With the ever increasing cost of vegetables, it makes more sense now than ever before to grow your own. It is not difficult, or even excessively space consuming. You can grow vegetables with attractive foliage among the flowers—carrots, beetroot and runner beans are all good to look at as well as to eat.
The important thing is that any vegetable site should have plenty of sunlight. You should also remember to rotate your crops to keep the soil in good condition, and to prevent pests and diseases particular to one group of plants from building up in the earth.
Most people use three rotation groups: the brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, kale); legumes (peas and the different kinds of beans); and roots (carrots, beetroot, early potatoes and so on). If you have the time and inclination to grow maincrop potatoes, these will form a fourth group with the earlies included, and your land should be rotated in four sections.
The list below describes the 8 most popular vegetables; if you want to grow more unusual or difficult crops, it will be best to buy a specialist vegetable book.
Seed can be grown from mid-April in the south, and from early May in the north. Make drills about 2.5cm/1in deep and leave 50cm/15in between rows. Space the seeds at 8cm/3in intervals, and after they have come up, thin them to 15cm/6in.
Make sowings each month until July to ensure a regular supply. Dig the roots up carefully, as there will be considerable loss of flavor if the skins are broken, and make sure you have them all out of the ground before the first frosts. Good varieties are Avon Early, Detroit Globe, Boltardy.
Seed should be sown in a well dug and raked seedbed, and you must thin them as soon as they are large enough to handle. Transplant the young plants in June, leaving 60cm/24in between them, and making the soil very firm around the bases. Stake the plants if you live in a windy area. The worst pest that attacks broccoli—as all the members of the brassica family is clubroot; read further below for information on control. Varieties: Early Penzance, Royal Oak, Early Purple Sprouting.
3) Broad Bean
Broad beans like well dug soil, and manure or garden compost will do them a lot of good. In sheltered gardens, sowings can be made in November, otherwise wait until March. Plant the seeds in double rows 20cm/8in apart, with 15cm/6in between the seeds.
When the flowers have formed, pinch out the growing tips to discourage blackfly attacks. Taller growing varieties may need some support. Varieties: Aquadulce, the Sutton, the Midget.
Sow seeds in June or July for summer crops the following year, and in March for cabbages the same autumn. Sow thinly in drills 20cm/8in apart, and set the plants out 40cm/16in apart. Pests and diseases are the same as for broccoli. Varieties: Greyhound, Primo, Fillgap.
Seed should be sown in shallow drills 20cm/8in apart from early April until June for succession. Thin the seedlings out as soon as possible after they have germinated, as this will discourage carrot fly which may otherwise devastate the crop. If you have clay soil, sow stump-rooted varieties. Make sure the tops are not showing above ground during growth as this will make them turn hard and green. Varieties: Chan-tenay, Early Nantes.
Sow seed in September in a frame or under cloches for an early summer crop, or sow in March under glass for autumn picking. After the plants have been hardened off, set them out about 30cm/12in apart in rows 60cm/24in apart. Having lime or seaweed granules in the soil during transplanting will help against clubroot. When the curds begin to form, fold the leaves over the hearts to keep them clean and white Varieties: All the Year Round, Early Snowball, Veitch’s Self-Protecting
Self-blanching celery should be sown in boxes in early April and set out early in June about 20cm/8in apart. They must be kept well watered if they are not to be tough and stringy, and they will be ready for harvesting in September and October. Non-self-blanching celery must be planted in trenches and earthed up continually to prevent them becoming bitter. Frost will improve the flavor, so it is best to leave it until well into October. Varieties: Golden Self-Blanching, Lancashire Prize Red.
8) French Bean
These like a light warm soil, and should not be sown in the open until the risk of frost is past. Sow the seed at monthly intervals from the beginning of May until July for succession in rows 30cm/12in apart. Seed should be sown 5cm/2in deep, and the plants spaced 20cm/8in apart. Give the plants plenty of water, and pick the beans young to encourage more to form. Varieties: The Prince, Earligreen.
Clubroot is a plant disease that can an attach itself to the soles of your shoes and any manure fertilizer you might use. Here is how you can handle and control clubroot long before it ever steps foot into your home vegetable garden.
For starters choose a species of plant seed that has been engineered to resist clubroot. This will go a long way in helping to prevent the disease from getting into your soil in the first place.
If your garden has been infected with clubroot, do not use any type of animal manure as fertilizer for at least 3 seasons. The clubroot organism can attach itself to manure and spread, defeating the whole purpose of fertilizing in the first place.
Instead, use organic compost derived out of scraps from food, leaves, as well as grass clippings. What, no compost pile? That’s okay, guess it’s time to get started with one then!
Take a pH sample of your soil and get the level to around 7.2. This can be done easily by adding compost, calcium or ground up limestone depending on where your pH level currently sits.
You can purchase a home soil test kit at any garden center for less than ten dollars. Most tests also will tell you’re the best options for getting the pH level to the value that you desire.
Seaweed is another option when it comes to clubroot control. Apply the seaweed granules to the soil before planting, and feeding the growing plants with seaweed extract regularly once the plants are growing and established.
Seaweed powder applied to growing carrots, broad beans and other vegetables, will keep any dreaded ‘fly’ at bay. The powder is extremely fine, so best to use with extreme care, and not applied when there is a lot of wind.
Seaweed actually works great for putting nutrients back into the ground. Applying the dried seaweed granules is an excellent way of feeding the soil itself.
By sprinkling this lightly over the soil, this will biodegrade and at the same time give back to the soil what has been taken out by rain and plants. If you have a plant that is looking a bit poorly and under the weather, not many solid cures are available than a good dose of seaweed granules put around the base of the plant, ensuring it is away from the stalk.
This will also hinder slugs and snails from attacking your plant, as they will not cross over the layer of seaweed. Seaweed meal is finer, and therefore will biodegrade much faster.
The seaweed meal, mixed with grass seed, is an ideal way of ensuring your new lawn gives a great cover of grass. Even if you are only reseeding parts of your lawn—adding the seaweed meal to the grass seed before sowing will bring up a good growth of grass.
If you have moss in your garden, it is best not to rake it as this spreads the moss even more. Best to feed your lawn with seaweed and cut the lawn once a week so eventually, the moss will be choked out by the good growth of grass.
Seaweed liquid extract is another way of feeding your greenery. Dilute with water and water the feed over your plants, grass and vegetables. The extract is best used once the plants are established and reaching up for a feed of natural goodness.
Seaweed is full of natural goodness, containing natural levels of all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, bio stimulants—you cannot get any better of a natural feed to keep your garden glowing and thriving.
Give your plants and crops the best nutrients provided by seaweed to ensure:
– Improved growth
– Stronger, healthier roots and plants
– Higher yields
– Healthy crops
– Possible resistance to potato blight
– Helping towards resistance to club root
– Greener plants and lawns
– Stronger growth and colorful flowers