CabbageThe typical long, cool springs of the midwest favor growing cabbage, which prefers cooler temperatures. Cabbage should be grown in fertile soil with a pH around 6.5. It's important to maintain consistent soil moisture with cabbage to prevent the head from cracking. A cracking head can also signal the cabbage is past its harvest time. Cabbage worms, flea beetles and cabbage maggots are all possible pests of cabbage. Early Jersey Wakefield, Red Express, and Vertus Savoy are all delicious cabbage varieties.
PotatoesMost vegetable gardeners in the midwest consider growing potatoes as an absolute must. Potatoes should be planted in early spring and should be mounded with soil as they grow to improve overall production of the plants. Early-season potatoes can be harvested in early to mid summer, while late season potatoes can be harvested in early fall once the plants begin to die back. Colorado potato beetles can be a serious problem for potatoes. Handpick them for light cases, or use a form of Bt such as Thuricide for large infestations. Some excellent choices of potatoes are German Butterball, Red Pontiac, Kennebec, and Swedish Peanut Fingerling.
CornIt's difficult to think about the midwest and not think about corn. The fertile soils of the midwest and central plains are well-suited for growing nice ears of corn. Corn requires quite a bit of nitrogen to grow well, so make sure to amend the garden bed with plenty of compost and well-aged herbivore manures. It's also a great idea to plant corn in an area where a nitrogen-fixing plant was grown the year before, such as bush beans or peas. Most corn varieties require an organic fertilizer, such as fish emulsion, every two weeks. Corn benefits from regular waterings. Use soaker hoses in straight rows or bunches of corn. Corn is pollinated by the wind and needs to be planted in large bunches in smaller gardens to get the best production of ears. Jubilee, Silver Queen, and Ambrosia are all perfect for the midwest vegetable garden.
CauliflowerCauliflower can be started in early spring for most midwest vegetable gardens. It is one of the trickiest plants in the cabbage family to grow because it stresses very easily. Once it's stressed cauliflower is quick to bolt. All the extra fuss is well worth it once you harvest that first beautiful white head. White cauliflower varieties need to be blanched to limit the amount of light that reaches the developing head. This is done by wrapping the leaves of the plant around the head to block sunlight. Early White, and Snowball are both delicious varieties of cauliflower.
GarlicThere are basically three types of garlic to choose from:
- Hardneck garlic has a single ring of cloves around a single, stiff stem
- Softneck garlic grows as a cluster of cloves with a soft stem that is ideal for braiding
- Elephant garlic grows a few very large cloves
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