Lemongrass – How to Grow It and Use It

how to grow lemongrass and tips for using it

By Anni Winings, contributing writer

I first came across lemongrass while visiting a farmer’s market in Florida while we were traveling. The little old man handed me a bunch of lemongrass stalks and said, “You put those in water and they grow again.” He picked up another stalk and showed me how to chop it and use the inner part of the lemongrass. It smelled amazing when he chopped it up, and I bought a couple of bunches of lemongrass.

Since then, I’ve used lemongrass to add a “what is that!” element to rice; to add a light, slightly spicy lemony flavor to smoothies (not to mention all its purported healing properties); and in all sorts of variations of stir-fries and soups.

As the old man promised, when I stuck the ends of the lemongrass in a jar of water, they did begin to sprout roots. I’ve moved twice since that time, and haven’t been able to take my potted plants across the borders of the new states we’ve moved to, so I’ve regrown lemongrass both from stalks found in oriental shops and from seed.

Once you get a thriving bunch established, you’ll have more lemongrass than you know what to do with.

how to grow lemongrass and tips for using it

How to Grow Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a sub-tropical plant and can’t handle hard freezing temperatures. If you live anywhere colder than about a zone 9a, you’ll want to grow your lemongrass in a pot, and bring it indoors for the winter. And even then, you might want to bring it in, just in case you get an unexpected temperature drop (the weather seems to be doing all sorts of funny things these days).

Grow your lemongrass in full sun, with plenty of water, in a rich, well-draining soil. If you’re growing it in a pot, top-dress it with compost or worm castings every couple of weeks, to make sure it’s getting plenty of nutrients.… [Continue Reading]

Our Deep Mulch Garden: Final Wrap-Up

how to use deep mulch in your garden for better moisture retention and fewer weeds!

I’ve fallen in love with gardening all over again.

As many of you know, 2014 was the first year I ventured into the world of deep mulch gardening.

Considering it’s October, I figured it was time to take final inventory of my experience and type out my thoughts and revelations (mostly because I know I’ll forget come next year…)

To sum it up?

Deep mulch gardening is the best thing that’s ever happened to my garden.


I LOVE IT. I will NEVER go back to bare dirt gardening. Never, ever, ever.

deep mulching garden

To read a little background on this my crazy mulching adventure and to learn more of the specifics of this whole deep mulch thang, check out this post where I talk about mulching for the first time, and then this post where I give a mid-summer mulching update.

For those of you who are curious about my final yields and such, here are all the nitty-gritty details—>

2014 Yields from My Deep Mulch Garden

Keep in mind, I have a rather small garden plot. We have plans to expand, but have to build a literal fortress around anything we try to grow (because of wild critters and our barnyard critters), so while putting in a second plot is on the “list,” it hasn’t happened quite yet! However, I had impressive yields, even from my small plot!


By far, this was the best onion year I’ve ever had. I planted two long rows of purple onion sets and one row of sweet yellow onions. The were SO happy and grew like crazy. My yellow onions were HUGE and just as pretty as the ones you can find at the store.

how to use deep mulch in your garden for better moisture retention and fewer weeds!

Now comes the sad part of the story… Our lovely turkey apparently has an affinity for onions, and wiped out nearly the entire harvest before I realized what had happened.… [Continue Reading]

9 Greens You Can Grow All Winter Long


By contributing writer Anni W. of TheBestGardening.com

The two biggest challenges to growing food in winter are decreased light and freezing temperatures.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up your fresh garden produce when winter weather approaches. It just means a change in what you grow. Even in places like Canada and Alaska, a little light can go a long way for leafy greens.

Basic rule of thumb: Full sun for Fruit. Light sun for Leaves.

Anything that produces an edible leaf can be grown during the shorter days of winter.

Growing your greens outdoors all winter is possible, but will require a little more planning. You’ll need to grow your plants under row covers or in hoop houses. Choose southern-exposed areas that get as much sun (and heat) as possible. Mulch heavily to protect roots.

You can also grow your greens in pots on a south-facing windowsill. All the greens listed below can be successfully grown in a pot through the winter.

It’s surprising how satisfying it is to harvest your own greens in the middle of winter when there’s snow on the ground outside and the world looks dim and gray.

One reminder… don’t overwater! Indoor plants aren’t exposed to the wicking effects of wind, or the drying effects of the sun. So they don’t need as much water as they would if they were growing outdoors.

9 Greens You Can Grow All Winter

  1. Pea greens
  2. Mizuna
  3. Garden Sorrel
  4. Fennel
  5. Mache/Corn Salad
  6. Salad Burnet
  7. Agretti
  8. Land cress
  9. Arugula

Pea Greens

Pea greens are my favorite – which is why I listed them first. With less light, the pea plant won’t produce peas, but the shoots and leaves still have that wonderful English pea flavor.

Grow a bushing variety, like Little Marvel, in pots indoors, or outdoors under row covers in an area where they’ll be protected from harsh winds and get as much light as possible.… [Continue Reading]

4 Ways to Save & Ripen Green Tomatoes

how to ripen green tomatoes

I was NOT happy…

…when I found out it was supposed to snow several weeks ago. The calendar had *just* turned to September, and I was not ready to pull out my muck boots and coats. Not to mention this was the first year in a long time that my garden was actually thriving!

So after I finished my little homesteader temper-tantrum, I realized I was faced with a very real problem: what to do with all of my lovely tomato plants, loaded down with very green roma tomatoes…

I agonized over this decision more than I care to admit. Part of me wanted to ignore the weather warnings and take my chances that the supposed snow storm would skip us. But my more cautious side won out, and after asking all the smart folks on The Prairie Homestead Facebook page, I came up with a plan of action to save my poor green tomatoes.

And I’m glad I did–it snowed several inches that night. Thankfully, I’m still enjoying fresh, homegrown tomatoes, weeks after our freak snowstorm, due to the measures I took. Here’s what I did:

how to save green tomatoes

How to Ripen (or Save) Green Tomatoes

You have a couple of different options when dealing with green tomatoes. Being the curious blogger-type that I am, I decided to experiment with several of these choices . Here are all the juicy details—>

1. Cover ‘em.

I’ll be honest–this option scared me a bit, and I worried my my rag-tag collection of sheets and quilts wouldn’t be enough. But, I decided to try it anyway.

I covered some of my plants with sheets, and then topped them with quilts. I tucked the ends of the blankets around the plants to seal them in as much as possible, used clothespins to pinch up the edges and corners, said a little prayer, and walked back into the house for the evening.… [Continue Reading]