TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

December 19, 2010

Vegetables in season at Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 7:20 pm

Vegetables in season at Christmas are:

  • Beetroot
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Chicory
  • Fennel
  • Jerusalem -Artichoke
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Red Cabbage
  • Swede
  • Turnips

How many of these vegetables that are in season at Christmas are you growing in your garden?

December 5, 2010

Table Top Vegetables

Filed under: tomato — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 4:03 pm

Look out for table top vegetables – the new way to grow veg!  Peace Tree Farm  in the USA are developing a miniature tomato plant called Sweet-N-Neat. 

This tomato has been  propagated  to be tabletop size and is laden with heavy fruit,  so the tomatoes can be plucked off for eating.  It keeps on producing so can sit on the table for general grazing!

Sweet-N-Neat grows in traditional Christmas colours with its red fruit and dark green foliage.  Lets hope this table top vegetable will be on general release for next year!

October 28, 2010

Vegetable Gardening

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 2:08 pm

The pressure is off in the vegetable garden. The vigorous summer growth has receded and the remaining plants are growing gently and gracefully. All in the garden seems peaceful and suddenly there is time for the gardener to think! 

leeks-in-autumn

leeks-in-autumn

Maybe we should make an effort to think out of the box! The gardening we have grown up with, and practised year after year, might benefit from a shake-up. 

Hanging baskets may seem a bit suburban but are a way of contributing to our Grow Your Own supplies and add another dimension to the pleasure of gardening. 

  • As well as tumbling tomatoes or strawberries which are often grown in hanging baskets, why not try herbs or peas?
  • A basket of herbs looks and smells beautiful. It would be useful hanging just outside the kitchen window. Marjoram will hang down over the edge, and Chives tend to drape a little too. Various Mints would fill in the centre with Borage providing height. 

 

chive-flower
chive-flower
  • A basket of peas, filled with sugar snap or mange tout would make an interesting spectacle. Asparagus peas have a frilly pod which is eaten whole. The pods need to be picked when they are about an inch long before they get stringy, so they are not particularly productive. But they are useful as a garnish. The dark red flowers stand out against the green foliage.

frilled-asparagus-pea-pod
frilled-asparagus-pea-pod

 

Raised beds may be the talk of the modern gardener, but they could make gardening easier and improve the productivity of traditional vegetable gardens.

  • Raised beds have the obvious advantage of being lifted up off the ground so the gardener does not have to bend so far to reach the soil.
broccoli in-raised-beds

broccoli in-raised-beds

  • Plant growth is improved because the un-compacted soil allows good drainage and free root development.
  • The gardener has control over what soil goes into the raised bed.
  • The soil warms up quicker than that in the garden.
  • Plants can be grown closer together in a raised bed so the productivity per square foot is increased.
  • Pests and diseases are fewer. Carrot fly is not such a problem because it is a low flier and rarely reaches above 1 foot (25cm). Slug control is easier because they have to climb up the walls to get into the raised bed. It is relatively easy to deter them from the climb, by laying gravel around the outside of the bed, and putting discouraging strips on the outside walls of the bed.
raised-bed

raised-bed

So, as the nights draw in, and new catalogues arrive, think about different ways of vegetable gardening, as well as what varieties to grow next year.

October 15, 2010

RHS help school gardens

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 5:00 pm

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have a wonderful scheme which helps and encourages school gardens.

The RHS Campaign for School Gardening:

  • aims to encourage and support schools to develop and actively use a school garden. 
  • provides teachers with resources through their website
  • provide an extensive programme of CPD days for teachers

Schools joining the RHS scheme receive:

  • Free start-up kit
  • Rewards and certificates for your progress on the new benchmarking scheme.
  • Access to useful information and advice that will help you use your school’s garden to greater effect.
  • Regular news and items of interest sent to you by e-mail.
  • Free seeds from the Schools Seed Distribution Scheme once a year.
  • Regional Advisors

John Hickling, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) regional officer for Yorkshire and Humberside has just visited the garden and gardeners at Leys Farm Junior School in Scunthorpe, where they had a Get Grown-Ups Growing day.  

“Gardening encompasses all areas of the national curriculum including science, maths, English and geography,” he said.

Parents and friends from the local community joined in, in what was a win – win situation.

The RHS are doing great work helping schools use and develop their gardens

September 24, 2010

Autumn in the Kitchen Garden

Filed under: calendar — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 2:16 pm

Temperatures are dropping, strong winds are blowing leaves and twigs off the trees and it is time for an autumn tidy-up in the kitchen garden.

The lush summer growth of courgettes and runner beans is still allowing the plants to fruit, so we will leave them until they have finished producing, although they are starting to look untidy.

The main autumn jobs in the kitchen garden include: 

  • Weeding: Weeds are easily pulled up when the soil is damp – but we avoid treading on the soil, particularly at this time of year when it paddles easily and the soil structure is then damaged. The walkways come into their own, as we can access the garden, and keep our feet dry and the soil un-trampled!
falling-leaves on walkways

falling-leaves on walkways

  •  Collecting up bits & pieces – such as cloches, pots, and netting.  These will be cleaned down and put away until next year.  In fact everything that is not in use should be removed. Even bricks & stakes that had a perfectly useful purpose in the growing season should be cleared. All these objects provide shelter for garden pests such as slugs, snails, rats and mice, or overwintering sites for insects and fungi.
tidy up!

tidy up!

  • Staking  the sprouts and kale will be finished off, so the stalks are tied to the stake. These brassicas get top-heavy when they are wet and could topple over.
  •  Autumn Lawn Care   – the most essential job is to remove the leaves as often as possible.  It is easier to do this when the leaves are dry, when they can be mowed or raked up.  If leaves are left to pile up and get wet, they become mushy and are then difficult to collect up.  Heaps of leaves covering a lawn obscure the light, so that the grass will go yellow, eventually die & leave bare patches.  Weeds and moss will then colonise these bare areas.
collecting-leaves

collecting-leaves

  • Collecting leaves from vegetable beds - although leaves eventually rot and provide nutrients it is better to remove them to the compost heap & return them to the beds later on as compost.  This keeps the beds tidy and pest free.
autumn-leaves

autumn-leaves

  • Pruning soft fruit - if not already done. Strawberry leaves are cut back to the crowns, so that all the old diseased leaves are discarded and fresh new ones can grow to take the plants through the winter. The fruit bearing canes of the summer fruiting raspberries are cut down, and the two strongest new canes are left.

An autumn tidy up in the kitchen garden is well worthwhile, making the garden a more enjoyable place to be over the winter.

May 3, 2010

Optimum germination temperature for vegetable seeds.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 3:53 pm

There is an optimum temperature, the most ideal temperature,  for vegetable seed to germinate, and it varies from one type of veg to another.

The optimum temperature is printed on the back of some seed packets.

Seeds will germinate over a range of temperatures, but at the optimum temperature :

  1. more seeds germinate – the percentage of seeds to germinate is highest
  2. germination is quicker – the number of days to emergence is less

The benefits of increasing germination rate by hitting the optimum temperature are:

  • seed cost per veg plant produced is less
  • return on effort of seeding is higher

The benefits of decreasing days to emergence by hitting the optimum temperature are:

  • less time for seed to rot off
  • less time for seed to be eaten by predators
  • shorter growing period & earlier harvest

Seeds will germinate at temperatures lower & higher than the optimum temperature, but fewer seeds will germinate & they will take longer to come through.

For example, the optimum germination temperature for asparagus is 77F, when 95% of seeds are likely to germinate, and the asparagus seedlings take 10 days to emerge.  Either side of the optimum temperature, the number of seeds germinating reduces as shown in the table below; and the number of days for the seedlings to emerge increases.

Asparagus seed
Temperature F %germination Days to emerge
32 0
41 0
50 61 53
59 80 24
68 88 15
77 95 10
86 79 12
95 37 19
104 0

Starting seeds off indoors, or outdoors in pots or under glass is worth considering because:

  • germination temperatures for vegetable seeds often differ from the ideal temperatures for plant growth.
  • soil temperature takes a long time to heat up & waiting for the optimum soil temperature will prolong harvest dates, if indeed, there will be enough days left for a full growing season.

Vegetable gardeners will find that some types of veg, and also different varieties of particular veg, do better in their particular locality.  Some varieties will germinate at lower temperatures than other varieties of the same type of vegetable.

Click this link to view a chart showing the optimum germination temperature for vegetable seeds.

March 27, 2010

Germination Temperatures for Vegetable Seeds

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 10:18 am

Germination temperatures for vegetables seeds often differ from the ideal temperature for plant growth.  Some vegetable seeds will only germinate when warmer than the best soil growing temperature, so they have to be germinated in a propagator, on the windowsill or under a cloche .

Here is a chart of some ideal temperatures:







Germination temperature
Growing temperature





Asparagus 77
60-70
Beans – french 75-85
60-65
Beans – runner 75-85
65-75
Broccoli 80
60 – 65
Brussels Sprouts 75 – 80
60 – 65
Cabbage 75 – 85
60 – 65
Carrots 75
60 – 70 Sow Directly into soil




Does not transplant well.
Cauliflower 80
60 – 70
Celery 70
60 – 70
Leeks 75
75
Lettuce 40 – 60
40 – 60
Onions 65 – 85
65 – 85
Parsnips 65 – 75
65 – 75
Peas 40 – 75
40 – 75 Sow Directly into soil




or sow in gutter
Potatoes 45


Spinach 50 – 75
60 – 65
Swiss Chard 50 – 85
60 – 65
Turnip 50 – 95
50 – 95







Germination temperature
Growing temperature





Asparagus 77
60-70
Beans – french 75-85
60-65
Beans – runner 75-85
65-75
Broccoli 80
60 – 65
Brussels Sprouts 75 – 80
60 – 65
Cabbage 75 – 85
60 – 65
Carrots 75
60 – 70 Sow Directly into soil




Does not transplant well.
Cauliflower 80
60 – 70
Celery 70
60 – 70
Leeks 75
75
Lettuce 40 – 60
40 – 60
Onions 65 – 85
65 – 85
Parsnips 65 – 75
65 – 75
Peas 40 – 75
40 – 75 Sow Directly into soil




or sow in gutter
Potatoes 45


Spinach 50 – 75
60 – 65
Swiss Chard 50 – 85
60 – 65
Turnip 50 – 95
50 – 95

March 10, 2010

How to Grow Carrots

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 11:17 pm

How to grow carrots in the vegetable garden:

fresh-carrots

fresh-carrots

  • carrots like a sunny spot
  • dig soil in autumn & break soil down to fine, crumbly seedbed before sowing
carrot-bed

carrot-bed

  • sow outdoors from March to August – if in  March cover with cloche
  • sow every 3 weeks for a continuous suppy 
  • sow thinly – mix seed with sand to make it easier
  • sow in rows 1.5cm deep with 30cm  between rows
thinning-carrot-row

thinning-carrot-row

  • thin seedlings, when large enough to handle, so 6 cm apart
pulling-carrot-seedlings-out

pulling-carrot-seedlings-out

  • keep well watered
  • pull weeds as they appear
  • pull carrots when they are large enough, as required
nandor-carrot

nandor-carrot

March 7, 2010

Check planted shallots

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 10:57 am

Checking the planted shallots revealed that some had jumped out of their bed.

shallots-feb2010

shallots-feb2010

This often happens, particularly just after planting the shallots, before they have had time to push out some roots which will anchor them down.

shallot-out-of-bed

shallot-out-of-bed

Shallots tend to jump out of bed because either:

  • worms in the soil push them out from below
  • or, birds pull them out.

We always blamed the sparrows who investigate anything new in the vegetable garden.  But these shallots have been covered with a cloche to protect them from the frost, so birds would not get to the shallots easily.  So fingers seem to be pointing at the worms for displacing the shallots.

pushing-shallot-in-ground

pushing-shallot-in-ground

We just push the shallots back into the bed, and will continue checking them until they are rooted firmly into the ground.

January 9, 2010

Vegetables for the Patio, Balcony or Window Box

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — TopVeg @ 11:20 pm

So many vegetables can be grown on the patio, balcony or window box.

  • Very little space is needed to produce a regular supply of fresh, healthy salad leaves, and one courgette plant will produce plenty of fruit, without causing a glut.
  • We have a friend who lives in a fourth floor flat, with a small west facing balcony, who grows tomatoes, salad leaves, courgettes and french beans.
  • A great variety of vegetables can be grown in containers, but it is important to select a small or mini-variety.
radish-growing-in-pot

radish-growing-in-pot

Examples of vegetables which can be grown on a patio or window box are:

Thompson & Morgan have a great offer for a patio vegetable collection for £9.99 comprising:

2 x Tomato Vilma plants
1 x Pepper Mohawk plant
1 x Courgette Black Forest plant
1 x Cucumber Fanfare plant

Plus FREE seed worth £5.28! Runner Bean Summer Medley (16 seeds) & Niche Salad Leaves Blend (400 seeds).

patio veg collection

patio veg collection

Click this link to buy this patio vegetable collection for £9.99 which is also suitable for a balcony or window box.
Click this link to buy this book about growing vegetables in containers:

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