be sure to purchase a dwarf variety, and you’ll be making key lime pie before you know it.

The lesser-known kaffir lime is prized for its leaves used in cooking to add a bitter bite to dishes. The fruit’s juice and rind also produce a wonderfully fragrant scent.

Both the key lime and the kaffir prefer full sun. If you can, put them outside during the warmer months.

 3. Orange Tree
Calamondin orange tree

Calamondin orange trees are an especially easy fruit tree to grow indoors.

The fruit is a cross between a kumquat and a mandarin orange. They are extra tangy, and their thin skins are super sweet. These would be an excellent choice for anyone looking for a fun citrus for cooking. They prefer full sun.

Some tangerine varieties can also be purchased as dwarf stock. Again, look for a self-pollinating variety.

4. Fig Tree

Growing figs in your home is better than waiting for them to show up in the grocery store when they are finally in season.

The Brown Turkey fig is ideally suited to growing indoors, and it’s self-pollinating.

Figs prefer a humid environment, so mist them regularly.

Grow your fig in loamy soil and place it in a location that gets full sun for 6-8 hours a day.

5. Olive Tree

Olive tree

While maybe not what most people consider a fruit, an olive tree is a beautiful fruit tree to grow indoors.

Consider the Arbequina, well-suited for containers. Olive trees prefer well-drained soil and plenty of light, at least 6 hours a day.

If you want fruit, they will need to experience a period of about two months worth of cooler temperatures. You can move them to a garage or shed that is cool in the fall or winter to accomplish this.

Don’t forget the leaves!

Olive tree leaves make a wonderfully flavored tea and have many health benefits too.

6. Passion Fruit Tree

Passion fruit technically grows on a vine, but I included it because it’s quite easy to grow indoors.

Like most of our other trees, it prefers well-drained soil and at least six hours of sunlight a day.

You will need to give your passion fruit a trellis to climb up. Passion fruit likes to be kept moist, but not soggy, so water it frequently. Choose a bonsai variety, like the Mapplegreen passion fruit.

Along with delicious fruit, this “tree” will provide you with gorgeous flowers too.

7. Peaches and Nectarines

Wait, you can grow peach and nectarine trees indoors too?

Yes, yes you can.

Just be sure to choose a dwarf variety that is self-pollinating, and there are several.

Bonanza, Golden Glory, Nectarcrest, Dwarf Sweet China are just a couple of popular dwarf varieties.

Make sure your tree is planted in a large pot with loamy soil. Remember, you want the roots to be snug in the pot as this will encourage fruiting. Fertilize your tree regularly and be sure it gets at least six hours of bright sun a day.

Peaches and nectarines do best with lots of sun. Keep them moist, but not soggy, and don’t let the soil dry out completely between watering.

8. Apricot

Most of us know apricots from the dried variety commonly found in the bulk food section.

Fresh apricots are so much better (and can be made into this delicious jam!) making it an ideal indoor fruit tree choice.

The Moorpark is an excellent dwarf apricot, reaching only six feet high. As with most indoor trees, you can prune it, so it stays smaller and compact.

Give your apricot tree well-drained soil in a snug pot. Be sure it gets plenty of sun, 6-8 hours a day. If you have a south-facing window, that would be the best location for your apricot tree.

Water your apricot regularly and be sure the soil doesn’t dry out between watering.

9. Avocado Tree

Indoor avocado tree

If you’ve ever started an avocado tree from the pit of an avocado, then you’ve probably dreamed of picking your own fruit from that little seedling.

Unfortunately, this is one fruit tree that is very difficult to get fruit from indoors.

While not impossible, indoor avocado trees generally don’t produce fruit.

They are still a beautiful fruit tree to have in your home. If you are using a seedling you started from a pit, you’ll need to prune it regularly as it starts to grow.

Most non-dwarf varieties grow quite tall. As always, choose a loamy, well-draining soil for your avocado tree and pick a location that gets bright sun for at least six hours per day. Keep your avocado’s soil moist, but not soggy.

10. Banana Tree

Bananas, like avocados, are another fruit tree that can grow insanely tall.

To enjoy the tropics in your home, though, choose a dwarf variety of banana tree. Some of the dwarf varieties can get quite tall as well, so give the Lady Finger banana a try. They top out around 4’ tall and produce slim, tiny bananas.

Like most tropical plants, bananas need lots of sunlight and humidity. Be sure your banana tree gets full sun for 6-8 hours a day. A southern exposure window is best.

Replicate humidity by misting your tree often. When your house is hot and dry, you can even get away with daily misting.

11. Mulberry Bush

Mulberry bushes make excellent indoor plants and are one of the easiest to grow.

Good potting soil with a layer of drainage material on the bottom will get you started off right. And like most fruit trees plenty of bright light is needed.

Two dwarf mulberries that are perfectly suited to container growing are the ‘Everbearing’ and the ‘Issai’ varieties.

Fertilize them every six months and prune to keep them compact, and you can expect to enjoy the sweet fruits of your labor.

12. Ground Cherries

Ground cherries (cape gooseberry)

Also known as Cape Gooseberries, ground cherries aren’t technically a tree. I included them here because they are an easy, bushy fruit to grow indoors. Not too many people know about them.

I’ve often heard the flavor described as a mash-up between a pineapple and a tomato. I think they taste more like eating a pie. There is a smooth, almost apple flavor with a buttery finish. They taste more like a decadent dessert than a funky little fruit. They are delicious!

Start your ground cherries from seed in a pot that’s at least 8” deep. Well-drained soil with a bit of compost mixed in will keep your plant happy. They do best in full sun.

A young cape gooseberry plant in a pot

Give this compact plant a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Now that you know which fruit trees you can successfully grow indoors, you may end up with a veritable fruit salad in your living room.

These elegant and stately plants make a beautiful statement in your home. Which one will you be growing?

 

Source – RuralSprout 

How To Grow Ginger

Growing ginger is a rewarding experience as it’s such a versatile plant for use in the kitchen…and shockingly easy to do! We’re growing ginger in containers from store-bought ginger and talking about planting ginger to increase both the size and speed of your harvest. LEARN MORE Epic Gardening is much more than a YouTube channel. I have a website with 300+ gardening tutorials as well as a podcast where I release daily gardening tips in five minutes or less. There’s also a Facebook group with over 1,500 other gardeners sharing their tips.

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The Sun Mushroom

In my 3am genetic modification research studies I came across this interesting article on a forum. The article is a good example of how genetics play a part in keeping certain plants/fungi thriving that may not otherwise.

The Original “Super Mushroom,” Agaricus blazei

For decades, anthropologists and medical researchers puzzled over the fact that the people of Piedade, a small mountain town in the humid rainforest of Brazil, lived to extraordinary age, many well into their 100s.

They were almost never bothered by serious illnesses like heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, hepatitis, or Alzheimer’s.

For years, scientists attributed this incredible health and longevity to some powerful genetic defense, passed from one generation to the next. Was it

An anti-cancer, longer-life gene? No. . .something even better!

But in the 1960s, a Japanese scientist by the name of Furumoto Takatoshi discovered the true secret, a rare strain of a certain mushroom native to the local mountains of the Piedade area. It turned out that the locals used this “sun mushroom” or “mushroom of life,” as they called it (known botanically as Agaricus blazei Murill fungus) to make a popular medicinal tea. It was also a regular ingredient in their cooking!

Furumoto’s research established an unequivocal connection between the mushroom and the longer life and extraordinary good health of the people who consumed it.

Since then, dozens upon dozens of scientific studies have analyzed the complex organic compounds that account for the powerful, anti-aging, perfect health, longer-life properties of this particular, very rare strain of mushroom and confirmed that Agaricus blazei is indeed the source of longevity and extraordinary good health enjoyed by the people of Piedade.

Therefore, it was not “good genes,” but rather the miracle mushroom that protected these people against heart attack, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, cancer, premature aging and most of the other illnesses that plague the rest of the world.

That is good news, because, while you can not do anything about your genetic makeup, you can benefit from the longer-life nutrients of this amazing, miracle mushroom, Agaricus blazei. In fact, many already have, including ex-President Ronald Reagan who, according to the media, used it to treat and cure his skin cancer.

No wonder the miracle mushroom Agaricus blazei was heralded as the long-awaited solution to cancer.

Only there were TWO big problems!

Unfortunately, this particular strain of the mushroom grows only in the unique soil and climate conditions found around the village of Piedade, and repeated attempts at commercial cultivation failed. Although the original cultures that Furumoto sent to Japan have been painstakingly maintained and isolated to guard their genetic purity, for years, the only, very limited source was the rainforest of Piedade.

And that area, like so much of the Brazilian rainforest, has become urbanized and industrialized since the mushroom’s discovery, some 40-60 years ago. Nowadays, you would be hard pressed to find the “super mushroom” growing wild.

A near tragedy!

Of course, the original discovery that this amazing, miracle mushroom provided powerful anti-cancer, immune-boosting protection created huge interest in the scientific community.

For years, front-line research laboratories and world-class bio-chemical researchers have been studying the many different strains of the Agaricus blazei mushrooms found throughout the world.

While none has been identified with a polysaccharide profile that exactly matches the Piedade Agaricus blazei, herbalists working in the U.S. recently discovered that a related Agaricus strain does contain most of the active bio-nutrients that make the Brazilian mushroom so powerful.

That was especially good news, because this newly researched, still-un-named strain of Agaricus mushroom contains more than a few powerful polysaccharide nutrients that are uniquely its own. Not only do these nutrients possess powerful better-health properties, they complement those of the original Brazilian strain.

The best news of all is that geneticists have now succeeded in crossing genetically pure cultures descended from the original Piedade mushroom taken to Japan, with the newly researched complementary strain, to create a new, hybrid Agaricus mushroom that is even more powerful than either of its “parents!”

Science introduces the new Hybrid Mushroom . . . the most powerful super-mushroom of all!

Laboratory analysis and exhaustive clinical tests prove that the unique combination of some 85 nutrients found only in this miracle hybrid mushroom, including the powerful, complex polysaccharide, â-D-Glucan can:

Destroy a variety of deadly cancer cells (without side effects)
Guard against deadly heart disease and crippling stroke
Slash your risk of ever developing diabetes
Control high blood pressure
Inhibit or reverse arthritis
Protect against Alzheimer’s
Boost immune function to guard against and a host of other illnesses
Correct digestive and weight problems
Boost energy
Protect against liver and kidney disease
Protect against hepatitis
Ease the pain and stiffness of arthritic joints
Promote natural, more-restful sleep
Help you look and feel 20 years younger.

While this hybrid strain has been analyzed by biochemists and nutritional researchers, its potency has been appreciated for many years by the few who have been acquainted with it:

The Iron Chef of Japan only serves Kobe beef that has been fed with this mushroom.

The Royal Family of Saudi Arabia feeds this mushroom to their champion thoroughbreds.

The most powerful, patented, secret-to-eternal-health superfood in the world!

The amazing, SUPER hybrid mushroom combines the same, historical, extensively studied nutrients found only in the heirloom strain of the Agaricus blazei mushroom (first studied by Takatoshi Furumoto more than 40 years ago). With the complementary nutrients in newly researched strain to provide the astonishing, immune boosting … cholesterol lowering … better health. . .longer life benefits of both of these two miracle mushrooms in the breakthrough hybrid. There is simply nothing else in the world to equal it!

The DNA for the new hybrid mushroom is so valuable it is kept in two separate vaults in the United States and Europe to protect its chemical makeup.

The potency of the hybrid mushroom is protected by a strictly controlled, strictly organic, growing process that provides a consistent temperature, soil, watering, and quarantined environment

Every yield of the hybrid mushroom is compared to the original to be sure the DNA from the two components matches for efficacy and potency.

No other super-food comes close!

The hybrid mushroom extract contains large quantities of â-D-Glucan (Polysaccharide); clinically proven to act as an immunological activator that enhances the immune system.

The powerful nutrients in this patented supplement also stimulate natural killer cells, whose job is to defend the body by responding as soon as damaged (as in cancer) cells appear, while other immune cells gear up for action. Natural killer cells are best known for their capacity to kill tumor cells before they become established cancers.

Here is how this miracle formula works in your body to help you live a longer healthier life:

â-D-Glucan and other powerful nutrients enhance the activity of macrophage, an antibody cell that destroys or delays the proliferation of cancer cells.

It contains natural steroids, known for their anti-cancer effect.

It contains large amounts of non-digestive dietary fibers that absorb and discharge cancerous materials in your body.

It reduces the blood glucose (sugar) and guards against diabetes.

It acts to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and arteriosclerosis.

It can also enhance the effect of Chemotherapy. The hybrid mushroom extract is all-natural and there are no known side effects from taking it.

Everybody can expect intensive improvement and prevention of serious illness without risk and fear through immunotherapy. Now you too can benefit from the same powerful longer life, disease stopping nutrients that, study after study, have shown account for the phenomenal long life and good health of the native people of Piedade, who for hundreds of years have made it a regular part of their diet.

20+ Immune Boosting Herbs & Mushrooms

I’d harvested fresh elderberries in our garden that we’d grown from cuttings, and I started looking around for other herbs for the immune system to add into the mix.  A short walk around the garden and nearby woods and I’d picked more than 20 different immune-boosting herbs, flowers, roots, mushrooms, and lichen.

Add in a stop at the spice cabinet for immune-boosting spices like ginger, black pepper and garlic and I had quite the spread to choose from…

Immune Boosting Herbs

(Note: I am not a clinical herbalist or healthcare provider.  This is based on my own experience and research, but I encourage you to verify it with other sources.  Please consult a healthcare provider before beginning any health regimen, herbal or otherwise.) 

HERBS FOR THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

Herbs for the immune system generally fall into three categories:

  • Immune Stimulants ~ Generally used for a short period of time, immune stimulants are best used on a short term basis.  The best time is right as you’re starting to get sick, or anytime you’ve been exposed to an illness.  Those times when someone coughs right on you, or you’re about to go on a long flight where there may be extra pathogens in the recirculated air.  Examples include Echinacea and usnea lichen.
  • Herbal Immunomodulators (or Immune Tonics) ~ Often used over a long period of time, immunomodulators are tonics for the immune system.  They’re not meant to be overtly healing during acute illness, but rather to help balance your system and promote a healthy immune response.  Examples include tulsi (holy basil) and reishi mushrooms.
  • Anti-Microbial Herbs ~ While they may not directly impact the immune system, they’re helpful in treating illness and maintaining health.  While prescription antibiotics have their place, minor illnesses (or injuries) can be treated with anti-microbial herbs instead.  Some are specifically antifungal (for topical issues) while others are more generally antimicrobial.  These disserve an article in their own right, and I’ll cover them briefly at the end.

While these three classes of herbs are somewhat different from each other, the terminology often gets mixed, even in peer-reviewed scientific journals.  Some, in fact, fall in multiple categories.  The main thing to keep in mind is that not all herbs are for long term use and not all herbs for the immune system will have a direct impact if you’re already sick.

There are a lot of factors in our daily lives that affect our immune system.  Stress, anxiety and even feelings of social isolation can negatively impact your immune system, along with exposure to toxins and all manner of other environmental factors.  That is just too much to cover, and we’ll assume that all things being equal, you’re doing your best to live a low-stress life and are otherwise taking care of yourself.

Exercising, eating right, getting outside and regularly playing in nature.  All the good stuff.

Once you’ve got the basics covered, here’s a few immune-boosting herbs that have been shown to help support a healthy immune system.  (I’ve also thrown in a few spices, roots, lichen and mushrooms too, for good measure.)

ASHWAGANDHA (IMMUNE TONIC)

An ancient ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha has a long history of medicinal use.  It’s an adaptogen, which means it helps your body cope with whatever life throws at it.

Studies show that “Ashwagandha improves the body’s defense against disease by improving the cell-mediated immunity. It also possesses potent antioxidant properties that help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.”  It also “acts as an immunomodulator and hence can enhance life span of cancer patients, where lowered immunity states of the patient are the cause of concern.”

Known as Indian ginseng, it can increase stamina, improve memory and that it has anti-tumor effects.

We grow ashwagandha in our Vermont garden as an annual, it’s not hard to harvest your own even in cold climates.

Ashwagandha growing in our garden (left) and harvesting roots (right).

Ashwagandha growing in our garden (left) and harvesting roots (right).

ASTRAGALUS (IMMUNE TONIC)

Another adaptogen, astragalus is well known in eastern and western herbalism for its immune tonic properties.

study in humans found that Astralagus helped in “priming for a potential immune response as well as its effect on blood flow and wound healing.”

Two different studies in mice/rats confirm it’s immune-modulating effects.  In one study, Astralagus boosted the immune systems both healthy and immune-compromised mice   Another study on rats with cancer found that “polysaccharides of Astragalus present significant immune-modulating activity, thus supporting the popular use…”

As a plant in the bean family, it’s both a medicinal herb and a food.  The sliced roots, either harvested fresh or purchased dried, can be cooked into soups or added to all manner of dishes, which makes it easy to incorporate astragalus into your diet.  (It’s also commonly taken as a supplement.)

While I had intended to grow astragalus as an annual in our garden, it’s come back year after year from tiny pieces of roots left in the soil post-harvest.  I’d been told it was only marginally hardy here, but it weathers our zone 4 winters like a champ.

My daughter holding an Astragalus seedling that we planted in our garden a few years ago. Astralagus seedling

My daughter holding an Astragalus seedling that we planted in our garden a few years ago.

CALENDULA (IMMUNE TONIC)

The beautiful glowing yellow/orange flowers of calendula brighten up any garden, and they’re both edible and medicinal.

Calendula is usually used topically in creams and oils for it’s anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.  You’ll see it made into all manner of lotions, creams and healing salves.

Beyond their topical anti-microbial uses, the dried whole flower heads have been used as an immune tonic for centuries.  According to the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine:

“The whole flowers can also be dried and added to soups and stews as a winter immune tonic. This traditional folk use heralds from medieval Europe, where the flowers were likewise added to bread, syrups, and conserves. In the classic 1863 text The Complete Herbal, Nicholas Culpepper wrote,

‘The flowers, either green or dried, are much used in possets, broths, and drink, as a comforter of the heart and spirits, and to expel any malignant or pestilential quality which might annoy them.’”

Modern herbalists often add calendula to nourishing winter broths, and sometimes incorporate other savory immune-stimulating mushrooms like turkey tail or reishi to boost the effect.  Try this herbal healing mushroom broth, or this immune-modulating mushroom broth, both of which contain calendula as well as a mix of other immune-boosting herbs and mushrooms.

Calendula Flowers

Calendula flowers from our garden. They come in many different shades of yellow and orange.

CHAGA (IMMUNE TONIC)

Perhaps the best known of the many medicinal mushrooms that grow on birch trees, Chaga mushrooms are being studied for all sorts of potential health benefits.

According to WebMD, Chaga has antioxidant properties and has the potential to stimulate the immune system, as well as lower blood sugar and cholesterol.  It’s also studied for potential anti-cancer treatments.

One study found that a tea made from Chaga boosted the immune function of immunosuppressed rats, and noted that “These results strongly suggest the great potential of the aqueous extract from Inonotus obliquus as immune enhancer during chemotherapy.”

As with most medicinal mushrooms, the most common way to take it is in a double extraction tincture, since some of the compounds are alcohol soluble, while others are water-soluble.

The mushroom compounds are first extracted in alcohol and then extracted by prolonged boiling.  The alcohol extract is then added to the cooled water extract in a ratio that preserves both.

The result is then sold under the name Chaga tincture or Chaga extract.

Chaga Tincture

Our own wild-harvested Chaga mushrooms made into a tincture (alcohol extract)

ECHINACEA (IMMUNE STIMULANT)

Provided you haven’t been living under a rock for the last decade, you’ve already heard about the immune-boosting properties of echinacea.  It’s by far the best known herbal immune stimulant, and it’s widely accepted even by the medical community as a powerful herbal tool.

A study reviewing the medicinal benefits of echinacea concluded that,

“The consensus of the studies reviewed in this article is that echinacea is indeed effective in reducing the duration and severity of symptoms…”

But the researchers also noted that there’s some debate as to which preparations (tincture, tea, etc) and which parts of the plant (flowers, roots, leaves, etc) are most effective.

I make our homemade echinacea tincture from flowers/leaves that I harvest from our own plants, and then I add in a bit of purchased dried echinacea root just to be on the safe side.

A cup of pure echinacea tea can be a bit abrasive, but it’s lovely if you add in a bit of lemongrass.  (Elderberry and rose hips works too, as in this recipe for winter immune support tea.)

Echinacea flowers in our perennial garden (Photo bombed by my husband holding our infant daughter.)

Echinacea flowers in our perennial garden (Photobombed by my husband holding our infant daughter, cute little chubby baby thighs and all.)

ELDERBERRIES (IMMUNE TONIC)

While echinacea is an immune stimulant that’s best taken to combat illness, elderberries are perfect as a year-round immune tonic.  That’s convenient because while echinacea tastes like medicine (translation…horrible), elderberries are a tasty and versatile berry with wonderful flavor.

Like many berries, they’re antioxidant, but elderberries have also been shown to boost immune function.  Numerous studies document the almost miraculous benefits of elderberry syrup.

In a placebo-controlled study on flu patients found that with a tablespoon (15 ml) of elderberry syrup taken 4x per day, “Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza.”

While elderberry syrup is one of the most popular preparations, there are literally dozens of other ways to take it.

Home remedies made from elderberries

Home remedies made from elderberries. Clockwise from top left: Elderberry syrup, gummy bears, pie and oxymel.

GARLIC (IMMUNE STIMULANT AND ANTIMICROBIAL)

Let your food be your medicine, and garlic is a tasty way to make it happen.

Garlic has been a part of folk medicine for millennia, but modern science is just beginning to confirm it’s medicinal benefits.  Don’t believe it?  Listen to what the scientists have to say…

“Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for centuries as a prophylactic and therapeutic medicinal agent. Importantly, garlic has been suggested to have both cancer-preventive potential as well as significant enhancing effects on the immune system… these observations are supported experimentally both in vitro and in vivo…”

A little garlic added to meals is tasty, but you’ll likely need a more concentrated dose for medicinal effects.  Homemade fire cider and fermented honey garlic are some of the most popular ways to take a therapeutic dose of garlic.

Fresh organic garlic is often around $18 per pound locally, but we plant garlic every fall and it’s easy enough to grow.  Every few years we try a new garlic variety, and it’s amazing how varied the flavors (and colors) can be.

My daughter holding some of our hardneck garlic.

My daughter holding some of our hard neck garlic.

GINSENG (IMMUNE TONIC)

Ginseng is one of the few immune tonic herbs that we don’t grow ourselves, though we could on our woodland homestead.  There are detailed instructions for cultivating ginseng in the book Farming the Woods, one of my favorite permaculture books.

It takes years to mature, and has been overharvested to near extinction in the wild.  It’s tightly regulated at the federal level, which means that it can be tricky to purchase unless you’ve got a gold bar hidden in the back of your closet.

With so many other immune-boosting herbs available, I don’t honestly see any compelling reason to opt for this both threatened and prohibitive expensive species.

None the less, it’s been used for millennia, and no list of immune-supportive herbs would be complete without ginseng.

Ginseng plant

JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE (IMMUNE STIMULANT AND ANTIMICROBIAL)

Just the opposite of ginseng, Japanese honeysuckle is an invasive species that’s spread around the world.  Once you’ve positively identified the plant, feel free to harvest as much as you need without the risk of really damaging this incredibly prolific flower.

Be aware though, as with other medicinal invasive species (ie. Japanese Knotweed), it’s important to be sure that it hasn’t been sprayed with herbicides.

Japanese honeysuckle is one of the few immune stimulant herbs, and it’s also antimicrobial.  Most of the studies on its effectiveness are done in livestock or food animals, as organic farmers look for more natural ways to keep their animals healthy.

There have been studies in egg-laying chickens, as well as aquaculture projects for fish and shrimp, all of which concluded that Japanese honeysuckle is a natural immune stimulant and/or antioxidant agent.

The bees and other pollinators love honeysuckle, largely because it’s sweet and fragrant.  That makes it a tasty medicine, and it’s prepared in all manner of ways.  Most commonly though, as infusions or extracts such as Honeysuckle Glycerite or honeysuckle vodka.

A pollinator visiting a honeysuckle flower

A pollinator visiting a honeysuckle flower

LION’S MANE MUSHROOM (IMMUNE TONIC)

There’s a lot of promising research into the medicinal uses of lion’s mane mushrooms.  Researchers are especially excited about their ability to improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients, as well as regulate blood sugar for diabetics.

Studies show that they also happen to be an immune tonic, adding yet another reason to seek out this awesome mushroom.

Though they’re supposed to be somewhat rare in the wild, we have plenty of them on our 30 acres.  Lion’s mane mushrooms are easy to identify, and the bright white shaggy fungus is hard to miss.

If you cant find them in the wild, there’s always mushroom supplements. Host Defense makes a lion’s mane mushroom capsule as well as a comprehensive immune support capsule containing many different immune-supporting mushrooms.

Lion's mane mushrooms
Read the full article at Practical Self Reliance

Foraging Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms are one of the easiest mushrooms to identify, and a great place to start for beginning mushroom foragers.  They have no poisonous look-alikes, so they’re relatively safe as well.  Though reishi are generally too tough to eat, their medicinal properties have been well documented.

Basketful of freshly harvested reishi mushrooms

Hemlock reishi harvested on the summer solstice in central Vermont.

There are a number of different reishi species, and each grows in a different region around the world.  For the most part, their medicinal properties are the same and there is some argument that they’re actually the same species occupying different habitat niches.

All species grow on dead and dying trees and produce annually.  Once you find reishi on a particular log or stump, they will continue to produce there every year until they’ve consumed all the wood substrate. 

Reishi mushrooms are also known by the names lingzhi, mushroom of immortality, ten-thousand-year mushroom, herb of spiritual potency, varnish shelf and artists conk.

Reishi on Hemlock Stump

REISHI MUSHROOM IDENTIFICATION

The mushroom itself is kidney or fan-shaped and has a distinctive red to orange color, and a shiny lacquered finish on the top.  It’s a polyspore, so it lacks gills, but the underside is white (or tan or grey in older specimens) and has pinprick like dots.  The flesh on the underside develops a brown/tan bruise when pressed. 

bruised reishi mushroom

Reishi mushroom pore surfaces bruise easily with any contact. Here’s the bruise from a thumbprint on the pore surface.

Only harvest fresh mushrooms with white undersides as they can potentially harbor dangerous molds when the mushrooms are past their prime or bruised and damaged.  Since they’re easily bruised and damaged during harvest, reishi should be preserved quickly after harvest.

They vary in size from an inch wide to a foot wide and can be as much as 2 inches thick.  More commonly, they’ll be 4 to 6 inches wide and 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick.

New growth on the leading edge comes in as white and gradually changes to red-orange.  Young mushrooms that are rapidly growing may be mostly white as they emerge from the wood.  The bright red-orange cap that is characteristic of hemlock reishi will come as they mature. 

young reishi growth

Here is a young reishi just emerging from a hemlock stump. It’s growing in quickly after a heavy rain, and we’ll have to wait another day or two for the characteristic red top to emerge.

As reishi get older, their flesh becomes tougher and the bright cap begins to dull.  On my land, reishi rarely make it more than a few days before the slugs begin to devour them.  The harvest season in central Vermont is right around the summer solstice, and I go out daily to make sure I catch the mushrooms before they’re slug eaten.

hemlock reishi eaten by slugs

Hemlock reishi consumed by slugs after a heavy rain. They seem to only eat the red/orange varnish and their color changes to a bright orange when finished.

Reishi grows horizontally out of their host log, often with a very short or non-existent stem.  They have a strong but pleasant woodsy scent, a bit like decomposing leaf mulch. 

Spores emerge from the bottom side of the mushroom, and on logs where they’re growing one above the other, you’ll see spores released by the upper mushrooms dulling the caps of the mushrooms below.  The spore print in all species is brown.

harvesting reishi mushrooms

Ganoderma tsugae

REISHI MUSHROOM SPECIES

Identifying reishi mushrooms varys a bit from region to region as different species have evolved based on location.

  • Ganoderma lucidum – Is the species used in traditional Chinese medicine.  It grows on hardwood (especially oaks) in warmer regions, such as Asia, the south Pacific, southern Europe and the Southeastern United States.
  • Ganoderma tsugae – Found in the Northeastern United States, the species name “tsugae” means “hemlock tree” which tells you where you should begin looking for this species.  Though it’s almost always found on hemlock, it can occasionally be found on birch or maple if they were growing close to hemlock.  They can be found freshest between May and July.  This species is also known as hemlock varnish shelf.
  • Ganoderma applanatum – A particularly hard and woody reishi species, varying in size from 2 to 30 inches wide.  Color is duller than others and lacks a lustrous shine.  Very difficult to cut, and often must be cut with a saw into strips for drying.  This species is an opportunist and can be found on many different tree species, both hard and soft wood.
  • Ganoderma curtisii – Distributed from Massachusetts to Nebraska, this species has an especially dramatic ochre colored cap, that dulls as the mushroom ages.  It has a matte rather than lacquered finish on its cap.  Found on hardwood logs, usually oak or maple, but occasionally other hardwoods as well.
  • Ganoderma sessile – A red shiny species that grows 3 to 16 inches across.  The flesh is very soft and bendable, and unlike other species, if damaged the outer growth margin will produce a sap like resin.  Found on hardwood, usually oak or maple, but occasionally other hardwoods as well.
  • Ganoderma oregonense – As its name suggests, this species is native to the pacific northwest where it grows on conifers.  The fruiting body is very large and can be up to a meter across.

Other species include: Ganoderma lingzhi, Ganoderma capense, Ganoderma carnosum and Ganoderma resinaceum.

Freshly harvested reishi mushroom
Read the full article at Practical Self Reliance 

 

Foraging for Plantain

WHY FORAGE FOR PLANTAIN

Can it still be considered foraging if you gather weeds from your backyard?

Plantain, seen by many as a pesky lawn weed, is a great plant for beginner foragers and beginning medicine makers. It is very common yet a powerful herbal and first-aid plant. It easily reproduces, so there is little risk of overharvesting. And if you have it growing in your own backyard, you truly know if there have been pesticide or herbicide exposure.

If you don’t already have some nearby, prepare some soil, preferably in sun, add some water, and wait. Plantain almost always accepts the invitation.

A woman holds a string of plantain leaves.

WHEN TO FIND PLANTAIN

In my area, plantain is a perennial that grows year round. They produce by seed or by sections of roots left in the soil. If you live in a 4-season climate, they will likely appear in the spring.

WHERE TO FIND PLANTAIN

They are commonly found in lawns, gardens, and roadsides, often in compacted and nutrient-poor soils. In my garden, they are clustered around the base of some of my containers, thriving off the drainage and growing in very hard soil.

HOW TO IDENTIFY PLANTAIN

There are different types of plantain, the main varieties found as a “weed” are Broadleafed plantain, Plantago major, and Narrowleaf plantain Plantago lanceolata.

All varieties have parallel, fibrous veins that mark the leaves from end to end, and are covered with soft hairs.

Broadleaf Plantain grows in a rosette shape, about 16” tall, but they usually low to the ground, especially if they are mowed or walked on. The leaves are 2-7” long, and somewhat egg-shaped at the end of a thinner, V-shaped stem. The flowerheads rise 4-16” from the base of the plant, and are clusters of tiny green-white flowers along the top of thin stems.

Narrowleaf Plantain, also sometimes called Buckhorn, have thinner leaves, less than 1 ½” wide. There are 3-5 prominent veins that run the entire leaf length. They can grow 3-10” long, and grow from the base quite erect. The flower stalks are 6-20” tall, and end in dense spikes of small flowers, with visible white stamens.

Narrow Leaf Plantain (Ribwort)

Plantago lanceolata, Narrowleaf Plantain

 

Broad Leaf Plantain

Plantago major, Broadleaf Plantain

California native bee on the flowerhead of Narrowleaf Plantain

California native bee on the flowerhead of Narrowleaf Plantain

HOW TO HARVEST PLANTAIN

Using small snips or your fingers, simply pull the leaves off at the base! If you’re using fresh, follow the instructions below. If you’re drying for future use, rinse in cool water and dry using one of these methods. 

HOW TO USE PLANTAIN

All parts of plantain are usable! I mostly use it as a topical herb, to alleviate skin troubles like itching mosquito bites, or drawing out slivers that are too deep to fish out with tweezers.

The leaves can be chopped, mashed or placed right on the problem area. When hiking or out in the garden, I simply chew up a leaf or two and press it on my skin. The leaves of plantain can also be brewed in a strong tea, and a cloth soaked in the tea can be placed on directly over the area. On cuts or scrapes, mashed plantain can be placed directly on the wound to slow bleeding.

The leaves of plantain are also edible, but best consumed when young before they get tough and bitter. They are very nutrient dense, containing protein, starch and several vitamins. The seeds can be toasted and ground, and added to baked goods or breakfast porridge. They are also a mild laxative, a cultivated variety of plantain is used as the main ingredient in Metamucil. In Europe, as I’ve learned from Instagram friends, the leaves are a traditional food. They are used as a wrap for a dolma like dish.

Read the full article at Practical Self Reliance 

Growing elderberry

Growing elderberry trees is surprisingly easy. Elderberries and elderflowers make delicious foods and beverages, plus research shows they’re a helpful immune-boosting medicine to fight colds, flus, and other viruses. Here’s a complete guide to growing and harvesting your own elderberries and elderflowers!


Elderberry, aka Sambucus, is a small, deciduous tree that grows in virtually every temperate region on earth. There are dozens of different species of Sambucus around the world. Some species feature red berries, some blue, some black/purple.

A beautiful 5-gallon bucket full of perfectly ripe elderberries from Tyrant Farms. Growing elderberry trees by Tyrant Farms

A beautiful 5-gallon bucket full of perfectly ripe elderberries from Tyrant Farms.

In this article, we’ll be focusing on how to grow one particular species of elderberry: Sambucas canadensis, aka “American black elderberry”.

Native range of North American Sambucus nigra subspecies. Image courtesy Elbert L. Little, Jr., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

Native ranges of various elderberry species in North America, which grow from Ag Zone 5-8. Sambucus canadensis range shown in green. Image courtesy Elbert L. Little, Jr., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

Sambucus canadensis plants feature dark purple-black berries and produce excellent quality fruit. They also have extraordinarily high concentrations of health-boosting compounds such as anthocyanin (which gives the berries their purple/black color).

We grow Sambucus canadensis varieties, and recommend you do as well — if you live in the ranges on the map above where they grow natively. Otherwise, seek out varieties specific to your growing region.

For easier reading, we’ll simply refer to Sambucus canadensis as “elderberries” for the remainder of this article.

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Growing elderberry trees in an edible urban landscape works perfectly. The two large plants at the very back of our edible landscape are elderberry trees that have just gone from flowering to fruit set in early summer.

Growing elderberry trees in an edible urban landscape works perfectly. The two large plants at the very back of our edible landscape are elderberry trees that are starting to flower. The white flowering plant in front is yarrow, not elderberries.

Where does the name elderberry come from?

The name “elderberry” comes from the Anglo Saxon word “æld,” which sounds like “old” but actually translates to “fire.” Centuries ago, the hollow, straight stems of elderberry branches were used to blow air into a hot fireplace, fueling the flame.

Given that the center of a cut and dried elderberry branch has a light styrofoam-like texture that would make an ideal fire-starting material, our bet is this feature also factored into the plant’s old Anglo Saxon name as well.

GROWING ELDERBERRY TREES: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

Read the full article at TyrantFarms

16 Fast Growing Vegetables That Will Give You a Harvest Quickly

Would you like to grow a vegetable garden but feel like it just takes way too long? Well, the amazing thing is, it doesn’t have to.

Instead, you can plant some faster-growing veggies and have some great fresh food options to choose from.

So if this sounds great to you, then you’ll want to stay tuned to this post.

16 Fast Growing Vegetables:

Here are the faster vegetable options that you can grow in your garden:

1. Arugula

Arugula

Arugula is a wonderful little green that has a peppery flavor to it. We grew it at our old homestead. It was a delicious addition to our perennial garden.

If you’d like to have a peppery green to toss in your salad, then you should consider growing this flavorful vegetable. All you’ll need to do is plant it, give it about a month to produce mature leaves, and then cut them when you’re ready to enjoy.

Then they’ll continue to grow back each year for your enjoyment.

Arugula can be grown annually in nearly all zones and can be harvested after 30 days.

2. Spinach

Spinach

Spinach was one of the first things I ever tried growing. I did so because of how fast it grew and how simple it was to grow.

Basically, you directly sow the seeds into good quality dirt. Then you’ll need to water and wait. Before you know it, in about 4-6 weeks, you’ll have fresh spinach.

Spinach can be a nice addition to any salad, or you could prepare the spinach fresh like in this recipe.

Spinach can be grown in Zones 3-9, and the leaves can already be harvested 6 weeks after planting.

3. Baby Carrots

baby carrots

Baby carrots taste delicious, are a great snack, are great to cook with, and don’t take as long as full-sized carrots because they don’t have to grow to be as large.

So if you enjoy carrots and want them quickly, then you’ll definitely want to pick the baby carrot variety. Plant them in the ground, or in a container garden for versatility.

Either way, be sure to directly sow the seeds in quality dirt. Then in about 30 days, you’ll have your first harvest.

Baby carrots can be grown in zones 4-10 and can be ready within a month from sowing.

4. Radishes

Radish

Radishes are probably one of the fastest plants you can grow. They are also super simple to grow as well.

If you’d like to try and grow your own vegetables, radishes are excellent fast-growing vegetables to start with. You’ll directly sow these seeds in quality soil.

Radishes can be harvested in about 22-50 days and can be grown in zones 2-10.

5. Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are a very versatile plant to grow. You can make lots of delicious recipes with them. You can start with eating them fresh.

Then they could be a great addition to a salad. When you are “cucumbered out”, you can start making pickles with the fresh cucumbers.

But be advised that cucumbers like to run so you’ll need to either place them on a trellis or give them plenty of space to grow.

Cucumbers can be grown in zones 4-11 and if you want to make pickles the baby cucumbers can be harvested as early as 50 days after planting.

6. Beets

Beets

Beets are one of those vegetables that you either like or you don’t. But even if you don’t like the actual beet itself, you may enjoy the greens that come from the plant.

So either way, it is a great vegetable to grow if you’d like to have a harvest in a hurry. It is good to grow in the spring or when we are heading into fall because they can withstand a little heat, but don’t like the super-hot temperatures we often experience during summer.

Beets can be harvested in around 50 days, however, the greens can be harvested from 30 days. They grow well in zones 2-10.

7. Bush Beans

bush beans

Bush beans are my favorite kind of bean. They grow beautifully in the garden, they are easier to prepare when canning green beans, and they also produce a quicker harvest.

So if you love tender green beans, then consider planting a bush bean variety. All you’ll need to do is directly sow the seeds into quality dirt.

Then over time, with water and sunlight, they will produce a beautiful green bean bush.

Bush beans will be ready in around 40-65 days and grow well in zones 3-10.

8. Bok Choy

Bok Choy

Bok Choy is a fun plant. It looks fun, and it is even fun to say its name.

But it is also a great plant to grow because it can produce a mature harvest in around 30 days. If that isn’t a super-fast plant, I’m not sure what is.

If you are looking for something different to grow that will produce a fast harvest, then you should definitely consider Bok Choy.

Bok Choy grows well in zones 4-7 and individual leaves can be harvested after 21 days, or the whole head 45-60 days after planting.

9. Lettuce

Lettuce

Lettuce is such a versatile plant. There are so many different varieties to choose from that you can have a different flavor and crunch with each one.

But the great thing about lettuce is that it is hearty so it can grow in colder temperatures, and it also doesn’t take very long to produce a mature harvest.

If you want something healthy, green, and fast, then you should definitely consider planting lettuce.

Depending on the Lettuce variety, harvest can be about 30-60 days after planting, ideally in zones 4-9.

10. Summer Squash – Zucchini

zucchini-squash

Summer squash is probably one of my favorite vegetables to enjoy during the warmer months. It tastes delicious, is easy to grow, and produces quickly too.

So if you need to learn how to grow your own squash, here is a great resource to help you along the way.

But a quick overview is basically, you directly sow the seeds in quality soil, water them, and wait for them to grow and produce.

However, you’ll want to be sure to harvest your squash or zucchini when they are young for better flavor.

Zucchini, a Summer Squash variety, grows best in zones 3-10 and can be harvested almost daily from day 35 onwards as they grow so quickly.

Read the full article and get all the veggies at MorningChores