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Raise, Grow, Harvest, Eat, Repeat

A blog for growers, consumers, and backyard gardeners to grow, eat, and connect in the local food system.

Latest Posts

Honeyberries are an early-season treat for berry lovers

Tasting the first local fruit before Memorial Day weekend was not something I expected to be able to do in Northern Illinois, especially as we have had colder May temperatures and are in the middle of an abnormally dry period with a need for rain. Yet, seeing the small blue fruits ready to be picked, I knew it was Honeyberry season. If you are looking for a tart, tasty treat, consider the early season benefits of new, trendy fruit, Honeyberry (Lonicera caerulea). This berry is a cultivated...
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Growing and Harvesting Okra

Growing up in East Tennessee, okra was one of the most common vegetables I both ate and grew. Now that I live in the Midwest, I don’t see the crop as often in community gardens and at farmers markets. Yet you may have found this summer, as I have, that okra deserves a place in the summer garden. The plant is very much a summer staple, thriving in warm soil temperature and the summer heat we encounter. It’s also one that looks very different compared to your other summer crops. When you think...
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Handling your fresh-picked produce

The fruits of our summer labors have started to ripen and will soon be ready for harvest. As gardeners, it is common we overplant. Most of us end up with more produce than we can use. Neighbors, friends, and others typically benefit from the overflow. Keep the tips here in mind to help get the longest life out of your harvest. Produce shelf life and quality after harvest are often said to follow an 80–20 rule: 80% of the postharvest quality is built into the crops before harvest, while 20% is...
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Summer is prime time for growing sweet strawberries

Summer is here! As we approach the halfway mark for the month of June and look forward to summer plans, one thing many people are excited about is summer strawberries. Whether you are growing everbearing or June-bearing strawberries, harvest time is here for some and on its way for others. Strawberry varieties  June-bearing strawberries, depending on the variety, can bear fruit from early June through the Fourth of July. All four of these berries are noted for their taste, texture,...
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Try pineberry: A delicious pineapple-flavored strawberry

Strawberries (Fragaria species) are one of summer’s best treats. Strawberry varieties Depending on the cultivar, strawberries differ in when they produce berries and what their berries look like.  June-bearing strawberries provide a large crop of larger berries. Everbearing strawberries produce smaller berries throughout the growing season. Novelty types of strawberries can range in color (purple, yellow, white) and flavor. One unique novelty strawberry is the pineberry. What...
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How to Plant a Fruit Tree

Spring is a great time to be adding fruit trees to the backyard. Apple, peach, pear, cherry, and so many others are great additions. If you are a market grower, you may have customers asking about tree fruit and it may be time to finally decide on purchasing and plantings trees. Today's blog post comes from my own experience as I planted two dwarf peach trees, ‘Contender’ and ‘Reliance’, at my house and thought I’d share the basics of planting. Two things to do before planting: Call JULIE...
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Beyond 'Yukon Gold': Growing Purple/Blue Potatoes

Potatoes do not always get their due. Unlike their family member, tomatoes, that need assistance through a trellis and managing diseases/insects in the growing season, potatoes are not too needy. Yes, they might get diseases. Yes, they might get Colorado Potato beetle damage. Yes, you do need to hill them. Yes, they need good drainage in the soil. However, you're probably growing potatoes without thinking much about them. Perhaps it's time then to grow a different cultivar. If you’ve visited...
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Tomato Cages Vs. Stakes

Tomato Cages Vs. Stakes Click Here to View and Download as a PDF Last week, I held a "Totally Tomatoes, Perfect Peppers" Program in Freeport and was reminded yet again on how you can either be for tomato cages or staking. I'm firmly in a tomato staking corner but the merits of a tomato cage can be there too. So today, let's look at the pros and cons of these. First, Clean Them! Before they go back into...
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5 Tips for Selecting Vegetable Transplants

5 Tips for Selecting Vegetable Transplants. CLICK HERE TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD AS A PDF 1. Know it's Features Most transplants will come with detail on date to maturity (when to harvest), amount of sunlight needed, spacing, and even photos of the vegetable. "Patio" and "Bush" are two words that can denote good container varieties. Aim for short maturity dates for melons (less than 100 days) in...
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