Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Vegetables are an important part of your everyday diet. Discover for yourself why people say "home grown is best".
These are the earliest of the family to put in an appearance.
· If you wanted to feed a family of two adults and two children you should allow space for three 15ft (4.5m) rows with the rows 18in (45cm) a part and the plants about 12in (30cm) a part.
· Prepare the site by digging in home-made compost, well-rotted manure or an organic growing medium, followed by a dressing of dolomite limestone. Prior to sowing give the site 4oz (112g) per square yard/metre of a balanced fertilizer.
· Sow the seed singly in peat pots in a cold greenhouse or cold frame in late winter or sow direct into the soil 2in (5cm) deep in early spring.
These are one of the most popular summer vegetable, and can add a lovely accent to your garden, as they will grow up a fence, pole or wigwam of canes.
· You can look forward to a plentiful supply of tender, succulent beans from early summer through to the first frosts of the late autumn.
· For best results prepare the site by digging in compost or manure, followed in early spring by a dressing of dolomite limestone. In spring give a dressing of a balanced fertilizer. Delay sowing until all danger of frost has passed and never when the soil is cold and wet.
· Self-sufficiency for a family of four is achieved with two 15ft (4.5m) rows to produce about 100 to 150 lbs of fresh beans. The seed is sown 2in (5cm) deep and 9in (23cm) apart.
Garden Variety Beans
· Plant when the soil temperature has reached a minimum of 50°F (10°C), because cold, wet soil will rot the seed.
· Plant after the last frost, placing the seed about 2in (5cm) deep and about 9in (23cm) apart in the rows. Alternatively, sow the seed in trays or singly in pots in a frost-free greenhouse for transplanting in late spring.
· It is important to keep the crop picked while the pods are young, tender and stringless. Freeze any surplus as you go along.
As a salad crop these are best used when only the size of a golf ball. They can also be pickled at this stage. The main crop beet should not be allowed to become too big and this means lifting and storing them in early autumn.
· Sow thinly in a trench 1in (2.5cm) deep and 12in (30cm) apart, thin out to 4in (10cm) apart. Too early sowing can result in the crop bolting (running to seed), so make the first sowing in mid-spring, with a successional sowing about four weeks later; and the main crop sowing in early summer.
· Beetroot seeds are actually a cluster of several seeds and they can be left to develop as a cluster of four to five roots.
Purple sprouting broccoli is a gourmet vegetable that everyone can grow. It is rich in dietary fibre and has as much vitamin C as oranges. Of all the brassicas, this gives the best return for the space it occupies. A bonus is that the sprouting broccoli is cropped when other green vegetables are in short supply.
· One row of 15ft (4.5m) will accommodate six plants to give self-sufficiency for a family of four.
· Sow the seed in spring in a seed bed 1/2in (1.25cm) deep and transplant when the seedlings are about 4in (10cm) tall 2ft (60cm) apart each way Cut the tender shoots, beginning with the centre, while the flower buds are still in a tight bunch and continue taking the shoots for up to seven weeks.
Crisp texture, a nutty flavour and a long cropping season make this one of the staples of autumn and winter meals. Choose a variety to suit the space you have available.
· Sow in a seed bed 1/2in (1.25cm) deep from early spring for transplanting in late spring or early summer 3ft (90cm) apart.
· Water the young plants before transplanting and firm the soil very thoroughly afterwards.
· Raise the plants in a seed bed and transplant when the seedlings have made four or five leaves.
· Summer cabbage is sown in spring 1/2" (1.25cm) deep for planting out in early to midsummer 12-18in (30-45cm) apart.
· Winter cabbages are sown in late spring for planting in mid-summer 9-18” (23-45cm) apart. Planting distances have a major impact on the finished size of the cabbage: close planting results in small cabbages.
Carrots should be sown in succession to give baby carrots in late spring and early summer, followed by the main crop.
· Sow an early variety in a sheltered position in the garden with the main crop sowings in mid to late spring. Sow the seed 1/2in (1.25cm) deep with the rows 6in (15cm) apart. Thin out in stages to 4-6in (10-15cm) apart.
· Two 15ft (4.5cm) rows of main crop carrots will give a yield of 60 to 80 lb and the roots can be lifted from late summer onward, in favourable areas the crop can be left in the ground with a covering of straw or plastic sheeting and lifted as required.
· The main pest of the crop is the carrot fly which lays its eggs alongside the plants. When they hatch, the maggots tunnel into the roots causing the plants to wilt and, eventually, to die while the roots become riddled with holes. The only effective control is to erect a barrier to prevent the fly reaching the crop. Woven plastic fleece can be placed over the seedlings or panels of polythene sheeting tacked to wooden frames can be erected round the rows.
This crop is fussier than the other brassicas. It needs an organically-rich soil and must never go short of water. It also needs a generous amount of space.
· For an early summer crop, sow the seed indoors in winter in trays and propagate at about 60-65F (15-18C). Transplant in early spring 18 x 24in (45 x 60cm) apart.
· Autumn maturing varieties are sown in a seed bed in spring and transplanted in early summer 24 x 28in (60 x 70cm) apart. Sow the seed 1/2in (1.25cm) deep, thin to 3in (7.5cm) apart transplant when the plants have made five or six leaves.
Celery and celeric
Celery is a crop that repays a lot of attention, while celeriac is hardier and requires less management. Both crops have a characteristic nutty flavour and are delicious raw, in winter salads, or cooked as a vegetable.
· Trench celery requires early preparation of the site with a 1ft (30cm) trench dug early in the year: The bottom is filled with 6in (15cm) of manure or compost, followed by a 3in (7.5cm) layer of soil. The remainder of the soil is used for piling around the crop.
· Seeds are sown indoors in early spring in trays of growing medium at 55-60F (1316C). Surface sow celery as the seed needs light to germinate, but lightly cover the celeriac. At the two true leaf stage prick out the seedlings into boxes at about 3 in. (7.5cm) apart or individually into small pots.
· Harden off the plants gradually when the weather starts to warm up and plant out in early summer. Allow about 9in (23cm) apart each way for celery plants and slightly more for the celeriac. Both crops need adequate moisture throughout the growing period.
· Celery should be protected from autumn frosts with straw, boxes, or landscape fabric. Celeriac can be lifted in late autumn and stored.
Used in winter salads for its tangy bitter-sweet taste and crisp texture.
· Seed should be sown early in the summer direct into moist, rich soil. Germination can be rather erratic in hot weather; but growth is rapid once the seedlings emerge. Sow salad chicories in shallow rows 12in (30cm) apart and thin out to 5in (13cm) apart.
Looking somewhat like a self-folding lettuce with conical hearts and crinkled leaves, they are quite unlike lettuce or cabbage. The flavour is delicate and the texture crisp when eaten raw as a salad, and when cooked the flavour and nutritional values are retained.
· Choose a site that is slightly alkaline but rich in organic matter and highly water retentive. Chinese cabbages give their best performance in late autumn and early winter.
· Sow direct into soil blocks or 3in (7.5cm) peat pots and maintain a minimum temperature of 50F (10C) from germination to planting out. Transplant at the two-leaf stage, allowing 12in (30cm) apart each way.
· The plants are shallow-rooted and must never be allowed to dry out. Water thoroughly and mulch with peat, home-made compost or composted bark. The mature hearts should be cut just above ground level. Although best eaten immediately after cutting, the hearts can be stored for up to three weeks in a refrigerator.
· These are members of the brassica family who should be protected from cabbage root fly and rotated as a precaution against disease.
· They should be sown early in the year, singly, in small pots of peat-based growing medium around 1/2in (1.25cm) deep. Place in a warm area with good air circulation or heated propagator. Transplant individually in 5in pots.
· Plant out at the four-leaf stage into large pots or directly into the garden. Water regularly. Pinch out the growing point and allow two side shoots to develop.
· Spray with water well during hot weather and feed weekly with a liquid fertilizer high in phosphorous.
· All-female varieties can be allowed to fruit only on the main stem with the side shoots removed along with any male flowers that might appear.
A delicious alternative to turnips and many people find it easier to grow. The edible part is the swollen stem which can be cooked whole or sliced when about the size of a tennis ball.
· Sow the seed in spring 1/2in (1.25cm) deep in rows 12in (30cm) apart for use in summer. Thin out to 4-6in (10-15cm) apart.
· Sow the winter crop in mid-summer.
This is another basic ingredient of autumn and winter salads giving crisp, tender leaves after blanching.
· Sow the seed thinly and shallowly in succession from spring to mid-summer. Sow in rows 12in (30cm) apart and thin out seedlings to 12in (30cm) apart.
· Blanching makes the leaves of chicory and endive white with a sweeter flavour and crispier texture. It is carried out from late autumn to midwinter and simply involves covering the plants as required when the leaves are dry. Use upturned flower pots, or wooden boxes
This is a gourmet vegetable that every gardener can easily grow.
· Seed can be sown under glass in winter or outdoors in early spring, very thinly about 1/2in (1.25cm) deep.
· When the seedlings are about as thick as pencils, transplant them to 6-8in (15-20cm) deep holes, made with a dibber, and spaced 6in (15cm) apart each way. Simply drop the leek into the hole, and fill with water.
· About three weeks after planting out give the leeks a dressing of a balanced organic fertilizer, and a second dressing about three weeks after the first.
· Leeks are hardy and should be dug as required for the kitchen.
A crisp and freshly picked lettuce is at the heart of many delicious salad meals, snacks and sandwiches. It comes in a variety of forms, and the season for lettuce can be extended from late spring and summer into autumn.
· Cos and iceberg types of lettuce are ready to eat 10-12 weeks after sowing, while the loose-leaf varieties are ready to start cutting about seven weeks after sowing.
· For all types sow about six feet (two metres) of row at a time, as shallowly as possible, making the first sowing in early spring, preferably with landscape fabric as protection. Sow thinly in rows 12in (30cm) apart and thin out to 6-12in (15-30cm) apart. Successional sowings can continue until mid-summer at roughly three-week intervals. The seed will germinate at quite low soil temperatures, but can prove stubborn to germinate when the soil temperature rises above 75F (24C).
· Try harvesting the young leaves and not the hearted lettuce. This should cause yields to be higher; cropping is earlier and less space is needed to produce the same amount of lettuce.
· The needs of a family of four throughout the season can be met from an area of 5-6 square yards using the leaf lettuce method -less than half that required for hearted lettuce production. 5-6 square yards should produce a quantity of leaves equivalent to 4-5 hearted lettuce per week.
· Most good garden soils should not need any additional fertilizer and if fertilizer is given. Care should be taken to avoid giving too much nitrogen as this causes bitterness in the leaves.
· The soil should be moist but not wet and the seed bed raked thoroughly before sowing to ensure a fine tilth.
In this method:
· Lettuce is grown very close together in rows 5in (12.5cm) apart. A row 1/2-3/4in (12-19mm) should be drawn out and the seeds sown thinly along it. There should be approximately 14-16 seeds per foot of row, which ought to produce about 12-15 plants per foot. Sowing can be done at 14 day intervals from April-mid May and again in August for continuity of supply. The length of row will depend upon the amount you will require over 7 days as sowing and harvesting are done ideally at 7 day intervals.
· Little cultivation is necessary, no thinning is required, and very little weeding as the plants will soon smother germinating weed seedlings.
· Harvesting should take place about 60 days from an early sowing and 40 days from a mid-season sowing. Start at the end of the row and cut only as much as you need each day, bearing in mind that freshly harvested vegetables lose a lot of their vitamins very quickly after being harvested. If you wish to make two harvests from the bed, the plants should be cut at about 1/2-1in (1.25-2.5cm) from the ground. Afterwards the area should be cleared of debris and the soil watered. Re-growth from the stem bases should occur in about one or two weeks.
· It is best to use only the leaves from one re-growth as the old stumps may harbour pests and diseases.
· Leaf lettuce production can be tailored to your weekly requirements, there will be no waste from bolting and less ground is used. Only 10 sowings should be required to produce crops ready for harvesting at weekly intervals from early June to late October.
· Sow the seed in early spring in a heated propagator or greenhouse at a steady temperature of 70-75F (21-24C), setting each seed 1/2in (1.25cm) deep in a small pot of peat-based growing medium. At the four-leaf stage the plants can be moved onto an open sunny site, allowing each plant 3 feet of space.
· Under cover it is advisable to hand pollinate the female flowers (those with a slight swelling behind the petals) by dusting them with pollen from male flowers which have no swelling at all. Melons must have plenty of moisture at all times along with regular feeding with a liquid fertilizer.
· Melons need a fertile well drained soil which warms up early, and with plenty of rotted compost dug in the previous autumn. They need a soil temperature of 71-77F (22-25C) and an air temperature of above 65F (18C) to flourish. Raise the plants as described, about 3-4 weeks before you intend to plant outdoors.
· Plant in single rows, after all risk of frost has gone and the soil is warm, 20-36in (50-90cm) apart and 6-8ft (2-2.5m) between rows or other vegetables.
· Water well after planting until established and dig a shallow water tunnel either side of the row, each approximately 21/2ft (80cm) from the centre of the plant for watering.
· When the plants have made 4 true leaves, cut off the growing point just above the 3rd true leaf. With vigorous plants a second pruning at the 8th leaf can be made. They should run along the ground and need no support.
· When the flowers appear, hand pollination can prevent mis-shapen fruits.
· Watering is most necessary just after the fruits set, at this stage w