Dwarf and compact vegetables

Plant breeders have produced a wide range of dwarf and compact varieties of many of the popular vegetables, which take up far less room than other types. It is sensible to choose these if you want to grow more plants in the available space.

Brussels sprouts can grow into very large plants unless you choose one of the dwarf varieties such as Peer Gynt, which is an F1 hybrid and produces a very uniform crop.

Cabbages also tend to take up a great deal of space, so try the compact ball-headed varieties like Golden Acre, or the pointed variety Hispi (an F1 hybrid), both of which are summer cabbages. April is a very compact spring cabbage which- is suited to closer-than-normal planting and Christmas Drumhead is popular as a good compact winter cabbage.

Several small-sized carrots are avail-able, such as Parisian Rondo, a quick-maturing variety with ball-shaped roots, and Early Nantes, a well-known small cylindrical carrot, ideal for early sowing out of doors, or under cloches.

If you want compact dwarf cauliflowers, try the Australian varieties such as Barrier Reef and Bondi, both with solid white heads for autumn cutting. A good dwarf compact winter cauliflower is Late Queen which is, in fact, ready for cutting in May, despite the fact that it is classed as a winter type.

Curly kale can be a large plant, but Dwarf Green Curled is very compact and suited to close planting. It is also hardy and grows on most soils.

Many compact lettuces are now available. Of the popular cabbage lettuces, Tom Thumb is probably the smallest growing for summer use. Another choice is Salad Bowl, which is a non-hearting loose-leafed American lettuce producing curled leaves which are picked individually. With this lettuce, the more leaves you pick, the more it produces. The crisp, hearting, summer lettuce Windermere is also compact and has attractive curled leaves. Little Gem is the smallest of the cos lettuces, while for winter use Winter Density is very popular with its crisp, dark green hearts and delicious nutty flavour.

If you want to go in for marrows, try the bush varieties, as opposed to the trailing types. Each plant needs only 1 sq m (1 sq yd) of ground and crops heavily.

Dwarf peas, such as the early varieties Feltham First, Kelvedon Wonder, Histon Mini, Hurst Beagle and Little Marvel, are useful where space is limited. The sugar pea, or mangetout, which has edible pods, is also a very productive dwarf-growing type.

In the case of beans, there is the popular Sutton dwarf broad bean, only 30 cm (1’) high, which is recommended for close sowing. If you want a non-climbing runner bean, grow Kelvedon Marvel. To keep it as a bush bean, pinch out the growing tips before flowering commences.

Growing Vegetables in containers

Many vegetables can be grown in containers on a patio, terrace, balcony, or even indoors, when garden space is limited. Among those suited to this method of cultivation are early carrots, preferably the stump-rooted type; early potatoes; globe beetroots; mustard and cress; cucumbers; herbs, both annual and perennial types; lettuce and endive; marrows and squashes; peppers; aubergines; spring onions; spinach; radishes; tomatoes, especially the bush types like Tiny Tim and Roma; early peas; runner beans; and French beans. Climbing vegetables can be placed near a suitable wall or fence for support. Herbs, such as parsley, mint and chives, are ideal for window boxes.

There are many types of container which can be used for vegetable growing, and DIY enthusiasts can make a suitable range. Alternatively, purchase wooden tubs, large pots, window boxes or similar containers from a garden shop or centre. The deeper the containers the better, as this gives the plants more room for adequate root development and the soil will dry out less rapidly.

Using difficult sites

There are often odd corners of the garden which are wasted space, because it is difficult to grow anything in them. For instance, a shady patch under a tree, near a building or at the foot of a north-facing wall frequently gets left unplanted because of the light and root problems, which may be further complicated by poor, dry or waterlogged soil.

It is perfectly possible to do something about the soil condition. Extra careful treatment in the form of a thorough cleaning so that all perennial weeds and rubbish such as stones, tins and bricks are removed, followed by manuring, fertilizing and draining will do wonders for the soil. Once the soil is in good condition, it is then simply a matter of choosing suitable crops.

Reasonable soils in shady spots will grow summer peas, cucumbers, kohlrabi, lettuce, leaf beet, marrows and such herbs as chives, mint, parsley, French sorrel and horseradish. Land cress, leeks, ecleriac, celery, spinach and Jerusalem artichokes are vegetables which will grow in some shade and wettish soil; not many crops will appreciate dry shade, although you can plant New Zealand spinach, shallots, and pickling onions. However, dryness is not such a serious problem, as you can at least supply water as required; wet soil in shade can be very trying, particularly in a wet season.

Quick-growing vegetables One way to make maximum use of land is to use quick-growing vegetables in conjunction with slow growers or long-term crops. In the vegetable garden one should certainly practise catch cropping. Here a quick-maturing crop is grown on a piece of ground which would otherwise lie idle for a period of time, between the harvesting of one vegetable crop and the sowing or planting of the next. Suitable quick-maturing vegetables include radishes, early carrots, lettuces, early turnips and beetroot. All of these can be harvested while young. In seed catalogues choose ‘extra early’ or ‘quick-maturing’ varieties wherever possible.

The vegetables mentioned can be sown in spring and used before the ground is planted with, for example, autumn and winter brassicas, celery, tomatoes, marrows or sweet corn.

Intercropping should also be practised. Here one grows quick-maturing vegetables between rows of a major crop. For instance, you could grow any of the types mentioned above between rows of peas, runner beans, tomatoes, broad beans, leeks, and so on.

30. August 2013 by admin
Categories: Fruit Gardening, Uncategorized, Vegetable Gardening | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dwarf and compact vegetables

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