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Northeast Gardening: Tips for Growing Organic Vegetables

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Growing organic vegetables can be a powerful to boost health and enjoy gardening.

When we planted a flower-vegetable garden in our front yard 14 years ago, I was fighting breast cancer, and we made sure the garden was organic. Last summer my husband underwent a triple bypass, and our homegrown produce became even more important.
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Besides, vegetables can be beautiful. Think of crisp butter crunch lettuce, big 'Brandywine' tomatoes, glossy 'Black Beauty' eggplants and - be still, my heart - 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard. They offer shape and color, as well as flavor and vitamins.

We enriched our soil with compost in the fall - if you forgot, you can do it in spring - and we're expecting an overflowing salad bowl this season. I usually try a few new tomato varieties and I was struck by a mini-mini called 'Red Currant' that looks no bigger than a raisin. I'll find room for it among my favorites - 'Striped German', 'Boxcar Willie' and 'Brandywine'.

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Last year we neglected to plant beets, and I missed them, especially red-and-white 'Chiogga'. I won't forget again - plus I'm adding 'Bull's Blood', an heirloom with radicchio-red foliage that I'll sow among quick-sprouting radish seeds.

I had great success last summer with an unnamed watermelon seedling, so I'll be expanding my repertoire with speckled 'Moon and Stars' and green-striped 'Georgia Rattlesnake'. I'm a watermelon addict and a sucker for a great name.

I'll be sure to make space for butternut squash - my crop lasts through winter - and broccoli and Brussels sprouts and spinach and peas. And I've never grown potatoes, so I hope to start small, with fingerlings. But all this is making me hungry, and I haven't even mentioned herbs yet.

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I nurture an herb circle around a vine-covered obelisk in the center of the garden and I couldn't cook without it. Oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, flat leaf parsley, dill and chives. Plus I always mix in nasturtiums because their edible flowers add a peppery kick to my salads.

Plant organic vegetables and you're really growing green. It's food for thought. What do you think?