Kitchen Garden. { Get to know your garden intimately part-15}

Vegetable garden

Originally posted to Flickr uploaded to Commons by Spedona
Originally posted to Flickr uploaded to Commons by Spedona | Source

Introduction

So far in this series we have looked at the aspect of our garden,what type of soil it contains and what would be suitable to grow in it. We have looked at sowing seeds,the perennial border,the annual plants, container plants and bedding plants. Now we turn our attention to the kitchen garden. The term kitchen garden was once formerly for a vegetable,fruit and herb garden where plants were grown for use in the kitchen.

There is nothing fresher or tastier or as good as own grown vegetables fruit and herbs. You do not require much space to grow certain types of crops which will supply the kitchen with produce throughout much of the year. They also have the added and important bonus of being free from chemical traces of which have proven to be present in many shop-bought fruit and vegetables.

As this series is aimed at the beginner to gardening or those that are not sure what to grow or where to grow it, Here I look at tow kitchen garden species that are very easy to grow and need little room in which to grow them. I commence with the humblest of plants-the lettuce.

Field of lettuce

Uploaded to Creative Commons by Pacopac
Uploaded to Creative Commons by Pacopac | Source

A 'Pop-up' cloche one foot square will grow a supply of lettuce.

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Germinating seedlings

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Lettuce growing under a Cotoneaster in a planter.

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The humble lettuce and how to grow them for the kitchen

Large fields are given over to grow lettuce,such as the one above growing in Spain, to supply supermarkets and grocery stores. We do not have and do not need such space to successfully grow lettuce for our own use. During the summer months a small area of garden or even a small container will keep the kitchen supplied with salad leaves.

A packet of seeds is sufficient to supply our needs with ease. Thus they are cheap very easy to grow and saves us money,the cost of a packet of seeds does not usually exceed the price we may pay for a single ready grown lettuce plant at the grocery.

Choosing the seeds.- The seeds we buy is a matter of choice and preference of taste. personally I sow 'Cos' lettuce and 'Salad leaf' the latter of which contain a variety of slad leaf types. Sown in any container and protected from the weather they germinate quickly. A general purpose compost is fine. When the weather is suitable they may be sown outdoors in ready prepared soil.

I find container grown Lettuce or salad leaves are easier to manage and can be kept away from slugs and snails and other pests the containers take up little space in a cold frame or greenhouse I even get a good supply from under a 'pop-up' cloche one foot by one foot square.

A self assembly walk in greenhouse takes up little room,is relatively cheap {£30} and ideal for salad growing.

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Transplanting the seedlings and progressive growth.

Once the seeds have germinated transplant the seedlings { or in the border thin them out} to a distance of three to six inches apart to allow room for growth If the weather is sunny and /or dry let them enjoy the open air at all opportunities, by opening the doors and windows of a greenhouse,remove the cloche, or removing the glass from cold frames. However, keep them well protected on cold nights.

To keep the supply in the container or border lasting longer cut individual leaves from different plants,when required, rather than take the whole lettuce,leave the plants in situ and they will grow new leaves for future use. make successive sowings from the original packet of seeds,at intervals of about three weeks or so,this will ensure a good supply throughout the summer.

Lettuce growing in an old freeze draw compartment. This kept me supplied for at least three months, by cutting individual leaves from different plants.

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Less Attack By Pests Inside Greenhouse of Cloche

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Stawberry flowers. Once the flowers appear we need to place straw around the base of the plants.

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The first strawberry is always a delight to see.

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A Girl pegging down strawberry runners during the second world war

Cecil Beaton . UK Government image
Cecil Beaton . UK Government image | Source

The Strawberry

Another easy crop to grow is the strawberry,they too require little room for self use. Plants can be bought from the nursery at little expense and after requiring the first batch you need never buy another, as the plants will produce runners which may then be pegged down to form new plants.

It is also another fruit that can be grown with success in containers and even hanging baskets. First we focus our attention on the strawberry bed. Strawberry will ,with reasonable care, succeed in almost all kinds of soil. As with most fruit and vegetable crops the soil needs to be well dug adding either manure or a slow release fertilizer prior to planting. On light soils compost or loam should be added also.

if we are to grow strawberries we need to be aware of a few simple rules. When we procure our plants in the first instance they will provide a sparse crop of berries. The second and third years will,all things being well,produce a much heavier crop. After the third year the original plants will need to be removed as the crops will once again tend to sparse. However, we will ,by then, have a new stock of plants obtained from the runners of the original plants.

These runners will occur from the end of June onwards for the rest of the growing season. The long runners will have a clump of new leaves at their tips. These we must peg down by a U shaped piece of wire or even by a small stone so that the part of the runner in contact with the soil will root. In a few weeks rooting will, have occurred at the runner can be cut away from the parent plant.

Alternatively we can use small plant pots filled with compost to place the new growth in ,pegged down in the same manner as described. Once rooted they can be transplanted to where we require them to grow.

The strawberry bed need to be kept weed free if we are to be successful. Once the flowers appear {end of May /early June} we need to place straw around the base of the plants {hence the name},so that the resulting fruit is kept away from the damp/wet soil. Otherwise they will be lost to fungal disease,mould and other detrimental subjects.

We also need to protect the berries from slugs and snails who delight to feast on our prize berries. Birds too, will relish the ripe fruit and netting is the only realistic deterrent.

Strawberry runner.

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Runners not required and autumn foliage

Any runners we do not require for propagating purposes should be removed,a continuous job we must undertake from July onwards. As for the removal of leaves in the autumn it is acontentious issue among gardeners. I personally think it isbetter to leave them as a rule. In warmer regions it is thought that the leaves should be removed after the fruit harvest.In such regions large clumps of leaves are soon reproduced.

Generally only the old leaves should be removed to tidy the plants and the beds/pots. If the weather is hot and dry continue to supply water and a top dressing of slow release fertilizer will benefit the plants at this time.

Care of Strawberry's in pots and containers

If we choose to grow our strawberries in containers or pots it is essential that they are fed with a liquid feed regularly. The compost in the container is soon depleted of its nutrients by the vigorous growth. As with plants growing anywhere they must never be subjected to drying out and this is especially true of the strawberry.

Keep strawberries away from damp or wet soil to prevent fungal attack.

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Pests and diseases.

Insect and other pests are numerous and may threaten our hard work if we are not aware. Slugs and snails along with birds are the main enemy of the ripening fruits as previously mentioned. However, mice,rats,squirrels and other rodents will also plunder our harvest. Slug pellets {that are safe to children and birds ] may be spread beneath the plants,but don't let them come into contact with the berries.Rodents may be trapped and as previously mentioned birds need to be deterred by netting.

A tempting dish of ripe Strawberrys. 'Where's the cream?'

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8 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 14 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi Deb, Thanks for that.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 14 months ago from Stillwater, OK

The pecan is a nut, and a popular dessert here is pecan pie.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 14 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

aviannovice,

Hi Deb than you for your visit and your comments. I am not familiar with Pecans,are they a fruit or a type of nut. Thank you for your loyal follow. Best wishes to you.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 14 months ago from Stillwater, OK

It is always so wonderful to enjoy the fruits and veggies of our labors. I remember growing up with wild berries, including tiny strawberries. We had the cultivated ones, as well as several fruit trees, too. Here in OK, there are plenty of pecans on public land. Can't beat those!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 15 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

thumbi7

thank you very much for your kind comments. Best wishes to you.

chef-de-jour,

Thank you too, for your comments.Much appreciated. Best wishes to you.

Robert Beyer,

Hi Robert, you are very welcome appreciate your visit. Best wishes to you.


Robert Beyer profile image

Robert Beyer 15 months ago from Seattle, Washington

I didn't know you could grow strawberry plants like you described thanks for the information.


chef-de-jour profile image

chef-de-jour 15 months ago from Wakefield, West Yorkshire,UK

Some great advice and information here. How tempting those green leaves look on the lettuce, safe from greedy slugs and snails. And the strawbs, classic summer food. Well done on the growth, so important.

Voted up and shared.


thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 15 months ago from India

Excellent hub on lettuce and strawberries

Voted up and shared

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