Friday, 13 September 2013 14:24

How do Cucumbers grow?

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Did you know Cucumbers are 96% water?

 

  • Latin Name

    Cucumis sativus

  • Growth

    How are cucumbers grown?

    USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 11. Click here to view USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

    Cucumbers are  fast-growing summer annuals that like full sun and loamy soil.  They grow on a vine so don't need a large amount of space to produce a good crop.

    Cucumbers are ready to pick 50 to 70 days after planting.

    Spring: Cucumbers are planted in the ground as soon as threat of winter frost is over or can be grown in a greenhouse under the proper conditions.

    Summer:  Healthy plant grows, flowers and ripens.

    Fall:  Harvest time. Remove or cover plants before the frost set in. 

    Winter: Can only be grown indoors.

    Cucumber Growth Time Lapse

  • Propagation

    How are cucumbers propagated?

    Cucumbers are grown from seed that is either purchased or saved from the inside of the fruit 

    In areas with cool weather and short summers, cucumbers are started indoors, and are ready to be transplanted when they have 4-5 fully developed leaves.

    Sprouting Cucumber Plants

  • Harvest

    When are cucumbers harvested?

    Cucumbers are ready for harvest around 50 to 70 days after germination. 

    The cucumber is picked when it is green and immature for the best taste.

    Fruit that has yellowed is past its prime.

    Regular slicing cucumbers are harvested when they are 6 to 8 inches long. 

    Dill cucumbers are harvested at 4 to 6 inches, and cucumbers meant for pickling are around 2 inches long. 

    If a cucumber matures but is left on the vine, it will cause production of the entire plant to stop, so be sure to clean the vine of all fruit.

  • Storage

    How do you store cucumbers?

    Wrap cucumbers in plastic wrap to help retain their moisture.

    Keep at room temperature if intended for use in 2 to 3 days.

    If refrigerated in an airtight container, they will keep for up to 10 days.

  • History

    Where do cucumbers come from?

    Cucumbers are native to India and have been documented in Western Asia for over 3,000 years. 

    Cucumbers appear in the Bible, (Numbers 11:5), and were available in Egypt at that time. They soon became a popular food item for the Romans who cultivated them in greenhouses as well as fields.

    Production moved to Europe in the 9th Century and then to North America by the 16th century.

  • Top Producers

    Which countries produce the most cucumbers?

    China, Iran, Turkey, Russia, and the United States, are the top cucumber producing countries.

  • Varieties

    What are some common cucumber varieties?

    Common varieties used for standard slicing cucumbers include the Maketmore and Straight 8 varieties. Smaller, compact slicing varieties include Fanfare and the Salad Bush.

    Pickling varieties include Liberty hybrid and Pickle Bush. They are shorter in length and have bumpy wrinkled skins.

  • Products

    How are cucumbers used?

    Most cucumbers are consumed raw, as an ingredient in many recipes or pickled.

    Cucumbers are also used in many beauty and health products because of the antioxidants and vitamin K that refresh and regenerate the body and skin.

  • Top Health Benefits

    Are cucumbers healthy?

    Cucumbers are a low calorie no-fat food.

    They are approximately 90% water and hydrating for the body.

    The peel is an efficient source of dietary fiber that helps prevent colon cancer.

    They are a good source of potassium, an electrolyte that helps reduce blood pressure.

    Cucumbers contain moderate levels of antioxidants and a high amount of vitamin K.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 19:50

How do Strawberries grow?

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Watch how strawberries are harvested...

  • Latin Name

    Fragaria ananassa

  • Growth

    How do strawberries grow?

    USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 10. Click here to view USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

    Strawberries like full sun and fertile, well-drained soil.They are sweet, juicy berries best eaten right off the plant. Strawberries are low-growing perennials that grow best in cool subtropical areas. They are bisexual plants that mostly self pollinate.

    Strawberries ripen 4 to 5 weeks after first flowers open.

    Plants produce fruit for five years before dying with optimal fruiting in the 3rd year.

    The following information pertains to plants growing in subtropical areas:

    Winter:In mild winters, some planting is done in late winter. Older plants remain dormant in winter.

    Spring:Most planting of new plants begins in early spring. For older plants in the U.S, the months of April, May, and June are when most strawberries are ready to picked.

    Summer:Flowering and ripening continue throughout the summer.

    Fall:Fruit continues to grow until first frost when plant goes dormant until next season.

    Growth of a Strawberry

     

    Time Lapse Video- Strawberries, Flower to Fruit

     

  • Propagation

    How are strawberries propagated?

    -Strawberries are propagated by planting seeds or by using the runners produced by the mother plant.

    -Strawberries are one of the only fruits that carries its seeds on the outside of its surface. Each strawberry carries an astonishing 200 seeds. The disadvantage of using seed is the uncertainty of the cultivar. Using a runner will produce an exact replica of the parent plant and the plant will take less time to fruit.

    - The runners are called stolons - they are horizontal stems that are set out from the base of a mature strawberry plant. New plants will form from these runners with proper soil nutrition and create a clone of the mother plant. When the runner has grown its own roots, it is snipped and transplanted to to a desired area

    -To maximize production, research which strawberry variety is suited for the climate and conditions of your garden.

  • Harvest

    When are strawberries harvested?

    -The fruit is ready to harvest 4 to 6 weeks after the flowers bloom.

    -Fruit is picked when it is completely bright red, plump, and firm. Strawberries stop ripening the moment they are picked.

    Dole- Harvesting Strawberries- YouTube video

     

     

  • Storage

    How are strawberries stored?

    Strawberries need to be eaten within two days of picking. Once transported, they become tart with a grainy texture because the natural sugar in the berries begins converting to starch as soon as they are picked, but they do freeze well for future use.

  • History

    Where do strawberries come from?

    Strawberries are derived mainly from two species, F. virginiana and F. chiloensis. that were originally cultivated in Europe in the 18th century. The popularity of the fruit spread quickly with many countries developing their own varieties suitable to their climates and conditions during the 19th century.

  • Top Producers

    Which countries produce the most strawberries?

    Strawberries are grown throughout most of the U.S, Canada, Turkey, Spain, France, Italy, the U.K, Bulgaria, Poland, Japan, southern and eastern Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.

    The U.S is the largest producer of strawberries world wide. California accounts for 80% of total U.S production, followed by Florida.

  • Varieties

    What are some common strawberry varieties?

    The geographical region determines the type of strawberry grown.

    There are 3 common types of strawberry plants:

    Junebearer:These are sensitive to the length of days. They sprout in the fall, blossom, fruit in the spring and send out runners during the summer.

    Everbearer: This variety sprouts during the summer and produces small amounts of fruit consistently from early summer to autumn.

    Day-Neutral: These are insensitive to the day length. They produce plants, fruit, and runners throughout the year as long as the temperature range does not drop below 35 degrees.

  • Products

    How are strawberries used?

    Strawberries are produced commercially both for immediate, fresh consumption, as well as an ingredient in smoothies and pies. . They can also be processed for later use in prepared foods, such as granola bars, yogurts, ice-creams, jams, milkshakes, and smoothies.

    Strawberry juice, made from fresh strawberries, can either be 100%, or used in fruit punch, cocktails, and other flavored beverages.

  • Top Health Benefits

    Are strawberries healthy?

    Strawberries are high in fiber, manganese, potassium, antioxidants, and vitamin C. One serving of strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange.

    Strawberries help prevent heart disease, bone loss, high blood pressure, and inflammatory disorders.

    They are known to be an aphrodisiac, and increase mood.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 18:55

How does Lettuce grow?

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Did you know that lettuce is a member of the sunflower family?

  • Latin Name

    Lactuca sativa

  • Growth

    How does lettuce grow?

    USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9

    Lettuce is a fast-growing leafy vegetable that likes part sun and loamy soil.  It grows whenever temperatures stay above 40F.

    Lettuce is ready to pick 40 to 70 days after seeding depending on the variety.

    Winter:  Plants grow year-round in regions with mild winters where temperatures do not drop below 40 degrees F.

    Spring:  Seeding and transplanting plants started indoors starts 1 to 2 weeks after the last winter frost.

    Summer:  Plant growth in regions that are moderately warm. Shade is required in long sunny days. Lettuce seeds will not germinate if temperatures are over 80 degrees F.  A new crop is set every 2 weeks to keep fresh lettuce available all season long. Harvesting goes on all summer long.

    Fall: Still a good time to plant as long as area is covered or protected from frost.

    Time Lapse- Lettuce Growing

  • Propagation

    How is lettuce propagated?

    Lettuce is started from seed directly in the ground or transplanted from seeds started indoors.

    If lettuce is left to mature, it bolts and produces seed that can be picked and planted.

    How to Harvest Lettuce Seed

    How to Plant Lettuce

  • Harvest

    When is lettuce harvested?

    Lettuce is harvested just before it reaches maturity. As the plant ages, its leaves become tougher and more bitter.

    Leaves can be picked well before maturity but eventually the plant will get too stalky and less productive.

    Maturing plants need some shade cover or the leaves will turn wilt.

    How Lettuce Gets Harvested

  • Storage

    How is lettuce stored?

    Lettuce is best consumed fresh.

    p>It is important to thoroughly dry lettuce after washing or leaves become soggy. Leaves are best dried with a salad spinner or placed on a paper towel.

    Refrigerate in an air tight container or plastic bag after the leaves are washed and dried.

  • History

    Where does lettuce come from?

    Lettuce is believed to have originated in ancient Egypt with evidence of cultivation as early as 2680 BC. Lettuce was brought to the Americas by Columbus and other European explorers.

    The Latin root word lac, is interpreted to mean "milk," due to the milky sap that is found within lettuce leaves.

  • Top Producers

    Which countries produce the most lettuce?

    China, the United States, Spain, Italy, and India, are the top 5 lettuce producing countries.
  • Varieties

    Which varieties of lettuce are commonly used?

    Some of the most common eaten varieties of lettuce include Romaine, Boston and Bibb, Iceberg, Red and Green Leaf, Escarole, French crisp and Chicory.

  • Products

    How is lettuce used?

    Lettuce is mainly eaten cold or raw in fresh salads, sandwiches, tacos, hamburgers, and as a plate garnish.

    Lettuce leaves can be used as a low carb alternative to bread, in lettuce wraps.

  • Top Health Benefits

    Is lettuce healthy?

    Lettuce if complete with antioxidants that help maintain a healthy immune system and detoxify the body.

    It is a good source of chlorophyll, vitamin K, mineral salts and alkali elements that help keep the blood clean.

Thursday, 18 July 2013 19:22

How do Tomatoes grow?

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Did you know tomatoes are originally from Mexico?

  • Latin Name

    Solanum Lycopersicum

  • Growth

    How do tomatoes grow?

    USDA Hardiness Zones 5 t0 12. Click here to view USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

    Tomato plants grow from 3' to 10' in height.  

    The tomato plant is a perennial in its native habitat (Mexico) and an annual when grown outdoors.  It is cultivated at any time in a greenhouse.

    It takes a tomato plant anywhere from 65 to 100 days to grow from seedling to blossom to ripe fruit depending on variety and temperature.  

     

    43 Day Time Lapse- Tomatoes Growing

     

    Two Month Time Lapse of Growing Roma Tomatoes

     

  • Propagation

    How are tomatoes propagated?

    Tomatoes can be grown either in soil or hydroponically.

    Tomatoes are warm weather plants that need at least 7 hours per day of full sun and do not like temperatures below 55 degrees.

  • Harvest

    When are tomatoes ready for harvest?

    Tomatoes are picked when they are still ripening. They are allowed to finish ripening in storage, sometimes with the aid of ethylene gas.

    Most tomatoes are picked by hand, but some commercial growers use different sorts of mechanized harvesters.

    How Tomatoes are Harvested

     

    Harvesting Tomatoes in Italy

     

  • Storage

    How are tomatoes stored?

    Tomatoes are best stored at room temperature.  They will lose their flavor if refrigerated. 

     

  • History

    Where do tomatoes come from?

    Tomatoes are native to Mexico.  In 1521, Cortez found yellow tomatoes in what is now Mexico City and brought them back to Europe.  They spread worldwide as a direct result of Spanish colonization.  A cookbook published in 1692 includes a recipe that lists a tomato as an ingredient.

    In Italy, it was named a pomi d'oro, literally translated as golden apple.

    Facts about Tomatoes

     

  • Top Producers

    Which countries produce the most tomatoes?

    China, the U.S., India, Turkey, Egypt, and Italy

  • Varieties

    How many varieties of tomato are there?

    There are over 7,500 different varieties of tomato, but two basic types of growers:

    Determinate plants, usually the early ripeners, grow, set fruit and then die.

    Indeterminate plants continue growing and bearing fruit until the first frost kills the plant.

    Tomatoes come in a variety of sizes and colors, from multi-colored to striped.  They are bred for factors like consistent shape and taste, size, disease and pest resistance.  Commercially grown tomatoes are also bred for a thicker skin that will withstand mechanized harvesting and shipping. 

  • Products

    How are tomatoes used?

    Eaten raw, plain, in salads, salsa, appetizers, and used as garnish.

    Tomatoes are best in stir fries, sandwiches, pizzas, soups, pot pies, quiches, and sauces.

    Tomatoes make great juice, which is low in sugar, and high in fiber and vitamins.

     

  • Top Health Benefits

    Are tomatoes healthy?

    Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect skin against harmful UV rays.

    They are also rich in Vitamins A and C.

Tuesday, 09 July 2013 22:08

How do Oranges grow?

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Did you know an orange stops ripening after it is picked?

  • Latin Name

    Citrus rutaceae

  • Growth

    How do oranges grow?

    Different varieties ripen in different seasons:
    Early season oranges (Hamlin, Navel) ripen from October to January before freezing temps set in.
    Mid-season varieties (Pineapple, Sunstar, Midsweet and Gardner ) ripen from December to March.
    Late season Valencias are harvested from March to June.

    Orange trees are evergreen and blossom about 7 months before fruiting. They grow best when chilled by light frosts in winter while semi-dormant in hardiness Zones 9 to 11.

    Orange trees can live and bear fruit for over 70 years.

  • Propagation

    How are oranges propagated?

    Oranges are easily grown from seed, but then the consistency of fruit is uneven from tree to tree. Most oranges grown commercially are grafted: Branches that have successfully produced masses of tasty and well-shaped oranges are grafted onto hardy, disease-resistant rootstock.

  • Harvest

    When are oranges harvested?

    An orange tree will bear fruit from 3 to 7 years.

    Oranges need to be picked when fully ripe - they will not continue to ripen off of the tree; however, once they have ripened, they can stay on the tree for two to three months during which time their shape and level of sweetness will change.

    Many growers prefer hand picking oranges, but some commercial groves use canopy shakers to remove the fruit from the tree.  40% of crop is used for juice production. Oranges can be stored in refrigeration for 12 weeks after picking. At room temperature, their shelf life is only one week.

  • Storage

    How are oranges stored?

    Oranges will keep in room temperature for up to a week, and in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

    If an orange is pealed, wrap in plastic and store in the fridge.

  • History

    Where do oranges come from?

    Oranges originated in the tropical regions of Asia and Malaysia as early as 2,500 BC: they next spread to India and Africa. Around the 15th century, Italian and Portuguese traders introduced oranges to the Mediterranean. Spanish explorers and colonists brought oranges with them to the Americas in the mid-1500s.

    Sailors brought oranges on board months long journeys to prevent scurvy. They also planted trees in countries along their sailing routes, so they would have a ready supply when they landed in port.

  • Top Producers

    Which countries produce the most oranges?

    Brazil, United States, China, Mexico, Italy, and India

  • Varieties

    What are some common orange varieties?

    There are dozens of varieties of oranges, so nine months of the year in a given region, there will be an orange tree fruiting. 

     

    Popular Valencia Olinda Orange Variety

    California Naval Oranges

  • Products

    How are oranges used?

    Eaten raw, Juice, essential oils, pectin, candied peel, marmalade, cleaning products.

    How Orange Juice is made

  • Top Health Benefits

    Are oranges healthy?

    •  Provide 100% of Vitamin C daily requirement
    • Rich in calcium, vitamins B1 and A
    • Contains d-Limonene that is effective in cancer prevention,flavonoids hesperidin and pectin that lower cholesterol and anti-inflammatories that have been shown to relieve joint pain.

     

Tuesday, 09 July 2013 21:58

How do Blueberries grow?

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See how a blueberry begins as a flower...

  • Latin Name

    Vaccinium cyanococcos

  • Growth

    How do blueberries grow?

    Blueberries grow on deciduous or evergreen bushes from 3 1/2’ (lowbush) to 10’ (highbush) in Hardiness Zones 3 to 10. Click here for USDA Hardiness Zone map.

    Blueberries begin to fruit within 3 years of planting and produce optimally after 6.

    Winter:Dormancy

    Spring: Bushes flower then develop into pale green, then reddish-purple, then dark blue berries.

    Summer: Berries ripen from May to August depending on variety.

    Fall: Leaves on bushes turn red and fall or remain evergreen depending on variety.

    Blueberry bushes live and fruit up to 50 years.

     

  • Propagation

    How are blueberries propagated?

    Blueberries are usually grown from cuttings but may be grown from seed. In order to have a productive crop, two or more bushes of different varieties must be planted together for purposes of cross-pollination and hardiness.

     

     

     

  • Harvest

    When are blueberries harvested?

    Blueberries are harvested May through late summer depending on region and variety.

    Hand-picking is common; commercial growers use shakers to harvest the fruit.
    Blueberries have a shelf life of less than 2 weeks after harvest when refrigerated. 

     

  • Storage

    How are blueberries stored?

    Blueberries are best stored dry and packaged in the refrigerator, or frozen.

     

  • History

    Where do blueberries come from?

    Blueberries are native to North America and were introduced to Europe in the 1930s. They are now grown throughout the world.

  • Top Producers

    Which countries produce the most blueberries?

    United States (Maine and Michigan top producing states), Canada, Chile, Australia, Europe

    Florida Blueberry Production

     

  • Varieties

    How many varieties of blueberries are there?

    There are hundreds of varieties of blueberries, wild and commercial.

     

  • Products

    How are blueberries used?

    Blueberries are sold fresh or frozen. They lose none of their nutritional value when frozen.

  • Top Health Benefits

    Are blueberries healthy?

    • Blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants.
    • A couple of studies have shown a positive impact on blood pressure, blood sugar regulation and lowered cholesterol.
    • A study of older adults, with an average age of 72, showed improved cognitive function and memory after 12 weeks of eating 2 cups of blueberries a day.
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