BELL PEPPER -See 'PEPPER, SWEET'
Brassica oleracea Cymosa group (syn. var. italica)-Calabrese,
Sprouting Broccoli Calabrese type-this is the big heads of broccoli as
found in the supermarkets. Buy punnets of seedlings, and make sure they
are well fed and well watered after planting out. Modern hybrids are
growing, and if they are subjected to prolonged stress of drying, they
may form tiny heads prematurely, and the plants come to nothing. Some
are adapted to specific seasons, but the best known variety, 'Shogun',
can be planted year round. 'Shogun' also makes useful small heads from
the sideshoots that develop once the main head is cut. Not all
do this. Provide a fertile soil and don't let the soil become dry.
plenty of lime-pH 6.5 to 7.5 is the 'ideal' range. Winter planting
the problems of green caterpillar infestation that is so prevalent in
spring and summer. The broccoli is ready to cut in a bit over 3 months
when grown in winter.
Broccoli Raab type- 'broccoli raab' has loose green sprouting heads (more like loose broccoli than cauliflower)that are harvested and eaten with surrounding leaves. It has a bit of a mustardy taste to it, but it is otherwise similar to Calabrese broccoli in taste. Broccoli-raab is fast maturing small plant, being ready in only about a 1½ months. It can only be planted out in winter in warmer areas. Sow the seeds about 50mm apart, and thin the plants to about 150mm apart. It stands some light frost. As with all broccoli, fertile soils and never being water stressed is the key. The cultivar 'Hon Tsai Tai' has purple sprouting heads.
Romanesco type- this type of broccoli is also quite cauliflower looking. The head is made up of tightly packed yellowish-green conical florets arranged in an ascending spiral. In the milder areas, seed can still be sown in early winter for spring harvest. Allow around 30-45cm between plants. Culture is the same as Calabrese types.
CABBAGE Brassica oleracea var. capitata There are, for practical purposes, three main types of cabbage-drumhead, the standard supermarket cabbage; red cabbage; and the cone shaped spring cabbage. There are specific varieties for spring, summer, and winter harvest. They take from 2½ to 3 months from transplanting. For spring harvest sow, or plant out (preferably) right through the winter.Small cultivars, such as 'leprechaun', or specialty types, such as the red cabbages, are probably the most useful for the urban garden. Cabbages tolerate heavier soils well, so long as there is enough humus and fertiliser, as they are heavy feeders. They need lime, so the pH should be above 6. Allow 30cm between plants for small varieties and 45cm for larger varieties. Spring and summer harvested cabbages will often form little 'mini' cabbages on the stump after the head is cut, so don't be in too much of a hurry to tidy up the row. Cutting a 10mm deep cross into the cut surface of the stump is supposed to help promote this phenomenon.
CAPSICUM-See 'PEPPER, SWEET'
CHICORY Cichorium intybus -Radicchio, Witloof, Belgian Endive, Endives Chicory is closely related to endive (Cichorium endivia).But, where endive is a smooth leafed annual, chicory is a (usually) hairy leafed perennial. 'Puntarella' a 'Catalonga', or 'Italian Dandelion' type with dandelion like leaves can be sown and have leaves harvested in winter, but only in milder areas.
CHIVES Allium schoenoprasum Chives have a very very mild taste, they are easy to grow, relatively pest and disease free, take up very little space, are either universally liked or are so innocuous they are endured, and they have genuinely attractive little purple flowering heads. They die down over winter, and the tender,delicate grass like stems for snipping don't appear until spring. Chives clump up nicely, and you can lift and divide the clump in winter to make more plants. In very cold areas this is best left until spring.
CHIVES- CHINESE Allium tuberosum [syn.A.odorum, A.schoenoprasum var tuberosum] -Chinese Chives, Fragrant Flowered Garlic, Garlic Chives, Gow Choy lt certainly has only the mildest of garlic taste-and none when cooked too long-, it is mild flavored and has the taste of a combination of leeks, maybe chives, and garlic. It is a hardy perennial, withstanding hard frosts. Sow it where you intend the clump or line to be, or sow it in a pot (it is slow to germinate, especially in winter-keep the soil moist, but not wet) and transplant it to it's permanent position. It is one of few alliums that can be grown in a pot in the kitchen. Chinese chives form bulbs (edible, similar to shallots, but small) that can be dividd up and replanted.It does best, like most plants, in a fertile, moist soil, but is pretty hardy. Being a perennial, you get a season of harvest of the strap like leaves in the spring and summer until flowering in Autumn (although the flower buds are edible). In China, the plants are often blanched by excluding light. Blanched or not, they are used in quantity in dishes such as dumplings with soy based dipping sauce, or in egg foo yong. Their hardiness and mild flavor makes them extremely versatile, and it is suprising they are not more well known in the West.
CHINESE CABBAGE Brassica rapa subspecies pekinensis -Celery Cabbage, Chinese leaves(UK), Wong Bok, Pe Tsai Botanically a turnip, Chinese Cabbage forms dense cabbage heads that may be very upright and tall or may be round or barrel shaped (wong bok type); or they may be loose, open leafed varieties with broad stalks. The leaves are thin, crisp, and with a mustardy taste. The heading varieties grow best in cooler temperatures. They are usually sown in late summer and autumn rather than spring. There are varieties that can be sown in Spring, but they may bolt if the young plants are frosted or exposed to a long period of cold nights. Sow the seed thinly in the row, and thin the plants to 30cm apart for the tall types, and 45cms apart for the barrel shaped and round headed types. They are easy to grow if kept well watered and given a balanced fertiliser. They are ready in about 1½ months from planting out, or just over 2 months from sowing seed. 'Santo' is a fast growing (ready in about 2 months from sowing)loose leaf variety that can be grown at almost any time of year, barring severe climates.
CORN SALAD Valerianella locusta -Lambs Lettuce. Corn salad. Is a small, almost lawn daisy looking plant whose rosette of tender, mild, and pleasant little leaves are ready for harvest in winter. It is easy to grow, and in fact, if left to seed, soon becomes a welcome weed. In summer, the plants soon will become affected with mildew, especially in the warmer areas, so it can be sown in winter, except in very cold areas. It goes to flower fairly quickly in spring. Grow about 100-150mm apart, in any good soil.
CRESS Lepidium sativum -Pepper Grass. The mature plant is about 40cms high, with deeply cut leaves. However, it is far too coarse and hot if left to this stage. It is usually sown thickly in a seed tray or wide pot, and harvested with a pair of scissors about 10-14 days after sowing. It is a good deal easier to buy "spicy combo" sprouts from the supermarket.
Allium sativum. [4
page garlic fact sheet] There is little more
than work than harvesting your own garlic. If you have the space and
you should try it. On free draining soils in a dry and sunny summer
production is almost assured. Where soils are damp and the weather
it can be erratic from year to year, both in quality and in quantity.
a deep, fertile, very well drained soil is needed, as there is
a risk of the cloves rotting in a cold wet soil. Provide a free
soil by amending it with sand, potting mix, well finished compost, leaf
mould, or whatever. Consider a raised bed, or large tub culture The
the leaf growth before bulbing starts, the bigger the bulb and the
will be. This translates to 'early care pays dividends later'. Add -and
incorporate well-a good dressing of a general garden fertiliser at the
time of sowing. Your soils pH must be above 6.0. Most soils will
from a liming at least a month or so before planting.
Planting in warm temperate areas can be done in early winter, altho' autumn is best. Traditionally, you planted your garlic on the shortest day. Under warm temperate climatic conditions winter planted garlic will remain briefly dormant, then develop roots and a shoot. Growth is fairly slow until temperatures warm in spring.
In temperate areas, there is no real point in winter planting, unless your winters are mild enough not to have problems of frost heave of the soil. The garlic cloves may put on some root growth, depending on soil temperatures, but no sprouts will emerge until spring.They will survive freezes and snowfalls, but they should be mulched heavily to prevent heaving. Choose the biggest ' seed' cloves, and sow them upright, root end down from just buried to being 25mm/an inch or so under the soil surface. Once they have started growth in spring, give them regular-say fortnightly-very light side dressings of urea (or other high nitrogen fertiliser), spread 100mm/6 inches either side of the plants. Liquid manures are also beneficial. Garlic competes poorly with weeds. Keep them as close to meticulously weeded as is possible. If the weather is dry, mulch them to conserve water. If you grow garlic regularly in the same soil you will inevitably end up with a degree of disease in your soil and seed stock. This shouldn't prevent you from growing garlic, be we do need to accept that we have to put extra effort into keeping the plants in best possible condition when they start growing, and accept that is very wet years we may lose the lot. It is probably best to buy clean seed cloves every year, as they will get a good start before becoming infected. Rocombole can usually be relied on to produce something, even when your common garlic is a total loss. Keep your garlic well watered if there is a dry spell in spring, mulch to keep the soil, at least, cool and keep your plants growing strongly. Moisture stress and very high temperatures can cause bulbing problems
There are two main kinds of garlic- 'Common garlic', which is the usual white skinned supermarket type; and 'Rocambole garlic'.
Common garlic Allium sativum -Soft neck Garlic, Italian Garlic, Silverskin Garlic. This is the usual garlic, and has the strongest flavor. The bulbs outer parchment may be white, or streaked purple.There is usually a row of decent sized cloves around the outside, and irritatingly smaller, thinner cloves in the interior (altho' there are varieties with few, but quite large, cloves). Removing the skin from these cloves is not easy. The bulb is wrapped in many layers of parchment, which extend up up to form a pliable parchment 'neck' ideal for braiding. This garlic keeps well for at least 3 or 4 months. Varieties include California Early, California Late, New York White, and Printanor.
Rocambole garlic Allium satvum var.ophioscorodon -Serpent Garlic, Stiffneck garlic, Hardneck Garlic, 10 clove garlic, Top Setting Garlic, Bavarian Garlic. Similar to common garlic, but with two important differences. First, unlike common garlic, it throws up a flowering stem, called a 'scape'. Second, the bulb has relatively little outer parchment- as a result, the individual cloves are often exposed, and can be knocked off the bulb by rough handling, and can wither a bit after long storage.On the positive side, they are a dream to remove the skin from-it is trivially easy-there is only one ring of decent sized cloves arranged around the woody central flower stalk and no smalls or thins. It keeps almost as well as common garlic if stored carefully.The tall flowering scape makes a twisting loop as it unfurls it's 'flower' head (which contains tiny little bulbils). Thus it's alternative name, 'serpent garlic'. Clipping the flower stalk off early on significantly improves bulb size. Other garlics, such as 'Roja', are very similar to rocambole garlic, and are sometimes diferentiated from rocambole by being called 'hardnecked garlics'. It is more useful to refer to all flowering garlics as 'rocambole types'. Varieties include Rocambole, German extra hardy, 10 clove, Roja, Continental (a generic term for similar unamed types, rather than a single cultivar) and Porcelain.
Some garlic strains will just not bulb satisfactoriy in your area. Locally sold seed cloves may well be-but certainly not certain to be-the best variety for your climate. (Rocambole garlic is far more forgiving of the vagaries of climatic conditions than common garlic). The plants are ready to harvest when the foliage has died off. If it is very wet near harvest time, consider lifting them a bit earlier and drying them under cover. When the bulbs are dry, you can trim off the roots, scuff off the outer discolored parchment, and braid your garlic for storage. If you intend to keep your own clove seed, select the biggest and best bulb. Leave the cloves on the bulb, and at planting time select only the best cloves to use as seed cloves.
JICAMA Pachyrhizus erosus -Mexican Water Chestnut, Yam bean ( often confused with a related species, P.tuberosa which is grown in Ecuador, China, and the West Indies) This Mexican climbing vine forms a large heart shaped edible root .The white flesh is crisp and resembles water chestnuts. It takes a long season to make a decent sized root, and consequently the plant is suited only to the warmest areas.Sow the seed indoors in early spring and grow the plants up a sunny wall when the weather has warmed up.Frequent watering is needed when rapid growth begins. Dig up the root when the foliage begins to die down.
KOMATSUNA Brassica rapa -Mustard Spinach. Similar in appearance to the leafy form of mustard (B.juncea), komatsuna is actually a leafy form of turnip. The tender glossy leaves have a distinctive flavour somewhere between leaf mustard and cabbage.It is very fast and easy to grow and can be grown almost year round, except in the coldest areas.
LETTUCE Lactuca sativa Lettuce is basically a cool weather crop, doing best in spring like temperatures (16-18ºC) . Indeed, a properly hardened off transplant will survive -5ºC frosts. Lettuce planted in milder areas can be grown through winter but the coldest areas will have to plant in a glasshouse. Variety selection for winter is important. Lettuce seeds germinate best at relatively low soil temperatures between 15'C and 20'C, but will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 5ºC. Cover the seeds lightly, firm the soil surface, and kept the soil moist. Stress from lack of nutrients are the most common causes of bitterness at this time. Grow them in a moist, well drained, fertile soil. If you have sown seed direct in the garden, thin the seedlings to about 25cm apart.Lettuce at this time of year are usable about 2 months from sowing the seed. Transplanted from a punnet they are ready in about 1 month and 3 weeks.
MESCLUN-A blend of various fast growing seeds that are sown in a fertile patch of garden and harvested as immature young and succulent leaves around 4 to 6 weeks after sowing.Almost any green can be used- chicory, endive, mizuna ,tatsoi, corn salad, silverbeet, lettuce, kale, cress, Spinach, Chervil, etc. The accent is on fast growth in a fairly crowded bed, so the soil need to be fertile, free draining, and kept moist. The advantage is that if life gets busy and the plants aren't harvested young, they will still be harvestable at a more mature stage, it's just that some types won't be so tender, or have more pepper or bitterness in them. Spring and summer are the best times to sow, but by selecting the species, autumn and winter (except in very cold areas) are also suitable.
MISOME Brassica campestris narinosa. Yet another hybrid Oriental green for steaming or stir frying. Vigorous, with savoyed deep green leaves. Very fast maturing (30 days.), slower from a winter sowing, but still outpaces cabbages by an extremely wide margin!.
SALAD-WHITE Brassica alba. This is grown as a 'scissor
seedlings are snipped off at ground level about 8 days after sowing for
use in salads and sandwiches. Sow the seed thickly in a pot or in a
and keep the potting mix moist. The easy, year round crop. Mind you,
easier to buy sprouts from the supermarket-but they're not as green.
PEA Pisum sativum. Supermarket frozen peas-especially frozen baby peas-are so nice there is little point in growing your own. If you want to grow peas, the dwarf self supporting variety 'Novella' would have to be the choice. No stakes are needed when they are grown in a broad row, and they flower and pod up right at the top, for easy picking, and they are easy to shell. Peas need adequate lime in the soil, and plenty of both phosphate and potash. Peas like cool weather, but if you get hard frosts, pea growing in winter is not possible, Really, only warm temperate areas can grow peas in winter, and then they are subject to the seeds rotting in the cold, sodden ground. A light, free draining soil is best under winter conditions.
PEA, SNAP Pisum sativum -Mangetout. These peas have a thick, edible pod, so there is no shelling, you eat the pod, pea, and all. With snow peas, the pea of choice for the urban hominid. They are rarely available in the supermarket. They are called 'snap' because they are crisp and 'snap' when broken in half. 'Sugar Ann/Dwarf Sugarsnap/Whippersnapper'- a dwarf snap pea maturing in about 2 months from sowing. 'Sugarsnap'- climbing vining pea, and therefore neeeding support, this variety bears heavily, over a long period, and is particularly sweet.
PEA, SNOW Pisum sativum -Mangetout. Same as snap peas, but at the edible stage the pea isn't developed inside the pod. The pods are consequently flat. 'Chinese' by far the best snow pea variety currently available. Unlike others, it is genuinely sweet.A climbing type, so it will need support. 'Oregon Giant/Snow Flake'-It is productive, and somewhat resistant to disease. A 'tall dwarf' at 70cm, and can be grown without support, but is better with it in our windy climate
Snow peas and sugar snap peas in Australia JJJJ An excellent fact sheet on all aspects of growing these two peas, from varieties to soil. Oriented to commercial production, but the home gardener can easily cull out the commercial aspect.
Snow pea photo JJJ A very good photo and notes on preparing and eating snow peas at a major vegetable exporters site.
PEPPER, SWEET Capsicum annuum -Capsicum. The most familiar sweet pepper is the large bell shaped pepper. The main shapes are 'bell', blocky, squarish; 'tapered bell', a long elongated bell with a blunt end; 'cone', as it's name suggests; 'pimento', bell shaped but flattened into a cheese round shape; 'cherry', basically miniature bells; and 'bulls horn', shaped as it's name suggests, with a more or less acute point on the end. Miniature types are usually the earliest. (Almost) all are green when immature (the green capsicums of commerce), and ripen to red, yellow, orange, purple, or brown, according to the variety. Peppers, sweet or hot, need to be germinated in a warm place about 2 months before you intend planting them out. Peppers germinate very slowly if the soil isn't warm. Being basically sub tropical plants, they need to be planted out when the soil and air temperatures are genuinely warm, about tomato planting time. Either that or put a cut out plastic milk container over the top of them Early varieties are ready about 1 month and 3 weeks from planting out and midseason about 2½ months from planting out. If you want to try late season varieties, they will be ready around 3 months from planting out. . Use a high phosphorous liquid manure when you plant them. The soil need to be well drained, fertile, and kept watered. Variety notes.
PEPPER, HOT-or CHILLIE Capsicum annuum, C.frutescens, C.chinense -Chillies, Chile, Chilli pepper. The English call the plant, the fruit, and the food made with hot peppers "chilli". In the USA, the plant and the fruit are caled "chiles", the food featuring the fruit (and meat) "chili", and the ground dried fruits "chilli powder". However, in the area of origin of the chilli, in Mexico and central America-and in southwest USA-the fruit and plants are called "chilli". Afficianados detect different flavors in the various chillies. The rest of us just detect heat. The accepted measure of heat is the 'Scoville unit'-. 250-600 scovilles is pretty mild (for most of us pleasantly hot to just quite hot), 4,000-8,000 units is medium hot (for most of us, equivalent to very hot), 200,000 to 350,000 units are the hottest chillies rate (which for most of us is extremely/painfully hot). Unless you live in the very warmest part of the country, you should try for a mid season variety, so that the chillies mature fully. Temperate parts probably need as short a season variety as possible, or grow them in a greenhouse. A tiny chillie on a tiny plant that can be grown in a pot and brought inside, such as 'Thai hot', is ideal for solving the short season AND the restricted space problem Anaheim'-top shaped, large, red ripe, very mildly hot, around 300 units. Mid season. 'Ancho'-conical bell, wrinkled, red ripe, medium thin walls, mildly hot, can be dried and powdered when it is said to give a rich and distictive flavor to sauces. Mid season. 'Cayenne'-the standard hot chilli of the East. Long, thin and tapering and twisted or curved.Matures bright red. Mid seaon. 'Firecracker'-C.fructecens;purple, not white, flowers turn into 25mm long glossy purple fruit that change to bright red with full maturity. Very, very hot. Early mid season. 'Hungarian yellow wax'- Bulls horn type pepper, bright yellow, red at maturity, mild to medium at 700 to 3000 scolvilles.. 'Jalapeno'-75mm long vaguely cone/bullet shaped, green turning red at maturity; medium hot, about. They are said to have the best flavor (as distinct from heat) when green. 'Mulato'- a brown version of 'Ancho' used in the same way. Between mild and medium hot. 'Numex 6-4L'-Cone shaped, long (150-180mm) green chilli suitable for stuffing, or for drying. Medium hot. Mid season. 'Pasilla bajio'-long and thin (150-200mm long, about 25mm wide), the glossy very dark green immature fruit ripen to dark brown and are most attractive. Mildly hot. The pods are thin walled, and ideal for drying, at which time they are the preferred chilli for the famous Mexican mole sauce. The plants are sturdy, upright, and very productive. 'Thai hot'-tiny, classic, conic, hot chillies borne on a small plant. They are green, and ripen red. And very hot.
SILVERBEET Beta vulgaris -Swiss Chard, Rhubarb Chard, Rainbow Chard, Seakale Beet Sow or transplant in Spring, early Summer, or Autumn. They will grow in almost any soil, and as long as they don't dry out and are well fed they will produce prodigious volumes of leaves. The plants will usually last virtually a whole year before they start to go to seed. Some varieties will 'bolt' to flower prematurely if the newly transplanted seedlings are exposed to spring frosts. So easy to grow, it should be a criminal offense for an urban hominid family not to have a plant in the garden at all times. There are red stemmed varieties ('Rhubarb Chard'), and varieties with red stems and purplish leaves. And now a New Zealand plant breeder has developed a strain of silverbeet ('Bright Lights') which produces plants with midribs of many varied colors and shades, from yellow to crimson, including pastel shades and stripes. Food never looked so good! About 2 months from seed to first harvest.
Lycopersicon esculentum, L. pimpinellifolium The tomato is
the most important home garden vegetable/fruit of the summer season. It
doesn't make a great deal of sense to grow 'paste' or even 'plum'
given that canned tomatoes and tomato paste is so cheap in the
But fresh salad and slicing tomatoes are something else again. There is
a lot of variation in the amount of sugar and the amount of acid in a
variety of tomato; and the ratio of sugar to acid also varies. There is
nothing better than a sun ripened tomato picked just when you prefer
just ripe, dead ripe, or very ripe. Disease and tomato 'worm'
are the two major problems with tomatoes. There are a battery of sprays
you can use, but a lot of us just try to keep ahead of the disease by
excellent drainage, excellent nutrition (especially potash and
keeping the soil surface covered (once it has warmed up) so disease
don't splash up onto the foliage, or use 'grow bags' of sterile potting
mix. There are three forms of tomato-bush, tall bush, and staking. The
bush and tall bush types have a concentrated fruit set and therefore
harvest period. On the other hand, some are very quick to start
ripe fruit. The stakers need tying and de-lateralling, or they become a
floppy mess that tends to have too many fruit set, and with small sized
fruit. Stakers are later to start bearing. Tomatoes are a hot
semi vining plant, so plants should be available when the weather has
Sow the seed indoors about six weeks to two months before you plan to
them out in the garden. In humid, and in short season areas, it is
to select varieties that are adapted to you climatic conditions
resistant in the one case and fast maturing in the other). Older
do not necessarily have the disease resistance of some of the hybrid
That said, no tomato will survive long in cold, wet, poorly fertilised
soil. Some of the easiest care tomatoes are those closest to the wild,
such as 'Sweet 100'-they are both vigorous and productive, and
by tomato fruit worms. Some of the old 'heirloom' types set fruit
in cool conditions, and may have quite significant variations in flavor
according to whether it is a favorable growing season or not. They also
include most of the exceptionally flavored tomatoes. Notes
on tomato varieties.