- First, decide which vegetables you want to grow
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- Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden: A 6 Step Guide
The onion and its relatives belong to the Allioideae family. In most cases, the fleshy basal leaves constitute the edible part of the vegetable. Most are valued primarily for their pungency and flavoring characteristics. Onions vary in size, shape, and coloring. Most gardeners plant onions from "sets" small bulbs , transplants, or seed primarily in southern New Mexico. Onions are sensitive to weather, preferring cool weather to grow tops and warm weather to produce bulbs.
Day length is also important, and there are long-, intermediate-, and short-day onion varieties. Most long-day varieties require 14—16 hours of daylight to bulb, while short-day varieties require only 12 hours as weather warms in the spring. Two onion crops direct-seeded can be grown in southern New Mexico. In central and northern New Mexico, only plant onions in the spring.
Onion sets or transplants should be used for earlier plantings. Onions are ready to harvest when the tops begin to turn yellow and fall over lodge. When half to three-quarters of the tops have fallen over, bend the remaining tops down to slow the growth process.
First, decide which vegetables you want to grow
After the tops turn brown, cure onions by pulling or digging them up with a garden fork and placing them in a well-ventilated, shady area. After curing, tops can be cut 1 in. Store onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area. Scallions or bunching onions are generally regular onions harvested just before the onions begin to bulb.
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Some varieties are grown specifically for this purpose, although most gardeners simply harvest green onions while thinning their bulb crop. Garlic is a hardy, bulbous plant with flat, solid leaves. The bulb is composed of 5—16 cloves enclosed by a thin white or pink skin.
Separate garlic cloves before planting. In general, garlic cloves should be planted in the fall. When leaves turn yellow in mid-summer the following year, lift the bulbs and allow them to cure in the shade for several days. Cut off the tops similar to onion or braid them together leaving bulbs outside the braid. Store garlic in a dry, well-ventilated place.
There are generally two types of garlic: hardneck which forms a seedstalk and softneck which does not form a seedstalk. Most hardneck varieties do not produce true seed, but form bulbils or bulblets in a cluster on the end of the seedstalks. Bulblets can be planted in the spring and will form an unsegmented "round" bulb by fall. Left undisturbed, the "round" will form a segmented bulb the following summer.
Leeks take 80 days to grow from transplants and days from seed. When growing from seed, sow in early spring and thin to about 3 in. Leeks do not form a bulb except elephant garlic, which is a form of leek , but are harvested when the neck of the plant at the surface of the soil is at least 1 in. Leeks are often blanched by banking the soil up around the base of the plant as they grow.
Leaves are flat, similar to those of garlic. Shallots are "multiplier-type" onions, which means they rarely produce seed, and instead divide into a number of cloves. Harvest when the tops are down in summer or in immature stage. Shallots are hardy and overwinter as perennials. Chives grow in thick tufts, producing small, oval bulbs in a compact mass. The lavender flowers garlic chives have white flowers make it a good plant for a flower or a vegetable garden. Harvest by snipping the leaves with scissors. Members of the Brassicaceae, or cabbage, family are frequently referred to as cole or cruciferous crops.
This family group rates high in hardiness, ease of culture, rewarding yields, and the variety they add to meals.
Most are cool-season vegetables, performing best if they mature when temperatures are relatively cool. Cabbage is one of the oldest vegetables on record. Among the modern cultivated forms, some have elongated heads, some rounded, and others rather flat. Leaves may be light or dark green, red, or purplish. Some leaves are smooth while others are crinkled savoyed. Cabbage grown for a spring crop early maturing varieties is probably best established from transplants so it matures in relatively cool weather. Cabbage that matures in hot weather often has a strong taste and tends to split.
Highest quality is obtained when cabbage is direct-seeded in mid-summer to mature in the fall when temperatures are cool. Cool weather reduces respiration, causing sugars to accumulate in the head which results in superior flavor. Cauliflower requires the same cultural techniques as cabbage, but is more delicate.
Transplant early maturing varieties in the spring to mature in cool weather. Cauliflower grows best in New Mexico when direct-seeded or transplanted during mid-summer for a fall crop. When the cauliflower plants begin to form a small head button , pull the leaves over the head and tie them together to protect the head from the sun. Newer varieties are often self-blanching, with leaves that naturally curve over the head. Harvest the head or curd thickened clusters of immature flowers before it starts to spread and become "ricey" develops pistils and anthers. If they have been well protected from the sun, heads should be pearly white; exceptions are the purple- or orange-headed varieties, which lose their color when cooked in boiling water.
Broccoli, like cauliflower, is grown for its edible, immature flower head. Direct-seeding broccoli in mid-summer to mature in the fall when temperatures are cool is preferred. When the center head is removed, numerous small side shoots heads will form that can also be harvested for several weeks. Heads that mature in late spring when temperatures are hot tend to turn brown, be fibrous, have a strong taste, and often have leaves that grow up through the head.
Brussels sprouts should be direct-seeded in the garden during the late spring for a fall crop. Small heads or sprouts form on the main stem 2 ft high or more , maturing from the bottom up. Sprouts that mature in warm weather late in the summer tend to split. Later sprouts that mature in cooler weather will be firm and smooth. A week before a hard frost is expected, "top" the plant with a knife. This will force all remaining energy in the plant into maturing those sprouts that are left on the plant. Kohlrabi is a relatively novel plant.
It is grown for its enlarged or swollen basal stem and its mild, turnip-like taste. It looks like a turnip growing on top of the ground with leaves sprouting from the enlargement. As with other cruciferous crops, for optimal quality it should be grown to mature in the fall. Most greens and salad crops, such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, collards, and kale, are cool-season crops that should be sown early before temperatures are too warm.
These vegetables also make excellent fall crops. Greens are among the most nutritious of all vegetables.
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Lettuce is native to both Europe and Asia. Seeds are quite small, and they should be sown shallowly and kept moist until emergence. After emergence, begin thinning; thinned plants can be used in salads. There are basically four types of lettuce grown in New Mexico gardens. Crisp head or iceberg lettuce forms a head of large, heavy, tightly folded leaves. It is slightly more difficult to grow than other types.
Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden: A 6 Step Guide
In northern New Mexico, plant it in the early spring for a fall crop. In southern New Mexico, seed can be sown in late fall and early winter for a spring crop. Leaf lettuce is the most popular of the homegrown types.