TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

September 24, 2010

Harvesting and Storing Onions

Filed under: root veg — Tags: — TopVeg @ 7:18 am
CenturionOnionLeafBent CenturionOnionLeafBent


When the onion foliage bends over and turns yellowy, it is almost time to harvest onions. Leave them for two weeks, and then pull them on a dry day.

onion-leaves-bent-over onion-leaves-bent-over
  The bulbs must be mature if the harvested onions are going to be stored. Leave the pulled onions to dry and ripen

The skin of the onion will turn shiny as it ripens, then it will be fit to store.



If the weather is set fair the onions can be left outside to dry and ripen:

  • on top of the soil or


  • lifted up so that the air can circulate round them, such as tied to the washing line or sat on netting


If it is a damp time, it is safer to move the onions under cover, where they can be hung up in an airy, dry place.



 Onions can be stored in a cool shed or garage.  The conditions necessary for onion storage are:

  1. good air circulation
  2. cool temperature
  3. dry air

Store onions in:

  • open trays

slated tray

  • hessian sacks
  • plaits – using their foliage to make the plaits, then hang the onion ropes up


 Onions with thick, fleshy  necks will not keep & should be eaten first and not stored. 

If onions are not completely dry when they are put into storage there is a risk that they will develop neck rot.  This is when a fungus starts to develop around the neck area and gradually rots the onion from the neck down.  Onions must be checked for Neck Rot (latin name – Botrytis allii, B. squamosa and B. cinerea) regularly  in storage, & removed, because the rotting onions will destroy other  onion bulbs in storage.

 White onion varieties are more susceptible to neck rot, but red and yellow varieties may suffer. Garlic, shallots, chives, and leeks are also affected by neck rot.

July 22, 2010

Growing parsnips under enviromesh

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 6:58 pm

Growing parsnips under enviromesh has given us happier plants.  The photo below shows how well the parsnips have developed, with very long roots. 


parsnips' long roots

The parsnip leaves are in perfect conditiom, but in previous years the parsnips never looked well and grew slowly.  We think the enviromesh must have kept the insects off the parsnips & these were the insects which caused unseen damage which resulted in slow growth.

Beetroot – How to Cook

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 7:31 am


To Prepare  Beetroot for cooking:

  • Pull the Beetroot when they are on the small side, as they have a better taste & texture.  The ideal size is that of a golf ball up to a cricket ball size.
  • Twist off the leaves leaving 2″ of stalk.
  • Leave the roots on.
  • Wash the beetroot in cold water

 The Beetroot is now ready for cooking.  If you cut the leaves too close to the beet, or if you cut the roots, the beetroot will ‘bleed’ and all the red colour could be lost from the beetroot.  So just twist the leaves off, wash the whole beetroot, with roots & stubbs of leaf stalks attached

 beetroot-growing beetroot-growing

To cook the beetroot: 

  • Put the un-cut beetroots into a saucepan
  • Cover with cold water
  • Bring to the boil
  • Once boiling put a lid on the pan and leave to simmer gently for 1 hours, or 1.5 hours if beetroot is very big 
  • Leave to cool
  • Remove from water and gently scrape the skin off with fingers
  • Serve sliced or cubed
  • Some people like the beetroot to be covered in vinegar

Click this link for more cooking ideas for beetroot and recipes.

July 15, 2010

How to Grow Turnips

Filed under: root veg — Tags: — TopVeg @ 9:12 am

Turnips are quick growing & easy to grow.

  • germination time is 6 – 10 days
  • time between sowing & lifting is 6 – 12 weeks



Ideal soil for turnips is:

  • firm
  • non-acidic
  • well drained
  • dug in autumn before planting
  • in sun

Sow turnip seeds:

  • from March to July depending on variety
  • very thinly
  • 1cm (1/2in) deep
  • in rows 20cm (8in) apart (for early varieties)  30 cm (12in)  apart (for late varieties)

Thin seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle to:

  • 25cm (10in) apart for maincrop
  • 15 cm (6in) apart for earlies

To look after the growing turnips:

  • remove weeds as they appear by hoeing
  • water during dry periods, so bed always moist
  • watch out for flea beetle


  • 6 to 12 weeks after sowing – before too big
  • May to September


Turnips are best when they grow quickly, so it pays to look after them and keep them growing.

The difference between swedes and turnips

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 6:48 am

The difference between swedes & turnips is evident when you see the two side by side. The turnip is smaller, smoother & rounder than the swede. Swedes have a whiter flesh than swedes.





Swedes came from Sweden and were known as the Swedish turnip- & this name was shortened to Swede.  Swedes are frost proof, but turnips are not – so swedes can stay in the garden all winter & turnips must be harvested before the cold weather.

Swede – Latin name Brassica napus napobrassica

  • swedes are bigger than turnips
  • yellow/orange flesh
  • roughish, coarser skin
  • larger than turnips – more like an elongated coconut in size, or an adult shoe!
  • crop over a very long time
  • can be left in the soil throughout the winter
  • withstand heavy frosts when in the ground
  • sweet, mild taste
  • originated from Sweden
  • have a collar
  • related to turnips

Turnip – Latin name Brassica rapa

  • turnips are a fast growing crop, ready five to eight weeks from sowing to harvesting
  • smaller than swedes – usually golf ball size or a little larger
  • white flesh
  • smooth, silky skin
  • round shape
  • require a higher level of fertility than swedes because grow faster
  • crop earlier than swedes
  • cannot stand hard frosts so must be lifted from ground in autumn

July 13, 2010

How to Grow Swede

Filed under: root veg — Tags: — TopVeg @ 12:24 pm

Swedes are a hardy, cool-season vegetable which are  difficult to grow in the garden. They are prone to mildew which is not so prevalent in an airy, windy site.   Mildew resistant varieties, such as Magres, are easier to grow in the kitchen garden.    

Growing conditions  preferred by swedes: 

  • Soil – light, well drained, fertile soil with low nitrogen levels
  • Site – open and windy


  • swede - virtue

    swede - virtue

    Sow seeds April – June 

  • directly into the ground  where they will stay 
  •  rake soil to a fine tilth
  • choose mildew resistant varieties
  • sow thinly   
  • 1cm (1/2in) deep 
  • in drills 30cm (12in) apart  
  • water regularly, especially in dry periods
  • growing-Magres-swede


  • thin seedlings when they are large enough to handle, so plants are 10-15cm (4-6in) apart



  • hoe to keep weeds down, but take care not to damage roots
  • check for pests – swedes are brassicas & they are eaten be cabbage white caterpillars 


  • harvest  from early autumn.  They are winter hardy so can stay in ground throughout winter 
  • store like potatoes in cool,dry place, in a soil-pie, or a box of damp sand 
  •  follow these tips and you will grow a swede like this!



July 11, 2010

How to plant shallots

Filed under: Uncategorized, root veg — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 11:25 am

Shallots are traditionally planted from sets ( very small shallots). 



They grow new bulbs in a cluster around the mother set, rather like a garlic clove.

using-walking-board-to-plant shallots

using-walking-board-to-plant shallots

Plant as soon as soil is dry enough , in March or April.



Use a trowel, unless soil very light, when sets can be pushed in, so that they are buried to half their depth & have their shoulders poking through.  Plant 15cm (6in) apart with 30cm (12in) between rows.



Check daily to make sure birds have not pulled them out.  Push them back in if necessary.  May be worth covering with a net if birds a problem.



Keep weeds down.

flopping&ready-to-harvest shallots

flopping&ready-to-harvest shallots

 Lift or harvest shallots when leaves start to flop over & yellow, traditionally on the longest day.  Leave them on the top of the soil to dry out, if it is dry & rain is not forecast, otherwise dry them under cover.  There is no need to separate the clumps, they will fall apart naturally.

Storage: When dry, and the skins are shiny, store in trays, nets or tights in a cool, dry, well ventilated place.  They should keep for 9 or 12 months.

Use shallots in cooking because they have a milder flavour than onions.  They are good added whole to stews and casseroles.

July 9, 2010

How To Grow Parsnip Card

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 8:13 am

Farming Friends & TopVeg have collaborated to create some FREE How To Grow Vegetables Cards, including this How to Grow Parsnips card.



 If you would like a pdf of this parsnip card or any of the How to Grow cards, please complete the contact form asking for the grow card you would like and we will email it to you.

May 26, 2010

Winter Carrots fill May Gap

Filed under: root veg — Tags: — TopVeg @ 8:05 pm

Winter Carrots are filling the ‘hungry gap’ we have in May, when the winter veg have finished and the new plantings are still immature.  The carrots we planted in early winter are just coming into their own.



The winter carrots taste delicious.  The foliage is still very healthy.



The problem is they are in the way.  The bed is needed to plant some veg for late summer – so we are giving some away.



Our neighbour has an oversupply of spring cabbage, hence we are doing a swap!  Not only are the winter carrots filling the May gap, they are also fostering neighbourly relations!

May 9, 2010

Beetroot juice effects blood pressure & stamina

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 12:44 pm

In the last few years it has been shown that Beetroot juice effects blood pressure & stamina.



In 1998 Two Swedish scientists (Weitzberg and Lundberg) found that natural nitrates (NO3) in the diet (such as those found in beetroot, spinach and lettuce) are broken down during digestion to produce nitric oxide in the blood stream.
Nitric Oxide is important because it:
- regulates blood pressure;
- controls blood flow to certain organs;
- enhances stamina by improving oxygen use;
- fights infection;
- is a signal molecule in the nervous system.

Beetroot juice is particularly high in natural dietary nitrates

Professor Amrita Ahluwalia of the William Harvey Research Institute, published a paper in March 2008 in the American Heart Association’s journal showing that oral nitrate (taken through drinking beetroot juice) reduces high blood pressure.

Professor Andrew Jones, of Exeter University, published a paper in August 2009 explaining that dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high intensity exercise in humans (Journal of Applied Physiology).



Dietary nitrate has such a beneficiary impact on sporting stamina that Beet It are supplying beetroot juice for trials with UK Athletics, swimming, rowing, cycling teams and even the entire England rugby union team.

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