Archive | Fruit, Vegetables & Herbs

Tips on growing good Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs

Swiss Chard a Vegetable Show Stopper

Swiss Chard Traffic Lights

Autumn sunshine sets off the traffic lights in the vegetable plot. A low angle for the rays of sunshine creates an extra opportunity to appreciate this vegetable. I like the leaf texture and think Chard can look so colourful that I will grow some amongst the flowers for next year.

Swiss Chard Varieties

  • Ruby Red has stunning deep veins and can be picked young.
  • Bright Lights is a seed mixture ready within a month.
  • Lucullus with a clean white stem.
  • Bright Yellow as it says on the label
  • Leaf Beet Rhubarb Chard is deep red burgundy coloured.
  • Leaf Beet Bulls Blood is used as a salad leaf.

available from Thompson & Morgan

Eating Swiss Chard

  • Also called Leaf Beet, Swiss Chard is similar to spinach with a slightly bitter flavour.
  • Swiss Chard is pungent and tastes slightly salty.
  • It contains an exceptionally impressive list of health promoting nutrients and is definately one of your five a day.
  • Both the leaves and stalk of chard are edible, although the stems vary in texture with the white ones being the most tender.

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Paw Paw Fruit Trees

 

2010-02-05 10-26-42 Paw Paw leaf intricate patterns - IMG_1565

 

I never thought about growing exotic fruit like the Paw Paw That was until I saw a tree for sale in Thompson Morgan’s catalogue. The sun accentuates the intricate pattern in this paw paw leaf.

Asimina triloba Papaw or North American Paw Paw

  • This hardy pawpaw produces solitary, cup-shaped flowers and large, exotic foliage.
  • During long, hot summers it will produce edible fruits with a delicious, tropical flavour, that can be harvested from September.
  • In cool climates the Paw paw or Red Indian Banana forms an attractive multi-stemmed plant that makes an unusual addition to the shrub border with its buttery yellow autumn foliage.
  • Pawpaws are self fertile, and pollinated by insects, however the chances of pollination will improve when growing more than one paw paw.
  • Alternatively the flowers can be hand pollinated.
  • Height and spread to 19’ so they do need a spacious garden.
  • Happiest in full sun or dappled shade

Asimina Triloba / Paw Paw

 

‘Pawpaw (Asimina) is a genus of small clustered trees with large leaves and fruit. Growth Habit: The pawpaw is a deciduous, often narrowly conical tree growing from about 12 feet to around 20 feet. Pawpaw trees are prone to producing root suckers a few feet from the trunk. When these are permitted to grow, the single-clone pawpaw patch comes into being. The prevailing experiences of many individuals is that the pawpaw is a slow grower, particularly when it is young. However, under optimal greenhouse conditions, including photo-period extension light of approximately 16 hours, top growth of up to 5 feet can be attained in three months. Continue Reading →

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Leek Day

Leeks

March 11th and today I have finished harvesting my Leeks from last year. St Davids day whose symbol is the Leek is celebrated on March 1st every year so I am a bit behind the times.
I have also sown the 4th and last batch of this years seeds for indoor germination.
I may try some direct into the ground in early April.

Leek Easy Tips

  • Prizetaker will be ready to harvest from September until December.
  • Musselburgh I have sown for a later crop in November – February 2012. (It seems strange to be thinking about what to eat in 2012 but forward planning is part of gardening.
  • I will not grow my Leeks in the same soil as the crop I am just harvesting just in case of fungus.
  • I added some horse manure late last year and have a good moist soil bed ready when the seedlings need replanting.
  • I will hoe and earth-up the stems to get a longer blanched stem. This was something I forgot to do last year.

 

Canny Leek Growing is a book available from Amazon by Dan Calderbank that describs the best methods of growing leeks for culinary use or for exhibition, together with the historical development of this garden crop. Dan has developed his own leek strains and new methods of cultivation.

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Gardeners Winter Vegetables

Get sowing for some winter greens and veg like Beetroot, Spring Cabbages, Lettuces, Spring Onions, Chicory, Fennel and Rocket.
cabbage

Unless you already have a well stocked allotment or vegetable garden you need to be thinking about next years winter vegetables. Settle down with a drink and some good seed catalogues and plan to enjoy the fruits (or veg) of your labours through to next Christmas.

The well named Tundra Cabbage will take all that winter can throw at you and still produce firm heads until April. Blue cabbage Aurtoro looks so good next to Autumn yellows and oranges and it can be planted in the flower garden. The heads are firm and the leaves tightly packed to make a vegetable that stands well. It will also help make a warming winter soup.

Cabbage Tips

Plant Spring cabbage 12in apart.
Earth up the soil around their stems to prevent rocking and help them against the cold.
In cold frost prone areas cover with fleece or cloches. Watch out for pigeons which may get deterred by netting.
Young plants can be thinned for spring greens and leave the rest to heart up.

Curly Kale with crinkly leaves is another vegetable that shouldn’t be restricted to the vegetable patch. Redbore a purple leaved variety grows on tall sturdy stems that look interesting through winter. Other varieties like January King 3, Red Winter or Westland Winter, a blue green, can add more variety to the garden and your winter grub. If you like the blistered crinkly leaved varieties go for Resolution or Traviata F1’s.

Parsnips are just ready to start lifting. They can be left in the ground until needed and I think a bit of frost does no harm to the flavour. Interceptor Carrots can be harvested through to March and reverting to the purple theme Purple Haze Carrots can be picked until Christmas.

Seasonal favourite Brussels Sprouts need that bit of frost to bring out the sweetness and take away some of the sulphur taste. Pick from the bottom of the stalk and then you can finish off eating the top of the stalk like a small cabbage. I find Maximus F1 have a long cropping season and a good flavour. Support the stalks if grown ina windy conditions.

Late Cauliflowers to consider are Haddin or Deakin F1’s that will hold until February if you don’t eat them first.

Autumn sown Spinach is a healthy crop containing iron and vitamins.
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Cabbages for Kings

King slugs are feasting on my green and cream ornamental cabbages. It is late in the season and the slugs are helping to reduce the leaf waste from a variety of plants including the dying hostas. Still as I won’t be eating the ornamental cabbage I am not going to loose too much sleep.

I treat my ornamental cabbage as an autumn and winter display. This type of Kale can produce cabbageheads from spring   through  winter. Try ‘Rose Bouquet’, which produces dwarf, solid round heads of   red-pink, surrounded by a ruff of green leaves,  Tuscan cavolo nero, or a good seed mixture.

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Super Veg 2017 Ornamental Kale

 

Kale is the newly rediscovered easy to grow vegetable.

Many plants sold as “ornamental cabbage” are in fact kales. They are grown for the coloured and ornamental leaves which are brilliant white, red, pink, blue or violet in the interior or the rosette. Because they supply colour in winter Ornamental Kale is popular with some designers. The green kales (Borecole) can also be very ornamental. Keep tidy by pulling old outer leaves off


Ornamental kale is every bit as edible as any other variety, provided it has not been treated with pesticides. Special recipes

For more Tips and other Kales

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Growing Runner Bean – Scarlet Emperor

Tips for good Runner Bean crops

  • Prepare the soil to retain moisture by incorporating good compost and/or wet newspaper at the bottom of a trench in winter.
  • Rotate crops to a new patch every year on a three year cycle.
  • Do not feed with heavy nitrogen fertilisers or you will get leaf and less flower.
  • Flowers pollinate best if the air is humid so mist over if there is a dry spell.
  • Water plants well and regularly or stunted ‘C’ curved beans will disappoint
  • Support with a cane each or on a wigwam. I am trying an X shape this year so that the top half of the X encourages beans to hang down outside the plant and be easy to pick.
  • Harvest when beans are still young and have a snap in them
  • Try a variety know for its flavour like Kelvedon Marvel or Red Knight
  • Ruby moon has maroon pods that turn green when cooked and Painted lady has red and white bi-coloured flowers
  • Runner Beans can be grown for the bean inside or for the whole pod to be eaten

Tips for entering Runner Beans for a local show

  • Stick to the schedule for the show – if it says three runner beans submit three runner beans and label the variety correctly
  • Chose straight beans of equal length and form – size isn’t everything
  • If beans need a bit of straightening keep them in a wet towel overnight pressed straight.
  • Grow and take some spares to the show
  • Display as instructed or on black velvet to show off your specimen
  • Collect the seed of good plants for next year and develop your own strain or get good seed from a specialist
  • If you want a giant bean to become a world record you will be looking for bean in excess of 48 inches and it will be too woody to eat.
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Tips for Growing Giant Vegetables

Book Cover

This is one of the many books in my collection but the only one to focus on growing big, bigger and biggest vegetables. If you want to grow giant vegetable for exhibition or to get large crops then there are many pointers in ‘How to Grow Giant Vegetables’ by Bernard Lavery and below.

If you want to see 14 feet long carrots or parsnips, the 28 pound radish or the monster cabbage weighing 120lbs then encouragement to join the monster vegetables growing movement may be our gardeners tip for you in 2011.

Starting with Giant Vegetables

  • A good big one will beat a good small one and that applies to seed so consider what you sow. Good genetic potential will grow good plants.
  • Pumpkins are a good starter vegetable as a heavy weight can be achieved in the first year. It is also fun to see them grow by inches every day.
  • You need to learn by experience so you improve growing conditions, feeding and watering based on your own observations.

Large Crops from a Small Garden

  • Harvested whilst still in peak growing condition, giant vegetables taste every bit as good as smaller varieties.
  • Continue Reading →
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Gourds & Squashes

Gourds

Gourds

Gourds are grown for the decorative fruit which come in weird and wonderful shapes.They are part of the curcurbit family along with cucumbers, courgettes, pumpkins and marrows.

Cultivation Tips

  • Hard seeds may need chipping or scarifying to allow water for germination.
  • Gourds need a long growing season – start indoors in heat.
  • The yellow or orange flowers need pollinating male to female like all the squash family to form fruit
  • Gourds are ready for harvest when the stems dry and turn brown.
  • Leave a few inches of stem attached when harvesting.
  • Seed packets often have a mixture of seeds. Plants cross pollinate easily so saved seed may produce strange results.

Gourd Varieties

There are three main types of gourd; the ornamental gourds, the lagenaria or large utilitarian gourds, and the luffa or vegetable sponge.

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Uses for Crab Apples

Crab apples can be used as food, for ornamental effect, to help pollination, or for the wood. The wild crab apple found individually in woods has green fruit turning golden in Autumn. Cultivated crab apples vary in habit and grow upto 10 feet. Fruiting this year looks like a bumper harvest after the wet weather earlier in the year.

Crab Apples make attractive ornamental trees with their pink or white blossom, followed by colourful autumn fruits that make delicious preserves. Varieties John Downie, Golden Hornet, Laura and Red Sentinel are all self fertile. Crab apples planted near fruiting apple trees make excellent pollinators and will help pollinating bees to increase your crops.

Crab apples are used to make jelly, pickles or can be roasted and served with meat or added to winter ale or cider. Any unpicked fruits will soften after a few frosts and will create a sumptuous food source for wild birds from late January until March. For a jelly recipe with a chillie kick try Cottage Smallholder

The timber of the crab apple is uniform in texture and if dried slowly, is excellent for woodworking. At one time it was used for making set-squares and other drawing instruments. Failing that apple wood burns in your chimenea of fire grate with a nice aroma.

Order now for winter delivery Crab Apples at Thompson & Morgan

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