Growing Vegetables Our Biggest Ever Guide

by Daniel | Last Updated: 10/02/2020

Vegetables

Carrots

 

 

Leeks

 

 

Tomatoes

 

Carrots

One of the most popular vegetables grown in Britain. When planned correctly, you can harvest carrots for month after month.

Forced

Carrots sown early in the year, generally around February are often referred to as forced crops. These carrots will be ready to harvest as soon as June. Your young seedlings will need protection from the elements. This is achieved by using cold frames, greenhouses or cloches.

Certain varieties suit being forced. They often include the name forcing in the variety such as Amsterdam forcing, a particular favourite amongst gardeners.

To sow forced carrots first dig 2cm deep furrows, ensure your furrows are roughly 15cm apart. Then sow your seeds along the furrow and lightly cover with soil. Once seedlings appear you will need to thin out your plants to 10cm intervals.

Main Crops

A maincrop carrot will commonly be sown around April – May here in the UK You would expect to then harvest these carrots around November time.

To sow main crops again make furrows roughly 2cm deep but this time around 30cm apart. The extra distance will give your main crops much more room to grow, they will generally be a lot bigger than forced varieties. Sow the seeds thinly and then cover with a small amount of soil. Once seedlings start to appear, they will need to be thinned to 5cm apart.

Soil Conditions

Carrots do particularly well in nutrient-rich soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. You want the soil to be really light as this allows then carrots to grow long, uniform roots. It is also essential to remove stones, or solid lumps of clay as these can cause the carrot root to fork and bend.

Soil 

Light, rich and as stone free as possible. With a pH between 6.5 and 7.5

Light

Grows best in full sun or partial shade.

Care

If growing early varieties cover with a cloche. Ensure the plants are kept well weeded and don’t let them dry out on hot summer days.

Harvest

Depending on varieties you can be harvesting carrots for a large chunk of the year, even possibly from June-January.

Common Issues

The main threat to your carrots will come from Carrot Fly. This is a flying pest that lays maggots which then burrow into the carrot killing the plant. Because they are a flying pest, a polythene barrier can work as an excellent deterrent. Above you can see what method of protecting your crop from carrot fly.

Leek

Leeks are one of oldest cultivated plants, once grown for its healing properties it is now a staple in western diets. Leeks are easy to grow and can provide excellent flavour for numerous dishes.

Sowing

While not a fussy seed leeks do require a temperature minimum of around 7 Degrees Celcius in order to germinate. So, if you are planning an early crop sow indoors or use a cloche.

If sowing outdoors later in the season then sow 2.5cm deep in rows 15cm apart.

Planting On

Leeks are known for liking a fertile soil so always add compost or manure before planting out your seedlings. When making holes for your seedlings, a dibber is a great tool. Make holes 15cm deep set at 15 cm intervals. Plant rows 30cm apart to give your leeks plenty of room to grow.

Harvesting

You can leave Leeks in the ground for a few months while they are ready to harvest. This gives you a great chance to spread your crop out and really make it last and last. To harvest your Leek plants lift them carefully with a spade or fork, ensuring you do not snap or cut the white stem. Many varieties of Leek are incredibly hardy and can be left in the ground throughout winter with no issues.

Combination Planting

Leeks are quite a slow-growing vegetable, so planting them in combination with a quick-growing crop can be a great way to maximise your plots output. Radish is an excellent option to grown in between your leek rows.

Soil Conditions

Rich, crumbly soil with lots of compost or manure added.

Light

Grows best in an open, sunny spot

Care

Clear weeds regularly and water until plants are well established.

Height

30-60cm

Common Issues

Small orange patches on the leaves of the plants mean that your crop has been hit by a rust fungus. You should remove and destroy any affected plants quickly. Onion fly is also quite common with leeks, look out for drooping yellow leaves on your seedlings. Lift and destroy any plants you think may be infected with onion fly. It is always essential to rotate your crops to help avoid disease. Do not plant where shallot, onion or other leeks have grown in the last 2 years.

Tomato

This UK allotment favourite is originally from the Americas but quickly became a massive favourite over here! No allotment is complete without the sight of bright red tomatoes.

Variety

The biggest question when growing tomatoes, particularly in the UK, is which variety to grow? Cordon or bush? Indoor or outdoor? In pots or in the ground? Well, the answer, unfortunately, isn’t clear cut, it really does depend on your circumstances. Tomatoes love a warm climate which makes many varieties unsuitable for growing outdoors, particularly in northern England, Scotland and most parts of wales. The greenhouse is where most British gardeners grow their tomatoes, and it really is an excellent place for them, the extra warmth and protection from the elements can lead to exceptional yields.

Soil

An ideal soil for growing tomatoes will be rich in nutrients and loose, crumbly texture. Slightly sandy soil with lots of manure or organic fertiliser is our recommended option. Always try to apply a general fertiliser before planting your tomatoes.

Seeding

If you are planning on growing your tomatoes outside, then an early start is essential. Sow in a propagator from March to April. Remember that many varieties of Tomato require temperatures around 16°C to germinate.

Potting On

Pot your seedlings on when the first “true” leaves start to appear. True leaves are the second set that appears after the first set that initially breaks through the soil. You can then transfer again into larger pots later if needed, this may be necessary if the weather is particularly poor and you don’t think your plants are quite ready for life outdoors yet!

Pinching Out

With cordon grown tomatoes it is important to remember to pinch out side shoots. The image above illustrates which side shoots should be pinched out. Also pinch out the tip when the plant has reached its optimal height.