Archives For Vegetables

How to Grow Vegetables – Great tips, advice and techniques for growing vegetables at home or in the garden.

Grow Carrots in Containers

Carrots are a popular and versatile root vegetable, and have been grown in this country since they were introduced from Holland in the late 16th Century. They can be eaten raw, steamed or boiled and are tasty and nutritious, being a source of beta- carotene and Vitamin A.They are also high in fibre and low in calories. There are many varieties to choose from, including short carrots, baby carrots, Chinese carrots, and ones which are yellow and purple. Most gardeners choose the traditional orange and long variety as being the most suitable for growing in containers.

The advantages of growing carrots in containers are:

  • Containers take up much less space than even a raised bed so are ideal if you do not have a large garden or much space generally.
  • The carrots do not have to compete with soil pests and weeds, so many gardeners consider that they actually do better in containers.
  • They grow smoothly and straightly as their growth is unimpeded by stones in the soil.
  • Containers are an ideal solution if you live in an area with clay.
  • The delicate and feathery green leaves also make it an attractive plant to have on a patio.

The best time of year to grow carrots, in the United Kingdom, is in the spring as they need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day to grow, so choose your location carefully.

Grow Carrots in Containers

Photo by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

How to sow the seeds:

  • Potting compost is the best sort of soil to use. Any size or shape plant container will do as long as it has a depth of at least 8 inches.
  • Prepare the potting compost by adding some fertiliser and then giving the soil plenty of water.
  • Sow the seeds from April to June, in the same way as you would if sowing directly on the ground.
  • Make small drills about 1/2 inch deep and sow the seeds thinly along the drills, with about 6 inches between the rows. If using a circular container, you could experiment by sowing the seeds in different shapes and patterns, such as a spiral.
  • Cover the drills carefully with compost and water.

Make sure the seedlings do not dry out in the early stages, keep the soil moist at all times. This is the trickiest stage of the growing process. Once the young seedlings are about 1 inch tall , it is time to start thinning. The seedlings need to be regularly thinned, by removing the weakliest looking seedlings until the distance between the young plants is approximately 2 inches.

Most carrots take approximately three months to fully mature, but the young tender roots are the sweetest so they can be harvested throughout the summer. Gently pull the early roots up by hand as soon as they are big enough to eat. You could leave some to grow until October, for a mature carrot that can be stored over winter.

Growing Courgettes in Containers

Courgettes can be similarly grown in tubs. As they are one of the most prolific plants, it can be prudent and easier to buy established seedlings from a garden centre in the spring and plant them directly into well fertilised containers or into tomato grow-bags.

  • Protect the plants from late frosts by keeping them in a greenhouse or by placing them under cloches or polythene bags.
  • They are very thirsty plants, with a deep root system and require plenty of water and fertiliser.
  • Interestingly, courgette flowers can be either male or female and bees are necessary to pollinate them, so in rainy, cold weather, with fewer bees around, the plants may remain unfertilised.
  • When the courgettes are 4-6 inches long, they are ready to be harvested. Cut the fruits carefully with a knife, close to the stalk. Regular cutting ensures continuing production.

Growing Popular Courgettes Requires a Lot Less Work than Growing Other Fruits and Vegetables.

A lot of harm is being done to our health by our bad food habits of eating commercially processed foods, and by including more fresh fruit and vegetables in our diets we could avoid many of the degenerative diseases we have today. More people are also starting to realize that our own home grown vegetables and fruits planted in mineral rich soil have far more value than the so called ‘fresh’ vegetables bought in the store. Lots of would-be gardeners find courgettes, zucchini or Summer squashes appealing to grow, particularly when they are novices at growing fruits and vegetables, because they require less work than growing and looking after other vegetables and fruits.

People love growing Summer squashes which are technically referred to as fruits, but known as vegetables in the culinary world, simply because they are so easy to grow. Just one plant can give you a bumper crop. Remember to water them well during hot and dry weather. Prolific producers, you will be able to start harvesting your courgettes as soon as they get to about 10cm. By allowing your squashes togrow to marrows, you will reduce your crop, but zucchinis can be harvested throughout the year as they are not seasonal.

Different Types of Courgettes.

The plant, also known as zucchini, belongs to the Cucurbita pepo species and comes in three different types; the bushy type, the trailing type as well as the dwarfed kind, and people recognize the different types from their colours and shapes. Summer squashes can be green, white or yellow, while some have stripes, and they are mostly round or shaped similar to that of a cucumber. The skin is smooth and the flesh has small edible seeds. The fruit also has a high moisture content.

Courgettes can also be Grown in Containers.

People who don’t have large gardens needn’t despair because courgettes can also be grown in containers and indoors in March and April. You can start off with small containers for seedlings and move on to larger ones for adult plants. The containers need to be mulched with bark or stones to avoid too much water evaporation.

Helping Your Courgettes Grow Well.

Organic substance is the primary means of building good soil and Summer squashes will reward you with a generous crop if you plant them in good rich soil. Good manure, rich in nitrogen, promotes root development. If you are wanting togrow your Summer squashes on a large scale, you may want to have your soil analysed in order to check for excessive sand or clay conditions as well as finding out whether the soil is acid or alkaline.

Make sure that the fertiliser you choose for your zucchinis contains potassium, phosphorous as well as nitrogen, which is important in the first stages of the plant’s life. You need to stop using the fertiliser once the plants are established so as to ensure more fruit and less leaves.

Courgettes Love Sunny Spots Free from Frost.

Zucchinis are grown very easily from seed. For zucchinis, always choose a spot with a lot of sun, where-after germination starts within a week or two. Zucchinis don’t like the cold and frost, and to this end, people often start them off in pots. If you aren’t plagued by frost, Summer squashes can be planted directly into the ground outdoors during late May/June. Plant each of the plants into a hole which is about 1m from the next plant.

The vine type particularly needs enough space between them to avoid them strangling each other and these trailing type zucchinis can also be encouraged to grow up a trellis. With courgettes, it is a good idea is to mulch the soil around the plant to retain water because zucchinis like quite a bit of water to get going and also when they are flowering. The leafy growth of Summer squashes can encourage insects and fungus but these can be controlled with the use of herbal insect repellents.

Sometimes Courgettes Need Help with Pollination.

The flower of the courgette is the immature fruit; the male and female. The male has long stalks and does not not produce fruit but is used extensively for culinary purposes. If you grow Summer squashes in a greenhouse, it may be necessary to hand pollinate them. Early in the season the courgette plant produces many male flowers, but the female flower starts appearing a littler later on. The female flower is recognised by a thickening below the flower. To assist with pollination, you can strip the petals of a male flower and place the central part into the central part of the female flower.

Versatile Courgettes Used in Many Dishes.

Anyone who doesn’t like wasting food, will appreciate that with courgettes, nothing needs to to to waste, because the skin, seeds and flowers can all be eaten. When preparing zucchinis, remember to keep the skin on because nutrients are concentrated in the skin. You simply cut them up, leaving the skin on and you can cut them in round rings, into sticks or even julienned finely.

The beauty of these squashes is that they can be stir fried, braised, steamed, stuffed or baked and can be enjoyed on their own or blended with a range of other foods. They can even be eaten raw in salads. You can store courgette flowers for a couple of days by simply sprinkling them with water and keeping them wrapped up in the refrigerator.

This fantastic understated Summer squash also has numerous health benefits:

  • Very low in calories – chefs include zucchinis in heaps of different dishes, whether sweet or savoury and delight guests with these delicious low calorie fruits. A medium-sized courgette only has a mere 25 calories.
  • They also have anti-oxidant value – the yellow varieties are rich in flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants
  • They are also an excellent source of fibre, folic acid, zinc, iron and potassium.

Get Your Kids Interested in Growing their own Healthy Foodstuffs.

Evidence has shown that soil and sunlight all affect the way your Summer squash willgrow, but one thing is for sure, growing your own fruits and vegetables will ensure the right minerals and vitamin content of the food we eat. The undemanding courgette, raised in mineral-rich soils, are wonderful for teaching kids how to garden and produce their own healthy foods towards better health.

Growing Vegetables at Home: The Basics

Most people have a small space in their garden, or even in their house, that could be used for growing plants. This article is going to focus on ways to begin growing vegetables and address some of the challenges that you might face.

The first thing to do is to assess the space available to you. Anyone with a garden that receives sunlight for at least five hours of the day should be capable of growing most vegetables. If you just want to grow vegetables in pots then this is also possible, but you will be restricted to certain plants. Large root vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, are naturally quite impractical to grow in pots.

Growing Vegetables

Growing Vegetables photo by Moncton Gardener via Flickr

Once you have decided where you would like to grow your plants the next thing you have to do is to decide what you would like to grow. Good vegetables to start off with are runner beans, carrots, tomatoes and even courgettes – it’s important to grow something that you enjoy eating. For the average, amateur grower the amount of vegetables they produce will rarely exceed their own requirements, at least for the first couple of years, so don’t worry about having more than you can comfortably eat.

Now you know what vegetables you want to grow you need to buy some seeds. There are many places that stock them, anywhere from garden centres to newsagents. Typical vegetable seeds are quite cheap, usually under two or three pounds. However, the number of seeds that come in a packet varies significantly based on the type of vegetable. For example, a packet of carrot seeds may contain about a hundred seeds whereas a packet of bean seeds may only contain about twenty. This variation is usually proportional to the seed’s rate of germination, in effect far fewer carrot seeds germinate than bean seeds.

Once you have the seeds you would like to grow the next step is to plant them. This is usually the most labour intensive part of the process. The majority of seed packets will have basic instructions for sowing, maintaining and harvesting the crop you will hopefully produce. If you don’t have any instructions to hand then there is plenty of useful information on the Internet and your local library is also a good resource. There are many different types of vegetables and the growing requirements and difficulties associated with each of them could fill several books, so rather than addressing all of these the rest of this article is going to focus on general growing tips.

One of the most fundamental elements of a plant’s success in its environment is the soil that it’s grown in. Identifying your soil type and making sure that it’s compatible with your plants can make a real difference to their growth. Your soil type is not completely fixed though, adding some fertiliser from a garden centre can alter its properties and make a noticeable difference in a plants health. This subject goes hand-in-hand with feeding plants as they grow. It’s important to keep a careful eye on the plant feed that is being given to vegetables that you plan to eat, what you put on the roses may not be quite so good when eaten! There are several special, organic feeds out there for vegetable plants that are very good. An interesting experiment is to buy a few and try them out on a couple of the same plants to see the differences in performance.

One of the biggest difficulties with growing vegetables is other animals eating them before you do. There are two main ways to prevent this: growing your vegetables in your house, or growing them inside a greenhouse. Growing vegetables in your house is possible, especially if you have a conservatory, and can be a nice project to do with young children. However, the soil and dead leaves that inevitably make their way onto the carpet and throughout the house discourage most people from doing this on any scale. Greenhouses are an excellent alternative as they allow you to protect your plants from almost any pest, however they are expensive and not always a viable solution.

Most people will have to grow their plants outside which leaves them prey to common pests like slugs and snails. There are many common deterrents for these pests, ranging from salt to slug pellets, which are recommended by gardeners. The fact that you are growing vegetables makes using regular pesticides difficult, a surprisingly effective solution involves the use of a moat. Some vegetable plants such as beans and tomatoes can be grown in large pots; if this approach is used then these pots can be placed on a heap of gravel and then in a flat-bottomed tray filled with water. As long as there are no pests on the plants or in the soil already then it is virtually impossible for them to get on the plants and damage them. Slugs and snails are incredibly resilient and persistent, but they haven’t learnt to swim yet.

Hopefully this article has inspired you to get out into the garden and get planting. There are few things as relaxing and enjoyable as watching your work come to fruition over the course of several months. Growing vegetables is a great way to get engaged with your surroundings as well as being an economical way to improve your garden and your diet!

Peas, the gorgeous, green, garden vegetable are very popular in the UK, on average each person in the UK eats 9,000 peas a year. That’s certainly a lot of pea pods! The Latin name is Pisum sativum and they are thought to have come from Middle Asia, central Ethiopia and the Mediterranean. They are one the worlds oldest cultivated crops. Modern varieties trace back to the first sweet tasting pea developed by Thomas Edward Knight, an amateur gardener, in the 18th century. The United Kingdom is the largest pea producer in Europe, growing over 160,000 tonnes of them. Peas were one of the first vegetables frozen by Clarence Birdeye, using his revolutionary freezing process.

Pea pods are technically fruit as they contain seeds from the plant, however in cooking they are considered to be vegetables. There are three main varieties; snow (also known as Mangetout), sugar-snap (also known as simply the ‘snap pea’) and the shelling pea. There are several different mature sizes of peas, dwarf (2 inches or less), semi-dwarf (2-4 inches) and tall (around five inches tall). Snow and sugar-snap look fairly similar although sugar-snaps are plumper. The shelling pea can also be called the garden or English pea and needs to be eaten fresh and immature to gain the best flavour.

The pea is actually yellow when fully matured, the reason they are green is because we eat immature pea pods for a sweeter flavour. When the pea is picked freshly from the plant it is best cooked quickly with very little water to preserve it’s wonderful taste. There are many excellent pea recipes including the classic pea soup, as well as pea risotto or the pea as a side dish. The main ways of storing the pea is freezing or drying.

Location & Timing

Growing a pea is easiest in a sunny location with moist soil. These growing conditions can be achieved using compost or rotting manure. Peas can be sown from February to July and harvested from June to October. The most hardy seeds are round seeds which are suitable for early sowing around February time. Wrinkled ones tend to taste sweeter and are best sown in summer. Growing pea seeds is relatively easy.

How to Grow Peas

Equipment

Method

  1. Plant the pea seed indoors in an individual pot or alternatively you could use a root trainer or a seedling tray. The seed needs to be watered frequently while indoors to keep the soil moist enough for it to grow in.
  2. Once the seed is roughly 6 inches tall, it is ready to be planted outside.
  3. Carefully remove the pea seedling without disturbing the roots and plant the seedling and compost into the ground roughly 4 to 6 inches apart.
  4. Twine the pea carefully around twigs/doweling/bamboo to help them grow. You might need to (loosely, so you don’t damage the plant) tie the seedlings to the twig to help them stay, string and gardeners wire are common choices to do this.
  5. The seedling needs to be watered to make sure the soil is damp enough, but be careful not to over water.

Growing Tips

  • Grow the seed indoors to begin with; mice, slugs and snails love to eat seeds if they get the chance (but be sure to protect them from household pets too!).
  • If you have acidic soil, apply lime or dolomite to it to help the pea seed grow.
  • Protect pea seeds with netting, they are very vulnerable to bird attacks.
  • Water the seed regularly, especially during dry spells.

Harvesting Tips

  • Snow and suger snap peas should be picked when the pods are around 3 inches long.
  • Peas need to be picked regularly otherwise new pods and flowers stop growing.
  • Pea pods should be harvested when they seem well filled to gain the best flavour.
  • Be careful when picking the pods, pea stems snap easily!

How to Grow Peas

22 April, 2013 — Leave a comment

Let’s Talk About… How to Grow Peas!

This article describes How to Grow Peas, the best methods, tools & techniques as well as when and how to harvest Peas.

Peas are one of those foods we ask ourselves ‘is it a fruit or a vegetable?’ just like the tomato or the cucumber. Peas are technically a fruit, but in cooking we class them as a vegetable. The pea plant has a one-year life cycle and is a favourite among many home-grown produce enthusiasts.

Nothing compares to delicious, sweet, freshly-picked peas eaten raw straight from the pods, enjoyed by adults and children alike. They are a fairly easy vegetable to grow and even a small allotted space can give a good crop (some people even choose to grow them in troughs on the patio!).

Peas can often be victim to birds and other animals, as can many crops, but this is easily put right with some fine protective netting.

How to Grow Peas: What do you need to know about growing conditions?

Peas can be sown as soon as the soil reaches 10°C, growing best between 13 and 18 degrees. Choose a position with good drainage, as peas won’t do very well in wet soils. If the soil you plan to grow your peas in is acidic, it should be limed first. While your peas should be in a sunny location, peas tend to grow better in cooler weather, during spring. Make sure your planting area is weed free, and add some well-rotted manure to make your soils fertile.

How to Grow Peas: Useful Tools and Equipment

When growing peas, it is quite useful you have a few bits and pieces to make your life easier.

  1. Patio Bags – perfect for growing peas out of the ground, especially where space is limited. Opt for bushier varieties of pea to get the most from these.
  2. Protective Netting – pea pods often fall victim to bird if they are not protected properly. Use netting or mesh to keep them at bay and protect your plants.
  3. Canes – to stop your peas flopping over, especially when they are small and weak, and again when they are taller and heavier, putting more pressure on the roots.
  4. Pea-Moth Pesticides – pea moth lay their eggs on your peas when they are flowering. Have you ever popped open your pod and found little caterpillars? That is ‘thanks’ to the pea moth. Use pesticides a week after flowering and then again two weeks later to keep in control. Alternatively, use insect-proof mesh to protect your peas.

How to Grow Peas: What about useful tips and techniques?

Before you start, there are three ways you can start the growing off.

  1. You can plant straight to the ground once the soil temperature is above 10°C.
  2. You can plant to the ground if it has been below 10°C and you have warmed it using polythene sheeting and continue to keep the seedlings warm with horticultural fleece until the ground is warm enough.
  3. You can sow the seeds indoors in individual pots (the 3” deep ones are ideal) until they around six inches in height and then transplant them into the ground. This can protect the baby pea plants from being attacked by rodents and slugs.

Growing peas is very easy:

  • Create a trench, ideally 5cm (2 inches) deep and 15cm (6 inches) wide.
  • Sow the seeds (or your little plants if you have grown them indoors) around 2-3 inches apart, covering them with soil, then pat it down slightly.
  • As your plants start to grow, use a can to encourage them upwards. Alternatively, use larger twigs from pruned trees in your garden – these work just as well. Your peas may need encouraging to grow up the cane. Gently coaxing them around may do the trick, or you can tie them loosely with string if they are a bit more stubborn.
  • Water your pea plants regularly, but do not allow soil to become waterlogged.

Harvesting your peas:

  • Peas are usually ready for harvest between June and September.
  • Harvest your peas regularly. This will ensure your crop will continue to grow healthily across the season. If you don’t pick them often, it can be detrimental to your plants, resulting in fewer flowers, fewer pods, and as a result, less crop.
  • Opinion on when pods should be harvested varies, and the recommendation varies between the different types of peas. For example, mange tout or sugar snap peas should be harvested when the pods are around three inches or 7.5cm long and just as the peas are beginning to develop. Other varieties intend the peas to be harvested when they are much plumper.

How to Grow Peas: Did you know?

Did you know that the roots of peas store nitrogen? Resist the urge to dig up the roots at the end of the season, just cut down the plant and toss it on the compost heap. Dig the roots into the ground and the nitrogen will be reabsorbed into your soil, releasing in next year’s crop as per the natural order.

Peas are one of our five-a-day and pea pods can be a fun way to get picky children to have vegetables in their diet. If you have children or grandchildren, get them involved with picking and later either preparing a meal or eating their own hand-picked peas straight from the pod.

External Links – How to Grow Peas