The Four Cultural Groups of Vegetables

From the point of view of cultivation, vegetables fall into four groups: [1] those that are raised from seed sown directly where the crop is to mature [2] those raised from seed sown in a seed bed from which they are planted out where they are to mature [3] those planted annually from bulbs or tubers [4] those grown more or less permanently in the same place.

Group 1 This includes peas and beans, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beetroots, spinach, radishes, and parsley. Lettuces may be grown in this way or they may be sown in one place and transplanted to another. Sweet corn is sown where it is to mature except in cold places, where it can be sown in small peat, sawdust or paper pots and transplanted in these to the place in which it is to mature. Onions may be grown from seed where they are to mature. Or be planted as young seedlings raised in frame or greenhouse, or as small bulbs. Known as sets.

Group 2 This includes all the brassicas. A term which embraces cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprout, broccoli and kale, all of which are closely related. All these, as well as leeks, are usually sown in a seed bed in the open ground, but tomatoes, vegetable marrows, squashes and pumpkins, all of which come into Group 2, being more or less tender, are usually raised in a greenhouse or frame and only planted out when danger of frost is past, and celery, though considerably hardier, is treated in the same way.

Group 3 The most important crop in Group 3 is the potato, but it also contains the Jerusalem artichoke, the shallot, garlic. And the onion when grown from sets instead of from seed.

Group 4 More or less permanent crops which occupy the same ground for years include rhubarb, asparagus, mint. Sage. Thyme and other herbs and the globe artichoke.

Raising Plants in Group 1

Seed crops need a fine, crumbly soil and a level surface so that seeds can be sown at an even depth. Final preparation of seed beds should be with a rake used both to level and further break up the soil and at the same time the seed bed can be trodden to make it evenly firm all over. Loose soil dries out loo rapidly and may settle unevenly.

It is most convenient to sow seed crops in straight rows as then it is easy to cultivate between the rows to keep down weeds. The rows should usually be at least 1 ft (30cm) apart and, for tall crops, such as broad beans and many varieties of pea. It is better for them to be 2 or even 3 ft (60 cm to 1 m) apart.

Drill Preparation and Seed Sowing

The rows are made by stretching a line across the vegetable garden and then scratching out a little furrow (known as a drill) against this with the corner of a hoe or a pointed stick. For most small seeds the drills should be about 1 in (1 cm) deep but for big seeds, such as those of peas and beans, they may be 1 to 2 in (25 to 5cm) deep. If seeds are sown too deeply they may be slow to germinate or not germinate at all. If they are not covered sufficiently rain may expose them to birds. When a drill has been made the seeds are sprinkled thinly along it and then the displaced soil is drawn back over it.

Weed Suppression and Seedling Thinning

Nothing further is needed until two or three weeks later, on the appearance of the seedlings. When a Dutch hoe can be run between the rows to cut off weed seedlings without injuring the crop seedlings. Weeds that actually come up in the rows will have to be pulled out by hand and at the same time the number of crop seedlings can be reduced to a reasonable spacing, which will vary from about 3 to 9 in (8 to 23 cm) from plant to plant according to the nature of the crop. This is known as thinning, and may not be required for crops such as radish, small carrots and spinach if they have been sown thinly.

Providing Support Very shortly after this, some of the taller crops, especially peas and runner beans, will want support. For peas. Bushy hazel branches are often used, stuck firmly into the soil on either side. Alternatives are string or wire netting stretched between stakes driven into the ground.

Raising Plants in Group 2

Very much the same methods as those described above may be used for sowing crops that are to be transplanted but, since they will not remain in the seed bed for long. The rows may be closer together, even as close as 6in (15cm) for some small crops such as lettuces. If room is scarce these crops may even be sown broadcast, which means that the seed is distributed evenly all over an area of soil instead of being confined to a row. The drills for this are made by drawing a rake across the surface in one direction, so leaving a lot of tiny furrows close together. When the seed has been scattered, the rake is drawn across the surface at right angles to the first raking, so filling up the furrows and mixing the seed with the soil.


When the seedlings are large enough to handle conveniently, which may vary between 1 in (2-5cm) high for lettuces, to 4 or 5 in (10 to 13 cm) for cabbages, brussels sprouts and cauliflowers, they are carefully lifted with a handfork, separated out into single seedlings and replanted, with as little delay as possible, where they are to mature. They are usually planted in straight rows, marked out with the garden line, because this makes subse-quent cultivation easier. They can be planted with a stout, pointed stick, known as a dibber, or with a trowel. The soil should be made firm around the roots and it is usually necessary to water them in to give them a good start and prevent leaves flagging unduly; it will also settle the soil around the roots.

Frost-tender Plants A variation on this method is required for crops such as tomatoes, vegetable marrows and cucumbers, which can stand little or no frost. Seed of these is sown in a greenhouse or frame and the seedlings are grown on in pots, gradually being given increasing ventilation and lower temperature until danger of frost outdoors is past and they can be planted out with safety.

Raising Plants in Groups3 and 4

Crops that are planted from sets, tubers, etc., are also grown in straight rows. Some, such as potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes. Need to be covered with 3 or 4in (8 to 10cm) of soil and as the tubers are themselves 2 in (5 cm) or more in diameter, this means that furrows 5 or 6 in (13 to 15 cm) deep must be made for them. There are two ways of doing this, one to dig the furrows with a spade, the other to drag out the soil with a draw hoe. In either case, when the tubers have been spaced in the furrow, the displaced soil is drawn back with a hoe or rake to cover them.

However, not all planted crops need covering like this. Some, such as shallots, onions from sets (which are really very small onions) and garlic, are planted simply by pressing them firmly into the soil. They do not even have to be completely out of sight.

The more permanent crops, such as rhubarb, globe artichokes and asparagus. Often have such large roots that a spade is the most convenient tool with which to plant them, but the small kinds can be planted with a trowel.

Maintaining a Succession

Some crops can be used a little at a time as required, but few will remain in good condition for more than a few weeks. After that they become tough, or run to seed, or in some other way become useless as food. One of the major problems of the small garden is organizing crops so that there is never an unusable surplus and yet never a serious gap between successive crops. Root crops, such as beetroots, carrots and parsnips, can be lifted and stored when they reach the best stage for eating. So can tubers, such as potatoes, and bulbs, such as onions, shallots and garlic. But leaf crops, including spinach, lettuce and all the cabbage tribe, must be used as they become ready and this is also true of peas and beans. Though they may be deep frozen or otherwise preserved.

Alternative Methods One way of ensuring a succession of any one crop is to make several sowings at intervals of two to three weeks. Another is to grow early, mid-season and late varieties. These are varieties of some vegetables which have different rates of growth so that, even if they are sown or planted at the same time, they will mature at different times, thus ensuring a continuous supply.

With the exception of the permanent crops, most vegetables are cleared away once the edible portion has been harvested.

The sooner this can be done the better because the ageing plants are likely to attract pests and diseases and are unsightly. As soon as a strip or plot has been cleared in this way it can be dug or forked and, if the season is not too advanced, it may be used again.


Some crops are only edible when they have been blanched, that is, prevented from producing any green or other colouring in their leaves or stems. This is done by excluding light and one of the simplest ways of doing this is by drawing soil around that part of the plant that is to be blanched; a process known as earthing up. This is how leeks and celery are blanched:

Leeks Leek seedlings, raised in a seed bed, are lifted and replanted in holes about 8 in (20cm) deep made with a dibber. This blanches the lower part of the stem. To get a longer blanched area the soil is pulled towards the plants from either side of the row when the plants are well grown, so forming a ridge out of the top of which the green leaves emerge.

Celery Celery seedlings are planted in trenches about 6in (15cm) deep. When the plants are well grown at the end of the summer the trenches are filled in, so blanching the lower parts of the stems, and then more soil is banked up around the plants, just as with leeks.

Potatoes If potato tubers are exposed to light they become green and bitter. To prevent this, soil is drawn from between the rows towards the plants in late spring and early summer, so forming ridges in which the tubers are well covered. The young shoots of potatoes are tender and so, if they appear above soil while there is still risk of frost, it is a good plan to draw soil over them at once as a protection.

Storage Methods

Storage methods for vegetables vary accord-ing to the crop. Potatoes can be stored in sacks or brown paper bags in a shed, provided it is frost proof, but if the tubers get frozen they will become sweet or go soft and rotten.

Carrots are much hardier and can be stored in boxes filled with dry sand. This method also suits beetroots which can survive some freezing but will not put up with very low temperatures. Parsnips, turnips and swedes are sufficiently hardy to be left in the ground and used as required.

Recommended Vegetables Artichoke, Globe Grown for the flower heads which are gathered before they open; these are enclosed in thick green bracts, like scales, and it is the fleshy base of each scale that is the most succulent edible portion.

Artichokes are grown from rooted suckers or off-shoots of the main plant. They should be planted in spring, 3 ft (im) apart, in rich, well-drained soil and a sunny. Sheltered place. Plants will continue to bear for several years but should be replaced with young plants every third or fourth year as old plants get progressively less productive.

Artichoke, Jerusalem This plant, which is a species of sunflower, is grown for its tubers produced in the soil like those of the potato. These tubers are planted in late winter or early spring, 6in (15cm) deep and 15in (38cm) apart in rows at least 2Kt (75cm) apart. The plants are very hardy and can be lifted as required in autumn and winter so that the tubers can be collected and used.

Asparagus This is a permanent crop which may occupy the ground for many years. It needs good, rich, well-drained soil. It can be raised from seed but this is slow and it is better to start with two-year-old male roots, that is, plants which produce only male

flowers and so can never bear the red asparagus berries as fruits.

Roots are planted in spring 3 in (8 cm) deep and 18 in (45cm) apart. No shoots should be cut for the first year. After this the shoots are cut well below soil level when they are from 1 to 4m (2-5 to 10cm) above soil level. No cutting should be done after mid-summer. In autumn all top growth is removed just above soil level. Manure or compost should be spread over the bed each spring.

Asparagus Pea A plant grown for its pods, which are cooked and eaten when they are about 2in (5cm) long. It is raised from seed sown under glass in early spring, the seedlings being hardened off for planting out in late spring when danger of frost is past. Space them 1 ft (30cm) apart in rows 2ft (60cm) apart in good soil and a sunny place.

Strings or wires can be attached to the fence to support the beans. In the open they need stakes or netting, extending to at least 7 ft (2-25111) above soil level. Water freely in dry weather. Gather frequently as pods attain usable size.

Beetroot Sow in mid- to late spring, two or three seeds together, in groups spaced 6 in (15cm) apart in drills 1 in (2-5cm) deep and rows 15 in (38cm) apart. Thin seedlings to one at each cluster. Pull roots as they attain usable size and in early autumn lift all remaining and store in sand or dry soil in a shed or sheltered place.

There are three principal types: globe, with globular roots; long, with tapering roots, and tankard with cylindrical roots.

Aubergine Sow seed in late winter or early spring in a temperature of 18C. (65 F.). Pot seedlings singly in 2l-in (65-cm) pots and later move on into 6- or 7-in (15- to 18-cm) pots and fairly rich compost. Grow throughout in a sunny, frost-proof greenhouse. Water fairly freely and feed when fruits are formed. Pinch out the tip of each plant when about 6 in (15cm) high to make it branch, and train later stems to a cane or wire. Restrict fruits to a maximum of six per plant and gather as soon as ripe.

Beans, Broad In mild districts and on well-drained soil, sow in mid-autumn; elsewhere. Sow in early spring. Space seeds 6in (15cm) apart in drills 2 in (5cm) deep and 2 ft (60cm) apart. Pinch out tops of plants when two or three clusters of pods are forming on each plant. Gather frequently as beans in pods reach usable size.

Beans, French Sow seed in mid- to late spring, spacing 6in (15cm) apart in drills 2 in (5 cm) deep and 18 in (45 cm) apart. Gather beans frequently as the pods reach usable size.

Beans, Runner Sow in late spring, spacing seeds 8in (20cm) apart in a drill 2in (5cm) deep. Make two such drills, 10in (25cm) apart to form one row of beans. If a second double row is required, space it at least 8 ft (2-5111) from the first. Other small crops such as lettuce, radish, carrot and turnip, can be grown between.

Alternatively, beans may be sown in a single drill 1 ft (30cm) from the base of a wall or fence which the plants will clothe.

The first and last are most suitable for small gardens.

Broccoli, Sprouting This is closely related to cauliflower but produces numerous small heads on quite long stalks, instead of forming one large head. There are purple and white sprouting varieties differing in the colour of their heads, and also a green sprouting kind, also known as calabrese, which is the vegetable usually served as broccoli in restaurants. Purple and white sprouting broccoli are at their best in the spring, whereas calabrese matures more rapidly and is ready in summer. Seed is sown and plants treated as for cauliflower.

Brussels Sprouts Seed should be sown in a frame or seed bed in early spring and seedlings planted out in late spring at least z\ ft (75cm) apart on good soil. There are early. Mid-season and late varieties which extend the sprout picking season from early autumn to late winter. After the sprouts have been picked the heads can be cut as greens.

Cabbage For summer, autumn and winter use, seed is sown in a seed bed in spring, seedlings being planted out in late spring or early summer, 18 in (45cm) apart in good rich soil. Early, mid-season and late varieties are available which, between them, spread the cutting season from about mid-summer to mid-winter. Special spring varieties are also available for sowing in a seed bed, mid-to late summer, planting out 1 to lift (3° to 45cm) apart in early autumn and cutting the following late spring or early summer. These varieties need fairly rich, well-drained soil.

Savoy cabbages have wrinkled leaves and, being very hardy, are useful for cutting in winter. Seed is sown in a seed bed in late spring, seedlings being planted out mid- to late summer at 18 in (45 cm) apart in good rich soil.

Carrot Sow seed thinly from early spring to mid-summer in drills ½ in (1 cm) deep and 12 in (30cm) apart, in good soil where the crop is to mature. Thin seedlings to 5 in (13cm) apart for large roots, but if carrots are to be pulled young no thinning should be required, provided sowing has been carefully done.

Both early and main-crop varieties are available, the latter giving larger roots which take longer to mature. Young carrots can be pulled all summer as required. In early autumn any remaining roots should be lifted and stored in sand or peat in a shed or sheltered place.

Cauliflower Seed is sown in a frame or seed bed in spring and the seedlings are planted out in late spring or early summer, 2ft (60cm) apart, in good soil and an open but not too exposed position. As the white curd begins to form, some of the inner leaves are broken down over them as protection.

Varieties are available for cutting from summer until the following spring but it is the summer and early autumn varieties that are easiest to grow and most useful in gardens.

Celeriac This is sometimes known as turnip-rooted celery because it makes a large. Turnip-like root which has the flavour of celery. It can be chopped or ground and used for cooking.

Seed is sown as for celery, the seedlings being planted out in late spring or early summer in good rich soil, 12 in (30cm) apart in rows 18in (45cm) apart.

Celery Sow in a greenhouse or frame in late winter or early spring, prick oil seedlings into boxes and harden off for planting out in late spring or early summer. Plant in trenches 6in (15cm) deep and 1 ft (30cm) wide, made by digging out the soil to a depth of about 18 in (45 cm) and then returning about half of it mixed with a generous quantity of decayed manure or vegetable refuse. The remaining displaced soil should be left in two low ridges on each side of the trench. The plants are spaced 9 in (23 cm) apart in a single row down the middle of the trench and are watered freely. In late summer the remaining displaced soil is returned around the plants and then. A little at a time, more soil is thrown up round them to form a ridge which will blanch the stems. These, when well blanched, may be dug as required in autumn and winter.

White, pink and red varieties are available and the coloured varieties are hardier than the white which, for that reason, should be used first.

For summer use a different kind of celery should be grown, known as self-blanching. Seedlings of this are raised in the same way but are not planted in trenches. Instead. They are planted in good rich soil, 9 in (23 cm) apart each way in several rows so

that the leaves form a dense cover and exclude light from the stems. Later, boards on edge can be placed around the block of plants to exclude light further, but no earthing up is required.

Chicory Sow outdoors in mid- to late spring in rows 15 in (38 cm) apart and later thin seedlings to 9in (23cm). In autumn and winter lift plants a few at a time and pack quite closely in large pots or deep boxes with moist soil or peat around them. Place in a warm dark place and cut young blanched shoots at root level when 6 to 9 in (15 to 23 cm) high for use as salad.

Chives Plant tufts obtained by splitting up old plants in spring. Space 6in (15cm) apart and leave to grow more or less permanently. Chives are quite decorative and can be used as an edging to beds. Cut stems at ground level as required for use as flavouring but only take a few at a time from any one plant leaving others to maintain growth.

Cress Sow rather thickly at about weekly intervals during spring and summer in boxes filled with fine soil, place in a greenhouse, frame or sunny window, and cover with brown paper. In about seven to ten days seedlings should appear and the paper should be removed. Two or three days later, the cress should be ready for cutting.

Cucumber Two kinds of cucumber are avail-able: the frame cucumber for cultivation in greenhouses or frames, and the ridge cucumber for cultivation outdoors.

Seed of both can be raised under glass, the seeds sown two or three together in a 3-in (8-cm) pot of good seed compost and thinned to one per pot later. For planting in heated greenhouses, sow in late winter; for unheatcd greenhouses or frames, in early spring; for planting outdoors, in late spring. A temperature of about i8°C. (65 F.) is required for germination. Alternatively, seed of ridge cucumbers can be sown outdoors in late spring where the plants are to mature.

Cucumbers need very rich soil with plenty of rotten manure or garden compost. They are planted, 3 ft (1 m) apart, on small mounds or ridges and are watered freely. Under glass they need permanent light shading in summer. When stems are 1 ft (30cm) long, the tips are pinched out to make the plants branch. Flowers and fruits should appear on these side shoots. Under glass more elaborate training to wires may be undertaken. Cucumbers should be cut as soon as they attain usable size to keep the plants cropping.

Endive Used like lettuce and particularly useful in autumn. Sow seed in good soil in drills 1 in (1 cm) deep and 12 to 15m (30 to 38 cm) apart. Thin the seedlings to 9 in (23 cm). If desired the thinnings can be replanted elsewhere, 9in (23cm) by 12 in (30cm) apart.

When plants are well grown, place a small piece of board or an inverted saucer over each plant to exclude light and blanch the leaves. Plants from the later sowings may be transplanted to a frame in early autumn and be blanched by shading the frame.

Garlic The bulb of garlic consists of several sections, known as cloves, and it is grown by planting these cloves separately, 9 in (23 cm) apart in rows 15 in (38 cm) apart, in winter or early spring in good, rich, well-drained soil and a sheltered, sunny place. The bulbs are lifted in late summer and stored in any dry place.

Kohlrabi This turnip-like vegetable is grown from seed sown in spring in drills 1 in (1 cm) deep and 15 in (38 cm) apart in good soil where it is to mature. Seedlings are thinned to 9 in (23 cm) and the swollen stems are pulled for use when they are about the size of an orange.

Leek Seed is sown thinly in early or mid-spring in drills \\n (lcm) deep and 9 in (23cm) apart in good soil. The seedlings are carefully lifted in early summer and are replanted in deep holes, made with a dibber. These holes should be 6 to Sin (15 to 20cm) deep and 12in (30cm) apart in rows i8in (45 cm) apart. Later some soil can be drawn up around the stems to blanch them still further. Dig as required for use in autumn and winter.

Lettuce Seed should be sown every second or third week throughout spring and early summer. Sow in drills Vm (icm) deep and 12 to 15 in (30 to 38 cm) apart and thin seedlings to 9 in (23 cm) apart. If desired the thinnings can be replanted elsewhere 9in (23cm) apart in rows 12in (30cm) apart.

Lettuce needs good rich soil and should be well watered in dry weather.

There are three distinct types of lettuce: the cabbage lettuce, with rounded heart; the cos lettuce, with elongated oval heart, and the loose-leaf lettuce, with no heart at all. There are numerous varieties of both the cabbage and the cos types and the cabbage varieties are further sub-divided into buttcrheads, with soft, tender leaves, and the crispheads, with crisp leaves.

Mint Plant roots in spring by spreading them out thinly and covering with 1 in (2-5cm) of soil. Subsequently do not disturb even by hoeing, but remove weeds by hand. A mint bed can remain in the same place for years and if roots stray too far they can be chopped back with a spade or trowel at any time. Gather leaves as required.

Some roots can be lifted each autumn, placed in boxes of old potting soil and stood in a frame or greenhouse for early supplies.

Mustard This is grown in exactly the same way as cress, but since it germinates and grows more rapidly, it should be sown three days later than cress if it is to be cut at the same time.

Onions There are two ways of growing onions; from seed and from sets (small bulbs). Seed is cheaper, but on some soils, particularly those that are heavy, it is difficult to get good germination. Sets rarely fail and can be grown on any reasonably good soil.

Seed is sown in spring, in drills ] in (1 cm) deep and 12 in (30cm) apart, in rich, well-dug soil. Seedlings are thinned to 6 in (15cm) apart. Bulbs are lifted in late summer or

early autumn when the tops begin to turn yellow, are laid out to dry in a shed or frame for a few days and are then stored in a dry, airy store shed in shallow trays or in strings made by plaiting the dry tops together.

For early use seed can be sown in late summer in drills 6 in (15 cm) apart in a frame or sheltered place outdoors, the seedlings being transplanted the following spring. 6In (15cm) apart in rows I2in (30cm) apart, in rich soil. Bulbs can be used in summer as they attain size.

Salad onions are grown from seed sown in spring and late summer as described for bulbing onions, but there is no thinning out, the seedlings being pulled for use as they attain sufficient size.

There are a great many varieties but not all are suitable for late summer sowing. Catalogues usually indicate these and also those which are good for salading.

Onion sets are planted in spring, 6 in (15 cm) apart in rows 12 in (30 cm) apart. A trowel can be used to make a little hole for each set, but it should be barely covered with soil. The bulbs are lifted and stored in late summer as for onions grown from seed.

Parsley Sow seed in spring and early summer in drills ½ in (1 cm) deep and thin seedlings to 6in (15cm) apart. Seed often takes three or four weeks to germinate.

Parsnips Sow seeds in good, well-dug soil, in spring in drills 1 in (2-5 cm) deep and 18 in (45 cm) apart. Space seeds thinly and thin seedlings to 8 in (20cm) apart. Roots can be left in the ground in autumn and winter. Being dug as required.

Peas Sow during spring and early summer in good rich soil, in drills 2 in (5 cm) deep or in very shallow flat trenches about 2 in (5cm) deep scooped out with a spade. Scatter the seeds thinly about 2 in (5 cm) apart. There are many varieties ranging in height from I| to 5 ft (45 cm to 1-5111). Even the short varieties are better for some support and the taller varieties must be supported, either with bushy sticks, such as hazel branches, pushed firmly into the soil, or with string or wire netting. Protection from birds may be needed as the pods swell. The pods should be picked as soon as they are reasonably well filled and before the peas begin to get hard.

Potato Grown from small potatoes, known as sets or seed potatoes. It is an advantage if these can be sprouted by standing them, eyed ends upwards, in shallow trays in a light but frost-proof place in late winter.

The sets, sprouted or unsprouted, should be planted in spring, 5 or 6 in (13 to 15 cm) deep and 12 to 15 in (30 to 38 cm) apart in rows 2^ft (75 cm) apart. Soil should be well cultivated and enriched with animal manure or compost as well as a compound fertilizer prior to planting. When shoots appear, the soil is drawn over them from between the rows and this process of earthing up is continued in early summer until the soil is ridged to a height of 8 or 9 in (20 to 23 cm) along the rows.

There are early, second-early, maincrop and late varieties which differ in the time they take to reach maturity. Digging of earlies can commence 10 to 12 weeks after planting, second-earlies 12 to 16 weeks. Early varieties are generally used as they are dug and so are second-earlies, but main-crop and late varieties are usually lifted, when mature, for storing.

Stored potatoes must be kept in darkness and free from frost. They can be in sacks in frost-proof sheds or outhouses or may be clamped outdoors. This is done by placing a thick layer of clean straw on the ground, piling the potatoes on this in a cone or ridge, putting more straw over them to a thickness of at least 9 m (23 cm) and then throwing a layer of soil about 9 in (23 cm) thick over the straw and beating it down with the back of a spade.

Radishes Sow seed every fortnight in spring and the first half of summer in drills |in (1 cm) deep and 9 in (23 cm) apart, or scatter the seed broadcast all over the prepared soil and rake it in. Start pulling radishes as soon as they are large enough to use. They do best in rather rich soil.

Rhubarb Plant roots in spring 3 ft (im) apart in good rich soil. The crowns (tops of the roots) should just appear on the surface after planting. Without any special treatment, sticks can be pulled in late spring and summer, but not in the first year of planting. For earlier supplies, strong roots are covered in winter with barrels, boxes, large flower pots, large drain pipes with a slate or tile on top, or special forcing pots. If pos-sible heap straw, bracken or dry leaves over these, the object being to exclude light and keep the plants as warm as possible. Even earlier supplies are obtained by lifting roots in autumn or winter and bringing them into a heated greenhouse or shed. They are replanted in soil, kept moist, and light is excluded. In a greenhouse this can often be done conveniently by planting under the staging and hanging sacks in front. Roots that have been forced in this way can be replanted outdoors afterwards but should not be forced again for at least two years.

Sage Purchase young plants in spring or raise from seeds or cuttings. Seed is sown in spring in a frame or outdoors or cuttings can be rooted in a frame in late summer. Whichever method is used the plants should eventually be placed in good, well-drained soil in a warm sunny position. Sage makes a small bush 12 to 18 in (30 to 45 cm) high and one or two plants are usually sufficient to meet the needs of a household. Plants will live undisturbed for years. Gather leaves as required and in summer cut some shoots, tie them in small bunches and hang in a dry, airy place to dry for storing.

Shallots Grown from small bulbs which are planted in late winter or early spring 9 in (23 cm) apart in rows 12 in (30 cm) apart. Planting is done by pressing the bulbs firmly into the loose soil so that they are almost buried.

About mid-summer, or soon after, growth will die down and the clusters of bulbs can be lifted and placed in a dry, sunny place for a few days, after which they are stored in boxes or trays in any cool, dry, airy place.

Spinach Seed is sown every three or four weeks in spring and summer in drills 1 in (25cm) deep and 12 in (30cm) apart. Seedlings are thinned to 3 m (8 cm) apart and picking of the leaves begins as soon as these are large enough to use.

One of the several varieties of summer, or round-seeded, spinach should be used for all except the last sowing, towards the end of summer, when the hardy winter, or prickly seeded, spinach should be used.

Swede Seed is sown in late spring or early summer in drills ^in (icm) deep and 18 in (45 cm) apart and seedlings are thinned to 9 in (23 cm). Roots can be lifted as required in autumn and winter.

Sweet Corn Seed can be sown in mid-spring in small paper or peat pots in a frost-proof greenhouse or frame. Place two seeds in each pot, reduce to one seedling per pot and harden off for planting out in a warm, sheltered place in late spring or early summer, spacing the plants 2 ft (60 cm) apart each way. Alternatively, sow in late spring in the open ground where plants are to mature, putting three seeds into each hole 1 in (2-5 cm) deep and spacing these seed groups 2 ft (60 cm) apart. Later, seedlings will be thinned to one at each point. It is better to grow sweet corn in blocks rather than in single rows as the female flowers are then more likely to be fully fertilized.

The cobs are ready to gather as soon as the tassel at the end of a cob withers. Another test is to open the sheath-like covering of the cob and test a corn with the thumb nail. It should be firm but not hard.

Thyme This is grown in the same way as sage and again one or two plants may suffice for all ordinary needs. Thyme also likes warm sunny places and does particularly well on limestone or chalk soil.

Tomato These can be grown under glass or outdoors but for the latter purpose only quick-maturing varieties should be used. Seed for greenhouse cultivation is sown in late winter or early spring in a temperature of i8°C. (65°F.). Seedlings are pricked out and later potted singly in 3-in (8-cm) pots in John Innes or soilless compost. When well grown in these pots they are transferred to larger pots, 8 to 10 in (20 to 25 cm) in diameter, or boxes filled with J.I.P.3 compost, or they are planted directly in a bed of good soil in the greenhouse, spaced 18 in (45 cm) apart in rows at least 2 ft (60 cm) apart.

An alternative method is to plant in bottomless rings about 10 in (25 cm) wide and nearly as deep filled with J.I.P.3 and stood on a 6-in (15-cm) -thick bed of well-weathered boiler ashes or pea-size gravel. One tomato plant is put in each ring and well watered in, but subsequently water is applied only to the ashes or gravel, into which the plants will root. Spacing of the rings should be as for plants growing in soil beds.

Yet another way to grow tomatoes is in bags of specially prepared peat. These bags can be purchased ready for use. Lay flat on the ground, end to end, split open the upper side of each bag and fold the flaps of plastic under to form a kind of rim to the exposed peat, and plant three or four tomato plants in each bag. When using this method be especially careful to water well so that the peat never gets really dry.

Whichever method is used, plants are trained up canes, strings or wires to which they must be tied frequently, or they can be wound around string. All side shoots are removed, each plant being restricted to a single stem. When this reaches the roof of the house, its growing tip is also broken out to prevent further growth.

As soon as the first fruits begin to form, plants are fed once a week with liquid fertilizer containing a fairly high percentage of potash. When plants are grown in rings. Feeding is into the soil in these, not into the ashes or gravel.

For outdoor growing, seed is sown in early to mid-spring in a greenhouse or frame in a temperature of 18°C. (65 F.). The seedlings are treated in the same way up to the 3-in (8-cm) pot size, when they are hardened off for planting out in early summer in a warm, sunny, sheltered place. Space as for greenhouse plants, restrict each plant to a single stem and tie this to a cane firmly embedded in the soil. Pinch out the top of each plant as soon as it has produced four trusses of flowers. In autumn, when frost threatens, pick all remaining fruit. Even if green, place in boxes and keep indoors to ripen, or green fruits can be used to make chutney. Bush varieties are often favoured out of doors and require no staking or removal of side shoots or stopping. Plant 2 ft (60cm) apart, and place straw or polythene under the plants in summer to keep the fruits clean.

Turnip Sow seed in spring and early summer in good soil in drills 1 in (2.5 cm) deep and 12 in (30cm) apart. Thin seedlings to 4 or 5 in (10 to 13 cm) and start pulling roots as soon as the most forward are fit for use. In autumn, lift remaining roots and store in sand in a sheltered shed or outhouse.

Vegetable Marrow Sow the seeds in pairs in 3-in (8-cm) pots in mid-spring and germinate in a greenhouse or frame in a temperature of 18C. (65 F.). Thin the seedlings to one per pot and harden off for planting outdoors in late spring or early summer. Plant 3 ft (1 m) apart in very rich soil and keep well watered. Alternatively, sow seeds, two or three together, in clusters 3 ft (1 in) apart in late spring where they are to grow, covering with Un (icm) of soil and thinning seedlings to one at each cluster.

Marrows should be cut when large enough for use. Any remaining in autumn when frost threatens may be cut and stored in a dry, airy, frost-proof place.