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Posted on 23 September 2009 by

Growing Beets in Containers

beets1By Vanessa Richins

Vonnie writes:

“I plan to eat beets grown inside my kitchen in containers and would love any tips!”

Hi Vonnie. That should be a fun project!

For starters, make sure your container is deep. It should be at least 12″ deep. Since beets are root crops, the more room you can give them, the better.

Also, since a large root is being formed, the soil needs to be loose. Sand is the best soil for producing well-formed roots. Make sure there are no rocks or sticks that could make the roots grow strangely.

When you go to plant your seeds, it’s important to give them a good start in life. Plant them 1″ apart in your container. As Marie Iannotti points out, “Beet seeds can be slow to germinate, because of their tough outer shell. Soaking the seed clusters over night will help soften the shell and speed germination”.

Once the beet seeds have sprouted Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 13 July 2009 by

Reader Question: How to Identify My Plant

ragweedBy Vanessa Richins


“None of the dichotomous keys listed on your site found a plant I am trying to identify. Can you recommend another?

I found the plant in my backyard in CT. Most notable is that the leaves alternate between ovate with serrated margin and deeply lobed with serrated margin.

It has hairy leaves and stem, not woody at all, and oppositely arranged leaves. Any ideas what it might be or where else I could look?”

Hi Diana. You are correct that one of the most intriguing facts about this plant is that the shape of the leaves can vary widely.

How long has this plant Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 30 June 2009 by

Reader Question: Raised Beds for Wheelchairs

raised-bedsBy Vanessa Richins


“Hello, please could you tell me if there is a recommended height for raised beds , for wheel chair users , both children and adults?  Thank you.”

Hi Anna! In doing my research, one resource I found was for the Dowling Community Garden. They have built raised beds meant to be accessed by both seniors and those in wheelchairs. They suggest that a suitable height for wheelchair users is 24″ high. You may want to lower it a few inches if the raised bed is meant for children in wheelchairs.

More tips come from a wonderful article by an intern at Oklahoma State University. She suggests making the beds 4′ wide if they will be accessed from either side, or making them just 2′ wide if the gardener will only be able to access one side.

The bed should be Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 22 April 2009 by

UGC Reader Question: Urban Gardening and Air Pollution

sidewalk-gardenBy Vanessa Richins

Jarod C. asks:

“Hello Urban Gardner, my wife and I want to plant a garden in our yard this year but are concerned about the near by freeway and shipping lanes. The diesel truck and ocean tanker exhaust deposits a blanket of black soot on our porch and outdoor windowsills.

My question is can we grow food in this environment?

Can the soot simply be washed off making vegetables ready to eat or does the toxic component get inside the food making them unhealthy to eat. I know it sounds terrible but we actually live in a lovely neighborhood.”

As I did some searching for articles to research this question, I became a bit frustrated.

It turns out Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 25 October 2008 by

UGC Reader Question: How to Grow Garlic on Your Porch

By Cindy Naas

Reader Question:

Hi, I live in Boston, Mass. and I would like to grow garlic on my back porch this fall. The time is approaching for the actual planting, but I’m still unsure of what I should plant my garlic in, i.e. how large, how deep,etc. I know that garlic should be about 3 inches below the surface, but how much more depth do I need to accommodate for root growth? Any suggestions for containers? I appreciate any info you can provide. Thanks – Lindsey

Lindsey, that’s an excellent question.

The allium family are all well suited for container growing, and garlic is an especially useful plant to grow in a small garden space.

Not only are the garlic bulbs easy to grow, the greens can be harvested and eaten once before allowing them to finish growing. They are delicious and a very healthy addition to stir-fries or salads.

The most important thing to remember about garlic is Read the rest of this entry »


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