Gardening: The top vegetables to select for the 2018 growing season
It's great when the new catalogues come in and you can sit curled up in a chair, pondering over what you're going to grow next season.
I’ve taken on the mountains of paperwork for you to sift through the 2018 catalogues with my recommendations of what’s new or unusual and worth a try.
Here are the veg seeds that caught my eye:
Bean (Runner) Snowstorm: A self-fertile, white-flowered variety, combining the best characteristics of French and runner beans, cropping heavily even when the weather is poor. Average packet 30 seeds, £3.49, www.suttons.co.uk.
Cabbage Scarvita F1: A red/pink hearted, crisp Chinese cabbage. Slice heads in half lengthways, drizzle with olive oil and barbecue for a delicious side dish. Improved variety. Sow June-July, harvest August-October. Average seeds 50, £2.49, www.dobies.co.uk
Carrot Speedo F1: Full of flavour, this fast growing, early maincrop Nantes variety produces uniform, high quality, smooth roots. Excellent source of vitamin A and antioxidants. Exclusive, £2.29, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk
Cauliflower Orkney F1: For those who lamented the loss of Mayflower, the earliest cropping summer cauli, here’s an excellent replacement. Orkney F1 is a high quality, reliable variety which produces dense heads of large white curds from as early as May. Exclusive, £2.29, www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk
Kale Peacock White: A decorative kale, with frizzled white leaves, at home in a mixed flower border or veg garden. Use the leaves in salads or steamed. £3.49, www.suttons.co.uk
Pea Blauwschokker: A heritage variety with purple flowers and pods which may be eaten as mangetout when young or allowed to grow into pods. Average packet 100 seeds, £2.99, www.suttons.co.uk
Pea (Mangetout) Spring Blush: A tall, high yielding pea with bi-coloured purple/pink blooms and lots of rose blushed and pure green pods. Can be picked as mangetout or snap pods. Plants also produce lots of tendrils that are delicious. Improved variety. Average seeds 175, £2.99, www.dobies.co.uk
Pepper (Hot) Curry Pepper F1: Full of hot flavour, the pungent 15cm (6in) long fruits are borne on compact plants. Can be used fresh or dried and when still green/light green. Exclusive, £2.45, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk
Pumpkin Wicked F1: A large ‘monster’ Halloween pumpkin, suited to cooler climates and early maturing. The vibrant deep orange skin is smooth and easy to carve. Exclusive, £2.99, www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk
Radish Bluemoon and Redmoon Mix F1: Asian breeding has produced these radishes with coloured skin and flesh. The bright colours and crisp texture make them perfect for slicing into salads, giving a delicate, mild flavour and a stunning effect. £1.99, www.thompson-morgan.com
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Spinach Trombone F1: An overwintering variety with better downy mildew resistance than Andromeda. Smooth, round-edged leaves can be harvested as baby leaves for salads or left to mature. Bolt resistant and slow growing. Exclusive, £1.59, www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk
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JOBS TO DO THIS WEEKEND
This is a good time to plant new perennials, as the soil is still warm, but moisture levels are increasing.
Wait for the first frosts to hit dahlias and cannas before lifting the tubers or rhizomes.
Plant and move shrubs and trees.
Climbing roses can be pruned once they have finished flowering; sideshoots from the main branches can be cut back to a couple of buds. Any dead, diseased or spindly growth should be cut out and new young shoots tied in to the supports, from the base. If there is an old, thick and woody, unproductive stem, it can be removed from the base to stimulate more vigorous growth.
Clear dead leaves promptly once they start to fall, as they can be a source of disease. They are useful on the compost heap and can be shredded with a shredder or mulching mower, to help them break down quicker. It is vital to throw out or destroy affected leaves.
When bringing plants indoors, check carefully for any pests and diseases they may have picked up outside, in particular red spider mite, mealybug and scale insect. Inspect rootballs and compost for vine weevil larvae and treat where necessary.
Cover the surface of ponds with netting to stop fallen leaves from entering. Accumulated debris in the pond can encourage growth of algae and weeds, which will eventually harm fish by reducing available oxygen levels. Remove dead leaves from waterlilies as the foliage dies back. Divide waterlilies and other pond plants to increase stocks. Overgrown marginal plants can be cut back. A maximum of 50 per cent of the water’s surface should be taken up with planting.
Vegetables to sow now include winter radishes, lettuce and salad leaves, spinach, spring onions, and turnip for its green tops.