The Vegetable and Fruit Gardens

The Vegetable Garden

Vegetables do not have to be grown at the end of your garden out of sight; Many are decorative and can be bedded in patches among the ornamental plants. Long straight rows of one vegetable are more suited to large-scale growing than to small gardens; but set out in shapes such as circles and squares, vegetable gardens look like huge tapestries. Using vegetables in this way reduces insect damage and disease; there is danger of serious infestation when they are grown in large one-crop areas.

Three vital factors in vegetable growing are: soil fertility, rotation of crops and the timing of crops. Cropping takes plant foods out of the soil which must be replaced by manuring, fertilizing and conditioning. Rotation is also essential for families of vegetables have different requirements, take different nutrients out of the soil. Rotate crops around the brassicas (green vegetables), root vegetables and the legumes (peas and beans); grow beans after cabbages, or potatoes after peas. ‘Catch cropping’ is a technique to sow quick-maturing vegetables between rows of those slower growing.

In planning a vegetable patch, sowing and harvesting follow in sequences according to the types of vegetable and the season. Cold frames and cloches are indispensable, they extend the practicable growing season by weeks.

July Chives (sown April) divide the plot into four. Vegetable spaghetti (sown April, under glass) is a bright green, flask-shaped marrow, turning yellow when cooked, with insides like spaghetti. The climbing purple-podded French bean (sown April, under glass) has purple flowers and pods which turn green when cooked. Stake for climbing. Scorzonera (sown April) links this plot to the next. A black-rooted plant with sweet, white flesh, it looks like the dandelion, and can be harvested during winter. October (top right) The Black Spanish radish (sown July) divides the plot. Left in the ground until mid-winter, it can be lifted as required. Broad beans (sown fall) will over-winter to be harvested in late spring. They replace the Jamberry, an exotic ‘tomato’ (sown April, under glass). Endive (sown July) is a valuable winter salad. Blanch by tying the leaves together. Seakale beet (sown July) has leaves like spinach, and links this plot to the next.

January Jerusalem artichoke (tubers planted April) is harvested now, to be cooked in several ways. Around it the shallot (planted now) is harvested in midsummer. The purple-sprouting broccoli (sown April) will be harvested next April when vegetables are scarce. Leading to the next plot is flowering cabbage (sown April), harvested in winter. April Golden beet (sown now) has flavourful flesh. Florence fennel (sown now, under glass) has aniseed flavour.

Asparagus pea (sown now, under glass) has edible pods. Linking to next plot is ornamental kale (sown now, under glass). Even in quite a tiny backyard – even in a tiny city yard – it is possible to grow a surprisingly wide range of vegetables surprisingly well.

Use raised beds (made from railway ties or planks) filled with growing mix. Space plants only half as far apart as most books tell you, but harvest them smaller. Really pack your plants in close together. Optimise on what you grow: use thinnings to flavour stews, broths, salads and so on. Don’t segregate ornamentals from food plants: they’re all plants together. Besides, many vegetables are highly decorative. Like runner beans, ornamental cabbages, purple broccoli and many others.

The Fruit Garden

As commercial fruit-growing concentrates more and more on the best marketable varieties, so your own garden becomes important for growing favourite fruits that are difficult, or expensive to buy. Horticulturists have responded by offering a new range of plants bred for the convenience of the small grower. The modern fruit garden is a movable mini-orchard, where bush fruits planted in gaily-coloured tubs on casters can be wheeled around the garden, where ‘family’ apple trees have several varieties on a plant to ensure pollination, and where gooseberries and other cane fruits are grown as vines on a trellis in the French manner.

Fruits make excellent ornamental plants and today no garden is too small to try at least one kind of fruit.

Chinese gooseberry (Actinidia chinensis), an edible fruiting vine – highly attractive for its large heart-shaped leaves and long twining stems, is worth substituting for the clematis or climbing rose. Once established, it is vigorous and its white flowers produce strange bristly fruits rather like brown elongated pullet’s eggs, tasting of gooseberry. You might find one in a big market, but why not plant your own in the sunniest part of your terrace and mulch well or store over winter indoors ? Buy a good fruiting clone.

Boysenberry

Both blackberry and raspberry are in its parentage; it will hold its own and bear fruit prolifically in a rough part of your garden, or used as a hedge, or as a thick screen for unsightly areas. The boysenberry fruits on the current season’s canes and will bear for several years.

Peach

The ‘container’ plant for your garden or patio is the bush peach. Its globular shape is attractive at all times of the year. Once planted, it flowers and fruits even as soon as its second year; in those parts of the country where it is not reliably hardy, it can be moved to a sheltered winter location. Of Chinese origin, the peach has been cultivated for thousands of years, and the luscious quality of its fruit is symbolised as an adjective in our language. Try it, too, as an espalier (which is the traditional way) on a south or on a west wall.

24. August 2011 by admin
Categories: Fruit and Vegetable Gardens, Gardening Ideas, Types of Gardens | Tags: , | Comments Off on The Vegetable and Fruit Gardens

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