Make it Last
Freezing fruits and vegetables to extend your harvest
by Richelle Stafne

There is a fine line in a productive summer garden where the harvest goes from plentiful to growing “out your ears.” Of course, you can give extra produce away or donate it to a local soup kitchen, but another option is to freeze the abundant harvest. I grew up on a rural farm where food preservation was a way of life. From snapping green beans for canning to washing blackberries for freezing, we learned to help from a young age. Here are tips to help you get started with freezing produce at home.

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Fruit Tree Friends
by Alan Branhagen

Companion planting is the idea that certain plants attract beneficial insects and fix soil nutrients in the edible garden. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world out there; it’s a bug-eat-bug world that forms the food chain that feeds us.

Fresh fruit picked off your own trees is a hot horticultural pursuit these days. Homeowners envision delectable apples, pears, peaches, plums and cherries dripping from their trees. Well, truth be told, there’s a lot of work that goes into those beautiful fruits. Bumps and blemishes from an army of fruit tree pests are the reality of the orchardist.   >> read article
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Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?
by Bob Polomski

When I want to get a room full of gardeners engaged in a lively debate, I bring up the topic of tomatoes. A question that transforms shy, reserved types into outspoken, opinionated verbal wranglers is this one: “Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable?”   >> read article
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Sweet Native Fruit Trees That Won’t Leave You Bitter
by Scott Beuerlein

With surprising regularity, some poor schlep of a volunteer from a community garden – abuzz with visions of plump, perfect sweet cherries, heirloom apples, and sugar plums dancing in his or her head – will email me with a simple question that they expect will have a simple answer. The question is always some variation on this: “What apples, pears, and peaches would you recommend for a community orchard?” I wish I could see the looks on their faces when they get a big old heaping serving of attitude.   >> read article
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The Top 10 Reasons Your Tomatoes Fail
by Bob Westerfield

Anyone who has ever grown a backyard tomato knows that there is no comparison to the flavor and quality of a freshly grown tomato compared to one purchased at the supermarket. While tomatoes are arguably the king of the vegetable garden, they can be challenging at times because this tropical fruit can be finicky. By far, tomato problems exceed those of any other vegetable. Whether that is because they just have more problems or because of how popular they are, they are definitely not easy to grow. Here I will outline what I see as the top 10 issues that can lead to tomato failure in the garden.   >> read article
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Shishito Peppers
by Cynthia Wood

While on a food and native plant pilgrimage to Austin, Texas, I was offered a small plate of charred, wrinkly green peppers sprinkled with sea salt. The waiter said that the peppers were called shishitos and that they were native to Japan. Within a few minutes, I had devoured the entire plateful and was clamoring for more. These odd looking little peppers were seriously addictive.   >> read article
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2017 New Varieties
Branch out and try something new in the vegetable garden
by Lori Pelkowski

It’s that time of year again. The 2017 winners of the coveted All-America Selections Vegetable Awards, which recognizes only the tastiest, easiest-to-grow vegetables, have been announced. The AAS’s mission is “to promote new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America.” I am growing these new varieties this year because, although they may be short in stature, they are heavy on harvest and big on flavor.   >> read article
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It’s All About the Berries
by Susan Crawford

If you have ever seen a beautyberry in fruit, you are not likely to forget it. The brilliant, iridescent purple berries that cluster along the stems of Callicarpa dichotoma and C. japonica in late summer and fall will stop you in your tracks.   >> read article
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