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aubergine.

Sow: Staring sowing indoors in March. Temperature must be at least 20째C for germination: use heated propagator. Soil: Plenty of well-rotted manure, comfrey mulch. Sun: Full sun in the warmest and most sheltered part of garden. Only small cultivars grow well outside. Grow larger fruits in a greenhouse. Grow: Plant out when all danger of frost has passed and when first flowers appear. Feed with comfrey tea every three days and water plants well. Stake cordon varieties well. Harvest: When fruits are plump and skin is still shiny. Do not leave too long or aubergines will taste very bitter. Problems: Aphids and red spider mite can attack in the greenhouse. Outside, the biggest problem will be encouraging fruits to set and ripen in a cold summer. You may have to place the plant on a sunny windowsill towards the end of the summer. For more advice on growing and cooking aubergines, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


beans.

Sow: Indoors from early May, in homemade newspaper pots. Soil: Plenty of well-rotted manure. In late winter, dig a trench where the beans will grow, and fill with kitchen waste. Grow: Create a strong support such as obelisks, trellis or hazel cane wigwams before planting. Wait until all frosts have passed before planting 4in apart. Water well. Harvest: First beans appear in July. Pick regularly to encourage further cropping. Problems: Protect from slugs with cloches in early stages and apply garlic spray once a fortnight. Insufficient watering leads to low yields. For more advice on growing and cooking beans, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


beetroot.

Sow: Mid-March onwards, in final growing position. Soil: Add well-rotted manure the previous autumn. Grow: Thin seedlings to 2in apart, and water well. Harvest: Harvest beets as soon as the roots are golf ball-sized or bigger. Problems: Protect from slugs in early stages with cloches. Failure to water will cause the plants to flower prematurely before a fat root has developed. For more advice on growing and cooking beetroot, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


broad beans.

Sow: In final position from February to April, 5cm deep, 23cm apart. Protect early sowings with cloches. Soil: Work in plenty of well-rotted manure the previous autumn. Rots on heavy soils: incorporate some sand to improve drainage. Sun: Full sun. Grow: Stake taller types, and pinch out the top shoots when the plants are fully flowering to encourage heavy cropping. Water well, especially during dry periods. Harvest: Best picked when young and tender. Test once pods start to swell. Twist and pull the pod away from plant. Problems: Blackfly can be a serious problem. Pinch out the top shoots and spray with a weak concentration of soap flakes). For more advice on growing and cooking broad beans, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


Soil: Dig the soil well and add plenty of well-rotted manure the autumn before planting. You can also grow a nitrogen-fixing green manure over the site three weeks before planting. Sun: Full sun. Not too exposed. Grow: Plant in final position once the plants have grown five or six true leaves. Plant 3ft apart. In misummer, remove the top shoot. This will encourage the sprouts to mature together. Harvest: From August through to the next spring. Problems: Protect from cabbage root fly using a collar around the base of the plant. Net the plant to prevent cabbage white caterpillars from stripping it entirely bare: pick off the eggs from the underside and base of the leaves. Clubroot is a soilborne fungal disease which can hang about for twenty years. Rotate properly, and never compost diseased plants. Grow resistant cultivars. For more advice on growing and cooking sprouts, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

brussels sprouts.

Sow: Indoors from Feburary onwards, outdoors from late March in nursery bed.


Sow: June onwards, 1cm deep, in a seedbed. If sowing in final position, thin to 75cm apart. Soil: Manure the soil heavily the previous autumn. Sow a nitrogen-fixing green manure prior to planting the broccoli out. Sun: Full sun, sheltered from strong winds. Grow: Feed well using liquid seaweed or comfrey tea once a week. Keep well-watered if dry. Harvest: From late winter onwards, just before the flowers open. If you regularly cut the shoots from around the plant, new ones will sprout. Problems: Protect from cabbage root fly using a collar around the base of the plant. Net the plant to prevent cabbage white caterpillars from stripping it entirely bare: pick off the eggs from the underside and base of the leaves. Clubroot is a soil-borne fungal disease which can hang about for twenty years. Rotate properly, and never compost diseased plants. Grow resistant cultivars. For more advice on growing and cooking broccoli, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

broccoli.


cabbages.

Sow: In a nursery bed from late March onwards. Soil: Dig the soil well and add plenty of well-rotted manure the autumn before planting. You can also grow a nitrogenfixing green manure over the site three weeks before planting. Sun: Sun. Largely frost-tolerant, and doesn't mind a windy patch. Grow: Plant in final position once the plants have grown five or six true leaves. Leave 15in between spring and summer varieties and 20in between winter varieties. Harvest: When the heart or centre of the cabbage feels hard to touch. Problems: Protect from cabbage root fly using a collar around the base of the plant. Net the plant to prevent cabbage white caterpillars from stripping it entirely bare: pick off the eggs from the underside and base of the leaves. Clubroot is a soil-borne fungal disease which can hang about for twenty years. Rotate properly, and never compost diseased plants. Grow resistant cultivars. For more advice on growing and cooking cabbages, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


Soil: Roots will fork in freshly manured soil, so grow in stone-free ground manured for previous crop. Prefers sandy soils. Sun: Full sun or light shade. Grow: Weed regularly, and don't overwater. Harvest: Dusting back the soil around the plant's base will show you how thick the carrots are. Ease out of the soil using a hand fork. Problems: Carrot fly is a serious pest. Cover crops with fleece, and avoid thinning as the scent of carrot foliage attracts the flies. Flies can't fly higher than 2ft, so growing in raised beds or pots is also an option. Slugs devour the young foliage, so use garlic spray and water nematodes into soil when sowing seeds. For more advice on growing and cooking carrots, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

carrots.

Sow: Early spring onwards 2in apart.


cauliflower.

Sow: Summer varieties: under cover in January, winter varieties: outdoors in April in a nursery bed or pots. Soil: Very hungry crop. Needs a great deal of well-rotted manure dug in the previous autumn. Grow a nitrogen-fixing green manure three or four weeks before planting and dig in. Sun: Full sun. Avoid frost pockets. Grow: Plant out when 5in high, 25in apart. Much well and feed with comfrey tea every three weeks. When head begins to form, protect from strong sunlight or frosts by folding the leaves over the top. Harvest: Once heads are sufficiently large. Do not leave for two long – if the florets begin to separate or turn brown, you have missed the boat. Problems: Protect from cabbage root fly using a collar around the base of the plant. Net the plant to prevent cabbage white caterpillars from stripping it entirely bare: pick off the eggs from the underside and base of the leaves. Clubroot is a soil-borne fungal disease which can hang about for twenty years. Rotate properly, and never compost diseased plants. Grow resistant cultivars. For more advice on growing and cooking cauliflowers, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


chard.

Sow: Indoors from March, outdoors from April until August. Seeds actually multiple clusters, so you will need to thin to 10in apart. Soil: Plenty of well-rotted manure. Grow: Feed once a fortnight with nettle tea. In very cold winters, protect with cloches or fleece. Harvest: Cut off leaves individually once they have reached a good size – stalk and leaf can grow as long as your arm. You can also grow chard as a cut-and-come again salad crop. Problems: Very few. Look out for white eggs on underside of leaves, and pick off before larvae hatch. For more advice on growing and cooking chard, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


Sow: Early May indoors or in a heated propagator. Soil: Plenty of well-rotted manure before planting. Can grow on a compost heap. Sun: The sunniest part of the garden. Grow: Plant out in final position, 2ft apart, once frosts have passed. Feed once a fortnight with comfrey tea. Harvest: When the fruit is around 4-6inches long. You can also eat the male flowers (these do not have baby courgettes at their base). Problems: Protect plants from slugs with cloches until stems and leaves are too tough to eat. Powdery mildew may weaken plant towards end of a dry season. For more advice on growing and cooking courgettes, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

courgettes.


Soil: Work in plenty of well-rotted manure the previous autumn. Prefers light soils. Sun: Full sun. Grow: Protect from slugs using cloches in early stages. Water well and earth up the bulb as it begins to appear. Protect from frosts later in the year. Harvest: After 10-14 weeks, the bulb should be a reasonable size. Cut half an inch above ground level. Problems: Slugs enjoy the foliage in the early stages, and can flower prematurely (bolt) in hot weather without forming a bulb. Water well to combat this. For more advice on growing and eating Florence fennel, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

florence fennel.

Sow: May onwards, 30cm apart.


Soil: Rots in heavy soils, so add sand and organic matter before planting if you are on clay. Dislikes heavily manured soil: try adding some bonfire ash before planting. Sun: Full sun. Grow: Snip off loop-the-loop flowerheads. Harvest: When the lower leaves turn yellow, pull up and leave to dry in the sun for 10 days. Then remove the outer layer of skin before storing in a cool place. Problems: Onion white rot, a furry white mould, can devastate the crop if the soil is too damp. Do not grow garlic or other alliums in an affected bed for eight years. Rust can weaken the plant in severe cases. For more advice on growing and cooking garlic, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

garlic.

Sow: Plant cloves in October or February – autumn-planted garlic is generally bigger. Plant up to 4 inches deep.


Soil: This is a long-term crop so manure the soil heavily in autumn, incorporating plenty of sand if you are growing on heavy clay. Sun: Full sun, sheltered location. Grow: Water well and feed with comfrey tea every two weeks. Cut stems down in autumn and draw soil over crown. Harvest: From second year onwards, just before flowers begin to open. Pests: Blackfly can be a problem. Encourage predatory insects to keep the pests in check. For more advice on growing and cooking globe artichokes, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

globe artichokes.

Sow: It is best to plant offsets rather than grow from seed. Plant in spring, 2ft apart.


Sow: April onwards in a nursery bed. Transplant to 18in between plants.

kale.

Soil: Dig in plenty of well-rotted matter in the autumn. Sun: Full sun. Is very hardy and will withstand frosts. Very useful vegetable, especially for the 'hungry gap' in early spring. Grow: Mulch heavily and feed a couple of times during growing season with comfrey tea. Harvest: Snap leaves off individually when they have reached reasonable size (around 15in long). Problems: Net to protect from cabbage white butterflies, whose caterpillars can eat an entire plant. Check underside of leaves for eggs. For more advice on growing and cooking kale, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


Soil: Work in plenty of well-rotted manure the previous autumn. Sun: Full sun. Grow: Harden off well before planting out, when 20cm high. Make a 20cm deep hole and drop the leek into it, watering gently. This 'blanches' the stem white. Water well until established and feed with nettle/seaweed tea every fortnight. Harvest: From late summer through to the next spring. Leeks are tough and frost-hardy. Problems: In hot weather, leaves can develop rust, which slows growth. Do not compost infected plants and practice good crop rotation. If Leek moth caterpillars start tunelling into leaves, net plants to protect them. For more advice on growing and cooking leeks, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

leeks.

Sow: Staring sowing indoors in February. Continue outdoors in April, 2cm deep.


Soil: Grow in ground manured for previous crop. Add an organic fertiliser when planting. Sun: Full sun or part shade. Grow: Hates competition from weeds, so hoe the crop well, and water in dry periods. Harvest: When the leaves start to flop over to one side, the onions are reaching maturity. Do not force the leaves over – this only encourages rotting. Leave to ripen in the sun for week or so, then gently lift before storing. Problems: Onion white rot, a furry white mould, can devastate the crop if the soil is too damp. Do not grow any alliums in an affected bed for eight years. Onion fly is attracted by the scent of the foliage – grow among carrots or strongly-scented herbs and sow crop thinly – thinning crushes the foliage and releases the scent. For more advice on growing and cooking onions, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

onions.

Sow: Plant sets 4in apart in late March, sow seeds 2in apart in April. Thin to 4in apart.


parsnips.

Sow: You must use fresh seed every year. Sow from first week of March onwards under cloches, 1cm deep and 6in apart. Germination is very slow. Soil: Grow on stone-free ground manured for previous crop. Dig in a green manure beforehand if soil is poor. Prefers sandy soil. Sun: Full sun or light shade. Grow: Requires very little work. Weed and ensure crop is well-watered. Harvest: After the first frosts. Can be left in the ground until February. Problems: Canker is the main problem: grow varieties such as 'Avonresister' and 'Gladiator'. Carrot fly may attack: cover with fleece if this pest is prevalent on your site. For more advice on growing and cooking parsnips, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


Sow: April until June in a v-shaped trench and water before sowing seeds 10cm apart in situ.

peas.

Soil: Add plenty of organic matter in the autumn. Peas need a moist, well-drained soil. Grow: When the plants produce their first tendrils, provide support in the form of pea-sticks or wigwams. Mulch heavily. Once flowers appear, start watering heavily to encourage pods. Harvest: Shelling peas: when pods comfortably plump, but before they look at all dry. Mangetouts: when you can see tiny peas forming in the pod. Peas need regular harvesting to reach their full productivity. Problems: Slugs love young pea growth, so spray regularly with garlic spray to protect young shoots. Can dry out in hot summers. Set mousetraps if rodents a problem, and protect crops from birds and pea moth using fine nets. For more advice on growing and cooking peas, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


Soil: Plenty of well-rotted manure, with shredded comfrey leaves mixed in. Sun: Full sun, sheltered spot. Grow: Plant out in ground or pots once all danger of frost has passed. Feed weekly with comfrey tea until fruits start to form, then feed every other day. Harvest: Once fruits have reached their full size and have turned the correct colour, pick immediately. In cold weather, bring plant indoors to ripen. Problems: Irregular watering causes blossom end rot. Keep an eye out for greenfly – control using aphids For more advice on growing and cooking peppers, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

peppers.

Sow: Indoors from March, preferably in a heated propagator


potatoes.

Sow: For an early crop, 'chit' (sprout) potatoes by placing in egg boxes, end with most eyes facing upwards, in a warm, light room until sprouts are 1in long. Plant in comfrey-lined trench 6in deep, end with most eyes facing up. Space early (new) potatoes 12in apart, and maincrop 15in apart. Soil: Great for improving the soil in a new garden: manure heavily the previous autumn. Warm ground by covering with black plastic sheet or old carpet. Grow: Once plants have reached 8in high, draw up soil around the stems to prevent greening of tubers and increase crop. Once flowers appear, start watering well (unless weather is already humid) to swell tubers. Harvest: For earlies, tubers are normally a good size once plant has been flowering two or three weeks: dig down under the plant to check. Harvest maincrop tomatoes towards the end of the summer as the foliage dies back. Store in hessian sacks. Problems: Potato blight is the most serious disease caused by humid conditions: black patches appear on leaves and stems with white furry patch on underside of leaf. Avoid by spacing plants well. Cut infected foliage down to prevent spores washing into the soil and do not grow tomatoes or potatoes nearby. Potato eel worm can move in if you fail to rotate the crop effectively. For more advice on growing and cooking potatoes, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


pumpkin.

Sow: Second week in April, indoors or in a heated propagator. Soak seeds overnight before sowing on their side. Soil: Plenty of well-rotted manure, comfrey mulch. Add food waste from kitchen in a trench up to one month before. Can grow on compost heap. Sun: Full sun, no frosts. Grow: Continue to pot up in food-rich compost until frosts have passed and plant out on small mound to prevent rots. Feed with comfrey tea once a week until fruits set, then feed three times a week to swell fruits. Keep well-watered. Harvest: Cut back all leaves around the fruit to allow it to ripen in last week of August, and place straw underneath to prevent rots. Harvest mid-October, leaving an inch of stem either side of the stalk. Leave to cure in the sun or on a windowsill for 10 days. Many varieties will keep until mid spring. Problems: Protect plants from slugs with cloches in their early stages. Do not plant out too early. For more advice on growing and cooking pumpkins, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk


Soil: Work in plenty of well-rotted manure the previous autumn. Sun: Prefers part shade in hot weather. Grow: Water well, especially during dry periods. For cut-andcome again crops, sow continually every three weeks. Harvest: For hearting lettuces, when the head feels full. Cut cut-and-come again crops when leaves a reasonable size and leave to grow back. Problems: Can flower prematurely (bolt) and become inedible in hot weather – plant in the shade and always water well. Slugs love the leaves – use nematodes, crushed eggshell barriers etc to protect them. For more advice on growing and eating salads, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

salads.

Sow: In final position from March onwards. Protect early sowings with cloches. Sow cut-and-come again salads in a line, thinning later. Sow lettuces up to 14in apart for cos, and 11in apart for butterheads. Do not sow in the heat of the day.


Sow: Indoors in May, outdoors in June. Soil: Manure heavily the previous season, and mulch up the stems once the plants are established to encourage adventitious roots. Sun: Full sun Grow: Sweetcorn is wind-pollinated, so plant out at least four rows deep, 18in apart, once all frosts have passed. Water well – sweetcorn mustn’t dry out. Don’t grow more than one cultivar in a small garden, unless you stagger the flowering times: cross-pollination ruins the sweet taste. Harvest: when the blonde tassels on the cobs turn brown, squeeze one seed between your nails. If a milky white liquid runs out, the cob is ready. Eat within half an hour. Problems: Slugs can attack in early stages, so sow under cloches. For more advice on growing and cooking sweetcorn, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

sweetcorn.


Sow: First week in April, indoors or in a heated propagator. Soil: Plenty of well-rotted manure before planting. Add shredded comfrey leaves, ground eggshells and powdered milk to give the plants a disease-free headstart.

tomatoes.

Sun: The sunniest part of the garden. Grow: Plant out in final position once frosts have passed. Feed once a week with liquid seaweed until first flower truss appears, then feed with comfrey tea three times a week. Do not water on leaves. Sideshoots will appear in the elbow between leaf and trunk: pinch them out to focus energy. Harvest: once fruits have reached full colour and yield very slightly when pressed. Problems: Blight: black patches appear on stems and leaves. Cut off all leaves save two. Do not compost a blighted plant: burn it. Blossom end rot appears on bottom of fruits if you are not watering regularly. For more advice on growing and cooking tomatoes, visit the Stylish Gardening Blog: fennelandfern.co.uk

The Good Growing Guide  

A series of short, simple, jargon-free guides to growing the most popular vegetables.

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