Frequently Asked Questions

Vegetables

Why is it important to rotate my vegetable crops each season?

The reason for growing particular varieties of vegetable plants in different parts of your vegetable garden each season is that soil pests, like eelworm and clubroot for example, are hard to control. They tend to attack vegetable plants from the same botanical family (eg. clubroot affects cauliflower and cabbage which belong to the Brassica family).

When they are grown over a number of years in the same area of your vegetable garden, you can get a very serious build-up of these pests and diseases.

The four major groups of vegetables to rotate are:

1    Brassicas - brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflowers, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, turnips, swedes etc.)
2    Onions - garlic, leeks, shallots etc.
3    Potatoes and Tomatoes
4    Legumes - beans, peas.

It is good vegetable gardening practice - where possible, to grow these vegetables in the same area only one year in three, some commentators would advocate four. This will minimise the build up of unwanted vegetable garden dwellers and maximise your vegetable crops.

Remember this is something to aim for but may not always be achievable. Don't give up or become despondent you will succeed with what you have in place for growing vegetables - just be aware, observe and take precautions.
 

Why do our carrots always end up small?

Carrots can be difficult to grow if the soil conditions are not right. Yet some growers have wonderful success without any effort. It's usually down to the soil conditions. On the allotment site where I personally grow carrots the soil is heavy (clay type) I, nor anyone else on the site will ever grow satisfactory carrots - unless they are sown in stations prepared with a dibber and filled with a sand & compost mix. You need to be an exceptional carrot lover (or exhibitor) to go to those lengths!

Carrots do best on a medium to light, stone free soil in a sunny, open sit. The pH range should be between 6.5-7.5. They do not do well in heavy soil and germination will be affected if a green manure crop has been grown and dug in recently. They are not heavy feeders and usually grow well on soil manured for a previous years crop.

Sow the seed thinly and thin to three inches apart for larger roots. Keep weed-free by hoeing between rows. Water well in dry weather. The main pest is carrot fly. Growing carrots under a cover of horticultural fleece (or Veggiemesh) will give protection against this problem.

Some carrot cultivars only produce short, stubby carrots. They are more suitable if the soil is heavy.
 

Why is my celeraiac smaller than those in the supermarket?

Celeriac are heavy feeders so they need a good amount of well rotted manure or compost digging in before planting, this also helps to retain moisture that Celeriac so desperately needs to produce good sized roots.
They would also appreciate a liquid feed in the Summer.

I think they are often planted too close together, if you can space them 15inches each way this will greatly help.
You can also trim the lower leaves off from about mid-Juy as this seems to help with bulb formation.

A word of caution, whilst they are hungry feeders, overdoing the nitrogen content of your feeding can produce large land lush leaf growth at the expense of the root development.

Celeraiac is an easy crop to grow, but is slow. Supermarket specimens are NOT the benchmark for your homegrown plants. Whilst yours may be smaller they will undoubtedly taste better. The plants in the supermarket may have come from anywhere in the world and goodness knows what they've been fed or treated with. Most commercial growers rear them under cover - that is not something your average allotment grower would be able to do.

Is it possible to grow rhubarb in a container. Are there any recomended varieties .

It IS possible to grow rhubarb in a pot, but it fares better in the ground and needs less attention. Rhubarb is quite a greedy plant and requires a lot more attention if grown in a pot. It needs to be well fed and kept moist. Recommended feed - Blood, Fish & Bonemeal in the autumn. It also has quite a large span so needs generous room in a pot.

A very popular variety is Timperley Early. Chosen for it's high yield, outstanding flavour and early cropping (April onwards)

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