Plant Families

What are Plant Families?

Plant Families are similar plants grouped together based on their reproductive structures and growing requirements. There
are many designated Plant Families, but we’re only going to discuss 10. These are the most commonly grown Families by
gardeners, homesteaders and farmers alike.

Rooting Vegetables – Cool Season Crops

Although “roots” are classified together, they do not make up a Rooting Family. Rooting Vegetables grow in the ground, throughout the
seasons. Some Roots such as carrots and radishes grow best in the cool seasons of Early Spring, Fall and Winter. And there are other root
Vegetables such as Ginger and Sweet Potatoes that will only grow from late spring to Early Fall. To start these crops from seed, you first start with amending your soil with Bone Meal and a good rich compost. This should be enough nutrients to feed your plants until
maturity. Sow the seeds directly. Cover the seeds only slightly and keep moist consistently to promote germination. Most Root Crops have a
very quick turnaround time from 23-60 days.

Allium Family – All Seasons

Your Allium family consists of Cool Weather Crops; Onions, Shallots, Leeks, Garlic, and Chives. There are also Alliums that are grown as Flowers. These crops can be started from seed, or grown from sets and cloves. Sow in early Fall for a Spring Harvest; And in Early Spring for a Fall Harvest. This goes for all Alliums:
If starting from seed, Start indoors or in a greenhouse in high quality potting soil 10-12 weeks before your First Frost. Your Allium Family will be planted out 4-6 weeks before your First Frost, and grown throughout the winter and early spring. Most Allium Family Plants take 3-9 months to grow from seed to harvest, and 4-6 months to grow to maturity from sets or Cloves.
When Transplanting Starts, Sets, or Cloves, Amend the soil with good organic matter high in nitrogen. Alliums are heavy Nitrogen feeders. Plant 4-6 inches into the soil, Point to the sky. Cover and lay a thick layer of mulch to help maintain soil moisture. To help your onions and garlic grow large bulbs or heads, trim the tops as they grow too tall, before they topple over. Once the plant tops tip over, it tells the bulbs or head that it’s done growing, and it won’t grow much larger. So after trimming the tops, fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer.
Alliums can be inter-planted with any plant in your garden, Except for Legumes such as Beans, Peanuts and Peas. As a Companion Plant, Alliums naturally repels many garden pests which reduces the need for pest control.

Brassica Family – Cool Season Crops

Your Brassica Family are Cool Weather Crops consisting of; Broccolis, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflowers, Collard Greens, Horseradish, Mustards, Kales, Kohlrabi, Cress, Rutabaga, Bok choy, Cabbages, Wasabi, Spinaches and Lettuces. Brassicas take a little more time to germinate and grow than other plants. They grow best in Fall, Winter, and Early Spring.
Start seeds indoors or in a greenhouse in a high quality potting mix 10-12 weeks before you intend on planting them into the garden. Fertilize seedlings with a high nitrogen fertilizer such as Fish Emulsion. Transplant into your garden 4-6 week before your first and/or last frost. Amend your soil with organic matter such as compost, mushroom compost or worm castings.
Fertilize Brassicas with equal parts NPK. They need all three to grow strong and form good sized heads. Most brassicas are ready to harvest from 60-120 days. To find out the exact growing time of each variety, simply look on the back of the seed packet or do a quick google search

Umbellifer Family – Cool Season Crops

Your Umbelliferae/Apaceae Family are All Season Crops that are grown for their aromatic flowers. Commonly grown plants in the
Umbellifer Family consist of; Carrots (In Rooting Section), Celery, Fennel, Dill, Parsley, Parsnip, Cumin and Coriander/Cilantro.
Umbellifer Plants include many photo-toxic species, such as giant hog-weed, and quite a few highly poisonous species, such as
Hemlock, spotted cow-bane, and fool’s parsley, to name a few. Most of these plants are Biennial or Perennial. They regularly reseed, and
come back every year. All of these seeds can be direct sown, or started indoors or in a Greenhouse. None of which are heavy feeders, and benefit from an all purpose garden fertilizer with low levels of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K). Before planting, Amend the soil with aged Compost and/or other Organic Matter such as Aged Manure and/or Worm Castings.
Since the Umbellifer Family is grown for its flowers, harvest flowers when they begin to open, and transfer them directly to a vase with water, or hang upside down for dried flowers. Common Herbs in this family are detailed in the Herb Section as they have both culinary and medicinal uses and properties.

Herbs – All Seasons

Culinary and Medicinal Herbs
There are thousands of Herbs used both Medicinally and in culinary cuisine. Used as fresh and dried Herbs and Flowers, certain flowers
and leaves of plants; There are so many ways to use Herbs! Herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat a multitude of needs, from salves to Tinctures, Teas and Syrups You can never go wrong with growing and using Herbs. Herbs themselves are not a “Plant Family”, but they do require their own group. Not all Herbs are in the same Plant Family, so I grouped commonly grown Herbs here for easy access!

Legume Family – Warm Season Crops

Your Legume Family are Spring-Summer Crops and consist of; Alfalfa, Lentils, Peanuts, Beans, Soybeans, Clover, Lupine, and Peas. The Legume Family is the third largest family of flowering plants with more than 18,000 species, most of which add Nitrogen back into the soil as it grows. Legumes have been grown as cover and amendment crops for centuries.
The best Fertilizer ratio for Legumes are 10%N, 20%P, 10%K. Fertilizer. They require more Phosphorus than Nitrogen and Potassium, and benefit from feeding once every 3-4 weeks. To grow Legumes, First amend the soil with rich organic matter such as compost, aged manure, or mushroom compost. Plant the seeds Directly into the soil after your Last Frost Date. They will continue to grow until the frost kills
them in the winter, or the heat kills them in the Summer.

Marrow Family – Warm Season Crops

Your Marrow family are Spring to Summer Crops consisting of; Cucumbers, Melons,, Pumpkins, Squash/Marrow, Luffas, Zucchini/Courgette, and Okra. All of the varieties in the Marrow Family are “Vining Plants: except for Okra. Okra does grow to be 6+ feet tall, and may need support as they get taller and heavier. You can Direct Sow each of these varieties after the threat of frost has passed, or you can start seeds indoors or in a greenhouse, then transplant out into the garden. To give your plants the best start to the season, be sure to amend your beds with rich organic matter such as compost, and add in bone meal as a slow release fertilizer.
Once your seedlings are about 6 inches tall, fertilize with a high potassium fertilizer such as a Tomato fertilizer or a Banana Tea, every 10-12 days. They need lots of Potassium, and water to develop their fruit. Most Varieties are ready to harvest in 90-120 days. To find out the exact growing time of each variety, simply look on the back of the seed packet or do a quick google search.

Nightshade Family – Warm Season Crops

Your Nightshade Family are Summer Crops consisting of Eggplants, Peppers, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, and Paprika. There are a few different growing methods for each
variety. A few things they all have in common are the minerals needed to grow healthy and productive plants, and the kind weather they grow in.
The Nightshade Family plants are Frost intolerant and will die when temperatures reach 55 Degrees Fahrenheit. They thrive in the heat of the summer. When fertilizing Nightshades, Feed young plants with equal parts NPK. As the plants grow they will need less Nitrogen, and more Phosphorus and Potassium to develop and grow their fruit.
Sometimes, your plants may need additional Calcium. You’ll know when they need Calcium when you notice “Blossom End Rot” on your tomatoes and peppers. A great Organic Calcium
Fertilizer is Egg Shells. I like to grind up egg shells with my blender, and add a dressing around the base of the stem, on the roots, and cover with mulch. The Calcium from the egg
shells should be enough to fix your Blossom End Rot issues. Growing your Nightshade Varieties from seed to harvest varies, so let’s talk about how to grow these plants.

Gramineae Family: Summer Crops

Your Gramineae/Poaceae Family are Summer to Fall Crops and consist of; Corn, Oats, Rice, Rye, Barley, Wheat, Sugarcane. The Gramineae is a Family of over 10,000 varieties of Grasses which includes; the cereal and grain grasses, bamboos and the ornamental grasses and
species cultivated in lawns and pasture. To start these plants from seed, Amend your beds with a rich organic compost, and directly sow the seeds in the ground. Cover the seeds with about ¼ inch layer of compost. Keep the soil moist to promote germination. Fertilize with a Nitrogen fertilizer once every 4-6 weeks such as Coffee Garden Tea, or an all purpose garden fertilizer. Harvesting for all varieties is different. For exact growing and harvesting dates, check the back of the seed packet, or do a quick google search

Fruits: Berries, Bushes, Vines and Trees – Perineal

There are hundreds if not thousands of different Fruit varieties that you can learn to grow in your garden. Some grow low to the ground while others grow on Bushes, Vines or Trees. There are also many nut trees you can grow easily. My Advice for growing perennial Fruit Trees:
Take the time to plan out what you want and where. Once you plant a tree, it’s there. Moving trees is costly, tedious and can damage or kill the tree. Prune your Perennial fruiting plants in the fall, before they go dormant in the winter, and as needed if you notice sick or
dieing branches. Disease can spread quickly and should be dealt with immediately to ensure the plant/tree will survive and continue fruiting each year.

Common Garden Flowers

You may not think of it, but Flowers are a necessity in the garden. Your fruiting plants need pollinators to develop, and pollinators love flowers right? So it would make since that if you put flowers throughout your garden, you’re inviting all of the pollinators into your garden to fertilize your fruit flowers! There are thousands of flowers to choose from. I encourage you to pick 3-5 different flower varieties to grow in your garden, and then add a few new ones each year! Flowers will grow in a variety of soils, but adding rich Organic matter to the soil before planting is always a good idea. You can fertilize your flowers with a flower fertilizer. Epsom Salt is always beneficial to flowers. Epsom Salt has Magnesium and Sulfur in it, which flowers love! Flowers can be grown from seed, or by tubers or rysombes.