A-Z Grow Your Own Advice

Asparagusgrowing asparagus

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: February
  • Sow crowns directly outdoors: April to June
  • Transplant outdoors: April to June
  • Depth to plant: seeds ½” 1cm – crowns 5” 10cm
  • Distance between rows: 30” 80cm
  • Distance between plants: 20” 50cm
  • Harvest: May and June – after you have waited at least two years for the plant to mature, if you pick it too soon you will ruin your crop for the future.

A little bit about the crop
Asparagus starts off as a seed, but it usually takes three to four years before you can feast from it, which is why a lot of seed sellers sell them as crowns – already established seeds. If you do grow asparagus from seed do not pick them until at least the third or even fourth year, when they will have strong roots. The french like to grow their asparagus under mounds, blanching them when the tops peek out. Then they cut them with a 10”25cm cutter from 10” under the ground. However in the uk it is best to buy some already established crowns, plant them 5” 10cm deep in April and then wait until the following year for the first crop, in May or June. When the asparagus has grown to roughly 6” 15cm cut it 2” under the ground with a sharp knife. When the harvest is over let the plants grow into fun leafy plants. Keep the area around them weeded to keep the plants strong. Asparagus are a perennial so can last for 20 years or so, if not dug up by accident!

Storage
Asparagus do not last for long, they are best eaten as fresh as possible. You can of course blanch them and then freeze them, but they are never as good.

Recipe
Clean and trim the asparagus, place in boiling water for 15 minutes, serve warm or cold with a hollandaise sauce. Delicious.

 

aubergine crispsAubergine

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: February to March
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: wouldn’t bother
  • Transplant outdoors: May – June, only if you don’t have a greenhouse
  • Depth to plant:1/2” (1.5cm)
  • Distance between rows: 1 ft (30cm)
  • Distance between plants: 10” (20cm)
  • Harvest: August – October, when roughly 4-7” (10-18cm) long

A little bit about the crop
Ideally you need to sow aubergines early in seed trays, in a greenhouse. As the seedlings get larger you should then transplant them to single 3-4” (7-10cm) pots where they can grow on until the frosts have passed. In late May harden off the plants and add another dose of compost if you can before planting the seedlings out in your vegetable patch. Water as soon as you have planted. Aubergines like the warmth and not too much rain (although they do need to be watered if it is dry), so covering them with tunnels or cloches will help enormously.

As the aubergines grow they will become too heavy for the plant so tie them to a sturdy cane to take the weight. They are a similar crop to tomatoes so should be treated in the same way.

Storage
Not for long, best eaten fresh

Tip
A good companion plant for aubergines is basil, this should help against aphids and red spider mites.

 

Beans – climbing

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: March to July
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: if you must May to July
  • Transplant outdoors: when seedlings are between 6”-12” (15-30cm) high. May- August
  • Depth to plant: 1” (2.5cm)
  • Distance between rows: 18” (45cm)
  • Distance between plants: 4”-8”(10-20cm)
  • Harvest: May - October

A little bit about the crop
Beans are fairly easy to germinate. Sow the seeds into small pots or rootrainers, either in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. Water them well and leave them. It takes between 1-3 weeks for bean seeds to germinate. Do not let them dry out. When the seedlings have grown large enough plant them out in rows or in a circle if you are using a tepee cane support. To begin with, cover them in cloches/tunnels to give them that extra boost. About 2 weeks later you will need to support them. Make sure that the support you make is strong, you don’t want your pants falling over in the wind. When the beans are large enough harvest them regularly as this will them stimulate the plant to grow more.

Storage
Blanche the beans and then freeze them, or bottle them

Tip
The more you pick the more they grow!

 

Beans-dwarfBeans – dwarf beans

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: March to July
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: if you must May to July
  • Transplant outdoors: when seedlings are between 6”-12” (15-30cm) high. May- August
  • Depth to plant: 1” (2.5cm)
  • Distance between rows: 18” (45cm)
  • Distance between plants: 12”(30cm)
  • Harvest: May - October

A little bit about the crop
Beans are fairly easy to germinate. Sow the seeds into small pots or rootrainers, either in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. Water them well and leave them. It takes between 1-3 weeks for bean seeds to germinate. Do not let them dry out. When the seedlings have grown large enough plant them out in rows. To begin with cover them in cloches/tunnels to give them that extra boost. The beans will grow into little bushes. When The beans are large enough harvest them regularly as this will them stimulate the plant to grow more.

Storage
Blanche the beans and then freeze or bottle them.

Tip
Children love growing beans as they grow so quickly, try the dwarf variety so that they help with harvesting!

 

BeetrootBeetroot

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: March to May
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: April to July
  • Transplant outdoors: when large enough to handle, about 6 weeks after sowing
  • Depth to plant: ½ “ (1.5cm)
  • Distance between rows: 12” (30cm)
  • Distance between plants: 2-3” (5-7cm)
  • Harvest: salad leaves in June and July, golf ball sized beets in July and August and the main crop from July to October.

A little bit about the crop
You can either sow seeds in 3-4” (7-10cm) pots, 3 seeds per pot. Or you can happily sow them directly into the vegetable patch, but if you sow them directly you must wait a little for the weather to warm up slightly. When the seeds are large enough to handle, plant them out carefully, at this stage they can be 1-2” 2-5cm apart. Using a poly tunnel encourages earlier growth and better results – don’t forget to water them. As they grow you May want to harvest some of the young tender leaves for your salads, and then pull up every other beet to eat when they are golf ball size. This will leave enough space for your main crop to grow to its maximum size. By the autumn the beets will be at their full size, hopefully something like a snooker ball.

Storage
1. Dry store – cleaning gently, placing carefully in a box of sand in a cool room that is frost free. 2. Pickling. 3. Freezing.

Tip
When buying seeds, try to buy ones that are resistant to bolting. Barabietola di chioggia is a pretty variety with pink and white circles within.

 

Broad beansBroad beans

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: October to November or January
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: only if you have no choice
  • Transplant outdoors: when they are large enough to handle
  • Depth to plant: 2-3” (5-7cm) deep
  • Distance between rows: 1 ft(30cm)
  • Distance between plants: 9” (20cm). Sow in double rows, this means sow two rows 9” (20cm) apart, and all the plants 9” (20cm) apart.
  • Harvest: April - September

A little bit about the crop
Sow seeds on the windowsill or in the greenhouse in January, in a rootrainer or in small pots. When the seeds have grown to an easy to handle size, plant out in double rows, using either canes or Maypoles as supports. When the plants flower and are beginning to show the pods, pinch off a couple of inches from the top of the plant. This will direct the energy towards the pods rather than new growth, and also reduces the risk of aphid invasion.

Before harvesting, make sure that the beans within the pods are large enough. They should be about 1/3 of the weight of the pod.

Storage
1. Freeze them, first you blanch them, let them cool and them bag them. 2. Dry them out and keep them in an airtight container.

Tip
Broad beans in flower have a wonderful smell.

 

Brussel SproutsBrussels sprouts

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: March to April
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: April
  • Transplant outdoors: May to June
  • Depth to plant: ½” 2cm
  • Distance between rows: 30” 75cm
  • Distance between plants: 30” 75cm
  • Harvest: September to February

A little bit about the crop
Sow the seeds into small pots or root trainers in the greenhouse or on the windowsill. Plant out when they are between 4-6”/ 10-15cm tall. If you are sowing them outside, sow them very thinly. As the seeds come up thin them out even more, by either transplanting them or getting rid of the smaller weaker ones. Finally plant them out in their final positions 2-3 foot, 75cm apart. Keep them under poly tunnels or netting for as long as you can, in order to keep them safe from birds and pests. Watch out for caterpillars aphids and slugs, there are products that you can buy to help or you can just squish them off. As autumn comes build up the earth around the base of the stems, this should hold them firm, some brussels sprouts could do with a cane to keep them up, especially in windy areas.

Harvest the sprouts from the bottom up, taking only a few from each plant. If any plants have ‘blown’ get rid of them as they will be using up valuable energy that could be going into other sprouts.

Storage
Not for long, about two weeks in a cool place

Tip
When preparing to cook, place a cross with your knife ¼”1/2 cm deep on the bottom of the sprout. This enables equal cooking throughout.

 

CabbageCabbages

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: summer/autumn crop- February to April winter crop-April to May spring crop- July to August
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: from February onwards.
  • Transplant outdoors: when the seedlings are about 3” 8-9cm tall
  • Depth to plant: ¾” 2cm
  • Distance between rows:12” 30cm
  • Distance between plants: 12” 30cm
  • Harvest: all year

A little bit about the crop
There are many different varieties of cabbages depending on when you want the crop. Cabbages are something that you can harvest all year round – you May just get bored of them! Sow the seeds in small pots or root trainers, when they are about 3” 9cm tall plant them out in their final positions, make sure that you stamp down well and carefully the soil around as cabbages like firm ground not fluffy. Now this crop tends to take up quite a lot of space as with the brussels sprouts, so decide carefully about how many you actually want. Be very wary of slugs and snails, of birds and caterpillars. I personally use slug pellets for the slugs, either a netting or poly tunnel for the birds and whenever i see caterpillars, usually on the underside of the leaf, i squish them between my fingers or stamp on them. When harvesting cut off the cabbage head close to the ground. Cut a ½” 1cm deep cross into the stump, this should encourage another smaller crop of cabbages.

Storage
Remove the roots and outer leaves, place in a straw lined box in a cool dry area. They can last for at least three or four months.

Recipe
Slice the cabbage up, place in a pan with ½”1cm of cold water add a decent sized knob of butter, ½ a clove of chopped garlic and a little salt. Put over a medium heat, let it simmer until all the water has gone – about 5-10 minutes. This is a way of cooking the cabbage to go with anything, it brings out the sweetness and is very moorish, even my children love it.

 

CarrotsCarrots

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: not really
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: summer crop: March to April main winter crop: April to July
  • Transplant outdoors: no
  • Depth to plant: ¾” 2cm
  • Distance between rows: 6” 15cm
  • Distance between plants: 2” 5cm
  • Harvest: June and July or September and October

A little bit about the crop
Don’t add manure here! Carrots are not too fussy about their soils but the sandier and lighter the better. Make sure that the soil has been well dug and then dig out your shallow rows, ¾” 2cm deep. Very thinly sow your seeds. More often than not the carrots will be overcrowded and you will need to thin them out. This means being very brutal and pulling up the smaller plants leaving spaces of 2” 5cm between each plant, this gives the carrot space to grow to a proper size. When you pull up the unwanted plants do it gently so as not to let off too many smells of the bruised foliage, as this will attract the carrot fly, something you don’t want to do. Harvest the carrots from June onwards. Summer carrots are usually sweeter and smaller, winter carrots are more for the casserole pot, but home grown carrots are doubly more delicious than bought ones.

Storage
Use the winter crop carrots for storage. Cut off the leaves ½” 1 cm from the top, place the carrots in layers of sand or peat in a cool dry shed. Do not let the carrots touch otherwise they will infect each other if they go bad. Carrots can last until March in this way.

Tip
The fight against carrot fly!

To avoid pests such as carrot fly, try companion planting with onions and or use a fleece tunnel to keep them out.

 

CauliflowerCauliflower

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: summer crop: January to March, winter crop: April to July
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: a bit dodgy
  • Transplant outdoors: summer crop: March to May,winter crop: July to October
  • Depth to plant: ¾” 2cm
  • Distance between rows: summer crop: 18” 45cm, winter crop: 24” 60cm
  • Distance between plants: same as above
  • Harvest: all year round if you do both! Summer crop: June to October, winter crop: November to May

A little bit about the crop
I would recommend starting the seeds off in a greenhouse or on the windowsill, in pots or root trainers. When the seedlings are large enough to handle plant them out into their final positions. The soil needs to be firm, not light and fluffy. If you have a poly or net tunnel put this over them as it adds protection from pests and weather. Be careful of slugs, they love young plants. Summer cauliflowers require more attention than winter ones as they need watering during dry periods and it is harder to get the perfect cauliflower. Depending on how many cauliflowers you have, you May like to pick some when they are small so that you don’t have too many all at once. If you wait too long to harvest them, they will bolt, so watch out. Cut the cauliflowers either in the morning or evening, or in the case of a frosty day at midday.

Storage
You can freeze them, by cutting the cauliflower up into florets, blanching them with a little lemon juice and putting them in the freezer. You can pull up the entire plant and hag it upside down in a cool place, it should last for three to four weeks like this.

Tip
Bend external leaves over the cauliflower to protest it from the weather and pests.

 

CeleryCelery

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: February to March
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: not really
  • Transplant outdoors: May to June
  • Depth to plant: ¼” ½ cm
  • Distance between rows: 9” 22cm
  • Distance between plants: 9” 22cm
  • Harvest: August to October

A little bit about the crop I would sow my seeds in seed trays in a greenhouse or on a windowsill in February, then when they are large enough to transplant put them into small 3” 7.5cm pots. When they have 5 or 6 leaves on, harden them off then plant them in their final positions. They should be fairly close to each other as they provide each other with shade, so perhaps plant a square for them rather than a row. If there is still a fear of frost, plant under poly tunnels or cloches. When harvesting, dig them up with a trowel so as not to disturb their neighbours.

There are two types of celery – self blanching and not self blanching. Not self blanching (traditional) means that the plants are planted in trenches, when they get to about 1ft 30cm high you are then supposed to pile up earth around the stalks. As the celery grows, keep placing earth up the sides, by the end of September only the top leaves should be showing. If there is a frost they will die unless covered up. Now all this sounds incredibly complicated, so there are seeds that you can buy that are self blanching, way easier. Just plant the plants out normally in May or June and harvest them from August until the first frosts.

Storage
Store in cool place for three to five days.
Celery is used by herbalists to reduce blood pressure.

 

Chilli peppers

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: February to April
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: not recommended in England
  • Transplant outdoors: June - or better still keep them in the greenhouse
  • Depth to plant: ¼” ½ cm
  • Distance between rows: 12”-18” 30cm-45cm
  • Distance between plants: 12”-18” 30cm-45cm
  • Harvest: August to October

A little bit about the crop
These are very much a greenhouse or sunny windowsill pot vegetable. Sow the seeds into seed trays, when they are large enough to handle pot them on into 3” 7.5cm pots. Now when the chillies grow out of these either transplant them into the vegetable patch or into larger pots, about 8” 20cm wide. They will need a small cane to hold the plants up like tomatoes. If planting outside, keep them covered with a cloche or poly tunnel for as long as possible, somewhere in the sun. Chillies in pots should have their tops pinched off to make them sturdier, bushier and stronger. Like their cousins capsicums, chillies come in various colours, lengths and strengths.

Storage
I recommend placing the whole chilli into the lowest heat oven overnight to dry out, then you can keep them for between 3-6 months

Tip
Don’t pick your nose after chopping chillies, it will sting like mad!

 

CourgettesCourgettes/zucchinis

Marrows, squashes and the likes

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: April to June
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: May
  • Transplant outdoors: May to July
  • Depth to plant: ½ ”1 cm
  • Distance between rows: 2ft 60cm
  • Distance between plants: 2ft 60cm
  • Harvest: July to October

A little bit about the crop
One of the easiest vegetables ever to grow, incredibly satisfying. I usually sow mine in small pots 3” 7.5cm on the windowsill or in the greenhouse, although you can do this outside but there is a danger of slugs polishing them off. From May onwards harden off the plants, then plant out the courgettes when they are as large as you dare let them grow in the small pots and then plant them in their final positions. Courgettes love a good dollop of manure under them so if you have any dig it into the ground before you plant them. They do need quite a lot of space as they grow pretty large. I like to grow a variety of different courgettes and squash, say 2 plants of each variety. There are seed companies that sell a variety in the pack. Pick the courgettes anything from 6” 15cm to 12” 30cm, depending on what you want to do with them. The smaller they are the more tender and more delicious. The larger are good for perhaps stuffed courgette dishes. The flower is also edible either fried or in a salad.

Storage
Courgettes last for about 2 weeks kept in a cool place, but the fresher you eat them the better they are

Recipe
A lot of children don’t like courgettes. I get mine to eat them like this.

Slice up into coin sized pieces 3, 8” 20cm courgettes, place them in a pan with 1” 2cm of water and a pinch of salt. Boil them slowly for about 5 minutes until tender. When they are cooked, put them in the liquidiser with a large knob of butter and two tablespoons of crème fresh. Whizz them up and serve them as a vegetable puree.

 

CucumberCucumbers

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: March to May
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: May
  • Transplant outdoors: May to June
  • Depth to plant: ½ ” 1 cm
  • Distance between rows: 1 ½ ft 50cm
  • Distance between plants: 1 ½ ft 50cm
  • Harvest: July to October

A little bit about the crop
I normally sow my seeds into 3” 7.5cm pots in late March and then put them on the windowsill or in the greenhouse. When they are large enough re pot them as they will outgrow their little pots before it is time to plant them out. In May harden off the plants for a few days and then transplant them to their final positions about 1 ½ ft 50cm apart. Keep them under a cloche or poly tunnel to give them that extra boost and to keep any birds or pests off. Watch out for slugs, i am a slug pellet user when necessary, it can make all the difference. Cucumber tend to climb and creep about, so pinch out the growing tips to keep the energies focused on producing quality cucumbers. Cucumbers like to be kept moist. There are two types of cucumbers – the all female variety (modern), this is an easier variety where you don’t have to pick the male flowers, you get more fruit but they are shorter. The ordinary variety (traditional), with this type you have to look at the flowers, leave the ones with cucumbers growing behind them and pick the ones with nothing behind them.. If you don’t pick the male flowers they pollinate the female ones and make the cucumbers taste bitter.

Storage
If kept in a cool place they will last for about 2-3 weeks.

Tip
Grow your cucumbers in a greenhouse if possible
Cucumbers are 96% water. – so water them well!

 

EndiveEndive

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: April to May
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: May to August
  • Transplant outdoors: May
  • Depth to plant: ½” 1 cm
  • Distance between rows: 12” 30cm
  • Distance between plants: 12” 30cm
  • Harvest: August to March

A little bit about the crop
A good winter salad! Endives are a continental type of lettuce, they can be bitter unless you blanch them by covering with a blacked out pot during their last few weeks of growth, this makes them sweeter. Endives are more of an acquired taste. Sow very thinly either outside directly or into root trainers or 3-4” 6-8cm pots. When the plants are large enough, thin them out leaving only the best. Re plant them into their final positions 10” 25cm apart. As they grow they will look a little like a green mop head. When they are almost large enough to eat cover them with a pot, filling in any holes so as not to let any light in. By mid August they should be ready for harvesting. Endive is great as a cut and come again vegetable, so cut leaving about 1” 2cm from the ground. Watch out for greedy snails and don’t forget to water when the ground is dry.

Storage
Only for about one week in a cool place.

Tip
Avoid bolting by watering well during dry weather.

 

FennelFennel

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: February to March
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: April to May
  • Transplant outdoors: April to May
  • Depth to plant: ½” 1cm
  • Distance between rows: 10” 25cm
  • Distance between plants: 10” 25cm
  • Harvest: July to November

A little bit about the crop
Fennel can be eaten in a crunchy salad or roasted as vegetable that goes well with fish or chicken. It has a wonderful aniseed taste, again you either like it or you don’t. Of course it is also a rather impressive and beautiful vegetable to grow. Either sow the seeds directly into drills in your vegetable patch of about 1/2 “ 1cm deep, or sow into 3-4” 6-8cm pots or root trainers. As the seedling appear thin them out so that only the best are left in the pots and in your rows outside. Plants should be 10” 25cm apart, when in their final positions. Use a cloche or poly tunnel to protect them from weather and pests during their first few weeks. Harvest the fennel from late July onwards, cut the bulbs 3cm from the earth as they May grow again.

Storage
Keep in a cool place for up to three weeks.

Tip
Fennel is rarely troubled by pests and will do well in almost any kind of soil.

 

GarlicGarlic

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: not really
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: October to November and February to March
  • Transplant outdoors: no
  • Depth to plant: just below the soil surface
  • Distance between rows: 8” 20cm
  • Distance between plants: 4” 10cm
  • Harvest: May to September

A little bit about the crop
There is nothing more mouth watering than the smell of garlic being fried. The reason to grow your own garlic would be to ward off unwanted pests in your vegetable patch as well as to eat your own home grown variety. Sow the garlic in individual cloves about 4” 10cm apart. If you sow them in the autumn you will get a larger crop than if you sow in the spring. Garlic loves to flower, cut off the stem before it does and this will let the plants energies concentrate on the crop beneath. Harvest the garlic from June onwards by pulling it up out of the ground as you would a weed. Leave it to dry in the sun for a few days before storing.

Storage
Stored in a cool dry place the garlic can last between 4-6 months.

Tip
Garlic is unbelievably good for you, it can lower blood pressure, fat and cholesterol levels. It combats bacterial, fungal and viral infections.

 

KaleKale

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: March to April
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: April to August
  • Transplant outdoors: May to September
  • Depth to plant: ½” 1cm
  • Distance between rows: 2’ 60cm
  • Distance between plants: 2’ 60cm
  • Harvest: November to April

A little bit about the crop
Kale is another brassica crop, cooked in the right way is delicious or you can eat the small leaves in a salad. In times gone by it was used to feed the cattle during the winter as it is full of nutrients. I would sow mine in the greenhouse or on a windowsill in 3-4” 6-10cm pots. When the seedlings appear prick out the baddies leaving only 1 strong plant per pot. Transplant the seedlings to their finale positions from May onwards when they are about 3-6” 6-12cm tall, put cloches or a poly tunnel over them to protect them from weather and pests. For fully grown kale, plant out 2’ 60cm apart, but for the more tender smaller leaves plant out at 1’30cm. Watch out for slugs when the plants are small and of course for the caterpillars and aphids. If you find that there are too many to pinch off you May have to resort to some kind of crop saver spray. Harvest the crop from November to April cutting the leaves off as you need them, sometimes they can grow again after they have been cut.

Storage
Store in a cool place and they will last for about 10 days. Or blanch, cut up, place in a freezer bag and then put in the deep freezer.

Tip
Plant nasturtiums nearby as they attract white butterflies and keep them off your kale and other brassicas.

 

LeeksLeeks

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: February to April
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: March to April
  • Transplant outdoors: May to July
  • Depth to plant: ½” 2cm
  • Distance between rows: 12” 30cm
  • Distance between plants: 6” 15cm
  • Harvest: September to May

A little bit about the crop
As with other plants there are three main varieties – early, mid season and late. So decide which ones you want to have or get all three. I would just go for one variety as i want as many different vegetables growing in my patch and only have room for one variety. Sow your seeds into root trainers or small 3” 8cm pots. Thin them out to one per section or pot. In June or July when the leeks are about 20cm 8” tall, plant them into their final positions. Water them well. Harvest your leeks either as pencil thin baby leeks or as fully grown 3” 8cm diameter ones. When the flower begins to grow on top the leek turns into a woody stem and is too tough to eat. But the flower will then produce seeds that you can happily collect to use the following year.

Storage
Leeks will stay fresh for 1 to 2 weeks if stored in a cool place.

Recipe
Chicken and Leek Pie

3, chicken breasts diced. 1 clove of garlic chopped. 3 medium leeks chopped. Olive oil for frying. Salt and pepper to taste. 200ml crème fresh. Mashed potatoes cheddar cheese grated for topping (optional)

Fry the chicken and garlic until brown. Place in oven proof dish. Fry leeks until brown, place in dish. Add salt, pepper and crème fresh, mix all the ingredients together. Place the mashed potato on top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes at a medium temperature. If you desire add grated cheese on the top, five minutes before taking out of the oven.

 

LettucesLettuces

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: January to September
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: April to September
  • Transplant outdoors: April to October
  • Depth to plant: ½” 2cm
  • Distance between rows: 12” 30cm
  • Distance between plants: 12” 30cm depending on type
  • Harvest: all year round

A little bit about the crop
The key to growing lettuces to have all summer long, is to plant them out at intervals, otherwise they will all be ready to harvest at the same time. I would also plant out a variety of lettuces – using small amounts from each packet of seeds. So decide which lettuces you want and when you want them. Lettuces are versatile and can grow in between plants. Sow the seeds on a windowsill or in the greenhouse from January onwards, depending on their variety and when you want them. Sow them into root trainers or small 3” 8cm pots. When they are large enough to handle plant them out into their final positions. Beware of slugs and birds. I would use slug pellets and a cloche or poly tunnels for protection. When harvesting either cut the entire lettuce off the root using a knife, this May well sprout another lettuce again. Or you can pick the leaves gently off as you need them, they should grow again.

Storage
Just a few days in a cool place.

Tip 
Grow a variety at the same time to get a colourful and tasty mix of salad leaves.

Don’t let your lettuces lie in the sun after picking as they will wilt.

 

MelonMelon

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: March to May
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: not a good idea
  • Transplant outdoors: June to July
  • Depth to plant: ½” 2cm
  • Distance between rows: 20” 50cm
  • Distance between plants: 20” 50cm
  • Harvest: August to September

A little bit about the crop
Melons like the warmth of a greenhouse for as long as possible, then when you plant them out they should be covered with a cloche or a poly tunnel. Sow your seeds as early as you can preferably on a windowsill where there is warmth, one seed per 3” 8cm pot. Let the plant grow as large as your hand and then plant it out in a well manured position. Watch out for the slugs at this stage they love young tender plants, so slug pellets here if you can. Melons like to crawl along the ground getting muddled up between your other vegetables, just let them. The manure will make a huge difference on their size and quality. Make sure that the melons have priority in the patch for as much sunlight as possible, otherwise they will never ripen and be a waste of space. Preferably if you have the kind of greenhouse where you can grow melons, they would rather be in the greenhouse, and well watered. Harvest The melons when they are large enough and start to ripen, you can tell they are ripe when they smell of melon.

Storage
For up to two weeks in a cool dry place.

Recipe
A delicious french starter is to serve a slice of melon with a piece of parma ham draped over the top and a vinaigrette. The sweetness of the melon brings out the flavour of the parma ham.

 

MushroomsMushrooms

  • Sow grain spawn in greenhouse, shed, cold frame or cellar: at any time of year between the temperatures of 10-18°c
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: n/a
  • Transplant outdoors: n/a
  • Depth to plant: n/a
  • Distance between rows: n/a
  • Distance between plants: n/a
  • Harvest: 5-25 weeks after planting, depending on type.

A little bit about the crop
Wow – mushrooms, they are not the ordinary easy crop that every gardener grows by any means. There are different varieties and different ways of buying the spawn. In plugs – to hammer directly onto a piece of wood, grain - that you sprinkle onto manure, blocks - that you plant and in kits. I think that the best way to start is with a kit, which comes with the compost or straw, but you must follow the instructions well. If you are feeling a little more daring and have access to compost from stable manure, you can grow your own in buckets or tubs, in the shade, a greenhouse, shed, cellar or covered cold frame (depending on temperature). The compost must remain moist, not wet or dry. When harvesting the mushrooms, harvest gently so as not to disturb the remaining spawn. You can of course grow mushrooms in the corner of your garden using ‘blocks’ of spawn. Plant them 2” 6cm deep and 12” 30cm apart. Again this is risky and you can’t mow the lawn.

Storage 
Best kept in a cool place for about 1 week - maximum.

Recipe
War time mushrooms on toast
Cut up 1 clove of garlic and add it to a frying pan of melted butter. Cut up a large handful of mushrooms and add to the pan. Fry until brown, tip onto a piece of toast and eat hot.

 

Onion - seedsOnions (seeds)

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: February to April
  • Sow seets directly outdoors: no
  • Transplant outdoors: May to June
  • Depth to plant: ½” 1cm
  • Distance between rows: 9” 22cm
  • Distance between plants: 4-10cm 2-5” for smaller onions 6-10”15-25cm for larger onions
  • Harvest: July to October

A little bit about the crop
The advantage of growing onions from seeds and not sets is that it is far cheaper if you are going for a big harvest. Sow the seeds on a windowsill or in the greenhouse, then transplant them when they are about 3” 8cm. Plant them vertically into the ground, being gentle. The bulb should be ½” 1cm below the surface. Depending on the onions final sizes, plant them between 4-25cm 2-10” apart. It is important to keep the weeds down as this can affect the size of your onions. Water when dry. When the leaves start to turn yellow at the ends, bend the tops over to help with the ripening, possible even clear a little of the soil at the top of the bulb. Lift the onions as you need them, but don’t let them rot in the ground so harvest and store them before the end of October. After you lift them let them lie in the sun for a couple of days.

Storage
Only store the onions that are perfect. Store them either in jute storage bags hung up or in old tights knotting after each onion. They can keep in a well aired room for up to six months.

Tip
When peeling chopped onions, light a couple of candles, this should stop your eyes watering, as the vapours from the onions will be absorbed in the candle flames.

 

Onion - setsOnions (sets) t

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: no
  • Sow sets directly outdoors: March to April or September to October
  • Transplant outdoors: no
  • Depth to plant: so that the pointy tips are just below the surface of the soil
  • Distance between rows: 12” 30cm
  • Distance between plants: : 4-10cm 2-5” for smaller onions 6-10” 15-25cm for larger onions
  • Harvest: May to October

A little bit about the crop
Make sure that your soil is well rotovated and fertilised, onions like a well drained and sunny area – so do most plants! There are many different varieties of onions, so choose something that you would like, Maybe something out of the ordinary like giant onions that you can show off or red onions. Depending on the onions final sizes, plant them between 4-25cm 2-10” apart. It is important to keep the weeds down as this can affect the size of your onions. Water when dry. When the leaves start to turn yellow at the ends, bend the tops over to help with the ripening, possible even clear a little of the soil at the top of the bulb. Lift the onions as you need them, but don’t let them rot in the ground so harvest and store them before the end of October. After you lift them let them lie in the sun for a couple of days.

Storage
Only store the onions that are perfect. Store them either in jute storage bags hung up or in old tights knotting after each onion. They can keep in a well aired room for up to six months.

Tip
When peeling chopped onions, light a couple of candles, this should stop your eyes watering, as the vapours from the onions will be absorbed in the candle flames.

 

Parsnips

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: no
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: March to May
  • Transplant outdoors: no
  • Depth to plant: ½” 2cm
  • Distance between rows: 12” 30cm
  • Distance between plants: 6” 15cm
  • Harvest: August to March

A little bit about the crop
Parsnips are not to everyone’s taste. The seeds take a long time to germinate and the plants take a long time to grow and they hog a space in the patch. But they are a winter vegetable and need little attention. You can plant various quick growing things like radishes or lettuces during the summer months in between them to conserve space. Sow the seeds in their final positions from March onwards, germination can take around one month. Cover the seeds with a cloche or poly tunnel to protect them from birds and pests, also to give them a bit more warmth to encourage germination. Thin out if necessary, as they should be 6” 15cm apart. Normally the first harvest of parsnips is after the first frost, but you can pick them before if you would like some tender baby ones. It all depends how you like them.

Storage
Parsnips keep well in the ground until about mid February. In February lift any remaining parsnips and store them in a jute bag, or even better a box of sand (bit of a hassle), not touching each other in a cool dark place.

Recipe
Roast parsnips
Peel and divide the parsnips into two lengthways. Place in an oven proof dish – cover with olive oil and honey. Sprinkle a little cumin and salt over the top and then roast in a medium oven for about one hour, until the parsnips are golden brown and soft in the middle.

 

Peas (and mangetout)

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: February to March
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: October to November or March to June.
  • Transplant outdoors: May to June
  • Depth to plant: 2” 4cm
  • Distance between rows: 30” 75cm
  • Distance between plants: 4” 10cm
  • Harvest: May to October

A little bit about the crop
The fresher you eat the peas the sweeter they be. My children love just picking them straight from the garden and eating them, in fact when i garden with the children it is a crop that they usually choose. As soon as you pick the peas the sugar turns to starch, so the less time between the picking and the placing on the table the better. Mangetout May be a better choice as you eat the entire pod, rather than just the peas, the choice is yours. Sow the seeds either in small pots or even better in root trainers as this helps the roots not to get mixed up and then torn when transplanting. Sow them 2” deep and don’t let the seeds dry out. When they are about 6” 15cm high, transplant them outdoors, i have great fun making wigwam shapes with canes for support or you can of course plant out in rows, making a lengthy tent shape with the canes. To help the peas to grip the canes tie them with a little soft tie or garden twine. Watch out for the slugs, snails, mice and birds, put down slug pellets, and cover them with either netting or some kind of cloche.

Storage 
Freeze when fresh, otherwise they can be kept in the fridge for about three days.

Tip 
Enjoy your pea’s fresh, don’t expect to grow mountains, and watch out for the thieving birds.

 

PeppersPeppers

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: February to March
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: probably won’t work.
  • Transplant outdoors: May to June
  • Depth to plant: ¼” 1cm
  • Distance between rows: 18” 45cm
  • Distance between plants: 18” 45cm
  • Harvest: August to November

A little bit about the crop
This is a crop that when grown in England is much better off in the greenhouse or on a windowsill in pots for as long as possible. If it is to be planted outside i would plant it in a sheltered spot keeping a cloche on top, bearing in mind that the flowers have to be pollinated at some point.

Sow the seeds in a tray. The seeds take between 2-4 weeks to germinate, when the seedlings are large enough, pot them into 3” 9cm pots. Get rid of the weedier plants, keep only the best. In June either transfer them to their final position in the vegetable patch or into bigger (8-12” 20-30cm )pots and keep them in the greenhouse. Place a sturdy cane beside them and as with tomatoes tie them onto the cane. For the pots, pinch out the tops of the plants to make them bushier.

You get all sorts of types of peppers, when choosing i would go for a hardy and early variety. Peppers also vary in colours, mostly they go from green to red, but you can get yellow ones and even purplish brown ones.

Storage
If you keep them cool they can last for up to 3 weeks

Recipe
Place the whole pepper onto an oven proof dish, cook for 10 minutes in a hot oven, until the 1stlayer of skin is burnt looking. Take it out of the oven, wrap in newspaper and leave it to steam for another 5 minutes in its parcel. Unwrap it, then peel the outer layer of skin off, take out the pips, and slice into strips of about ½” 1cm thick. Put onto a plate add a tiny bit of chopped garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. Delicious served on a hot summers day, with other salads.

 

PotatoesPotatoes

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: no
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: February to April
  • Transplant outdoors: no
  • Depth to plant: 4”10cm for earlies, 8”20cm for main crop.
  • Distance between rows: 24” 60cm for earlies, 30”75cm for main crop.
  • Distance between plants: 12” 30cm earlies, 15” 37cm for main crop.
  • Harvest: May to October

A little bit about the crop
Potatoes can be so cheap to buy from the shops, so why not when you are choosing which ones to grow, grow for their flavour. As soon as you buy your seeds lay them out on a tray or in open egg boxes to allow them to produce chits (sprouty root things) for about 6 weeks. Make sure that before you plant the potato bed has been turned over well. You can warm up the beds by placing mini poly tunnels over them a few days before planting. Plant the seeds between 4” 10cm (earlies)and 8” 20cm (main crop) deep. Place a poly tunnel over them to keep the soil warm. As the shoots begin to appear earth up around them making small mounds. Keep the poly tunnels on them to protect them from late frosts. Early potatoes take between 12-15 weeks to mature, main crop take about 20 weeks. Blight is an infection that rots the leaves, roots and eventually the new potatoes, it normally comes with wet warm weather in late summer. If you spot it on the leaves, chop off the leaves as soon as you can and hope for the best. Alternatively you can spray them against blight in June.

Storage
Dig the potatoes up by the end of October and store the good ones in jute bags in a well aired cool location.

Tip
Remove the flowers as they appear, this will increase your yield. If you find that you have no space for growing potatoes, why not grow them in a potato planter.

 

PumpkinsPumpkins

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: April to June
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: better to start indoors
  • Transplant outdoors: May to July
  • Depth to plant: 1” 2cm
  • Distance between rows: 24” 60cm
  • Distance between plants: 24” 60cm
  • Harvest: September to November 

A little bit about the crop
Pumpkins are great to grow especially if you have children, they are also fun to look at. Every year we save the seeds from our best pumpkin, we keep them in a jar on the windowsill, let them dry out and use for them the next year. Sow the seeds into root trainers or small pots and keep them in the greenhouse or on the windowsill, until the chance of frosts has passed. Plant them out in their final positions in soil with plenty of manure. One plant can produce quite a few pumpkins, but i would limit them to two pumpkins per plant in order to get the best fruit. As the pumpkins grow move them about gently so as to get a good shape and skin. Keep the roots well watered. After harvesting place them on a hard surface outside to let them ripen for a few days.

Storage
If kept in a cool place, pumpkins can stay fresh for 3-4 weeks.

Recipe
Roast pumpkin seeds for salads or snacks

Pumpkins have loads of seeds so Maybe save some for planting and roast some. Take off all the fleshy bits, run the seeds under the tap to clean them. Dry them before placing them onto a baking tray. Pour olive oil over them and then add seasoning. This can be any flavour you like, garlic, chilli, or just salt and pepper. Bake them until golden brown in a medium hot oven.

 

RadishesRadishes

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: no
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: January to September
  • Transplant outdoors: nope
  • Depth to plant: ½” 1cm
  • Distance between rows: summer varieties 6” 15cm, winter varieties 9” 20cm
  • Distance between plants: small radishes 1” 2cm, big radishes 2” 4cm
  • Harvest: 4-5 weeks after planting 

A little bit about the crop
You can start growing radishes all the way from the end of January under poly tunnels or cloches to September, the last harvest being in October. Radishes are a very satisfying crop to grow as they are quick and easy, but they have their limitations when it comes to eating them. Make sure that the earth has been well turned over and has plenty of compost in, sow the seeds ½” 1cm apart. When they are growing, if they are too close just thin them out to roughly 1-2”, 2-4cm. After about 4-5 weeks the radishes are ready for eating. The winter varieties can stay in the ground until you are ready to harvest them. There are quite a few varieties of radishes so be adventurous and choose something different.

Storage 
You can store radishes like carrots either in an airy jute bag, hung in a cool room, or in a box of sand, not letting the carrots touch each other. In a jute bag the carrots should last for roughly 6-8 weeks.

Tip 
Radishes grow well in patio planters outside the kitchen door, or in between rows of plants like peas or carrots.

 

RhubarbRhubarb

  • Plantcrowns in greenhouse/on windowsill: no
  • Plant crowns directly outdoors: February to May
  • Transplant outdoors: no
  • Depth to plant: just below the surface of the soil – the right way up!
  • Distance between rows: 24” 60cm
  • Distance between plants: 24” 60cm
  • Harvest: from April to July

A little bit about the crop
You can buy rhubarb seeds but they take a lot longer to grow than already established crowns. Crowns are available in shops, or if you have a friend who has rhubarb, it May be ready to be lifted and split into pieces (sets). This should be done every five years or so. Plant your crown in well manured earth, bearing in mind that this will be your rhubarbs home for years rather than months unlike most of your vegetables. In about April the year after you have planted the crowns, you can start to pull and twist off the rhubarb stems which should be ready for eating. Never leave less than 4 stalks on the plant and finish cropping in July. If you have a well established plant you can start the season off a couple of months earlier by ‘forcing’ the plants. This basically means covering the plant with an upturned bucket, bin or official rhubarb forcer. Again don’t forget to give your rhubarb a good dollop of manure once a year.

Storage
Boil the rhubarb with a little water add some sugar, when it is soft and still piping hot bottle it. Or you can freeze it uncooked.

Tip
Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, don’t eat them.

Boiling rhubarb is very good for your pans, because of the acidity it cleans them really well.

 

RocketRocket

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: March to June
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: June to September
  • Transplant outdoors: May to September
  • Depth to plant: ¼” ½ cm
  • Distance between rows: 8” 20cm
  • Distance between plants: 4” 10cm
  • Harvest: April to November

A little bit about the crop
Rocket can either be started off in small pots on the windowsill, in the greenhouse, or it can be sown directly outside. I find that keeping the seedlings covered with a poly tunnel or a cloche during the spring and with a net or a fleece during the hotter months, helps to protect them and speed up their growth. Rocket very quickly goes to seed once it has matured, keeping it watered well can help stall this. I sow my seeds every month to ensure a constant supply of rocket for the length of the summer.

Storage
in a plastic bag in a cool place for 2-4 days. Don’t let the rocket get too cold or it will wilt as soon as it warms up.

Tip
Rocket adds a great peppery taste to salads. It is delicious with a balsamic vinegar dressing or in a bacon butty.

 

Spinach

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: no
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: March to August
  • Transplant outdoors: no
  • Depth to plant: 1” 2cm
  • Distance between rows: 12” 30cm
  • Distance between plants: 6-8” 15-20cm
  • Harvest: all year round, 4-8 weeks after planting.

A little bit about the crop
Sow your spinach seeds directly outside in their final positions. Sow them in shallow lines quite thinly. Cover them with poly tunnels or cloches to protect them and to encourage growth, you May also need slug pellets. As the seedlings appear, thin them out to about 6-8” 15-20cm apart. You can pick the smaller more tender leaves when they are about 3” 7cm long and use them in salads, anything bigger than that should be cooked for a short amount of time and be eaten as a hot vegetable. Keep picking the leaves so that a) they don’t run to seed and b) they keep on growing. Perpetual Spinach is the spinach that i always plant as you only need to plant one lot and it lasts for months and months, sometimes even years – very easy. Perpetual spinach is not actually spinach but looks and is eaten in exactly the same way.

Storage
Not for long about 2 days in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Tip
The more you pick the more it grows.
Delicious served hot with a spoon of crème fresh mixed in.

 

StrawberriesStrawberries

  • Plant plants from: anytime when there is not a frost
  • Distance between rows: 18” 45cm
  • Distance between plants: 12” 30cm
  • Harvest: May to October depending on variety

A little bit about the crop
Strawberries are a fruit not a vegetable, but i couldn’t resist squeezing them into my book as they are such a pleasure to grow and eat! The best thing to do is to buy some strawberry plants, usually during the early spring, and then to plant them out into well manured soil. Strawberries produce their best fruit when they are in their second and third years, so remember they will be in the same place for a good few years. During the harvesting season, you May want to protect the strawberries from rotting by placing some straw underneath, i don’t seem to need to myself as my patch is fairly dry. If you don’t have the space for strawberries don’t forget that you can plant them in patio planters, this can be quite good as you can move them to warm spots or even encourage more fruit by placing the whole thing in a greenhouse.

Strawberries are so easy to propagate (to have babies – reproduce). After the harvesting season you will notice that off the strawberry plant there is a shoot, with a baby strawberry plant developing on the end. When this shoot has rooted itself to the ground you can a) leave it there b) move it to a better spot c) replace an old plant with it d) give it away if you don’t want it!

Beware of birds, once they find a supply of yummy ripe strawberries, they will be gone in a matter of hours. Cover them with nets as soon as they start to ripen. Also beware of slugs they are much slower in their approach but just as destructive.

The first harvest of your strawberries will be delicious and sweet, towards the end of the season i find that they are not quite as good and this is when i collect them for jam making.

Storage 
They can be placed in the freezer individually on a tray, when frozen pack them up into bags.

Tip
If you are short on space for growing strawberries why not buy a strawberry planter and grow them on a patio in the sunshine. Children love them and weeding is minimal.

 

SwedesSwedes

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: no
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: April to June
  • Transplant outdoors: no
  • Depth to plant: 1\2” 1cm
  • Distance between rows: 12” 30cm
  • Distance between plants: 9” 20cm
  • Harvest: September to February

A little bit about the crop
I think that people regard swedes as old fashioned, and perhaps just another root vegetable. They could be right, but i also think that a good variety of vegetables can make life a bit more fun. Swedes are very easy to grow, so why not give it a try. The ground should be prepared as you would for cabbages or broccoli – dig in the autumn and then later tread down the earth to make it firm. Sow very thinly, as the seedling appear, thin them out to 9” 20cm apart. Keep them weed free and well watered. As usual watch out for slugs especially during the early stages.

Storage 
Keep swedes as you would potatoes, in a cool room for up to a couple of months.

Tip 
Swedes are a must on burns night in scotland, they are traditionally served with haggis.

 

Sweet CornSweet corn

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: April to May
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: i wouldn’t bother
  • Transplant outdoors: May-June
  • Depth to plant: 1” 2cm
  • Distance between rows: 18” 45cm
  • Distance between plants: 18” 45cm
  • Harvest: July to September

A little bit about the crop
Sweet corn is another of those vegetables like peas that as soon as you pick them, you loose the sweetness. So pick them just before you would like to eat them. Sweet corn is one of the vegetables that children like growing as it grows fast and they can make popcorn with it in the autumn. Sweet corn are not too fussy about their soil, a bit of manure and a good forking over, they are fussier about their location, they like non windy sunny spots. Sow the seeds into root trainers or small 3” pots, when they are about 6-8” 15-20cm high and the frosts are no longer a risk, harden them off for a few days then plant them out 18” 45cm apart. Plant them in blocks rather than rows, this assists with pollination as they are wind pollinated. Water them well.

Storage 
For as little time as possible, you could of course freeze them straight away, but there isn’t much point as you can buy frozen or tinned corn so cheaply. You can leave the corn on the cob until the autumn when they should have dried out a great deal then use the corn for popcorn. I have yet to do this!

Tip 
There are not many vegetables that profit from being overcooked but sweet corn is one that is better for you when well cooked. As you cook it hard and fast the levels of ferulic acid rise, ferulic acid is an antioxidant and anything with high antioxidant levels is good for you.

 

Wobbly TommsTomatoes

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: January to March
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: not sensible
  • Transplant outdoors: May to June
  • Depth to plant: under a light dusting of compost
  • Distance between rows: 30” 75cm
  • Distance between plants: 18” 45cm
  • Harvest: July to October

A little bit about the crop
Growing your own tomatoes is so satisfactory, everyone who has a vegetable patch must grow them. There is nothing like the smell of the tomato plant and the taste of your own tomatoes. Successfully growing tomatoes is a little harder than you May think, there are quite a few things that can go wrong. If you have had problems with diseases such as blight in the past i would be tempted to kick the tomato plants out of the patch for a year or two and grow them in either grow bags, patio planters or pots. Sow your seeds thinly on a windowsill or in a greenhouse under a sprinkling of compost. Make sure that your patch has been well forked and manured. When the seedlings have about 5 or 6 leaves on, transplant them to 10” 22cm pots. Keep them under cover and gently watered. When they are about 12” 30cm tall plant them into their final positions. As the plants grow they will need some form of support, i use bamboo canes. Tie them on gently. They will also need to have their shoots between the main stem and the leaves pinched out. Doing this adds light, air and energy to your tomato, it doesn’t mean you will get less tomatoes, you will get more and they will be better. Growing garlic and nasturtiums near your tomatoes helps prevent bugs attacking. Water frequently

Storage
A week or so in a cool place.

Tip
Cherry tomatoes are earlier to ripen than other varieties, considering England's climate, i would try these. Make green tomato chutney with any tomatoes that will not ripen.

 

TurnipsTurnips

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: not usually
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: March to August
  • Transplant outdoors: no
  • Depth to plant: ½” 1cm
  • Distance between rows: 12” 30cm
  • Distance between plants: 6” 15cm
  • Harvest: June to October or March to April

A little bit about the crop
Turnips are often grown to feed animals such as pigs. They are also allowed into the vegetable garden and are grown for the table. I believe that root vegetables and different types of squash etc are becoming popular in this day and age, especially when roasted or used in salads. Sow the seeds thinly directly where they are to grow. As the seeds appear, thin them out leaving one good seedling every 6” 15cm or so. Keep the plants well watered. No manure necessary here. Pull up the turnips when they are the size of a snooker ball. You can also sow the seeds in late summer, then use the leaves as they come up in March for peppery salads or as spinach. Experiment and see if you like it!

Storage
In a cool place as you would for other root vegetables, Maybe in a jute bag.

Recipe
Peel and chop the turnips into cubes about 1”x1” 2cmx2cm. Place them in an oven proof dish with chopped garlic, a sprinkling of salt, cumin seeds, a trickle of honey and some olive oil. Roast them until golden brown. Delicious served with roast beef.

 

ZuchinnisZuchinnis/courgettes

  • Sow seeds in greenhouse/on windowsill: April to June
  • Sow seeds directly outdoors: May
  • Transplant outdoors: May to July
  • Depth to plant: ½ ”1 cm
  • Distance between rows: 2ft 60cm
  • Distance between plants: 2ft 60cm
  • Harvest: July to October

A little bit about the crop
One of the easiest vegetables ever to grow, incredibly satisfying. I usually sow mine in small pots 3” 7.5cm on the windowsill or in the greenhouse, although you can do this outside but there is a danger of slugs polishing them off. From May onwards harden off the plants, then plant out the courgettes when they are as large as you dare let them grow in the small pots and then plant them in their final positions. Courgettes love a good dollop of manure under them so if you have any dig it into the ground before you plant them. They do need quite a lot of space as they grow pretty large. I like to grow a variety of different courgettes and squash, say 2 plants of each variety. There are seed companies that sell a variety in the pack. Pick the courgettes anything from 6” 15cm to 12” 30cm, depending on what you want to do with them. The smaller they are the more tender and more delicious. The larger are perhaps good for stuffed courgette dishes. The flower is also edible either fried or in a salad.

Storage
Courgettes last for about 2 weeks kept in a cool place, but the fresher you eat them the better they are

Recipe
A lot of children don’t like courgettes. I get mine to eat them like this.

Slice up into coin sized pieces 3, 8” 20cm courgettes, place them in a pan with 1” 2cm of water and a pinch of salt. Boil them for about 5 minutes until tender. When they are cooked, put them in the liquidiser with a large knob of butter and 100ml of milk. Whizz them up and serve them as a vegetable puree.