Gardening Gift Box – Small
Gardening Gift Box – Small. This small gardening gift box includes the following:
- Book ‘A Vegetable Growers Handbook’
- 3 Seed Packets
- Gardening Notebook
- 3 x Wooden Labels
Most vegetables are sown from seed. Only some are planted as sets (onions, shallots) or tubers (potatoes).
Direct sowing outdoors
In theory, most vegetables can be sown directly into a well-prepared seedbed. Many, however, perform much better if they are raised indoors first.
– Root crops such as carrots, parsnips and radish should always be sown direct.
– Root crops such as beetroot, swede, turnip can be sown direct or raised indoors.
– Peas and beans can be sown direct or raised indoors.
Dig the soil over in late winter (January to March) as soon as the soil is workable. Wait until the soil doesn’t stick to your boots.
About four to six weeks later rake over the beds roughly and break up some of the sods still leaving it reasonably rough. Do not fork it over again otherwise you bring up the grass sods. Repeat after a week or two and ensure that the soil is loose enough and has a good tilth
Mark the drill lines with a tight string attached to two pegs and make a drill using a trowel – or much better even – a draw hoe. The depth depends on the type of vegetable.
Then sprinkle the seeds in thinly into the drill. You can practice first on a table or some guttering pipe. Sow thinly to minimise thinning and to save on seeds.
After having sown the seeds in the bed rake over diagonally to close in the seeds and then tap lightly with the rake to gently firm in the seeds. Water if the soil is very dry.
If the seeds were broadcast sown in pots or standard seed trays they need to be pricked out at an early stage before the roots become too entangled – about a week or two after germination. Some vegetables can be pricked out into modular trays (celery, celeriac) and others into small pots (tomatoes, aubergines, peppers). At this stage a more nutrient rich potting compost is used.
Always hold the seedling on the seed leaf and ease the roots out with a small stick.
Sometimes the seedlings have become leggy especially if there wasn’t enough light. Leggy seedlings are weak seedlings but the situation can be remedied by planting the seedlings deeper. Simply bury the ‘leggy’ stem right up to the seed leaves.
It is essential that all plants that are raised indoors are acclimatised before they are planted outside. The easiest method is to directly plant them under a cloche with a bionet or enviromesh cover.
Alternatively place the trays into a coldframe and acclimatise the seedlings there for about a week. If you haven’t got a cloche or a coldframe simply move the seedling trays out during the day and back in at night every day for about a week.
Seedlings need to be planted out before they get potbound. As a general guidelines this is around 4-7 weeks depending on which vegetable. Transplants should be planted quite firmly into the soil so there is good contact between the roots and the soil. Most beginners compact the soil above rather than pushing the transplant in.
It is also important to plant the transplants at the correct depth. There is some variation in the fact that some plants can be planted deeper while this would be detrimental for others (see individual vegetables). To be on the safe side, every plant can be planted up to its seed leaves. In other words you should never see the stem of the seedling below the seed leaves.
The most efficient way for plant arrangement and root development is to plant at equidistant spacing (staggered).
A small polytunnel or greenhouse is ideal for starting off the seedlings. A corner of it can be dedicated for this purpose. The alternative is a south-facing windowsill in the house.
A heating bench with a thermostat in the tunnel or greenhouse is an excellent investment. Germination of seedlings is much quicker and more reliable.
Most vegetables can be sown in modular seed trays. Their main advantage is that there is no root disturbance when planting out. Fill the tray with a good seed compost which is usually quite fine, tap it on the table to firm in the compost, fill again and level off. Then make fingernail deep indentations in the centre of the module. This is an easy general guideline for most vegetables (apart from a few exceptions). Larger seeds can be sown by hand while smaller seeds are placed on a folded piece of paper and scraped into the holes.
Some seeds are best broadcast sown into pots or standard seed trays. These include vegetables with tiny seeds (celery, celeriac) and vegetables that take a long time to germinate (tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and some that grow very quickly (courgette, squash, cucumber).
Ideal for Schools
Vegetables for school gardens
There are wonderful school gardens in Ireland but unfortunately there are some that have failed and have been abandoned. The most important thing of a school garden is that there is at least one keen and interested person involved in it. It could be a teacher, caretaker, a parent or a visiting gardener.
School gardening has one major disadvantage – school holidays. The summer holidays in Ireland are simply too long. Most crops that were sown in spring and carefully nurtured by tiny hands will be ready when the school gates are closed. Therefore, it would be great to have a few people maintaining the garden throughout the summer. However, from my experience this rarely works – as only the most committed gardeners will keep coming. That’s why it would be highly beneficial to include and involve the caretakers. They look after the grounds even during the holidays.
There are important considerations when choosing crops for a school garden:
Vegetables should be chosen and sown according to when they mature. Some can be sown in spring and harvested before the summer holidays. Others can be sown in spring and in most years look after themselves. These can be harvested in autumn when children are back at school.
Other vegetables that will crop in the summer months and need regular attention should be avoided.
1. Summer/autumn vegetables to avoid:
Some vegetables are not suitable as they mature in the middle of the summer. They should be avoided in school gardens. Unfortunately there are some very interesting crops amongst them.
Examples include: peas, beans, courgettes, tomatoes, summer cabbage
2. Spring/early summer vegetables to grow:
These are vegetables that are fast maturing. Sow them spring and harvest before June. Then the children will reap a quick reward from them.
Examples include: lettuce, annual spinach, radish, turnips, scallions, herbs (dill, coriander, chervil), cress, oriental salads (rocket, mizuna, tatsoi, fancy mustards), first early potatoes
3. Autumn planted and spring summer harvested vegetables to grow:
Some vegetables can be sown or planted in autumn and harvested the following year. Therefore, these vegetables fit in best with the school curriculum. Some of them will mature before the holidays while others take a bit longer.
Examples include: garlic, autumn planted onions, autumn sown broad beans (Variety ‘Aquadulce Claudia’), purple sprouting broccoli, oriental salads, spring cabbage, perpetual spinach, chard
4. Spring planted and autumn/winter harvested vegetables to grow:
Some vegetables can be sown in spring. These can be harvested in autumn when the children come back after the holidays. Apart from weed control and keeping an eye on pests and diseases they require little care:
Examples: maincrop potatoes, carrots, beetroot, parsnip, swede, winter cabbages, Brussels sprouts, leeks, pumpkin, squash
The help of a cloche or small greenhouse will broaden the spectrum of crops that can be grown.
Gardening Gift Box – Small