Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Grow Your Own Organically
Growing your own fresh; health-promoting vegetables can be easy and fun for all the family.
Spring in Strathconon comes a little later than in some parts of the country but with a little preparation a bountiful harvest can be had all year.
Growing from seed is very ecomical and great for when late frost can be a problem. Start your seeds in seed trays or cell trays. Cell tray growing is ideal for starting off a lot of vegetables plants such as brassicas or lettuces. They come in a range of sizes and with one plant in each the roots do not become entangled and they can be transplanted with less stress to the plant allowing it to grow on quickly in its new environment.
Once your tomatoes form their first flower truss plant into your growing bags or border soil. Pot on peppers, chillies and aubergines as necessary.
Remove side shoots of cordon (up-right) tomatoes and tie in to supports as they grow.
Hopefully by the end of may you should be able able to sow carrots, lettuce. Salad leaves, peas, radish, spinach and beetroot.
Brassicas sown earlier from seed can start to be hardened off. Be careful through and have fleece to hand as frosts have happened in Strathconon into June.
Sow runner beans in pots for later next month.
When choosing organic it isn’t always easy but companion planting is a great way of confusing pests long enough to save your crops.
Nasturtiums are quick growing hardy annual that can be grown outside or in pots for planting later. They produce a mound of rounded leaves and colourful summer blooms. Both the young leaves (which have a hot peppery taste) and flowers are edible and can be added to summer salads.
Nasturtiums really come into their own as companion plants.
They are very attractive to a sap-sucking pest called the black bean aphid, which also attacks broad, French and runner beans. Black bean aphids will abandon these vegetables in flavour of infesting nearby nasturtiums. Once this happens the nasturtiums should be treated as a sacrificial plant, and the affected shoots or plants destroyed. These flowers are also prone to infestations by cabbage white butterflies. They lay their eggs in small groups of the leaves and the resulting yellow and black or velvety green grubs eat the host plant, drawing the pest away from nearby cabbages.
Alternatively employ local kids to help you pick them off and give them an early bath.
For best results, team companion planting with other organic pest control methods.
By JACQUI MCKINNON FOODSTYLE HIGHLAND ORGANIX..