How to Grow Vegetables
How to Grow Vegetables
The following is a list of the most popular vegetables to grow in your kitchen garden, and full cultural instructions are given for each one.
Artichoke – Jerusalem Artichoke
Plant the tubers in February or March, 15cm (6in) deep and 30cm (1ft) apart.
Jerusalem artichokes do not suffer from any significant problems.
Cut off the tops in August to limit top growth, and lift the tubers as required, from October onwards.
Bean – Broad Bean
Sow from February or March until the end of April, placing the seeds 5cm (2in) deep and the same distance apart in a double row 25cm (10in) apart. Allow 60cm (2ft) between each double row. It is also worth sowing in July as a catch-crop, and again in November to stand the winter.
Blackfly is the principal pest, and it is helpful to remove the growing tips as a deterrent once the plants are in full flower.
Pick the pods regularly while they are still fairly young.
Bean, French Bean
Make the first sowing under cloches in March or in the open ground in April or May. Set the seeds 15cm (6in) apart and 5cm (2in) deep in rows 45cm (18in) apart.
Thin to 30cm (1ft) apart and water theif it becomes dry. A mulch applied at the thinning stage is usually beneficial. tend to suffer from the same as runner beans..
Pick the pods regularly while still young.
Bean, Runner Bean
Early plants can be raised in the greenhouse from an April sowing, but outdoor sowings should not be made before mid-April under cloches, or May in the open ground. Place canes, poles or strings 25cm (10in) apart in double rows, with 30cm (1ft) between rows and set the seeds up against each support, 5cm (2in) deep. Sow a few extra seeds at the end of the row for possible replacements.
Plant indoor-raised runner beans at the end of May or early June after thorough hardening-off.
Hoe between the plants regularly and mulch with peat or manure. Keep well watered.
Pinch out the tops when the plants have reached the top of the supports.
Blackfly is the worst pest, but one easily controlled.
Harvest regularly and before the beans have a chance to become long and stringy.
Sow an early globe cultivar under cloches in March, in drills 2.5cm (tin) deep and 20cm (8in) apart, placing two seed clusters every 15cm (6in).
From April to July, globe cultivars can be sown in succession in the open ground. Long-rooted cultivars for storing should be sown in May or June.
Thin to leave the strongest, and keep the ground between the rows well hoed.
Lift the roots from early sowings while still small. The main crop can be lifted in October and stored. Cut off the leaves near the root and store in boxes of peat.
Sow from April to July, in drills 2.5cm (1in) deep and 45cm (1-1/2ft) apart. Thin to 20cm (8in).
Harvest young leaves regularly, always leaving some on the plant to continue growth.
Beet, Sea Kale (Swiss Chard)
Sow from April to July, in drills 12mm (tin) deep and 45cm (1-1/2ft) apart. Position two seeds every 38cm (1-1/4ft), and thin to leave the stronger seedling at each station. Harvest asbeet.
Borecole (Curly Kale)
Sow at the end of April or early in May,60cm (2ft) apart each way in July or early August.
Very few pests or diseases are troublesome, although club-root androot fly can be a problem.
Gather young leaves and sideshoots as required.
The termused to cover both the sprouting type and the heading form, but there has been general agreement that broccoli will now refer only to the sprouting kind — the old ‘sprouting broccoli’. The old heading broccolis are now termed ‘winter ’.
Sow in April on a prepared seed-bed, and plant out in May or June, about 60cm (2ft) apart, with 75cm (2-1/2ft) between rows.
The same pests and diseases that affect cabbages will also attack broccoli. Apart from watching for these it is only necessary to hoe and water.
The first shoots should be ready to cut in February; if the centre shoot is cut first there will be a regular supply of sideshoots.
Sow on a seed-bed in March or April, in drills 12mm (1/2in) deep and 15cm (6in) apart.
Plant out 60 — 90cm (2 — 3ft) apart each way, depending on the vigour of the cultivar, in May or early June.
Hoe and water as necessary and pick off any yellowing leaves in autumn. Stake tall plants on exposed sites. Watch for any of the pests and diseases likely to attack cabbages.
Pick from the bottom of the stem as the sprouts get big enough.
By careful selection of cultivars it is possible to have cabbages maturing at almost any time of year. All types are easy to grow provided the ground is free of club-root.
The main pests are cabbage root fly and the caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly. Both can cause heavy losses. Turnip flea beetles can be a problem among seedlings, but are easily controlled.
Summer cabbages should be sown 12mm (1/2in) deep on a prepared seedbed in March or April, in rows 15cm (6in) apart.
Plant 45cm (1-1/2ft) each way in May or June, and keep the ground hoed throughout the season. Water if necessary.
Spring cabbage should be sown 12mm (1/2in) deep in drills 15cm (6in) apart on a seed-bed in July or August.
Plant 23cm (9in) apart in September or October with 45cm (1-1/2ft) between rows.
Top-dress with nitrate of soda in March applied at 70g per sq m (2oz per sq yard).
Cut every other plant for spring greens, and the remainder when they have hearted.
Winter cabbage should be sown in a seed-bed in May, in drills 12mm (1/2in) deep and 15cm (6in) apart.
Plant 45cm (1-1/2ft) apart with 60cm (2ft) between rows, in June or July, and cultivate as for summer cabbage.
should be sown on a seed-bed in April or May, and planted out in July, leaving 45cm (1-1/2ft) between plants in rows 60cm (2ft) apart.
Remove any dead or decaying leaves as they appear, and cut the heads as required once they have firm hearts.
This crop is very similar to sprouting broccoli, but is ready for late summer and autumn use.
Cultivate and harvest as broccoli.
Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage
This crop is becoming more widely grown, but it is important not to sow too early otherwise the plants will run to seed prematurely.
Sow during June or July, placing seeds 10cm (4in) apart in rows 30cm (1ft) apart and 12mm (1/2in) deep.
Thin to 20cm (8in) apart and water copiously. Watch for slugs and caterpillars, which can be a problem. When hearts begin to form, tie the leaves together with raffia.
The heads will be ready to cut nine to ten weeks after sowing.
Plants must be raised in a greenhouse. Sow in pots in March, and transfer to 10cm (4in) pots before hardening off.
Plant in a sunny position in late May or early June. Start the plants under cloches, planting 45cm (1-1/2ft) apart.
Pinch out the growing point when plants are 15cm (6in) high. Keep well watered, and when the fruits start swelling feed with a liquid tomato fertilizer every two weeks.
Start picking in August while the fruits are still green.
Sow early varieties in frames or under cloches in early March. Maincrop cultivars are best sown in succession from April to July 12mm (1/2in) deep in rows 25cm (10in) apart.
Thin to 5cm (2in) apart, and again to 10cm (4in) apart two or three weeks later.
Pull early carrots as required.
Carrot fly larvae, which burrow into the roots, often gain entry after thinning. Do not leave thinnings lying around, and try to do the job in wet weather.
The last sowings can be lifted in September and stored in boxes of peat or sand.
The termnow includes the winter hearting kinds that used to be called broccoli. That means cauliflowers can now be harvested practically the year round by careful selection of cultivars, though those maturing from December to March are only suitable for very mild districts.
Sow summer cultivars under glass in January or February, or in a seed-bed outside in April or May. Winter cultivars should be sown in a seed-bed in April or May.
Plant summer cultivars 45cm (1-1/2ft) apart in rows every 60cm (2ft), from March to June. Winter varieties need to be planted 60cm (2ft) each way during June or July.
Pests and diseases are as for summer cabbage.
Cut the curds as they are ready; if they are not needed immediately, break a few leaves over them for protection.
Sow under glass in March and harden off in a garden frame before planting out in May or June. Set them 30cm (1ft) apart in rows 38cm (1-1/4ft) apart.
Water in dry periods, and cut off sideshoots as they appear. Draw a lithe soil round the roots in September to blanch them.
Dig the roots in October and store in boxes of peat.
Deeply cultivated, rich soil is essential. Dig a trench 38cm (1-1/44t) wide and 45cm (1-1/2ft) deep and work well-rotted manure orinto the bottom. Refill the trenches to within 15cm (6in) of the top, leaving the remainder of the soil on either side of the trench.
Sow in a heated greenhouse in March and prick out into boxes. Harden off before planting out in June in double rows with 30cm (1ft) each way between plants.
Water copiously, and feed with a liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Start earthing up when the plants are 30cm (1ft) high. Tie a collar of paper or black polythene round the stems and earth up in three stages with three weeks between each. Protect tops from frost with straw or cloches.
Start harvesting in November. Dig from one end of the row, disturbing the other plants as little as possible.
Celery fly larvae sometimes tunnel through leaves, and will need control. The main disease is celery leaf spot, which can be very disfiguring.
Self-blanching celery needs a well manured soil but no trenches.
Plant out in June in blocks of short rows, with 23cm (9in) between plants in each direction so that the shade from their leaves helps them to blanch each other.
Start cutting in September or October.
Sow both forcing cultivars and open-ground types in June or July, in drills 12mm (1/2in) deep and 30cm (1ft) apart. Thin forcing varieties to 25cm (10in) apart and open-ground types to 38cm (1-1/4ft). Hoe and water as necessary.
Start digging forcing cultivars in November. Cut off the tops just above the ground and set upright in boxes of compost. Cover the boxes to exclude light and place in slight heat. Check regularly for slugs and caterpillars.
Outdoor cultivars can be cut as soon as they have hearted. Forcing cultivars will form a white ‘chicon’. Cut these when they are 15— 20cm (6— 8in) long.
Treat as, but plant 50cm (1-2/3ft) apart.
Start cutting soon after the withered flowers have fallen, when the fruits are about 15— 20cm (6— 8in) long.
Cucumbers need a deep, rich, freshly manured soil and a sunny site.
Sow in a heated greenhouse in March or April, in peat pots. Alternatively, sow two or three seeds 2.5cm (1in) deep in stations where they are to grow, in May. Space them 90cm (3ft) apart and thin to leave the strongest plant.
Harden off greenhouse-raised plants and plant out in early June at the same distances.
Hoe and water regularly and if growth seems slow feed them with a general liquid fertilizer. Pinch out the growing point when the plant has seven leaves, to encourage sideshoots.
See marrows for diseases.
Start cutting in July. Cut regularly and do not let the fruits grow too large.
A good crop instead offor a hot, dry soil. Even so, the quicker it develops the more tender it will be, so incorporate plenty of before sowing.
Sow in succession from April to July. Take out drills 38cm (1-1/4ft) apart and sow 12mm (1/2in) deep. Thin to 23cm (9in) apart.
Do not allow the swollen stems to become larger than a tennis ball before harvesting.
Sow in a seed-bed from late February to mid-April, and plant in final positions in June. Drop them into holes made with a dibber, 23cm (9in) apart in rows 38cm (1-1/4ft) apart. The holes should be deep enough so that only 7.5cm (3in) of the plant protrudes. This deep planting helps to blanch the stems. Water in with sufficient water to firm the plant.
Start sowing early cultivars in the greenhouse in February. These can be planted outside in April.
Outside, start sowing in early March and continue at two-week intervals until July. Sow in drills 12mm (tin) deep and 30cm (1ft) apart. For early crops outside, sow hardy cultivars in September for overwintering.
Plant greenhouse-raised cultivars in April after hardening-off. They should be set out in rows 30cm ((1 ft) apart with 25cm (10in) between plants. Throughout the spring and summer, thinnings from outside-sown plants can be used to make another row, maturing slightly later.
Thin seedlings to 25cm (10in) apart as soon as they are large enough to handle. Hoe regularly and water as necessary.
Slugs and greenfly are the most likely pests, but both are easily controlled. Grey mould on stems and leaves is a sign of botrytis, while a white powder on the underside of leaves indicates downy mildew; these are the two principal diseases.
Marrows and Squash
Sow in peat pots under glass in April or May. Alternatively, sow outside in May, setting two seeds in stations 60cm (2ft) apart for bush cultivars and 90cm (3ft) apart for trailing.
Plant at the end of May or June at the distances mentioned.
Water copiously throughout the season, and control slugs and aphids.
White patches on leaves indicate mildew, and this disease is often encouraged by dry soil.
Cut fruits regularly while still young. For storage, allow a few fruits to grow, then when the skin is hard, store in a cool, frost-free place.
From seed. The first sowing can be made in a heated greenhouse in January, but the main crop is generally sown outside during March or April. Sow 12mm (1/2in) deep in rows 30cm (1ft) apart.
Plant greenhouse-raised plants in April, 15cm (6in) apart in rows spaced at 30cm (1ft) intervals.
Thin sownto 15cm (6in) apart. Weed control is important.
From sets. On heavy soil,from sets (small bulbs). Trim the dead tops to prevent birds pulling them out, and plant 15cm (6in) apart with 30cm (1lft) between rows.
Japanese onions. For a crop in June or July, sow Japanese onions outside in August. These can be left to overwinter and thinned out in spring.
Pests and diseases are few, but onion fly larvae sometimes burrow into the bulbs, causing wilting, yellowing and eventual death.
The leaves should start bending over in August. If not, bend them down to help ripening. Lift bulbs in September and dry them on a concrete path. Store in slatted boxes or strings.
Start sowing in February if soil conditions permit, or up to April necessary. Set two or three seeds in stations 20cm (8in) apart after taking out drills 2.5cm (1in) deep and 45cm (1-1/2ft) apart.
Harvest the roots as required from October onwards. In the north, lift and store in boxes of peat.
Canker, which shows as cracked orange patches, is the major disease. If troubled by this, use resistant cultivars.
Cracking — when roots ((1in) lengthwise. As1-1/2ftcondition is usually due to drought, ensure that soil never dries out.
Sow hardy cultivars in October or November, and others in succession from March to June. Take out a trench a spade’s width across and 5cm (2in) deep and place the seeds 5cm (2in) apart in a double row with 10cm (4in) between rows. Provide sticks for support.
Pea moth larvae sometimes burrow into the pods and affect the seeds.
Pick regularly when the pods fill, working from the bottom of the plant.
First sprout or ‘chit’ the tubers in boxes in a light, cool place, in February.
Plant early cultivars in March 13cm (5in) deep and 30cm (1ft) apart in rows 60cm (2ft) apart. Second earlies and maincrop cultivars should follow in April, planting 13cm (5in) deep and 38cm (1-1/4ft) apart in rows 75cm (2-1/2ft) apart. Plant either in drills or with a trowel.
When the foliage is 15cm (6in) high earth up by drawing some soil up to the stems. Earth up a second time three weeks later, and water well at this stage by flooding between the rows.
In June, give maincrop cultivars a second application of fertilizer at 135g per sq m (4 oz per sq yd).
Lift earlies as required from June onwards, but leave maincrop cultivars until the haulm has died down, then lift and store in sacks or paper (not plastic) bags.
Potatoes are susceptible to several virus diseases, so buy only certified seed, and keep aphids under control as these spread the viruses.
Potato blight is another serious problem, but the severity is often influenced by weather.
Scab causes corky patches on the skins. If this has been a problem in previous years, use plenty of organic matter at planting time and choose resistant cultivars.
Wireworms, cutworms and slugs burrow into tubers, but a soil-pest killer applied before planting should help. If slugs are a problem, use a liquid slug killer regularly.
Sow in succession from March to July at two-week intervals, in drills 12mm (1/2in) deep and 15cm (6in) apart.
Salsify and Scorzonera
Sow in March or April, 2.5cm (tin) deep in rows 38cm (1-1/4ft) apart.
Thin to 20cm (8in) apart. Lift the roots as required from October onwards.
Plant in February or March 15cm (6in) apart with 30cm (1ft) between rows. Trim the dead tops and plant so that the bulbs just show. Replace any bulbs lifted by birds.
When the leaves start to yellow, lift the bulbs and dry them on a concrete path. Store in slatted boxes.
Sow summer cultivars in succession from March to July, 2.5cm ((1in) deep in rows 30cm (1ft) apart, and the winter type in August or September.
Thin to 15cm (6in) apart.
Pick young leaves regularly, always leaving some on the plant to grow again.
Spinach, New Zealand
This is a good vegetable for a hot, dry soil.
Soak the seed overnight before sowing in March indoors with heat or outdoors in early May.
Keep picking the largest leaves from each plant and leave the plants to continue cropping over a long period.
Sow 12mm (1/2in) deep in rows 38cm (1-1/4ft) apart in May or June. Thin to 30cm (1ft) apart.
Lift roots as required throughout the winter.
A sunny site and a well-manured soil are essential for good results.
Sow in peat pots in the greenhouse in April, or outside in May. Outside, sow two seeds in stations 38cm (1-1/4ft) apart in rows 60cm (2ft) apart.
Plant in late May or early June in blocks of short rows, at the distances mentioned.
Water regularly and mulch with peat or manure.
When the ‘silks’ (male flowers) wither, squeeze a seed or two to test ripeness. If the fluid is milky the cob is ripe. If no juice emerges, the cob will be tough. Cut only as needed.
Tomatoes must be germinated in a heated greenhouse. Sow at the end of March or the beginning of April in boxes or pans of loamless compost. Pot into 10cm (4in) pots and allow plenty of space.
Harden off thoroughly before planting out at the end of May or early June in a warm, sunny situation. Space the plants 45cm (1-1/2ft) apart and stake with a 1.2m (4ft) cane immediately.
Tie the plants to the cane regularly except for bush cultivars, which need no support. These also need no de-shooting, but ordinary cultivars must have sideshoots removed regularly.
When the third truss has formed, pinch out the top one or two leaves above it. Never let the plants go short of water, and start feeding with a liquid tomato fertilizer as soon as the first truss has set fruit. Repeat at two-week intervals.
A mulch of straw or peat under bush cultivars will keep ripening fruit clean.
Aphids sometimes suck the sap of tomato plants, causing stunting and distortion; they also spread virus diseases.
Blight causes dark brown marks on stems and leaves, followed by wilting and eventual death if not treated in time.
Tomatoes are susceptible to several virus diseases, which cause wilting and yellow patches on leaves. There is no cure, so affected plants must be burned.
Sow early cultivars 12mm (1/2in) deep in drills 30cm (1ft) apart, from February to May. For autumn and winter use, sow in June or July. Thin to 15cm (6in) apart.
Flea beetle is a common pest. It makes round holes in leaves.