Timing & Seasonal

How to Plant a Fall Garden

Many new gardeners mourn the end of summer, thinking it also spells the end of garden-to-table meals. But homegrown goodness can stretch far beyond back-to-school time if you plant a fall garden full of vegetables.

How to Prune Tomatoes for a Big Harvest

Pruning tomato plants is an optional technique that some gardeners use to keep plants tidy, manipulate fruit size, and even speed ripening. There is one big catch: You should only prune indeterminate varieties, which produce new leaves and flowers continuously through the growing season. Here are some reasons to prune.

How to Store Veggies Without a Root Cellar

While your grandmother’s house may have had a root cellar to keep her produce fresh for months, most homes today do not. But you can find similar cool conditions in places around the house where produce will be slow to spoil, lingering in a state of very, very slow ripening.

Prep Soil Now for Next Season

Before you lock up those garden tools for the winter, here’s a great idea for getting a jumpstart on your spring garden: Spend a bit of time improving the soil in your beds. Not only will it put you on the path to a healthy, productive garden…

How to Build a Raised Bed Cold Frame

Protect your plants from frost with a simple raised bed cold frame that sits right on top of your existing 4′ x 4′ bed. The lid is held open with screen door closers, and the entire frame can be moved easily when the weather warms up.

Decorating with Pumpkins

Come October, most of us plunk a pumpkin on either side of the front door and call it good. But with a bit of planning and some creative ingenuity, your entryway and garden can scare up some autumnal style that is worthy of a second (and even a third) look.

How to Grow Tomatoes in Hot Weather

Sizzling summer temperatures can bring your previously productive tomato plants to a screeching halt. When days hit 85°F to 90°F and nights hover above 75°F, tomato flowers often fail to pollinate, then drop — which in turn puts new fruit production on hold.

How to Build a Fold-Down Greenhouse

This simple, inexpensive greenhouse folds down to protect your plants during early frosts and cold snaps, then can be raised up on warmer days to allow them full access to sunlight and rain.

How to Store Winter Squash

Many gardeners raise winter squash because they store well. In fact, the term “winter squash” refers to the time when these vegetables are stored, not when they’re grown or harvested. They are planted in late spring and grown through summer just like summer squash, but winter squash require more days to maturity and are harvested… Read more »

Row Cover Fabric Equals Protection for Your Plants

When the weather gets cold, we pull on sweaters or button our coats. The extra insulation holds our bodies’ heat inside the protective coverings. The same principle works for garden plants. Like a coat for the garden, a floating row cover will keep the cold night air and chilling winds away from tender leaves, trapping… Read more »

Make a Row Cover Hoop House

Many leafy spring and fall crops are frost tolerant into the 20s, but if you’re dealing with lower temperatures, you need to give them little extra warmth under the protection of a row cover. Depending on their thickness, these blankets give 4 to 8 degrees of extra protection on freezing nights…

Which Veggies for Which Season?

Because a vegetable needs either warm or cool weather, crops sort themselves into two distinct categories: cool season (for spring and fall) and warm season (for summer). Planting in the proper season is the first step to a bountiful garden. FOR SPRING AND FALL: Plant the hardy and semi-hardy vegetables below in early spring for spring harvests and again in… Read more »

These Vegetables Take a Chill

Not all vegetables need the warmth of summer to thrive. Cool weather vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and lettuce, prefer the lower temperatures found in spring and fall. These vegetables are divided into two groups: “hardy” and “semi-hardy.” Hardy vegetables tolerate hard frosts (usually 25 to 28 degrees F). They taste best in cool weather,… Read more »

Summer Herb Harvesting Tips

In summer, herb gardeners get a delicious payoff for all of their efforts. Oddly enough, this is when some gardeners become timid, unsure what to do next because the plants are so full and beautiful, it seems a shame to trim them. Never fear! Here is some advice for clipping with confidence. Before starting, make… Read more »

So What Happens During a Freeze?

When a freeze is predicted, what happens to your fall vegetables? Perhaps nothing, depending on the length and depth of the freeze. A light frost, during which the temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and ice crystals begin to form, can actually improve the flavor of many cool weather greens, such as spinach, collards, and… Read more »

Planting Cole Crops Step-by-Step

Spring is the perfect time for planting cole crops. Follow these four simple steps to create the foundation for a bountiful harvest.

Hot Summer Tips for Watering the Garden

When it doesn’t rain enough, turn on the spigot. Veggies need water to produce, so watering the garden correctly is crucial in the hot summer. Tomatoes are especially unforgiving if they dry out. Going from dry to wet and back again creates problems like blossom end rot. And that’s not all. Have you seen cracks… Read more »

Plant These Herbs in Fall

Fall is a prime time for planting the hardiest herbs that actually grow very well in areas with mild winters. You can put an assortment of your favorite cool-weather-loving fall herbs by the kitchen door—all in one container, if you like—for a pinch of each right at your fingertips. You can also plant pretty cilantro… Read more »

Harvest Guide for Cool Weather Vegetables

Harvest your cool weather vegetables at the peak of perfection using these guidelines. Broccoli When you see a head beginning to form in the center of the plant, check its growth every day. Ideally, you harvest broccoli while the tiny buds are tightly closed. If the buds begin to swell or show yellow (the flower… Read more »

Harvest Guide to Summer Veggies

Use this harvest guide to recognize when your beans, tomatoes, squash, and other summer vegetables are at the peak of flavor. Beans You may pick snap beans when they are very young and serve them as baby snap beans, or you can wait until they reach full size for a more bountiful harvest. Use two… Read more »

Garden Clean-up

While you may be used to cleaning your house inside and out in spring, garden clean-up is a job best done in the fall. It’s not just a matter of tidying the area to look nice, either.

For Early Tomatoes, Try This

Want to bite into your first homegrown tomato soon? Here are four easy ways to speed the harvest. Normally, tomatoes are planted at least two weeks after the last frost, but with steps 2 and 3, you can cheat the calendar. If you live where the weather is already warm, step 1 is all you need… Read more »

Fall Gardens Make Sense

Take advantage of cooler weather to grow a spring garden in the fall. Broccoli, kale, spinach, lettuce, and other early spring crops grow well in the cooler weather of fall, and you’ll like the benefits: fewer insects, less sweat, a sweet flavor brought on by frost, and an extended harvest season in milder climates. The… Read more »

Collard Country

Union Springs, Alabama, the home office of Bonnie Plants, is also the heart of what you might call Collard Country. This time of year gardens are dotted with the leafy greens waiting for the next frost to sweeten the newest leaves. We are glad that the rest of the country is discovering this nutritious green…. Read more »

Begin When the Soil Tells You

You have been waiting all winter. You have reviewed your notes from last year. You have planned where each vegetable and herb will go this year. The birds have begun to chirp, the days have been getting warmer and the rain has been falling. Frost and freezing weather look as if they have finally gone… Read more »