1) Radish

Radishes must be grown quickly, or they will become hard and woody and not be worth eating. This means they must be kept moist at all times. Sow the seeds thinly in shallow drills at three week intervals from early March for succession, and thin them to 5cm/2in in the rows.

They can be grown between slow maturing crops, as they will be out of the way before sprouts or potatoes need the space between the rows. Last sowings should be made in July.

Club root can attack radishes, but normally they are grown and harvested before this disease has time to get a hold.

Varieties: French Breakfast, Icicle, Inca, Cherry Belle.

2) Runner Bean

runner beans ready to be harvested

3) Shallot

Plant the sets in March, pressing them into the soil 25cm/10in apart, with 30cm/12in between the rows. Bend over the necks during August to encourage ripening, and harvest in September and allow the bulbs to dry.

Variety: Dutch Yellow.

4) Spinach

Seed should be sown in shallow drills 30cm/12in apart, and the plants should be thinned to 20cm/8in in the rows. They need plenty of water and tend to run to seed quickly in hot weather. They should be pulled up once this begins to happen. A much easier crop tasting very similar is New Zealand spinach, which is not a member of the same family, but is grown in the same way.

Varieties; Cleanleaf, Superb, Bloomsdale Longstanding.

5) Spring Onion

Seed should be sown in shallow drills in October, and again in early spring. Weeding between the plants is important if they are to reach a good size. Those from an autumn sowing will be ready in April, and spring sown ones in July.

Varieties: White Lisbon, White Spanish.

6) Sprout

sprouts that are fully grown

Take the leaves off sprout plants as the buttons begin to swell.

Seed should be sown in a seedbed in March, thinned early, and transplanted in April. Set the plants out 60cm/24in apart, with the same it between the rows, and make the soil very firm around the base, or the sprouts will be loose and flavorless.

Stake the plants in windy gardens. Sprouts taste better for a touch of frost, so do not start picking until after the first frost. Harvesting can continue until March of the following year.

Varieties: Peer Gynt, Avoncross.

7) Swede

Seed is sown in early May, in drills 45cm/18in and the seedlings thinned to 25cm/10in in the rows. They should be harvested when they are about tennis ball size for maximum sweetness; this will be around mid-October. They can be stored in a cool dry place.

Variety: Purple Top Yellow.

8) Tomato

some juicy looking tomatoes
A well-grown tomato truss.

For greenhouse tomatoes, see this post for details. For outdoor tomatoes, sow the seeds in a seed tray on a sunny windowsill in March, and prick them out into individual 8cm/3in pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. When the pots are filled with roots, pot them on into 13cm/5in pots.

Harden them off during late April and May, and plant them out in April; if you like, they can be grown in 25cm/10in pots outdoors on a patio. If you do not get a lot of light in the house, you will be better advised to buy plants as seedlings raised with insufficient light, will be thin, drawn and yellow. Tomatoes need good rich soil with plenty of potash, and a sunny site.

Plant them firmly and stake them, tying the stems to the stake at 20cm/8in intervals. Pinch out the shoots which form between the main stem and the leaves branching off, otherwise there will be masses of marble sized fruits rather than a reasonable number of large tomatoes.

After the plant has set five trusses of flowers, pinch out the growing tip as otherwise the fruit may not ripen before the autumn. By the second week in September, pick all the tomatoes which are of full size but are still yellow or green and bring them indoors.

You either put on a sunny windowsill until they ripen, or to be used in making chutney. Pests and diseases are not as prevalent on outdoor tomatoes as on indoor grown ones.

Varieties: Atom, Moneymaker, Ailsa Craig, Alicante, Sigmabush.

9) Turnip

For an early crop, sow in a frame at the end of February, as thinly as possible, and spacing the seedlings to 20cm/8in. They should be ready for eating by early May. Outdoors, sow early in April for July harvesting. They should be thinned to 15cm/6in, and will benefit if you dig in plenty of bonfire ash.

They should be lifted by the very latest when they are tennis ball size, otherwise they will be hard and woody. Drills should be 30cm/12in apart, and sowings should be made every three to four weeks for succession. The crop can be stored in peat in a cool dry place.

As members of the brassica family, they can suffer from club root, but like radishes, they are normally grown and harvested too quickly for the disease to get a hold.

Varieties: Early Milan, Tokyo Cross, Golden Ball.