A bog garden employs permanently moist (but not waterlogged) soil to create a habitat for plants and creatures which thrive in such conditions. It may exploit existing poor drainage in the garden, or it may be artificially created using pond liners or other materials to trap water in the area. Any such structure must allow a small amount of seepage to prevent the water stagnating. For instance, a pond liner must be pierced a few times. Typically a bog garden consists of a shallow area adjoining a pond or other water feature, but care must be taken to prevent water draining from a higher to a lower level. The minimum sustainable depth is 40–45 cm (16–18 in). Good drainage is provided by gravel placed over the liner, and the bog can be kept watered by using a perforated hose below the surface.
Creating a bog garden in your landscape is an enjoyable project that allows you to experiment with different plant species. So exactly what is a bog garden anyway? Bog gardens exist in nature in low-lying areas, or around ponds, lakes or streams. Bog garden plants love overly moist soil, which is waterlogged, but not standing. These marshy gardens make a lovely attraction in any landscape and can quickly turn an unused, water-logged spot in the yard into a wonderful scenic attraction.
Having a waterlogged or boggy bit of garden is not always inspiring and the immediate impulse may be to install drainage, but by working with nature it is possible to provide another really valuable habitat in your garden.
Do you have a spot in your yard which you despair of because it is poorly-drained and consistently moist? Why not consider turning a liability into an asset by creating an intentional wetland?
Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a species of nightshade commonly known in British English as aubergine and also known as melongene, garden egg, or guinea squash. It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia and South Africa as brinjal. It bears a fruit of the same name (commonly either “eggplant” in American and Australian English or “aubergine” in British English) that is widely used in cooking, most notably as an important ingredient in dishes such as moussaka and ratatouille. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to both the tomato and the potato. It was originally domesticated in India and Bangladesh from the wild nightshade, the thorn or bitter apple, S. incanum.
Botanical name: Solanum melongena
Plant type: Vegetable
Sun exposure: Full Sun
Soil type: Sandy
Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral
Eggplants are short-lived perennial vegetables, but are usually cultivated as annuals. Also known as aubergines, eggplants differ mainly in size, shape and color of the fruits. Eggplants are tropical and subtropical, requiring relatively high temperatures. Related crop include tomatoes, potatoes and peppers.
- Start plants indoors 2 months before the soil warms up or buy nursery transplants just before planting.
- Place 3 to 4 inch tall seedlings 24 to 30 inches apart in well-prepared beds.
- Pinch out the terminal growing points for a bushier plant.
- Stake plants over 24 inches tall.
- Water well and apply a balanced fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.
- For bigger fruits, restrict to five or six per plant.
- Spider Mites
- Tomato Hornworms
- Downy and Powdery Mildew
- Eggplant fruit may not ripen properly due to cold temperatures, pest damage, or infertile soils.
- Harvest 16 to 24 weeks after sowing when the skin of the fruit is shiny and unwrinkled.
- Cut the fruit close to the stem, but leaving about an inch of it attached.
- Eggplants can be stored for up to two weeks in humid conditions no lower than 50 degrees F.
- ‘Black Beauty’
- ‘Easter Egg’
- ‘Little Fingers’
Wit & Wisdom
At one time, women in the Orient used a black dye to stain their teeth a gun metal gray. The dye probably came from the same dark purple eggplant we see in the marketplace today.
Eggplants in containers
Genetically-modified eggplant found to be unsafe for human consumption, Environment
Botanical name: Capsicum annuum
Plant type: Vegetable
Sun exposure: Full Sun
Soil type: Loamy
Soil pH: Neutral
Peppers are a tender, warm-season crop. They resist most pests and offer something for everyone: spicy, sweet or hot, and a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. For this page, we will focus on sweet bell peppers.
- Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before last spring frost date.
- The temperature must be at least 70 degrees F for seed germination, so keep them in a warm area for the best and fastest results.
- Start pepper seeds three to a pot, and thin out the weakest seedling. Let the remaining two pepper plants spend their entire lives together as one plant. The leaves of two plants help protect peppers against sunscald, and the yield is often twice as good as two segregated plants.
- Begin to harden off plants about 10 days before transplanting.
- A week before transplanting, introduce fertilizer or aged compost in your garden soil.
- After the danger of frost has passed, transplant seedlings outdoors, 18 to 24 inches apart (but keep paired plants close to touching.)
- Soil should be at least 65 degrees F, peppers will not survive transplanting at temps any colder. Northern gardeners can warm up the soil by covering it with black plastic.
- Put two or three match sticks in the hole with each plant, along with about a teaspoon of fertilizer. They give the plants a bit of sulfur, which they like.
- Soil should be well-drained, but maintain adequate moisture either with mulch or plastic covering.
- Water one to two inches per week, but remember peppers are extremely heat sensitive. If you live in a warm or desert climate, watering everyday may be necessary.
- Fertilize after the first fruit set.
- Weed carefully around plants.
- If necessary, support plants with cages or stakes to prevent bending. Try commercially available cone-shaped wire tomato cages. They may not be ideal for tomatoes, but they are just the thing for peppers.
- For larger fruit, spray the plants with a solution of one tablespoon of Epsom salts in a gallon of water, once when it begins to bloom, and once ten days later.
- Flea Beetles
- Cucumber Mosaic Virus
- Blossom End Rot appears as a soft, sunken area which turns darker in color.
- Pollination can be reduced in temperatures below 60F and above 90F.
- Too much nitrogen will reduce fruit from setting.
- Harvest as soon as peppers reach desired size.
- The longer bell peppers stay on the plant, the more sweet they become and the greater their Vitamin C content.
- Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut peppers clean off the plant for the least damage.
- Peppers can be refrigerated in plastic bags for up to 10 days after harvesting.
- Bell peppers can be dried, and we would recommend a conventional oven for the task. Wash, core, and seed the peppers. Cut into one-half-inch strips. Steam for about ten minutes, then spread on a baking sheet. Dry in the oven at 140 degrees F (or the lowest possible temperature) until brittle, stirring occasionally and switching tray positions. When the peppers are cool, put them in bags or storage containers.
Look for varieties that ripen to their full color quickly; fully mature peppers are the most nutritious—and tastier, too!
- Green to Red: ‘Lady Bell’, ‘Gypsy,’ ‘Bell Boy,’ ‘Lipstick’
- Yellow: ‘Golden California Wonder’
Wit & Wisdom
The popular green and red bell peppers that we see in supermarkets are actually the same thing; the red peppers have just been allowed to mature on the plant longer, changing color and also gaining a higher content of Vitamin C.
How to Grow Peppers in a Container
Kohlrabi (German turnip or turnip cabbage) (Brassica oleracea Gongylodes group) (Olkopi in Assamese and Bengali) (Monji Haak in Kashmiri) is an annual vegetable, and is a low, stout cultivar of cabbage. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw as well as cooked.
One of the oddest looking vegetables you can grow is kohlrabi. With its large, edible, bulbous stem sitting underneath big, cabbage-like leaves, it almost looks like some alien spacecraft that landed by accident in the middle of the vegetable garden! But the enlarged stem of this cabbage family member- its name means “cabbage turnip” in German- has a sweet, mild flavor that has been likened to a cross between a radish and a cucumber. It can be enjoyed crisp and raw, steamed, stir-fried or added to soups and stews. And even the leaves are edible- you cook them as you would kale.
About This Plant
The bulbous stem of the kohlrabi plant may be white, pale green or purple, depending on the variety. ‘Early Purple Vienna’ and ‘Early White Vienna’ are open-pollinated heirloom varieties. Some of the newer hybrid varieties are more heat and cold tolerant than these older varieties. Pale green ‘Winner’ and purple ‘Kolibri’ are heat tolerant selections that mature quickly.
Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Adjust the soil pH to 6.0 to 6.8.
Kohlrabi is a quick-maturing plant whose harvest season can be extended with successive plantings in spring and fall. For a spring crop, sow seeds about 4 weeks before the last frost date, making successive sowings while the weather stays cool. Plant in wide rows or beds, sowing seeds ½ inch deep and 3 inches apart. After the seedlings are a couple of inches tall, thin to a final spacing of 6 to 8 inches.
This fast-growing vegetable also makes a good fall crop in many parts of the country. Sow seeds directly in the garden 8 to 10 weeks before the first expected fall frost date. In warm winter areas (Zones 9 and 10), you can make repeat sowings during the fall for harvest in the winter and early spring.
Be sure to keep the soil consistently moist; mulching is helpful. Your kohlrabi plants will appreciate a dose of fish emulsion fertilizer when they are about a month old. Floating row covers will keep away many of the pests that trouble members of the cabbage family, such as cabbage loopers and cabbageworms.
The best advice about harvesting kohlrabi is not to wait too long. Most varieties are ready for harvesting just 6 to 7 weeks from planting and are the most tender and flavorful when the bulbs are 2 to 4 inches in diameter. Fall crops that ripen in cool weather don’t get woody as readily and can be picked a little larger, up to 5 inches.
Symphony of the Soil explores the evolution and importance of soil in today’s world. Discover the life beneath your feet.
Symphony of the Soil is a 104-minute documentary feature film that explores the complexity and mystery of soil. Filmed on four continents and sharing the voices of some of the world’s most esteemed soil scientists, farmers and activists, the film portrays soil as a protagonist of our planetary story. Using a captivating mix of art and science, the film shows that soil is a complex living organism, the foundation of life on earth. Yet most people are soil-blind and “treat soil like dirt.” Through the knowledge and wisdom revealed in this film, we can come to respect, even revere, this miraculous substance, and appreciate that treating the soil right can help solve some of our most pressing environmental problems. In addition to the feature film, there are several short films, Sonatas of the Soil, that delve deeply into soil-related topics, and several short clips, Grace Notes, that are available to stream on the film’s website.
Produced and Directed by Deborah Koons Garcia
“Symphony of the Soil,” the latest documentary from the director of “The Future of Food,” is now available on DVD—and for every copy purchased here, the filmmaker will contribute $5 to the OCA.
Every time I open a plant catalog or see a television commercial for sale-priced $99 raised bed gardening kits, I cringe! You don’t need to spend that kind of money to build your own four-by-four-foot bed or even a 20-foot-long one.
My husband builds mine. He buys two 1 x 8-inch cedar boards, which don’t rot with age. They come in 8-foot lengths, which is perfect for 4 x 4-foot beds. Cut each plank in half, so that it is 4-feet long. Or, you can have a home improvement/lumber store make the cuts. Many places will do it for free.
Husband also buys a 3-foot length of a 1 x 1-inch pine stake; he cuts it into four pieces and uses them to nail the cedar boards to at corners for bracing. That’s all!
Grouping together several raised beds makes a substantial vegetable garden that is easy to maintain, with no weeding and crops that mature fast
I place the boxes on cleared ground. We cut and roll up our turf, but many gardeners do not think it is necessary. The added 6 inches of soil will bury most of the grass and weeds beneath. After I situate the boxes (four or five grouped together makes a good sized garden), I put down three layers of newspaper to suppress errant weed or grass seeds that might sprout. Paper degrades fully within weeks and feeds the soil.
Another fast, cheap method of building raised beds is to use concrete construction blocks. They have a big bonus. Their holes can be filled with soil mix and planted with herbs or strawberries.
The extra gathered heat from concrete is perfect for Mediterranean-type herbs such as rosemary and lavender. Strawberry plants grow huge and fruit fast in the holes. Each block is 16 inches long by 8 inches high; I purchase mine at big box stores as find the price most reasonable. Beds of 13 feet or longer by 4 feet wide are cheaper to build using blocks than with cedar boards.
Cement construction blocks are a cheap method of building raised beds.
You will be planting seeds and transplants close, because the beds are smaller and the soil is richer. But, plants grown close together in raised beds mature faster, because they compete for nutrients and sunlight. Each plant senses the distance of others and adjusts its metabolism to compete. Several university studies have proven this competition syndrome by identifying how plants perceive others nearby using the green light spectrum.
This 4 x 4-foot bed is crowded with productive peppers, cucumbers, a tomato plant and insect-repelling flowers that are edible.
Raised Bed Soil Mix
The more organic matter there is in soil, the better. Soil microbes are fed, oxygen and water
readily reach roots and plants thrive. Here’s the recipe I’ve developed in the last decade that
works best for my garden.
For one 4 x 4-foot raised bed. (Multiply amounts to fill larger beds.)
2 bags (2-cubic-feet each) top soil
1 pail (3-cubic-feet) peat moss
1 bag (2 to 3-cubic feet) compost or composted cow manure
2-inch layer of shredded leaves or grass clipping.
If you use grass, make sure the clippings are not from a lawn that has been sprayed with herbicides or been fertilized with a food that contains granular herbicides to kill weeds. Both persist and will kill plants beds up to three years after the initial application.
Mix all materials with a hoe or cultivator and water well. Be sure to mulch well with organic Matter such as more leaves or clippings or straw.
Garden Raised Beds and Small Plots
For several years, I’ve grown a portion, if not all, of my vegetables in raised beds. It wasn’t until I ran out of space trying to grow enough food for 8 people that I started planting directly into the ground for my tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and squash. But if volume is not an issue, consider some of the benefits of raised bed gardening.
Crops grow better in the deep, loose, fertile soil of raised beds.For space efficiency and high yields, it’s hard to beat a vegetable garden grown in raised beds. Raised beds can improve production as well as save space, time, and money. They also are the perfect solution for dealing with difficult soils such as heavy clay. In addition, raised beds improve your garden’s appearance and accessibility.