VEGETABLES FOR THE KEEN GARDENER
Beans, broad: mid—late winter sowings are better suited for cloche work than autumn sowings, which often are ready to be uncovered before the weather is favourable enough. Sow the seeds in two staggered rows, spaced about 20 cm (8”) apart. Small tent cloches will take a single row only. The beans require supports after the cloches are removed.
Beans, French or dwarf: these can be sown from mid-spring. Sow two rows, staggering the seeds about 20 cm (8”) apart each way. In southern districts watering and shading require careful attention. A late sowing in mid-summer can be covered in mid-autumn with tall cloches, to provide an autumn crop. Be sure to use large enough cloches, so that the beans can be kept covered but with enough space inside for them to grow.are not as hardy as , so it is very important to ensure that the leaves do not touch the glass during frosty weather or the plants will be harmed. Haricot beans for storing can also be grown by this method; sow haricot varieties as for the ordinary varieties.
Beans, runner: seeds can be sown 25-30 cm (10-12”) apart in single rows, in mid-spring. Greenhouse-raised plants can be set out under cloches in mid-spring for an earlier start in northern gardens. Remove the covering in late spring or early summer, when staking will be necessary. In windswept, cold districts there is much to be said for stopping runner beans at about 1.5 m (5’) high; in this way earlier and sometimes heavier pickings are obtained.
Beetroot: very early sowings can be disappointing, producing rather woody roots, but sowings from early spring onwards should be satisfactory. Allow three rows for 60 cm (2’) wide cloches and one row for small cloches, and thin to about 10 cm (4”) apart between plants. Beetroot are best used when small and tender, and round varieties are more suitable than long types for early or late sowings. Seeds sown in mid-summer and covered immediately will provide useful autumn pullings.
Cabbage, spring: sow in mid-summer in northern districts and late summer in the south; transplant mid-autumn and cover. The spacings used are 20-23 cm (8-9”) between plants in the row. Plant in a single row for narrow cloches or double rows 25 cm (10”) apart in larger cloches. Alternative plants can be used for early cutting, leaving the remainder to grow larger for later use. The crop can be de-cloched in early spring, unless the weather is unusually cold.
Carrot: this crop requires a well-prepared and preferably medium-light. Sow mid- to late winter in rows about 13-15 cm (5-6”) apart. The number of rows per cloche will depend on the width of cover. A mid-summer sowing in northern areas should be ready for use by early winter and a late summer sowing in southern areas should be ready at about the same time. The early or late season crops tend to escape the ravages of carrot fly.
Cauliflower: unless one is fortunate enough to possess many cloches, the best use of cover is to sow this crop thinly under protection to provide young plants for transplanting at an earlier date than normal. Sowings can be made in early autumn. Thin out theto 5 cm (2”) apart, then leave them under the cloches until early spring when they can be planted out in the open at their final spacing. For especially early crops, transplant some of these plants under large barn or ‘T’ cloches and leave them there until you harvest them. The cloches are ideal for protecting the heads during bad weather.
Celery, self-blanching: this type of celery matures quickly and can be grown successfully under cloches. Raise the plants from seed sown in late winter in mild heat, in the usual way, and transplant the young plants in mid-spring at a spacing of 23 cm (9”) apart on the flat (not in trenches) under cloches. Two rows should fit under large barn cloches. Remove the cloches as soon as the foliage touches the walls or roof, at about the end of late spring. In colder areas, it is wise to use high-walled cloches to give extra protection to the plants for a week or so. You can help the blanching process by carefully working dry straw around the plants.
Corn salad: late summer to mid-autumn sowings of this crop in rows 15 cm (6”) apart, with plants thinned to 10 cm (4”) apart, provides salads from mid-autumn. The last sowings should be cloched at once, earlier ones cloched from mid-autumn, and you should be able to pull leaves for most of the winter, provided the cloches are left on.
Cucumber: both ridge (outdoor) and frame (greenhouse) varieties can be grown under cloches. With the hardier ridge varieties, you can remove the cloches when all danger of frost has passed, but it is wise to keep frame varieties cloched the whole time. The plants should be trained by reducing the lateral shoots to the two strongest and training these on wires or stakes horizontally along the length of the cloche, stopping them at the five or six-leaf stage to encourage the production of
However, regular annual pruning will need to be carried out by the gardener.
Raspberries, blackberries and loganberries are all strong-growing fruits, so you will need a good deal of vertical space to accommodate them.
Melons can be grown vertically in a sunny greenhouse with a minimum temperature of 10°C (50°F). A dry atmosphere with no shade is the main requirement.
Family trees have three or four varieties of the same kind of fruit on each tree. Often trees of apples, pears and plums can be bought with a number of varieties on them. These provide an ideal means of growing many varieties in a small amount of space. A miniature orchard could be planted, using bush trees on dwarfing rootstocks. Another advantage of family trees is that you do not need to buy several trees of one type in order to ensure cross pollination of the flowers. You could have just one family apple, one pear and one plum.
Plant bush trees at least 4 m (12’) apart each way. They can be grown in grass, but if you intend to grow them in the lawn leave a circle of bare soil around each tree, about 1 m (3’) in diameter. Grass right up to the trunk will restrict the growth of the tree.
Fruit in containers
As with vegetables, fruit in containers can be sited in any convenient sunny position, such as on a terrace or patio.
Remember that the size of container is important for fruit; for example, goose-berries and red and white currants will eventually need a 30 cm (12”) pot, while blackcurrants, blackberries and loganberries will be best in a 15 cm (18”) container. The first three could be grown as half standards, while blackcurrants are grown as a stooled bush.
It is also possible to grow tree fruits like apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines and Morello cherries in containers. However, it is important to remember that some apples, pears and plums will need partners in order for cross pollination to occur—unless you grow family trees. Start off these trees in a 30 cm (12”) pot and re-pot later.
Two traditional English herbs Cucumber-flavoured borage and delicate, lemony balm are two of the prettiest plants you could choose to grace herb garden or windowbox.
Borage and balm are two of the loveliest and easiest to grow of all herbs. Both are happy in virtually any soil or in any site, and both will grow equally well indoors or outdoors. Try them both, for carefree plants and refreshing flavours for summer drinks.
Borage (Borago officinalis) is a hardy annual which grows to between 30-75 cm (l – 2-1/2’) high. The heavily-veined, deep green leaves and hollow, rounded stems are very rough and hairy, and both have a cucumber-like flavour and fragrance although it is only the leaves which are used. The flowers are star-shaped and intensely blue; they are produced in abundance and are extremely attractive to bees. If your garden is sheltered, borage should flower right through the winter, although a heavy frost could kill it.
A singularly unfussy plant, borage will grow in sun or shade, whether in bank or border, rock or herb garden, and in any type of soil. Sow the seed in early spring, but just before sowing, fork the soil deeply so that the long tap root can grow unimpeded. Sow the seeds thinly in narrow drills, and cover with about 1.2 cm (1/4”) of soil. When the first pair of true leaves is well developed, thin the seedlings to a final spacing of 30 cm (1’) and firm the soil well around the remaining plants. Do not try transplanting the thinnings, as this is rarely successful.
Borage is as unparticular about its cultivation as it is about site and soil. A minimum of care is needed, merely watering during dry weather and a light hoeing between plants to keep the soil friable and weed free.
You can cut the leaves, starting at the bottom of the stem, from early to mid-summer onwards. Use them fresh to add a refreshingly different taste to salads, or to give an exhilarating lift to your summer drinks and punches. Remember that the flowers are also edible; use them for a beautiful touch in special salads, or candy them to use on cakes and desserts. The flowers are also attractive in flower arrangements or can be dried to provide a touch of blue in potpourris.
Borage reseeds itself freely, and it can be a nuisance if allowed to do so. Cut the seedheads before the seed has a chance to disperse, and save it for planting the following spring.
To grow borage indoors, fill 12.5 cm (5”) containers with good potting, and sow the seed anytime in the year. Keep the pots in a reasonably light and warm place, and you will have fresh borage leaves for cutting in about three months.
Balm (Melissa officinalis), like borage, will also grow well in any site and soil, although it needs protection from both severe frost and high temperatures. It is best to start balm from a young nursery plant, either in mid-spring or mid-autumn. As balm has spreading, invading roots, it is a good idea to sink a bottomless bucket or a piece of drainpipe in the site before planting. This will prevent the roots from getting tangled with neighbouring plants.
If you cannot get young plants, you can grow balm from seed. Sow the seed in mid-spring, in drills about 1.2 (½”) deep. The young plants should appear in three or four weeks; thin when they are large enough to handle to a spacing of 30 cm (1’) apart.
When your plants are established, you can propagate new plants by root division in spring or autumn. Space the root sections 30 cm (1’) apart in soil which has been dug over and treated with well-rotted garden compost.
Balm requires as little care as borage. Water it well in dry weather, weed occasionally, and keep a particular watch for any unwanted balm seedlings. An established balm plant will set a lot of seed, so weed out any seedlings before they become a nuisance in your garden by taking it over.
Leaves for use in sweet dishes, in cool summer drinks, or for a refreshing tea can be picked as required throughout the spring, when they are at their most tender. They can be used generously, as their flavour is delicate. They are also good with salads, and mixed with pea and bean soups. After the plant produces its small white flowers in early summer, the leaves begin to toughen. Unlike borage leaves, balm leaves can be dried. Cut the leaves between early and late summer, hang them in a dry, dark place and a temperature of no more than 38°C (100°F) until thoroughly dried, and store them in an opaque, air-tight jar. In autumn, cut the stems down to the ground, and if your garden gets a lot of frost, protect the plants with straw. Balm is one of the earliest plants to begin growing again in spring.
Balm plants can be grown in pots, tubs or windowboxes, so long as they are kept well watered. A pot of balm will grow well indoors on a sunny windowsill, and it is a useful fresh herb for bringing a lemony, summery taste to winter dishes and drinks.