Peppers
Peppers come in a wide variety of shapes and colors as well as a wide range (intensity) of heat and sweetness. A good selection of peppers in your garden can add a nice touch to your salads and cooked meals.
Transplant your potted pepper plant about two weeks after your Zone opens (see our Zone Map). If you've ordered from Cottage Farms, it should be time to plant when your order arrives. Plant your Peppers where they'll receive full sun and are less likely to be damaged from the wind.
Make sure the soil is well drained. A raised bed (either using a border like brick or wood or as a borderless mound) is a good way to help insure the ground remains drained.
Plant Sweet Peppers about 2 to 3 feet apart and Hot Peppers about 18 inches apart. If you plant multiple rows, space them about 2 to 3 feet between rows to allow easy access.
In hot climates, the sun can sometimes damage the peppers, before you can harvest them. If you live in Zones 9 through 11, you may wish to place your pepper plants where they'll receive full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. If full sun is your only option, you can provide a little cover for the plants by growing them about 12 to 18 inches apart (in and between rows) allowing the denser leaves to provide a little shade for the peppers. This makes harvesting a little more difficult, but might make the difference in the quality of your peppers.
Peppers are a little more sensitive to cold than tomatoes. If the temperature is expected to fall below 65 degrees, cover the plants. But be sure to uncover them as soon as things warm up. Remember, they need the sun to produce.
Tomatoes
Store bought tomatoes can't compete with home grown heirloom tomatoes. Not only does the incredible variety in color and size make for a more beautiful meal or salad, but the amazing flavor that heirloom tomatoes bring makes adding them to your garden a must. Pear and cherry tomatoes add bite-sized color and flavor to your salads while the larger beefsteak tomatoes are great for slicing (wonderful on a sandwich or by themselves). All of them are great in cooking. Being a tender plant, tomatoes should be planted about two weeks after your Zone opens (we ship to your area when it is time to plant. Click here to see when your Hardiness Zone opens).
Tomatoes, like peppers, need a lot of sunlight. Make sure your plants get at least 8 hours of direct sunlight a day. Also like pepper Plants, if you live in Hardiness Zone 9 through 11, you may want to provide partial shade to protect them from the afternoon sun.
And again like pepper plants, make sure the soil is well drained. A raised bed is a good way to help insure the ground remains drained.
Place your plants about 3 feet apart (in and between rows).
There's an interesting trick to planting a sturdy tomato plant:
  • Take your plant and remove all of the lower branches and leaves. Make sure you don't remove the top leaves.
  • Dig a trench wider than the base of the plant and about 3 inches deep (deeper for more mature plants).
  • Lay the plant horizontally in the trench.
  • Make sure the top of the plant gently arches upward, out of the trench so that about 3 to 5 inches of the plant is above the soil line. Cover the part of the plant that is in the trench and firm the soil with your fingers.
  • If the plant isn't very tall, simply remove the lower leaves and branches (but not the top leaves) and plant so that only about 3 to 5 inches are above the soil line.
  • The part of the plant that has been placed under the ground will form new roots to strengthen the plant's base.
Special Note: DO NOT plant Grafted Tomatoes as described above. Grafted Tomatoes should always be planted at the same depth as they are grown in their pots.
Staking or caging your plant
Most tomato and pepper plants grow tall and will require a stake or cage (or trellis, etc.) to help support the branches and keep the fruit off the ground. If you are using stakes and wire to support your plant, you can add those as you go, but if you're planning to use a cage, fence or trellis you will benefit greatly from putting the support in the ground and planting the tomato or pepper plant at its base. Working a growing plant into a pre-set structure is much easier than trying to establish a support after the plant has done some growing.
Herbs
Though herbs can be used for cooking and home remedies, we are going to stick with the herbs you will want to use for your salads and cooking.
Herb gardens can be among the most rewarding of all gardens. Not only do they tend to have a nice variety of tall, short, fat and thin foliage that comes in a nice blend of shades of green, silver, yellow and blue (plus the occasional bloom), but they offer a wonderful supply of nice smelling great tasting fresh ingredients for your meals. What's more rewarding than walking out into the yard (or up to your indoor herb box) and clipping off a few herbs to clean and add to your salad or cooking?
Some of the most popular herbs are chives, rosemary, basil, garlic, oregano, parsley, sage, dill, mint, tarragon and thyme.
Because herbs tend to have very interesting foliage, they make great ornamental plants. If you want your herbs to do double duty as ornamentals and edibles, work them around the base of your container plants and flowerbeds as an incredible accent.
If you are growing a salad garden, imagine how much more incredible your fresh vegetables will be with the addition of herbs in the mix.
Remember, you'll be using your herbs on a frequent basis. If you are just planting them to clip fresh herbs for your meal when you need them, you'll want to keep them close to the house or grow them as houseplants to make sure they're easily available.
Some herbs (like mint) are invasive. If you don't maintain them they can overtake the plants around them. It's a good idea to either place them far enough away from the other plants that they can be cut back or isolate them with a border or grow them in a container or bucket (with proper drainage holes in their bottom). Of course mint stays low to the ground, so if your mint herbs gets loose in your garden, don't panic it most likely won't hinder the other plants' health, it'll just be all over the bottom of the other plants.
Perennial herbs should be planted in the cool/moist spring or fall. Annual Herbs should be planted two to three weeks after your Zone opens (much like most vegetables). Always check your planting guide for the best instructions on how to care for your specific plant.
Some herbs are often used to help repel insects from your garden. Planting herbs like chives (aphids, ants), rosemary (slugs/snails, mosquito, some flies and Mexican beetles... and cats), mint (repels a variety of pests from flies and fleas to ants and mice), thyme (some maggots, earthworms, whiteflies), basil (flies, mosquito and insects that feed on tomatoes), sage (mosquito), dill (aphids, spider mites), and cilantro (aphids, spider mites) can be a natural barrier to reduce the amount of insects that visit your plants.
If you're interested in using herbs to help protect your home and your garden, it would be wise to do extensive research in books and on the Internet to be sure which plants will best benefit your needs.

How to Grow Peppers, Tomatoes, and Herbs


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