As you may have seen in our last post How Twin Pines Interprets Your Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes, Twin Pines collected a variety of recipes for our Twin Pines 2014 Thanksgiving Recipe Book After gathering all the results, we have narrowed down the most-used produce of 2014 to four delicious ingredients: onions, pumpkins, squash, and cranberries! Use this special edition of the “Twin Pines Gardening Guide”—the first edition of which can be found here—to help you grow these fruits and veggies for next Thanksgiving!
(Please Note: Twin Pines Landscaping is based in New England, so many of these tips may be catered to that location in terms of weather and soil conditions. If you have specific questions about growing these produce in your area, please contact us at email@example.com and we’ll provide you with any information we have!)
While you many think that the onions you get from the supermarket are the perfect pick for your holiday recipes, there is a much more delicious choice you can make. Growing your own onions will guarantee you a fresh vegetable that is full of flavor.
For gardeners in New England, the best choice in onion is a Long-Day Onion. What this means is that the onion will start to develop into a bulb while still beneath the soil—depending on the amount of sun the area receives, of course. These Long-Day Onions start to grow once they have received 12-14 hours of light daily.
There are two ways to plant onions. The first way is in an onion set, which is actually just a tiny onion itself. The other way is by planting a small onion plant that has already begun to grow. Most onions begin as a seed and are grown by the supplier, then shipped off to interested gardeners in this form. The benefit of beginning with onions in this way, is that the live plant will root and grow more quickly than when you begin with sets.
Onions are considered a cold-season crop by The Old Farmer’s Almanac because of their heartiness and ability to handle slight frosts, which is important to note in the ever-changing New England weather. Still, onions should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in the springtime, usually around late March or April.
No matter when they are planted, however, watering needs to be done at least once per week. Onions have shorter roots than other plants, which means they can dry out more easily. To avoid this, give your onion plants just a little more attention during watering.
After the onions have grown, you will know it’s time to harvest because the green tops will fall to the side, turning yellow or brown. The perfect time to harvest is late summer, before the weather turns cold.
Pumpkins can be a difficult but incredibly rewarding vegetable to grow. First of all, it’s important that you give the pumpkins enough room to flourish; the last thing you want is your whole back yard taken over by pumpkin vines searching for more nutrients outside their designated area.
Another aspect that make pumpkins slightly more high-maintenance than other veggies, is that they require a long time to grow. With this in mind, experts suggest planting them by late May in the North East in order to ensure they have ample time to grow before fall. They will not, however, thrive in conditions of frost. Lucky for New England, if pumpkins are planted at the right time of year, they should sprout within a week or so.
Your first step will have to be deciding what the use of your pumpkins will be, thus directing you towards which seeds to plant. For example, large pumpkins are great for carving, whereas smaller ones tend to be best for baking and cooking.
Once you have made that decision, it’s time to plant. The best method by which to plant pumpkins is to plant the seeds themselves in warm soil. Plant them in an area that gets a lot of sunlight and has soil rich in nutrients. You should plant about 3-5 seeds at a time about 2 inches apart. Once the seedlings sprout, the amount of seedlings will begin to thin and one will become dominant, growing to its full size as it is cared for.
Pumpkins are especially thirsty vegetables, which require a lot of watering. Water thoroughly at least twice per week unless there has been recent, heavy rainfall.
You’ll know that your pumpkins are ready to harvest during the late summer or early fall in New England, when the flesh of the veggie turns from light green to orange. You are then free to use your pumpkins for whatever you like!
There are many different varieties of winter squash that were used in the Thanksgiving recipes we received, but the most common by far was Butternut. This veggie is shaped like a large pear, with yellow skin and an orange inside.
In order to flourish when planted, butternut squash needs warm soil. Because of this, experts often begin cultivating this plant indoors during cooler months.
If this is the method you wish to use, you should transplant the squash into your outdoor garden about 2 weeks after the final frost has passed (this is also the time during which you should plant fresh seeds if you would rather start growing them outside.)
The area you move your squash plants to needs to have access to full sunlight and contain purely damp soil. These plants also need soil with a lot of nutrients, so work in a fair amount of compost before planting, as well.
To input the seeds into the soil, plant 4-5 seeds in small hills. If you would rather have vines growing upwards rather than all over your garden, plant seedlings further apart, with one seed every 2 feet instead.
You will know when it is time to pick the squash when the rind is hard and has turned tan. Try to leave the veggie on the vine until late September or October just to be sure that it is prepared for storage, but still make sure it is picked before the first frost.
Choosing to plant cranberries in your garden is quite the challenge. Not only are there are many varieties of cranberries that you can choose from to plant, but they also may not actually sprout any fruit until roughly 3 years into their life. Still, with enough care and vigilance, the fruit the plant will bear will definitely be worth it!
Cranberry seeds should be planted in either the fall (roughly between October and early November) or in the spring (between mid-April and June). The other option is to plant seedlings, which may take less time to sprout fruit if they have already grown slightly at the time of transplant. This approach can be done in summer, as long as the plant is actively growing.
Like pumpkins, cranberry plants can be slightly high maintenance, as well. They require unique soil, which is most easily delivered by exchanging the existing soil for the correct mixture, rather than trying to amend what’s already there. Beneath the top soil, the cranberry bed should be filled with a mix of peat moss, bone meal, and blood meal for nutrients. The bed should be damp when planting seedlings.
When planting, don’t forget to take the final size of the bushes into account, as well. 1-year cuttings should be planted with roughly one foot between them, whereas 3-year old seedlings need a full three feet between them.
After they are planted, the cranberry bushes need to be kept constantly watered. If the roots dry out, the plant will die. At the same time, the roots can also die if they are over-watered, so keep a watchful eye on how your soil takes the water, and adjust accordingly.
It is also important that you keep up with weeding around the cranberry beds, given that they do not compete well with other plants for nutrients. Try your best to keep not only the weeds, but your plant itself contained. Much like strawberries, cranberry plants will try to put out runners and spread out of your designated area. To keep them contained, try adding mulch or wooded edging to encourage the plant to grow upright rather than out.
In terms of harvesting, if you started by planting a 3-year old seedling, you may see the growth of some berries early on. Otherwise, it will take a few years for the cranberry harvest to be ready. When it does come, make sure you pick them before the first frost of late fall, or your risk losing your crop. Then apply a layer of mulch to the plant in order to keep it warm and safe for the years to come!
Now that you know how to grow the ingredients you will need for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner (in 2015, after they all grow, that is) check out our Twin Pines Gardening Guide for all the steps you’ll need to start your first garden. It’ll be spring again before you know it, so make sure you take advantage of the cooler months and start prepping your garden today!