Care and How-To - Vegetables and Herbs

  • Kohlrabi is among the many "cole crops" grown in the home vegetable garden.  Cole crops are cool-season vegetables that grow best at temperatures between 60° and 70°F  and can withstand light frosts without injury.  Kohlrabi is best direct sown in the garden in early spring.  A second crop can be sown in mid-to-late summer for fall harvest.  

  • Brussels sprouts are among the many "cole crops" grown in the home vegetable garden.  Cole crops are cool-season vegetables that grow best at temperatures between 60° and 70°F  and can withstand light frosts without injury.  Brussels sprouts are best grow as a fall crop.  Start seed indoors and transplant into the garden in mid-May. 

  • Cabbage is among the many "cole crops" grown in the home vegetable garden.  Cole crops are cool-season vegetables that grow best at temperatures between 60° and 70°F  and can withstand light frosts without injury.  Cabbage is best started by seed indoors, and transplants are planted in the garden in early spring.  A second crop can be planted in mid-to-late summer for fall harvest.

  • Cauliflower is among the many "cole crops" grown in the home vegetable garden.  Cole crops are cool-season vegetables that grow best at temperatures between 60° and 70°F and can withstand light frosts without injury.  Cauliflower is best started by seed indoors, and transplants are planted in the garden in early spring.  A second crop can be planted in mid-to-late summer for fall harvest.

  • Broccoli is among the many "cole crops" grown in the home vegetable garden.  Cole crops are cool-season vegetables that grow best at temperatures between 60° and 70°F and can withstand light frosts without injury.  Broccoli is best started by seed indoors, and transplants are planted in the garden in early spring.  A second crop can be planted in mid-to-late summer for fall harvest.

  • Every garden has weeds and dealing with these unwanted plants is an ongoing task in any landscape. Control of weeds is important. Weeds are strong competitors for available water, nutrients, and sunlight.

  • Weed management requires persistence throughout the entire growing season removing weeds when they appear and preventing them from getting large, flowering, or setting seed. 

    There are many different techniques for weed management and effective control often comes from using a combination of different techniques.

    Weeds can be divided into several major groups. Some species can be classified in one or more of these groups, and others cannot be classified in any of these groups.  Understanding how the weed is classified will help with control as the management of weeds in each group looks similar. 

  • Freshly harvested, shelled, and cooked peas are a late spring treat. Many types of peas can be grown successfully in Iowa.  Learn more about selection, planting, care, and harvesting of garden, snow, and snap peas.

  • Raised beds have become popular features in the home landscape. They are both functional and attractive and can be used to grow flowers, vegetables, and small fruits.

    Learn how to build your own raised beds for use in vegetable gardens and other areas in the landscape.

  • While winter is often considered a slow time in the garden, there are still several things that can be done from December through February to prepare for spring and keep yourself active in the garden even when there is snow on the ground!  Below is a list of tasks to do for perennials, annuals, trees & shrubs, vegetables, lawns, and houseplants.

  • Composting is the best way to dispose of your yard and garden wastes. Below are resources and frequently asked questions on composting.  

  • Along with mums and pumpkins, ornamental (occasionally referred to as "Indian corn") is often used to decorate homes in the fall.  Ornamental corn can be purchased at farmer’s markets, roadside stands, craft shows, garden centers, and other l

  • Gardeners are occasionally surprised to find small, round, green, tomato-like fruit on their potato plants. These fruit are not the result of cross-pollination with tomatoes. They are the true fruit of the potato plant.

  • Determining when to harvest vine crops, such as melons, squashes, and cucumbers, is not always easy.  While some vegetables like tomatoes exhibit clear signs, the proper time to harvest other crops may require a little more knowledge and experience.  Learn more about the guidelines for harvesting and storing various vine crops including watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins, and gourds.

  • Vine crops (cucumber, muskmelon, watermelon, and squash) are some of the most popular vegetables in the home garden.  While vine crops are easy to grow, home gardeners are occasionally disappointed in crop yields.  Poor fruiting of vine

  • Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are a vegetable garden staple.  These vining plants are in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae) and include not only cucumber, but squash, pumpkin, gourd, watermelon, and cantaloupe.  This member of the "vine crops" grows on long trailing vines that can take up quite a bit of space in the home vegetable garden, so plan accordingly if you are thinking of adding them to your home garden.  Cucumbers can be successfully grown on trellis systems to save space and make harvest easier.  

  • This guide will help you schedule the planting of vegetable gardens so space may be used efficiently.  

    The range of dates provided are the time periods in which you could sow seed or plant transplant and have success.  Some crops can be planted in succession (every 2 weeks for example) within that time frame. Other crops are simply planted at some point within that time frame.   

    The harvest dates are approximate based on planting on the earliest date listed and extending to the latest possible date.  Crops that are not planted in succession will be harvested within that time frame, not for the entire time frame. Crops planted in succession could have sustainted harvest within that time period.  

    Dates listed are for Central Iowa.  Southern Iowa can shift the sowing, planting, and harvesting dates approximately one week earlier.  Northern Iowa can shift the dates approximately one week later.

  • Summer and winter squash are some of the most popular vegetables in the home garden. Summer squash can be eaten raw in salads, stir-fried, steamed, or cooked in various dishes. Winter squash can be baked, steamed, or boiled.  

    Learn all about growing squash below.

  • Crop rotation is an important and beneficial factor when planning a vegetable garden. Problems with diseases, insect pests, and soil fertility can increase when the same crop is planted in the same area in successive years. With careful planning and consideration, crop rotation can reduce issues with diseases and pests and balance the soil's nutrients. Learn how to best rotate your vegetable crops at home.

  • Rhubarb is a favorite for many Iowa gardeners.  The rhubarb leaf stalk (botanically called a petiole) is used in pies, tarts, sauces, jams, jellies, puddings, and punch.