Guide to Growing Vegetables

The Vegetable Garden

My own garden would not be complete without an area for growing vegetables. It might be thought that vegetables are hardly worth growing nowadays, but I would not agree with this contention for several reasons.

Take the question of freshness; there can be no doubt at all that home-grown produce, freshly picked, has a quite different flavour to shop-bought produce, and when the family consists of say, four or more, there can be quite a big saving on the greengrocery bill if only some of your requirements are grown in the garden. Most important of all, it really can be enormous fun to plan for and produce a regular supply of vegetables. A well-cared-for vegetable plot has its own visual appeal.


What Vegetables to Grow

Guide-to-Growing-Vegetables Of course, we should consider vegetable growing objectively, and it is only common sense to try and work out a plan of action which takes economics into account. This means growing some of the vegetables which are always rather more expensive and stealing a march by advancing the maturing date of some crops through the use of cloches. Plastic cloches are not expensive and, with these it is possible, for instance, to advance the planting dates for early potatoes and the sowing dates for broad beans, onions, lettuce, peas, carrots etc., by two to three weeks, which is really advantageous.

I agree that in a small garden it is not worth growing main-crop potatoes, for they take up too much space for too long, but a few rows of earlies are certainly worth growing, for these are cleared in time to allow the ground to be used for a follow-up crop in the same season. The area set aside for vegetables will depend on the size of the garden and it may not be sufficient to supply fresh vegetables for the family throughout the year. To get things in perspective I would expect a plot of about 60ft. by 30ft. to supply a family of four with fresh vegetables throughout  most of the year, apart from potatoes.

The most common fault is to have too much ready at once so that lettuces run to seed, beans hang unpicked and radishes grow large and uneatable. If you have a freezer, this problem is largely solved, but if you have not, then the answer is to sow little and often.

Successional sowings can be made of many salad and other vegetable crops at two- or three-week intervals from March or April onwards to provide sufficient for the family’s requirements without having a glut. Some vegetables such as round or globe beet, parsnips, main-crop carrots and onions can be grown also for storage during the winter and consumption at times when they are more expensive if not actually scarce.

Where space is limited, it is best to grow the less usual crops which are never cheap in the shops, if obtainable at all. For example, such salad crops as endive, which is much more than a substitute for lettuce in salads, and if correctly blanched, introduces a new flavour to dishes. Chicory and seakale are good vegetables which are always a little expensive to buy but easy enough to grow and blanch for use in winter and spring, especially if a greenhouse or warm cellar is available.

Whatever part of the country we live in, there will be certain vegetables which do better in that district than other kinds. Both crop yields and flavour vary with different soils and it is always worth enquiring which kinds do best in your district. For this and many other reasons it is well worth joining the local horticultural society.

In regard to varieties, it is also worth remembering that those varieties which are favoured by commercial growers, because they give high yields with a minimum of trouble, need not necessarily be the best for the home gardener to grow. The commercially-favoured varieties and strains are not always the kinds with the best flavour, and this should be a primary consideration when you are growing for your own table. So, talk to local gardeners and make use of their experience, as well as doing some experimenting yourself.


Catch-cropping, Intercropping and Successional Cropping

As you become more experienced in vegetable growing, you will find that it is possible to increase crop yields by catch-cropping, inter-cropping and successional cropping. Catch-cropping consists of growing a quick-maturing crop between the timings of the main growing period for which the ground is reserved. For example, lettuce, summer spinach, radishes, mustard and cress and spring onions are some of the crops one can use for this purpose. They can be grown, for instance, between the trenches prepared for celery provided they are off the ground before the celery needs earthing-up, or they can be grown on a plot prepared for winter greens.

Ground can also be exploited by intercropping  — growing quick-maturing vegetables between others which. Remain in the ground for much longer periods. For example, radishes can be grown between parsnips or onions, lettuces between peas and so on. Successional sowing of individual vegetables is extremely useful as it ensures a continuity of supply in quantities bearing some relation to your needs rather than having a glut of supplies over a much shorter period. Lettuce, spinach, carrots and radishes are examples of vegetables which are best cropped in this way thus preventing unnecessary wastage.

01. December 2010 by admin
Categories: Gardening Ideas, Vegetable Gardening | Tags: | Comments Off on Guide to Growing Vegetables


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