This section gives detailed descriptions for the cultivation of most of the different vegetables that you are likely to encounter. They are arranged in alphabetical order to make searching easier. There are also suggestions for choosing varieties of vegetables that have proved reliable to grow, particularly in the more challenging parts of the North of the UK.
Most of the different types of vegetables can be grouped together into four different families. They are Legumes, Brassicas, Roots, Onions. The members of each family of vegetables tend to suffer from the same pests and diseases.The idea is to grow the members of each family in their own bed in year one and rotate which family you grow in each bed, every year and prevent the pests and diseases building up in the soil. This would happen very quickly if you did not follow a rotation.
The best rotation plan is a 4 year rotation, but a 3 year rotation will suffice at a push.
In bed 1, you could grow legumes. These are Peas, Broad Beans, French Beans and Runner Beans.
In bed 2, you could grow Brassicas. These include Cabbages, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflowers, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Radishes, Swedes, Turnips.
In bed 3, you could grow Root crops. These include Beetroot, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Fennel (bulb), Parsnips, Potatoes, Salsify, Scorzonera.
In bed 4, you could grow Elephant Garlic, Garlic, Leeks, Shallots, spring Onions.
Permanent bed. There are some plants that do not like being moved each year and need another area set aside for them if you intend to grow them. They include Asparagus, Cardoon, Globe Artichokes, Perennial Herbs, Rhubarb, Sea Kale.
There are other groups of vegetables that do not fall easily into the above categories. They include Butternut Squashes, Cape Gooseberry, Courgettes and other Summer Squashes, Cucumbers, Jerusalem Artichokes, Marrows, Melons, Peppers, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, Winter Squash.
Some of these can only be grown outside in the South of the UK. Most Plotters will grow some of these vegetables where they can find room for them in other beds.
They may also set aside another small area for Salad Crops such as Annual Herbs, Chicory, Endive, Lettuce, Radishes. It is important to remember that they must be rotated each year as well.
You will soon find that there is never enough room for everything that you want to grow. Try and cut down on wasted space for grassed areas or paths, and turn as much ground as possible into productive ground.
As a further complication to a rigid system, some members of different families of vegetables, are deliberately grown together to protect and help each other. For instance, Carrots and Onions are sometimes grown in alternative rows to confuse Carrot flies looking for Carrots to lay their eggs on.
Strange as it may seem, this is not a new concept. Apparently, the native North American Indians used similar ideas in their own agriculture when they grew Corn, Beans and Squash, the “three sisters” together. The stalks of the corn (much taller than the varieties we grow in the UK), provided a support for Beans to climb up, and both provided some shade for the Corn, against the searing heat of the sun, not a problem here. The atmospheric nitrogen, “fixed” by the roots of the Beans, provided a natural fertiliser for the other crops.
For those of you not able to navigate this section by using the “Drop Down Lists of Vegetables” on the Navigation Bar at the top of each web page, the Contents of this Section are arranged thus: