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Thompson & Morgan®: Vegetable Growing Guide

The Brassica Family

All members of this family, except the spring greens, require a soil that is well supplied with organic material, while a spring dressing of a balanced fertiliser is beneficial. On all but alkaline soils, a dressing of hydrated lime in early spring is recommended.

To avoid the danger of soil-borne diseases such as Club root, Brassicas should be rotated round the garden so that they grow in a different site each year for 3 years. They should only be returned to their original plot in the fourth year.

All brassicas (including Chinese vegetables. Kohl rabi, Swedes and Turnips) should be rotated in the vegetable garden. Rotation helps to avoid a build-up of soil pests and diseases. At transplanting brassicas should be protected from cabbage root fly damage by the use of a fibre disc or square cut from old carpet underlay.

Borecole or Kale

This is a hardy winter vegetable that will grow well in almost any type of soil. Seed is sown in spring ½ in (1.25cm) deep and the seedlings are transplanted in summer, allowing 18in (45cm) apart each way. Harvest a few leaves at a time from each plant.

Broccoli, Purple and White Sprouting

Sprouting Broccoli is an easily grown gourmet vegetable that gives the best return for the space it occupies and as a bonus is cropped when other green vegetables are in short supply.

One row of 15ft (4.5m) will accommodate six plants to give self-sufficiency for a family of four. Sow the seed in spring in a seed bed ½in (1.25cm) deep and transplant when the seedlings are about 4in (10cm) tall 2ft (60cm) apart each way. Cut the tender shoots, beginning with the centre, while the flower buds are still in a tight bunch and continue taking the shoots for up to seven weeks.

Brussels Sprouts

Sow in a seed bed ½in (1.25cm) deep from early to mid spring for transplanting in late spring or early summer 3ft (90cm) apart. Water the young plants before transplanting and firm the soil very thoroughly afterwards.

Cabbage

Raise the plants in a seed bed and transplant when the seedlings have made four or five leaves. Summer cabbage is sown in spring ½in (1.25cm) deep for planting out in early to midsummer 12-18in (30-45cm) apart. Winter cabbages are sown in late spring for planting in mid-summer 9-18in (23-45cm) apart. Planting distances have a major impact on the finished size of the cabbage; close planting results in small cabbages.

Calabrese

This follows the sprouting broccoli and can be sown successionally to give tender, succulent spears right through to early winter. Sow ½in (1.25cm) deep in early spring in the seed bed, and transplant to rows 20in (50cm) apart, allowing 12m (30cm) between the plants. Each plant should yield about 1lb (450g) of spears.

Cauliflowers

This crop is rather more fussy than the other brassicas. It needs an organically-rich soil and must never go short of water. It also needs a generous amount of space. For an early summer crop, sow the seed indoors in winter in trays and propagate at about 60-65F (15-18C). Transplant in early spring 18 x 24in (45 x 60cm) apart. Autumn maturing varieties are sown in a seed bed in spring and transplanted in early summer 24 x 28in (60 x 70cm) apart. Sow the seed ½in (1.25cm) deep, thin to 3in (7.5cm) apart and transplant when the plants have made five or six leaves.

Kohl Rabi

A delicious alternative to turnips and many people find it easier to grow. The edible part is the swollen stem which can be cooked whole or sliced when about the size of a tennis ball. Sow the seed in spring ½in (1.25cm) deep in rows 12in (30cm) apart for use in summer. Thin out to 4-6in (10-15cm) apart. Sow the winter crop in mid-summer.

Mini-Cauliflowers

Provided you use a recommended variety such as Cargill or Bambi it is extremely easy. Prepare a good seed bed with a fine tilth. Avoid too much nitrogen in your soil, as this will produce excessive leaf growth. Sow thinly in rows 6in (15cm) apart and thin out to 6in (15cm) between plants 6 x 6in (15 x 15cm) is the optimum distance for production of mini-cauliflowers.

Sow weekly from late March. Cut weekly from early July.

3-4oz per square yard of a good general fertiliser should be worked in before sowing and no further top dressing of fertiliser will be necessary on fertile soils. Water the seed bed if necessary to get rapid establishment of the seedlings, no other watering should be necessary except in very dry conditions.

Cut the curds before they exceed 3½in (9cm) in diameter. Go over the crop daily and cut any which appear to be getting loose. Insert a small knife beneath the curd so that 2-3 small bracts are retained. At this stage the curds are easily damaged so handle with care.




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