Swiss Chard

Q. Why doesn’t my swiss chard grow large and green? Collard greens in my garden are huge. Perhaps I do not thin out the plants, and they are too crowded?

A. What color and what variety is your chard? Some varieties are different colors, such as the one that looks like beet tops. There might be a variety that is small also.

More likely the problem has to do with sunlight (lack of), plant spacing, feeding, watering, or weeding.

Are you taking care of all those things? Full sun, plants 6″+ apart, feeding small amounts of complete balanced natural mineral nutrients, daily watering, and eliminating competition from weeds will assure a great crop in any soil.

Planting Onions from the Store

Q.  A store bought onion is sprouting, can I plant it?  How?

A.  It’s not a good idea to plant a sprouting onion from the store because it will not grow another onion, but instead it will send up a single stalk and produce blossoms and seeds.

Plant only very small onions or seeds.

Vegetable Production Levels Possible

Q.  How much can be grown in a 10 meter-long soil-bed of the various vegetables?  Our climate will allow growing tomatoes, etc. pretty much through October.
A.  There are so many variables that I don’t like to make guesses beyond saying that we typically increase existing traditional family garden production between 4 and 10 times.  However, for purposes of figuring possibilities, here are some numbers.

Using vertical growing with the Mittleider Method, 1 10 meter-long bed of Better Boy or Big Beef tomatoes (46 plants) can produce 500# of tomatoes from July through October.

One bed of sweet peppers (65 plants) can produce 300 peppers.

One bed of eggplant (46 plants) – grown vertically – can produce 300 Black Beauty or 450 Ichiban eggplants.

One bed of cucumbers (46 plants) – grown vertically – can produce 450 cucumbers.

One bed of pole beans (200 plants) can produce 200# of beans.

One bed of zucchini (17 plants) can produce 300-900# of zucchini, depending on size at picking.

One bed of carrots (700 plants) can produce 100-250# of carrots, depending on variety.

One bed of cabbage (45-65 plants) can produce 150-300# of cabbage, depending on variety.

One bed of beets (400 plants) can produce 100-200# of beets.

One bed of onions (400 plants) can produce 150-200# of onions.

One bed of potatoes (92 plants) can produce 200-300# of potatoes.
The carrots, cabbage and beet crops can often be doubled by growing an early and late crop in the same space, which make these more valuable for the serious grower.
All of the above are broad-range estimates only, since variety, climate, care, and other unknowns all affect yield.

Which Plants Need Afternoon Sun?

Q.  I live in durango Co.  I have my garden on the west side of my house.  It gets the afternoon sun.  What plantes would do the best there?

A.  All vegetable plants need direct sunlight to flourish and produce a crop.  All plants that produce fruit (generically speaking),  as opposed to those which just produce leaves, need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.  And the more sunlight they have the better and faster they’ll grow – and the more fruit they’ll produce.

If you have at least 6 hours of direct sun on your garden you can try most any plant.  Just remember to adjust your expectations according to the hours of sunlight it receives.

Growing Strawberries in Grow-Boxes

Q.  How do strawberries do in the 18″ sawdust rows?  And how is the fertilizer regulated? 

A.  Growing strawberries in the Grow-Boxes can be very rewarding and successful.  With no weeds to compete with them, and make it difficult for you as the grower, they do very well.

As the runners leave the box and begin to root in the ground surrounding the box you need to cut them off, or they will very soon be in your aisles.

Fertilizing depends on the variety you are growing.  If you are growing a single-crop variety you will only need to fertilize 3 or 4 times the first year, and 3 times after that.

ever-bearing, or two-crop varieties will need more feeding.  Just remember that you don’t feed after the blossoms appear, unless it is a true ever-bearing crop that just “keeps on giving”, and then you stop 8 weeks before the first frost.

GOOD Related Website – With Short Gardening Articles By Jim Kennard

Would  you like to learn Vegetable Gardening Techniques for a Great Garden in Any Soil?   Check this out!

In a new and exciting “Mini-Website” sponsored by Squidoo, I present a few short articles to help you learn to be a better gardener.  I’ve included such things as:

Hard-Times Gardening – Sustainable Without Fertilizers? 

Growing a Healthy Vegetable Garden Without Mineral Fertilizers – Being Prepared for a Really Bad Time, When You Might Not Be Able To Get Them

Grow Tomatoes Like a Pro – In only 10′ X 25′ You Can Produce 1,000# of Home-Grown Tomatoes!

Grow Tomatoes Like a Pro – Part 2 – Considering Costs – And Extending Your Harvest by an additional 50%!
Visit  You’ll be glad you did.
YOU can also have your own mini-website, called a Lens, and share your interests and expertise with the world.  IT’s FREE!  And it’s simple to do.
If you decide you’re interested in creating your own Lens you can help yourself and the Food For Everyone Foundation by going first to the Foundation’s lens above, or by going to this address to create your lens
Notice there are two lines of code above.  Be sure to include both.
If you decide to do this we will be happy to give you your choice of one of the digitally downloadable Mittleider gardening books, just for going through our lens to do it.
Enjoy these new articles, and consider becoming your own mini-website webmaster!  Remember, it costs NOTHING, and it will give you access to the world in a whole new way.
Jim Kennard, President
Food For Everyone Foundation

What Varieties of Vegetables to Plant

Q. What vegetable varieties are best to grow in Southern California? 

A. That is a big order when you ask for favorite veggies but here are a few that we love growing here in Southern California.  Since I do all of the Trials here at Community Gardens,  I find a lot of gems that become mainstays here.

     Big Beef is our main crop.
     First Lady is a great tasting early tomato
     Enchantment also wonderful flavor.  It is a salad sauce tomato.  Egg shaped
     Orange Russian
     Striped Marvel
     First Born
     Big Ugly Red

     Burpless Tasty Green (my favorite)
     Sweeter Yet—wonderful flavor

     Already wrote about them in another post

     Neon—-great taste and beautiful color
                 Plant gets at least 3 to 4 feet tall

    I  don’t grow it because of the corn ear worm

     Green Ice
     Bronze Mignonette
     Thai Green

     Small Miracle(gives long period of side shoots)

     Wentworth(self wrap)

     Savoy Express
     Regal Red
     Kilosa (savoy)


     Sweet Sunshine


Swiss Chard

That is it.  These are my personal favorites. 


Growing Cucumbers

Q.  My cucumbers are wrapping around other plants in my garden.  What should I do?

A.  Cucumbers should be grown vertically.  We use T-Frames with pipe or wire, and strings (baling twine) on which they grow up.

In your situation I recommend you get some 8′-long 2″ X 2″ stakes, put them in the ground about 15″ near every plant, then take your cucumber vines and gently unwrap them from the other plants and guide them around the stakes.  You may need to put a nail in occasionally and tie the vines, so they don’t slip down.

Also, you should take off the sucker stems that grow from every leaf node on the main stem.  Cut them off after the first female flower, which is usually at the first leaf.

If you don’t prune your plants in this way you will soon have a terrible mess of vines everywhere.  the cucumbers will be eaten, trampled, diseased, etc., and your yield will be small.

Go to the Group site and see the photos of gardens grown vertically.  The main picture on the home page shows tomatoes in a greenhouse, but we do tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, small melons, pole beans, eggplant, and even peppers this way.  And we do it right in the dirt, with no greenhouse.

And the yields are many times greater than traditional methods, in the same area.

Cucumbers Bitter Tasting

Q.  My cucumbers are often bitter.  Why is that and what can I do to prevent it?

A.  The most likely answer is lack of water and/or lack of proper nutrition.  Properly fed and watered cucumbers grow fast and are crisp, tender, and taste very mild.

If the soil surface near your plant roots is dry, you can be sure your plants are not getting enough moisture to sustain even healthy growth and sweet-tasting fruit.  The best solution is level beds, slightly higher than the surrounding aisles, with 4″ ridges all around to hold the water in the root zone, and watering every day in warm weather.  Much less water is used as compared to sprinkling or flooding, and the plant roots receive a constant supply of essential moisture.

In addition, everbearing plants like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and eggplant need continued feeding over the many months of their productive life.  Small amounts of a balanced natural mineral nutrient mix, applied weekly and watered into the root zone, will keep them healthy and producing right up until the frost kills them.

Review the Gardening Techniques section of this website for complete instructions and a do-it-yourself mineral nutrient formula every plant in your yard will love and thrive on.

Planting times and conditions

Q.  over three weeks ago I planted several vegetable seed: Onion, carrot, radish, pumpkin, cucumber, squash, sunflower, corn and green beans.  I planted them all according to the instructions, (I think). The only thing that has sprouted great are the radishes. The sunflowers have few sprouts they look really weak.  Do you have any advice on how long I should wait to replant or what I can do differently?

A.  On warm days in early spring we are often enticed to plant things that require warm temperatures to grow.  Then we are sorely disappointed when cold temperatures return and the seeds rot in the cold ground or die trying to grow in the too-cold environment.

Your onion, carrot, and radish seeds may be able to live in early spring temperatures, but onion and carrot will be slow to germinate and grow, so don’t give up on them just yet. 

As for all the others you mentioned, they must have warm soil conditions to germinate and grow.  and any frost would kill them if they did come up.  Just wait until after all danger of frost is past before planting.  Alternatively, you can plant them in a greenhouse or under grow-lights 3 or 4 weeks earlier.  Remember to give them maximum light immediately upon emergence, and plant in 6-paks or pots, to minimize transplanting shock, because everything you named does very poorly as a bare-root transplant.