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3 days ago

How To Plan Your Vegetable Garden From Seeds by Mark Robins

If you do gardening for many years, or just playing with the idea that next season you will go out there and dig for victory, one thing is the same and that is that like everything in life, success depends on planning ahead. This is very true with regard to planting your vegetable garden.

You need to decide first how much of your lovely garden you can turn into vegetable growing space. Then you have to further divide the area and decide how much space each vegetable can have.

Select your veg seeds based on how much space each species or indeed variety need to grow. So do some research on how much space each vegetable needs for producing healthy crops.

If the space is limited then you can go vertical. Runner beans and climbing French beans can produce an abundance of veggies in very little space. You can even grow trailing squashes and melons up on trellises, but make sure you support the growing heavy fruits with some netting.

The most common material to build your trellis out of is bamboo canes. You can plan a double row of canes or a wigwam shaped support. These make harvest more comfortable and you will have more crops with climbing beans.

Bush crops are more suitable if you have a larger area to play with and want to try many different varieties. Funnily the other reason is why you will be better off growing bushy plants is because you might not have too much space, or you have a balcony only. But you can grow many things in medium sized pots too. The most common is the determinate tomatoes; some of them really need little space, like the word smallest tomato the Micro Tom. You can even grow courgettes and dwarf French beans in pots very easily, you just have to feed the plants from when they start flowering.

Plan in advance and buy your seeds as early as possible in the season for chilli peppers, tomatoes and brassicas. Some gardeners sow their chillies as early as December, you can do that too indoors if you have some warm space in your home where a few pots of germinating seed would not be in your way. The next exciting thing is to sow the tomatoes inside in early March. Well, the earliest thing is to sow is the overwintering broad beans. These can be sown outside in the open ground in October, and you will have a lovely early crop in May.

Buy your vegetable seeds with caution, many smaller online companies offer seed packets for half of the price or even less than those that are the leading seed sellers for decades.

You can go for heirloom, open pollinated varieties or choose some fancy hybrid vegetable seeds. Many new gardeners think that the F1 hybrids are genetically modified, but they are not at all. They are produced by cross-pollinating two ore more different open pollinated variety.

Plan ahead and you will not be disappointed with the results in the harvesting season!

3 days ago

Why Raw Sprouts May be the Riskiest Food in Your Grocery Store

Everybody knows that undercooked ground beef is risky. But there is one innocent looking food that is probably riskier: Raw sprouts. Mike Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia has been quoted as saying "I consider sprouts to be among the most risky foods sold at retail".

How could this be? How could innocent crunchy, juicy, delicious sprouts, full of nutrients and beneficial compounds, be dangerous? Because they are grown differently than any other vegetable, in an environment practically ideal for bacteria.

Let's get a close look at the problem and consider solutions.

In June 2011 vegetable sprouts from Germany contaminated with bac

5 days ago

Vegetables You Can Grow From Food Scraps

We all have our ways of pinching pennies. For some of us, it's at the grocery store. For others, it's finding ways to cut corners while cooking. But there aren't many who take advantage of the easiest way to save money -- and that's by keeping kitchen scraps like onion roots and old potatoes to grow (or regrow) their food.

We know what you're thinking. This sounds too complicated. It sounds like something only hippies would do. But, it's not. Regrowing your own vegetables from scraps that were going to get thrown out takes no more than a minute of thought, and just a little bit more effort. Andy Whiteley, co-founder of Wake Up World, explains what produce can be regrown and details how it's done. We've put together the 10 most practical -- and easiest -- for you below.

1 week ago

Free seeds helping Americans get by, live healthier

CNN Hero: Holly Hirshberg


The Dinner Garden provides free seeds to people so they can feed a family of four

The nonprofit was started by Holly Hirshberg, who turned to her garden during tough times

Report: Nearly 15% of American households were "food insecure" in 2009

Do you know a hero? Nominations are open for 2011 CNN Heroes

San Antonio, Texas (CNN) -- For Holly Hirshberg, gardening started as a way to bond with her children. But when the recession hit, her backy

1 week ago

These pencils sprout into vegetables, herbs and flowering plants

"There are 15 billion pencils made annually, and three million of those just in the United States. That's a lot of pencil stubs thrown away," said Michael Stausholm, CEO of Sprout World.

Denmark-based Sprout World wants to shrink this waste. The startup makes plantable pencils that grow into vegetables, herbs or flowering plants once you're done using them.

Stausholm said the pencils, made from cedar in Pine City, Minnesota, are the perfect sustainable product because one "dying product is literally giving life to a new product."

Where a typical eraser would be, these wooden pencils have a capsule made from biodegradable material that contains a small mixture of seeds and peat.

You plant the capsule in a pot of soil and use the stub end of the pencil as a marker. The capsule dissolves and the seeds grow into a plant.

The pencils come in 14 varieties ($19.95 for a pack of eight), including tomato, lavender, basil, sunflower and green pepper.

sprout world michael stausholmSprout World CEO Michael Stausholm.

The pencils were developed by three MIT students in 2012.

"At the time, I was living in Denmark and working a lot with sustainable companies," he said. "But sustainability is hard to illustrate to consumers. I was searching for a product that could easily do that."

A year later, he came across Sprout Pencils when it was a Kickstarter campaign.

"I loved the idea. It was a perfect way to explain what sustainability is all about," said Stausholm.

Stausholm partnered with the students and convinced them to let him sell the pencils in Denmark. "We sold 70,000 pencils in the spring of 2013. We realized there was definitely demand for them," he said.

By 2014, the startup had sold a million pencils across Europe.

Later that year, Stausholm acquired the patents and rights to the brand and became Sprout World's CEO.

He said Sprout World now sells an average of 450,000 pencils a month and has logged more than $3 million in revenue.

sprout world pencils 2These plantable pencils from Sprout World grow into herb, vegetable and flowering plants.

Related: She's $10 million closer to replacing plastic bottles

The next step is to conquer the U.S. market.

Stausholm opened a small office in Boston in September to get momentum going. There are two employees there and 15 in Europe.

"America is a couple of years behind Europe in terms of embracing eco-friendliness," he said. But he thinks it's a perfect market for Sprout World pencils because its creators and manufacturers are U.S.-based.

sprout world cardsIn January, Sprout World will start selling plantable greeting cards with seeds embedded in them.

The pencils are sold on Amazon (AMZN, Tech60) and in Whole Foods (WFM) stores in the U.S.

Stausholm is also focused on bringing down the price. Ultimately, he wants every student around the world to use Sprout World pencils.

In January, the startup plans to roll out new products, including plantable greeting cards and colored pencils.

"We know we can't save the planet just with our products," said Stausholm. "Our mission is to at least educate people on how to be more conscious in what they buy and look for products that are reusable."

CNNMoney (New York) First published November 4, 2015: 8:14 AM ET

1 week ago

15 of Africa's favorite dishes

Given that the first "barbecue" might well have taken place in Africa, this is a continent that can arguably claim to have invented cooking.

But African dishes -- especially those south of the Sahara -- are still woefully under-represented on the world culinary scene.

From the humble maize/grain porridges and root vegetables that form the basis of so many diets, to grand feasting dishes such as breyanis, tagines, stews and aromatic curries, Africa's favorite foods offer something for every palate.

This article focuses on regional dishes that you might enjoy in the some of the more popular tourist destinations.

1. Pap en vleis/Shisa nyama, South Africa

2 weeks ago

How To Make The Best Roasted Vegetables You've Ever Eaten

Roasted vegetables are hands down one of the best things to cook. They rival the best pastas Vegetable Seeds and steaks, no question, because of the sweet-and-savory caramelization that works its magic in the oven. Plus, they're easy to make and good for you. There's no reason we shouldn't be eating a lot more of them than we do, particularly in the colder months when a warm oven is welcome, and root vegetables are plenty.

Kevin Summers via Getty Images

The only thing getting in the way of the roasted vegetable revolution is that not everyone knows how great they are. And that, we suspect, is because not everyone knows how to roast their veggies. It's a simple enough thing to do, but there are dos and don'ts. Here's what you need to know:

1. Place foil on a rimmed cookie sheet. You want a rim because you don't want the veggies' juices running over the edge of the pan, and you want foil because it makes for easier cleanup.