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2022 Midwest Vegetable Guide

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Leafy Vegetables and Herbs (Non-Brassica) – Horticulture Midwest Veg Guide 2022 177 Leafy Vegetables and Herbs (Non-Brassica) – Horticulture Major update by Ben Phillips, Liz Maynard – Dec 2020 Reviewed by Liz Maynard – Aug 2021 Crop Description Most leafy vegetables and herbs grow well under the same sunlight, fertility, soil and growing conditions, and cultural techniques similar to many other vegetable crops. Pay special attention to drainage and moisture requirements of certain herbs, as many are very sensitive to soil moisture conditions. Using plastic mulches, trickle irrigation, and raised beds may provide the necessary moisture and drainage requirements for the herb crop. It is important to know the botanical relationships of leafy greens and herbs because similar pests will go to related plants. Herbs and leafy greens come from at least six botanical families. Within those family groups you can expect similar pests. In this guide we try to provide some precision to this. However, when using pesticides, you must abide by the EPA Crop Groupings on pesticide labels. Amaranthaceae, the Goosefoot family, contains Spinach and Swiss chard classified as "leafy green" or "leafy petiole" in EPA Crop Group 4. The pests of plants in this family are shared with Beets (EPA Crop Group 1) in the Root Crops chapter. Amaryllidaceae, the Amaryllis family, contains all the onion-type aromatic plants. However, Chives are classified as a "herb" in EPA Crop Group 19. The pests of plants in this family are shared with the Onions chapter. Apiaceae, the Carrot family, contains Cilantro, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, and Parsley classified as "herbs" or "spices" EPA Crop Group 19. Celery, Parsley and Florence Fennel are also classified as a "leafy green" or "leafy petiole" in EPA Crop Group 4. But this family also includes Carrots, and Parsnips (EPA Crop Group 1). The pests of plants in this family are shared with the Celery, and Root Crops chapters. Asteraceae, the Sunflower family, contains Chicory, Endive, Escarole, Lettuce, and Radicchio classified as "leafy greens" in EPA Crop Group 4. But this family also includes Tarragon, classified as a "herb" in EPA Crop Group 19. Brassicaceae, the Mustard family, contains Arugula and Cress classified as "leafy greens' in EPA Crop Group 4. But this family also includes cole crop and mustard-type plants (EPA Crop Group 5), some of which are root crops (EPA Crop Group 1). The pests of plants in this family are shared with the Cole Crops and Brassica Leafy Greens, and Root Crops chapters. Lamiaceae, the Mint family, contains Basil, Lavender, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, and Thyme classified as "herbs" in EPA Crop Group 19. Marketing Herbs Fresh herbs certainly make excellent cash crops. However, growers should be cautious before beginning herb production. Establish markets and buyers needs before purchasing any seed. Some of the most popular culinary herbs include basil, chives, dill, French tarragon, mints, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. However, growers should do their own marketing study to determine which herbs are suited for their areas. Possible outlets for culinary herbs include health food stores, grocery stores, restaurants, farmers markets, and food manufacturing companies. For year-round production greenhouses are recommended. Detailed descriptions and management recommendations for some popular herbs follow. Planting, Spacing, and Harvesting Basil Basil, French basil, or sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a popular, tender, annual herb native to India and Asia. Basil is commercially grown for its green, aromatic leaves, which are used fresh or dried as a flavoring. The common pests of basil are plant bugs, Japanese beetle, and downy mildew. Basil can be direct-seeded or transplanted to the field in late spring after all danger of frost is over. Basil seeds normally germinate in 8 to 14 days. Basil requires full sun and prefers moist, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0. Typical spacing for basil is 12 inches between plants, 24 to 36 inches between rows. Trickle or overhead irrigation is necessary. Basil grown for dried leaves or essential oil is cut just prior to the appearance of flowers. The foliage should be cut at least four to six leaves above the ground to allow for regrowth and a subsequent crop. Chives Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are a perennial native to Asia. They were first used by the Chinese and then the ancient Greeks. Fresh leaves are excellent for making herbal vinegars and butter. They are also used in salad, soup, and cheese. Chives are also used to add a mild onion flavor to fish, salads, steamed vegetables, soups, and omelets. No serious pests or diseases are reported, although chives can get downy mildew and rust.

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