Hybrid Vegetables Can Be Toxic

Did you know that hybrid vegetables can be toxic? If you are a strong proponent of heirlooms you are probably jumping up and down with joy and if you grow a lot of hybrids you are probably wondering if I have lost my marbles! Let me be clear, most hybrids are perfectly safe to eat, but there are a few special cases where they are not safe.

Understanding these cases of toxic hybrid vegetables provides insights into the risk of saving seeds and using natural means to develop new cultivars.

Hybrid Vegetables Can Be Toxic
Hybrid Vegetables Can Be Toxic

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How to Grow, Harvest and Eat Hostas

It’s hard to find an ornamental garden without at least a couple of Hosta, but did you know hostas can be grown as perennial vegetables? Hostas, also called plantain lilies, have found their way into almost every garden in Zones 3 through 8, and for good reason – they’re resilient, beautiful, drought tolerant, shade tolerant, and low-maintenance yet not aggressive. For the same reasons, hostas make a wonderful addition to a perennial vegetable garden.

How to Grow, Harvest and Eat Hosta

How to Grow, Harvest and Eat Hosta, harvesting shoots, source: Practical Self Reliance

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Soak Garlic Before Planting – Good Idea?

I have never soaked garlic before planting but it might be a good idea. There is certainly a trend towards soaking with water, fertilizer, fish emulsion or disinfectants. This post will examine these techniques to see if they affect plant growth and the size of harvested garlic.

Soak Garlic Before Planting - Good Idea?
Soak Garlic Before Planting – Good Idea? source: Yellow Birch Hobby Farm

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How to Grow, Harvest and Eat American Groundnuts

American groundnut (Apios americana) is the North American equivalent to the South American potato. Unlike common potatoes, American groundnut is a perennial flowering vine which produces numerous tubers along its root system. The entire plant is edible though the tubers are highly valued by foragers and wild food enthusiasts for their nutty, slightly sweet flavor.

How to Grow, Harvest and Eat American Groundnuts
How to Grow, Harvest and Eat American Groundnuts, source: James St. John and Good Morning Aomori

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How to Grow Asparagus for Decades-Long Harvests

Asparagus is one of the best options for cold-climate gardeners interested in growing perennial vegetables. Most people – and mainstream plant retailers – have never heard of the perennial vegetables that grow in cold climates. You might be hard pressed to find American groundnut tubers or Good King Henry seeds but it’s easy to find asparagus cultivars and accompanying recipes and friends to use them up. Plus, asparagus prefers cooler climates and will continue to produce an abundance of delicious spears for up to 30 years.

How to Grow Asparagus for Decades-Long Harvests
How to Grow Asparagus for Decades-Long Harvests, source: Muffet

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How to Grow and Harvest Egyptian Walking Onions

Are you an onion addict who dreams of a steady supply of fresh Allium? Expanding your onion repertoire with perennial onions is your best bet. Egyptian walking onions (Allium x proliferum), also called tree onion or topset onion, is a three-in-one perennial onion that can be harvested from spring to fall in Zones 5 to 9.

How to Grow and Harvest Egyptian Walking Onions
How to Grow and Harvest Egyptian Walking Onions Source Dave Whitinger

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Do Low Acid Tomatoes Exist?

My mother used to grow “low acid” tomatoes because high acid levels gave her mouth cankers, or so she thought. There is a concern that canning low acid tomatoes causes botulism because the acid level is too low.

Lots of seed companies and garden blogs talk about low acid tomatoes and usually identify yellow, orange and small fruited varieties as low acid. Some claim that modern breeding has increased the acidity of tomatoes and that heirlooms have less acid. Others claim that there is no such thing as low acid tomatoes.

It turns out that this story starts as a myth. People tried to correct the myth only to create a new myth in the process. I’ll have to debunk the debunkers.

Do Low Acid Tomatoes Exist?
Do Low Acid Tomatoes Exist?, source: Arturo Feliz-Camilo

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Should You Prune Pepper Seedlings?

Pinching and topping refers to the removal of the top part of a plant. Pinching peppers results in more side branches and a bushier plant which, it is claimed, leads to more fruit and a higher yield. Is this true? Should you pinch pepper plants?

Some people also suggest removing the first bloom to allow the seedling to grow larger and develop a better root system. Does this really happen? Does it increase yield. Should you pinch the first bloom?

There are lots of opinions online and in blog posts, but I found none that actually presented any scientific evidence for their suggestions. What does science say?

Should You Prune Pepper Seedlings?
Should You Prune Pepper Seedlings?, Source: Homestead and Chill

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Myths About Straw And Hay In The Garden

What is the difference between straw and hay? I am always surprised at all of the misinformation that is spread whenever discussions start about using straw or hay in the garden. Which one has more weeds? Do they improve soil? Are lingering herbicides a problem? Should either be used in the garden?

The answers to these questions are quite simple if you first eliminate the myths and that is what I’m going to do in this post.

Myths About Straw And Hay In The Garden
Myths About Straw And Hay In The Garden, source: Bob Dluzen

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Too Many Male Flowers On Squash And Cucumber

Squash, cucumber and pumpkin belong to the cucurbit family and most garden varieties produce both male and female flowers. Since only female flowers produce fruit, gardeners get concerned when they see too many male flowers and like any other gardening problem they invent lots of ways to fix the problem. Unfortunately most of these so-called fixes don’t actually work.

What causes too many male flowers on cucumbers, pumpkins and squash, and what can be done about it?

Cucumber flowers, the developing fruit behind the female flower is clearly visible
Cucumber flowers, the developing fruit behind the female flower is clearly visible, source: Rasbak and Paul VanDerWerf

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