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High Tunnels and Low Tunnels
by Patrick Byers - September 2015

My vegetable garden is a place of exercise and relaxation, but my ultimategoal is to grow food. Unfortunately, inclement weather, spring and fall frosts, insects, bird pests and deer reduce my garden’s productivity. Through the use of inexpensive and easily-built high and low tunnels, I can address these challenges that face all vegetable gardeners in the Midwest.

What is a tunnel? Basically, a support system, anchored to the ground, that holds a protective covering above the vegetables. High tunnels are often a semi-permanent part of the garden, covering a larger area and allowing the gardener to work within the tunnel. Low tunnels generally cover a single row or bed, and are easily placed and removed as needed.   >> read article

Gourds: A Long History
by Susan Randstrom Bruck - September 2015

What is a Gourd? From the Ground Up …

From a gardeners’ viewpoint, a gourd plant is an exuberant, climbing annual that can wriggle up to 50 feet in a single, growing season, tearing up trellises and grabbing valuable, horizontal real estate in our vegetable gardens. These curious fruits or seedpods morph lazily into all sorts of whimsical shapes with mono- or multi-colored skins. With smooth or warty-skins and expressive names such as Speckled Swan, Mexican Bottle, Warty, Long Handled Dipper, Kettle, Bushel Basket, Snake and Turk’s Cap, my imagination takes flight.   >> read article

Ugly Duckling No More: Growing and Eating Celeriac
by Deb Terrill - September 2015

One would be forgiven for thinking celeriac was a disease. It’s not, however, and it is actually a pretty good root crop to have around for late summer and fall cooking. The name is bad enough, but the plant doesn’t get any better in person. The tan root is a twisted mass of somewhat hairy skin covering a pale flesh that is riddled with small holes, fissures and spots.

Getting past its unfortunate exterior and uncovering the slightly woody stuff inside yields the reward of a concentrated celery flavor in a crisp, non-stringy and less watery form. This flesh gives great flavor to soups and stews, and is pretty good as a salad too, especially in the form of the classic remoulade.   >> read article

Cover Up: Cover crops improve soil fertility
by Julie Oudman Perkins - September 2015

If you have the space, planting a cover crop will improve soil fertility and reduce weeds.

What happens below the ground determines the health of plants above the ground. Most gardeners know this and apply fertilizers and compost to their soil during the planting and growing season. But what about throughout late fall, winter, and early spring? A typical garden is bare soil at least half the year, which creates a place of starvation for the good soil organisms needed for healthy plants and nutritive, delicious produce. Cover crops provide a solution to this problem.   >> read article

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