Posts Tagged ‘grow from seed’

Posted on 1st December 2013

Grow | Turnip & Kohlrabi

By MEREDITH KIRTON

kohlrabi growing

harvesting home grown turnip

From farm fodder to fast becoming the hippest ingredient in town, these humble vegetables deserve recognition. Turnips, kohlrabi and swede are very cold hardy, and store well over winter, which is the reason that they have been used as cattle feed for so long, and also to sustain people in regions such as Scotland and northern Europe, where winters are harsh. Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea) looks like an above ground turnip, with the swollen stem being the part eaten, and has the added bonus of also being able to cope with hot dry summers, making it one of the hardiest veg around.

Turnips and Swedes are both botanically known as Brassica rapa. The Swedish turnip, or Swede, is the ‘Rutabaga’ cultivar and has yellow flesh with a purple top, whereas turnips normally have white flesh, but can be flat, round or long in shape depending on the type. The white mini type is a fast grower, being able to be harvested in 7 weeks, as is the lovely
lilac variety ‘de Nancy’. The trick is to grow them quickly to ensure a milder sweet root and good texture. All are best grown in open, fertile soil, planted in late summer and autumn and harvested in late autumn and early winter. In very cold areas, seed can be sown within cold frames in late winter and then the foliage is a valuable ‘green’ that can be used like young cabbages.

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Posted on 24th January 2013

grow | tamarillo

By MEREDITH KIRTON

 

tamarillo plant

Tamarillo (Cyphomandra betacea)

The tree tomato, or tamarillo, is a fast growing fruit tree perfect for the backyard as it only gets about 3m tall and fruits beautifully after only 3 years.  The pendulous fruit either are red or yellow and hang in their multitudes from late summer.

Tamarillos can be grown from seeds, or planted as young potted saplings to save time.  Plant in any sunny, well draining and frost protected position.  They also benefit from wind protection, as the stems are quite brittle and can even snap under the weight of their fruit if their not staked.

Feed with a mulch of well rotted animal manure and watch for fruit fly, as their thin skin doesn’t offer much resistance.  Water well in summer and cover at night in cold zones to help it over winter.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 20th December 2012

grow | watermelon

By MEREDITH KIRTON

 home grown watermelon

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)

Almost nothing says summer like a watermelon.  Cold from the fridge on a hot day, or still warm from growing out in the sun and then split open to gorge on that sweet flesh, it is the stuff from which childhood memories are forged.  They do, however, need some space to grow and time, as they take on average about 3 months to harvest.

The fast growing vines sprawl along the ground in any sunny position, but they do best if the area is also well drained and well irrigated until the fruits start to ripen and the vines are well fed.  Each vine normally reaps only about 5 fruit, so normally a half dozen vines are grown.  For best results, create a mound with added compost and blood and bone and into the top of this sow 3-4 seeds.  After germination, choose the best two seedlings and remove the others.  Repeat this over a few nearby mounds and your watermelon patch will start to grow.  If you want to double the crop, plant corn in the same patch as they are great companions.

You can tell when a watermelon is ripe and ready for picking because the side nearest to the ground will yellow, and a tap on the skin makes a hollow sound like a drum.  The spiral coil near the stem of the fruit will also start to brown.  Cut them off from the main vine, and refrigerate.

Native originally to Africa, they spread all around the world with the slave trade and ended up in the USA.  Although pink to red shades of melon are the most common, watermelons are actually available in white (Cream of Saskatchewan), yellow (Yellow Crimson and Mountain Yellow) and orange (Sweet Siberian and Orange Tendersweet) fleshed types.   There are also yellow rind versions such as Golden Midget and yellow spotted skin type called Moon and Stars. Sugar Baby is a particular favourite with home gardeners  as the vine is more compact and the fruits actually fit in the fridge!

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Posted on 11th December 2012

grow | radish

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Grow your own radish at home

Often I am asked what are the easiest of all veggies to grow, and radish would have to be up with the front runners for this award. It seems to grow in any climate, from cold to hot, any well drained soil and is also one of the few vegetables that is even reasonably shade tolerant.
The various types range from small cherry sized fruit right up to long tapering varieties, like the Daikon. Colours too range from red, to white, black, pink, and purple, and variants of these.
From seed to the plate varies depending on the type, but some smaller root types can be harvested after only a month in good growing conditions. Whilst it is normally the root that is eaten raw or pickled, the flower pod is edible too.

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Posted on 14th September 2012

grow | parsnips

By MEREDITH KIRTON

growing parsnips at home

Whilst parsnips today may be confused by some as “white carrots” there was a time not so long ago in the middle ages when carrots would never have featured on a good British feasting table, such was the high ranking status of the now humble parsnip. Making a comeback to the table, however, the parsnips sweetness and versatility is finally being recognised again.

To grow them, the best way is to plant out seeds.  Dig over you garden bed a few weeks earlier with well rotted manure or blood and bone, then soak
some of the small, flaky seeds overnight in water to aid in their germination.  Run a string line or use a stake flat on the ground to make
your straight line, and sow your seeds about 15-20cm apart – you can always thin out small parsnips every second plant as they successfully
germinate and grow. Apart from regular water, full sun and free draining soil, the thing you next need to have in spades is patience, as 14-16 weeks is not unusual for a decent sized root to develop.  To harvest, simply put your garden fork own beside the plant and gently lever to loosen the soil, then pull.
Storage for more than a few weeks is best by simply leaving your parsnips in the ground, bearing in mind that frosts only make the roots sweeter.

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Posted on 13th August 2012

grow | celeriac

By MEREDITH KIRTON

growing celeriac at home

This unusual looking swollen root it a very close cousin of celery, so it’s no surprise that it has a similar flavour to this cooking staple or that it likes similar growing conditions.
The seeds should be sown in spring and planted out late spring early summer for autumn/winter harvests.  They need a well drained position in full sun to taste their best and thrive, and will need about 14 -16 weeks to grow to harvestable size.  Best results are achieved by liquid feeding as well with a soluble organic fertiliser so as liquid blood and bone or seaweed solution.  Space plants about a foot apart and lifts carefully with a fork, trying not to damage this easily discoloured bulb.  Scrub clean and peel before use, and they can be eaten both raw and cooked.

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Posted on 15th February 2012

grow | dill

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Some people only know dill as an insult, yet dill is nothing to hide.  In fact, it’s delicious, both as foliage and as a seed for flavouring.  It is a little difficult to grow, with a tendency in warmer climates to flower then seed prematurely and leave you bitter, less palatable leaves.

The trick is to only sow it from seeds directly into the soil, rather than transplant it from seedling, as the seeds seem to take better, and any transplant shock or stress will trigger it to bolt into bloom.  In summer, so your dill seeds in a partially protect area, as heat stress can also cause it to flower early.

It’s fast too, with a plant going from seed to maturity in about 8 weeks, so stagger your seed sowing by a few months so that you have successive crops of foliage germinating and handy for the kitchen.  Keep feeding with liquid fertiliser every 2-3 weeks, and pinch prune out any flowers as they appear, unless you are wanting the dill seeds.

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