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Vegetable Crops

There is no end to the range of vegetable you can try to grow in your garden. Apart from the main salad, cabbage, root, pea and bean groups, several other important crops deserve your attention if you decide to expand the variety of fresh produce you grow.
You can start by thinking of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, aubergines, onions, garlic, leeks, marrows and courgettes.
If you garden is not as big as you wanted to be you can always save your space with mini-vegetables. Fist-size cauliflowers and carrots no larger than a little finger could be your choice. The emphasis is changing from monster crops to compact varieties planted close together so that a tiny patch can yield a whole range of fresh, more delicately-flavored, miniature vegetables.
As follow you will see some short descriptions of the most common vegetable that grow in our garden:

Asparagus is a herbaceous perennial that prefers a deep, free-draining soil. Young edible shoots are produced in late spring and early summer. This plant will prove very useful for deterring some harmful eelworms.

Beet is a biennial plant grown as an annual that likes full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Swollen roots are eaten cooked and raw leaves can also be eaten cooked. The leaves accumulate minerals, making them ideal for composting.

Broad beans is a hardy annual that is capable of growing outdoors over winter. Edible seeds, young pods and shoots are all eaten cooked. Plant around gooseberry in order to discourage gooseberry sawflies.

Brussels sprouts is a biennial grown as an annual that prefers a heavy, well-drained soil. Young edible buds or shoot tips usually eaten cooked. Grow older cultivars that have longer cropping season.

Cabbage is a biennial plant grown as annual that likes full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Grown for their edible leaves, which are eaten either cooked or raw. Very rich in vitamin C, especially when eaten raw.

Carrot is a biennial plant grown as an annual that likes full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Grown for their edible orange roots that can be eaten raw or cooked. Use the cultivar “Flyaway” to avoid carrot rust flies.

Cauliflower is grown as an annual, this plant prefers a warm, sheltered site. Immature flowerheads and leaves are edible either cooked or raw. Grows well with garlic, onions, beets and chard.

Chard is a biennial plant grown as an annual that likes full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Edible leaves and fleshy leaf stalks are eaten after they are cooked. Rich in sodium, potassium and iron. Grows well with garlic, dill and sage.

Cucumber is grown as an annual in a warm, sheltered site. Swollen edible fruits are eaten raw or cooked. Grows well with peas, beans, beets and carrots.

Eggplant is grown as an annual, this plant prefers a warm, sheltered site. Egg-shaped edible fruits that are eaten cooked or raw in salads. Grows well with peas, thyme and tarragon as companions.

Garlic is a perennial plant grown as an annual that likes full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Grown for their swollen leaf bases and leaves, which are eaten either raw or cooked. A natural medicine, this plant also deters aphids or surrounding crops.

Kale is a a biennial plant grown as an annual that prefers a moist, well-drained soil. Immature leaves and shoots are edible either raw or cooked. A good source of vitamins E, C, iron and calcium.

Leek is a biennial plant grown as an annual that likes full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Grown for their blanched leaf bases. Grown with carrots and onions, they help to deter rust flies.

Lettuce is a annual plant with a short life span that prefers a moist, well-drained soil. Grown for their edible leaves, eaten either raw or cooked. Plant with chervil and dill to get some protection from aphids.

Onion is a biennial plant grown as an annual that likes full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Grown for their swollen leaf bases and leaves, eaten raw or cooked. Grow seedlings under fine net or fleece to combat onion flies.

Parsnip is a biennial plant grown as an annual that likes full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Swollen roots are eaten cooked or raw or used as a sweetener. It has the highest sugar content of any vegetable and high mineral content.

Peas is a an annual rambling plant that prefers full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Edible seeds and pods are usually cooked before eating. Roots can harness nitrogen, which will become available for other crops.

Pepper is grown as an annual, this plant prefers a warm, sheltered site. Large edible fruits that are eaten either cooked or raw in salads. Very rich in vitamin C, seeds and sap of some can be a skin irritant.

Potato is a perennial plant grown as an annual that likes full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Grown for their swollen stems (tubers), which are edible when cooked. Prevent potato scab by planting them on a bed of comfrey leaves.

Pumpkin is a an annual plant that prefers full sun and a light, well-drained soil. The leaves, fruits and seeds can be used cooked or raw in many dishes. Pumpkin seeds are said to contain high levels of important minerals.

Tomato is grown as an annual, this plant prefers a warm, sheltered site. Round or plum-shaped edible fruits are eaten raw or cooked. Interplant with French marigolds to deter whiteflies.

Turnip is a biennial plant grown as an annual that likes full sun and a deep, fertile soil. Swollen roots are eaten cooked or raw and the leaves can be eaten when cooked. Provides small amount of vitamin B and C. Grows well with peas.

Zucchini is grown as an annual in a warm, sheltered site. Swollen edible fruits are eaten raw or cooked. Grows well when places alongside sweet corn.

Onions

Grown as annuals, bulb onions are one of the most cultivated crop in our gardens and one of the most used vegetable in our kitchen. Eaten raw or cooked, this can be used in the kitchen all year round. The bulbs may be rounded, flattened or have a long torpedo shape and normally have a brown or yellow skins with white flesh inside. There are also some varieties with red skin and pinkish-white flesh. Some cultivars are suitable for storage and will keep until the next spring if kept in a dark and cold place away from frost. You can even consume the green-leaved thinning as spring onions.

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Chitting Potatoes

Although potatoes can be purchased fairly inexpensively, it's still a good idea to know how to grow your own. Potato plants are grown from seed potatoes. Never use potatoes that you bought from your supermarket as seed potatoes. Always buy your seed potatoes from local nurseries, seed sellers or from seed catalogs. These seed potatoes are produced and treated especially for growing more potatoes.

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Scorzonera

This root vegetable is a hardy perennial but is normally grown as an annual. The black-skinned, white-fleshed roots grow longer than 20 cm and wide of about 4 cm across the neck. The plants grow to about 90 cm tall and produce yellow flowerheads. The whole plants are edible, even if they are grown for their roots that have an unusual flavor and are eaten cooked. The young leaves and shoots of overwintered plants and the young flower buds and their flower stalks are also delicious cooked.

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Okra

Okras are tender annual plants grown for their edible pods. They are also known as ladies’ fingers. The pods are 10-25 cm long and can be white, green or red depending on the cultivar. Immature pods are eaten as a cooked vegetable and mature pods may be dried and powdered for use as a flavoring.

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Crop Rotation

This is a system by which vegetable crops are grown on different area of the garden in succession in consecutive years. The main reason for rotating vegetable crops is to prevent a build-up of soil-borne pests and diseases specific to one group of crops.

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Minor Salad Vegetables

There are many lesser-known vegetables that can be cultivated for using raw in salads. They are also good for small gardens or containers as they do not occupy too much space and can be grown as cut-and-come-again crops. They are more tolerant and usually pest and diseases free and can be grown under cover even in winter. You could try some of the following.

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Leeks

This member of the onion family is a biennial that is grown as an annual. It can reach 45 cm tall and 15 cm across. The edible part is the sweetly flavored, thick, white shank that forms below long, blue-green leaves. This part may be blanched by deep planting or by earthing it up. Leeks are used cooked, as a vegetable or in soups.

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Radishes

Radishes are of several types. Some of them are annuals, others are biennials and they are all grown for the swollen roots. The small types can be either round and measure up to 2.5 cm in diameter, either long and grow up to 7 cm long. Large forms include oriental radishes known as mooli or daikon and the large, overwintering, winter radishes. The round large form may grow over 23 cm in diameter and the long form will grow up to 60 cm long.

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Ornamental Kitchen Garden

Designing a kitchen garden with straight, disciplined rows of crops can bring great satisfaction, but fruits, vegetables and herbs can also be used as imaginative design elements of the mixed border or the flower garden. Among the kitchen garden plants you will find amazing colors and shapes that will rival those of the purely ornamental plants. Combine them in a border to obtain an ornamental, yet edible garden.

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Harvesting and Storing

Vegetables have different time for harvesting and they can be used fresh, stored or both, depending on the nature of the vegetable. Most vegetables are harvested at maturity but some of them, especially leafy vegetables and brassicas may be harvest at different stages of their development and will often resprout for a second and even third crop. This last method is called cut-and-come-again harvesting and is suited to certain types of lettuce, endive, sugar loaf chicory, Oriental greens and Swiss chard. This way crops may be harvest starting with their seedling stage until they are semi-mature or mature.

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