A-Z Guide to The Easiest to Grow Vegetables

ARTICHOKE – JERUSALEM (Tubers are the edible portion)

Plant the tubers in February or March. Leave in the ground and lift as required during the winter. You can leave them in for several years but you will find they grow bigger and better if they are planted in rich new soil each year.

BROAD BEANS

It is worth remembering that if a few pods of the broad bean are allowed to mature on the plant, and later when the pods are black, they are shelled, the beans that are obtained provide seed for the next year’s plants. They should be spread out and allowed to dry naturally and stored in a cool, dry place for sowing the following year. The same can be done with all the members of the bean family. It is also worth trying the same with peas. With seeds constantly becoming more expensive it is a paying proposition to provide seeds in this way for the following season.

Well manure the trench in Autumn. It is one of the first crops to be sown and can be placed next to the path for easy access if the soil is sticky. Mark each end of the manured trench with a short stick. The seeds may be sown any time between November and April. February is a good month to do it assuming that the ground is soft enough. There are two main types of broad beans, Windsors and Longpods. Longpods are usually planted for early cropping. Place the garden line across the plot from marker to marker and arrange the seeds diagonally, 9 inches on either side of it.

Press the seeds down with your thumb to a depth of 3 inches and fill in the holes with earth.

Broad beans are very prone to attack by black fly. Towards the end of May it will be necessary to pinch out the growing point at the top of the plant, and treat with insecticide to counter this pest.

Pick regularly as soon as the pods fill out and while the seeds are still soft.

BEANS – DWARF FRENCH

Sow in April or May in the same way as Broad Beans. Press the seeds 2 inches deep into the soil. They should not need any support. Pick while the pods are young and tender.

BEANS – RUNNER

Sow as for Broad Beans but leave more room between them and the adjoining crop because of the height to which they grow. Seed may be sown any time between mid-May and early July for succession. They can be supported by sticks, canes or on netting to a height of over 6 ft.

Look out for black fly and spray if necessary.

Runner beans need a great deal of water and this should be supplied from the time the flowers begin to appear. Pick and use while the pods are young and tender. >

BEETROOT

The crimson globe varieties of beetroot are the ones usually grown. They provide roots of a reasonable size, their only drawback being that occasionally they tend to run to seed. This will happen more frequently when sown too early. A beetroot that goes to seed can, however, still be used, so long as it is taken as soon as the tendency to bolt is noticed. On gathering beet it is advisable to screw off the top an inch or so from the crown to prevent bleeding. The tops should never be cut off.

Sow in drills 1^-2 ins. deep in late April and in May.

They need soil that has been manured for the previous year’s crop. New manure will cause the roots to fork.

Since this crop originates from a sea-shore plant it benefits from a dressing of salt. Agricultural salt or common salt may be used allowing ounce to the square yard.

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Sow in March or April to produce a crop the following February, and in September to pick the following October. Plant in rich firm ground about 30 inches apart when seedlings are eight weeks old. Mulch in late summer and start to pick the sprouts from early autumn onwards. Pick from the bottom of the plant as the sprouts mature.

CABBAGE

Good cabbage will only grow on rich, well-manured ground.

By planting a number of different varieties you can be sure of having cabbage all the year round. Start them off in seed beds and transplant when large enough, into rows 2 feet apart and with 18 inches between each plant.

Sow in April and they will be ready for use in summer; sow in May and you can cut them in autumn and winter; sow in July or August and they will be ready the following spring. There are some very quick maturing varieties such as Greyhound and Velocity that are most suitable for early use. The latter, in a good season, without being transplanted, will be ready for use twelve weeks after sowing the seed.

You don’t have to grow them from seed, of course. You can buy young plants at the appropriate time.

Red Cabbage is also worth planting, both to use as a fresh vegetable and for pickling. Keep covered by nets if you are troubled by pigeons.

CARROTS

Sow thinly ^ inch deep in rows I foot apart from March to July. This will provide a continuous supply from May to October. Fresh manure promotes forked roots so the ground should have been manured for a crop during the previous season. Stump-rooted varieties are the best to start growing.

When the plants are 2-3 inches tall thin them out to 3 inches apart. At this stage the crop is liable to be attacked by the carrot fly, which lays its eggs on the young root. The grubs that hatch out feed from the root and kill the plant. To prevent this, dust along the row with calomel dust, especially after thinning out.

CAULIFLOWER

Sow seed for early summer varieties in March or April and for autumn varieties in late April or early May. Transplant the seedlings when they are about 8 weeks old, spacing them 2 feet apart.

Cauliflowers are hungry plants. They need very rich, well-manured soil and plenty of water.

CELERY

This is not an easy crop to grow. It is most important to transplant the seedlings at exactly the right time and for this reason it is easier to buy young plants than it is to raise from seed. You should also be sure to select the self-blanching variety which will not require trenching.

CUCUMBER

Frame cucumbers will produce a very good crop but they do require a lot of attention. Ridge cucumbers, however, need only the minimum of looking after. Sow the seeds in groups of three, between May and June, leaving spaces of 3 feet between each group. Remove the two weakest seedlings from each group. Keep well watered and mulch well.

LEEKS

Sow seed very thinly and only – inch deep in March on well-manured ground. Thin out in late June or early July to 6 inches apart. The thinnings should be planted out in holes 6 inches deep and 18 inches between rows. Earth up the stems as they grow so that you get a longer length of blanched stem. This crop should be left in the ground when winter comes and the roots lifted as required.

LETTUCE

Lettuce likes a rich soil with plenty of moisture. Start sowing seed in March and repeat every two weeks right through until July so that you are able to use them from June to October. When sowing, the seed should be only just covered with soil. Lettuce can be set out between rows of dwarf beans or peas, or inter-cropped with the late maturing cabbages or cauliflower. The Cos lettuce grows taller than the Cabbage variety and the modern type is self-blanching.

MARROW

Plant I or 2 seeds to a pot in April and transplant at the end of May. The marrow bed should be prepared by digging out a pit I to I ^ feet deep and, say, 3 feet square. This should accommodate 8 or 9 plants eventually. The pit is then filled with manure to within 6 inches of the top and trampled down. Cover the manure with fine soil in such a way that the whole bed is slightly hollowed. This makes watering easier throughout the growing period.

Protect the seeds with a cloche for the first few days. Keep well watered and well manured.

Alternatively, start seeds off in a small well-manured bed which has been specially prepared for growing marrows. Sow from the middle to the end of May. Pinch out leader shoots when the plant is about 17 inches long and so encourage the growth of side shoots. Pick the marrows when they are about 8 inches long, otherwise new ones will not form.

MUSTARD AND CRESS

Sow every 2-3 weeks in small beds of finely sifted soil.

If you wish to cut and serve them together then sow the Cress seeds 4 days earlier than the mustard. During the colder months, mustard and cress grows quite well in small boxes kept under glass.

ONIONS

Can be raised from seed sown in the autumn or spring or from sets sown in the spring. The plot should be prepared in the autumn and it is advisable to give deep trenching to provide thorough drainage and to enrich the soil. When the seedlings are large enough to handle they should be thinned out to 6 inches apart and given liquid manure once a fortnight. The thinnings which are removed can be used as spring onions for salads. All feeding or watering should be stopped by August to allow the bulbs to finish ripening. For use in the kitchen, the small to medium sized onions are more suitable. To this end it is as well to be careful not to over-feed. It is also worth noting that the very large onion, in general, does not keep as well, or as long, as the smaller ones. The tops should be bent over to prevent seeding once maturity has been reached. Lift towards the end of September and dry them off in a cool airy place before storing.

PARSNIP

This is a seed which germinates very slowly and it is important that a fresh supply is purchased each year. Seeds should be sown in March in ground which was manured for a previous crop. Thin out, leaving plants 9-12 inches apart. Feed with liquid manure during the growing season.

Parsnips improve in the frost so they can be left in the ground through the winter and taken up more or less as required.

PEAS

Peas are listed in catalogues as early, maincrop or late. The early varieties are quickest to come to maturity. The late ones take longer from sowing to gathering. Peas also vary considerably in the height to which they grow. Since the taller ones need more in the way of support they are perhaps a little more trouble to cultivate; the popular varieties are those which grow from I to 2 feet in height.

Peas should be sown over a well-manured trench in the same way as Broad Beans. Place the garden line across the plot where the peas are to be planted. Arrange the seeds along the line in sets of 5 as on a domino. Press each down with the thumb to a depth of 2 inches and then fill in the holes.

Protect with short sticks carrying black cotton about 3 inches from the ground. If you do this immediately after sowing it will provide protection from the birds throughout the early growing period when they are particularly vulnerable.

To make sure that you have sweet tender peas from the end of May until early autumn plant early, mid-season and late varieties. First sowing should be made between January and March. Keep the soil moist and as soon as the plants begin to develop surround them with netting supported by canes or with stakes. Pick when the pods are well filled and firm.

POTATOES

Potatoes are classed as Early, Second Early and Main-crop. The essential differences are in the time taken to come to eating readiness from the day of planting. Early potatoes are the quickest and in a good season are ready for trying about 13 weeks from the time of planting. Main-crop potatoes, however, need a much longer period for growth and will not be ready for digging up and storing until they have been in the ground at least 17 weeks.

Another choice that has to be made is whether to grow white varieties or potatoes with pink eyes or red skins. The latter are very popular and their flavour preferred by many people. White varieties, like Arran Pilot and Majestic, do, however, produce a much better crop and are less likely to attack from pests such as wireworm and leather-jackets which can leave the crop riddled with holes.

For the best results let the tubers start to sprout before you plant them but leave only 2 shoots about 1 inch long on each plant. The remainder should be rubbed off. Have rows running from north to south so that both sides of each row receives the same amount of sunlight. Planting can begin towards the end of March, 4 inches deep and 12 inches apart in manured trenches placed 2 J feet from each other. As foliage appears, earth up about 3 inches and a further 3 inches about 1 month later.

Start using early varieties from June and maincrop in August. Any still in the ground in October should be lifted and stored.

RADISH

Sow from March-July either very thinly about -J inch deep or in drills 6 inches apart. Keep the soil moist and occasionally use a liquid manure. Radishes are ready to eat within a month of sowing and they are, in fact, the easiest crop of all to grow.

SHALLOT

The most successful method of planting shallots is to make holes with the trowel, line the holes with a little silver sand, and set the bulbs so that just the tip shows. Feed with liquid manure. Planting can start in February and they are ready to use when the leaves turn yellow and wither.

SPINACH BEET

This is a very easy crop to grow. Sow ½ inches deep. One sowing will provide for a long period but pick before it runs to seed.

SWEDE

Sow in May f inch deep and thin out to 6 inches apart as soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle. Keep well watered to prevent stringiness. Use when the size of a tennis ball. The purple top varieties are best.

TOMATO

This can be grown out of doors in the South and West but not as a rule in the North or Midlands.

Choose a sunny spot, preferably against a south or west facing wall or fence. Plants should be 18 inches apart and they need to be kept well watered and mulched. Tie the plants to stout stakes. When four trusses of fruit have set, pinch out the main growing point. Pick the fruit as it ripens, starting from the bottom of the plant and working upwards. Any fruit not ripened by September should be picked and ripened off in a sunny window.

TURNIP

Sow in early April 1 inch deep and thin out plants to 6 inches apart. The soil should be well limed and the young plants kept well watered so that they grow quickly. Use when they are the size of a golf ball or just a little larger. You can sow a winter variety in early July and these can be left in the ground and used as required.

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