Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Winter Veg - start planning now

Well, its not been the best growing season, a dry spring and a very wet summer - but in the garden hope and growth spring eternal.

Most of us will be lifting crops in the coming 8 - 12 weeks, and its time to start planning the winter crops.

Having worked a kitchen garden you deserve to be able to take fresh, home grown food from the garden all year round.
That brings us onto the topic of winter veg.

Cabbage is named for its cropping season - not for its planting season.
Spring cabbages are usually sown in July and August being planted out in September and October to overwinter and be harvested from late February through to the beginning of June. In windy areas, earth up around the stem and compress the soil with your foot to ensure the plants are stable and don't suffer root rock.
They tend to be conical in shape and quite loose leaved, often referred to as spring greens or collards.

Heritage types I would reccommend are Baccalan de Rennes and Precoce de Louviers

If you sow now spring cabbage should be ready for transplantation to their final spot from Mid-September to the end of October.

They will be about six weeks old, between 2 ½ -3 inches (6-8cm high), and with about 6 leaves. It is recommended you water the ground deeply around the young plants the day before you intend to move them, as this will prevent transplant shock.

Lift out the young cabbage plants from their seedbed with a trowel or hand-fork retaining as much soil around the roots as possible. Pop each transplant into a 4-inch deep hole, each one approx 12-14 inches apart. Allowing 12 inches (30cm) between each of the plant rows.

The 4-inch deep holes will often swallow the plant up to its first leaves, but in the windy Irish climate it will give them deeper roots and they are less susceptible to being leggy or wind damaged.

Transplanting the cabbages encourages formation of a solid head, heart, and establish a sturdy root system. If seedlings are left to grow where the seed is sown, the cabbage heads can be of poor density.
The transplanting process toughens them up, which will help see them through the winter for fresh, early season greens in February, March and April - after harvest obviously, the spring planting season begins.

Another worthwhile crop is Wiener Runder Kohlschwarzer, the German winter cooking radish.
This over winter veg that stands well in the ground can be used like turnip or swede in soups and stews.

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