Which are the best varieties to grow?
Broad Beans can be produced in succession from May until October. Pods must be picked young. You can sow every 2 -3 weeks or use different varieties – degree day method not needed.
Varieties – Aquadulce, Longpod, Windsor. The Sutton are all good standbys. Which magazine recommends Witkiem Manita. We grow Aquadulce in the glasshouses – we sow in November and last year had ready for week 20
French Beans – plant under glass for June harvesting. Prince or Tendergreen. Which? recommend the Dwarf Bean Sprite. Successional sowings from March to Mid july will cover June until October. Seeds won’t germinate below 10C. Pick when young to encourage succession. We for the most part grow climbing french beans in the glasshouse – varieties cobra and blauhilde – a purple variety.
Runner Beans – 2-3 sowings will give you beans from end of June until the frosts kill the plant in the autumn. Early crops can be encouraged by Mulching which can raise the soil temperature by up to 3 degrees C. Dwarf varieties can also help deliver an earlier crop. To keep continuity keep the roots moist and pick continuously. Which? you don’t over plant – a 3 meter row can yield 18 Kg. In the Glasshouses we’ve phased these out in favour of the Cobra beans.
Mangetout and Peas We’ve given up on these commercially – when we used to grow them to eat ourselves I just used to focus on mangeotout. The problem with peas is that the yield is quite low 2-5 pods per plant is all that you can expect and in order to get more than a couple of feeds in a season you need quite a lot. Which? recommend Oregon Sugar Pod for the mangetout – which I always found a reasonable variety.
Beetroot. Earliest crops come from Boltardy or Avon Early under cloches in March. Then sow monthly until July. Try growing the long variety Cheltenham Greentop and use Detroit little ball for the final sowing. Which? recommends Boltardy. We favour Boro and Cheltenham in the Glasshouses.
Broccoli – try one sowing of 3-4 varieties. – This should give you broccoli from January to May. In most years. Grown inside or in a seedbed and transplant in June or July. Keep picking young spears. Each plant should produce for 6-8 weeks. We grow Early Sprouting and Early Purple, Late Purple and F1 Bordeaux planted in week 26 with some more planted in week 33. These are planted in modules for transplant.
Brussels Sprouts. Again sowing half a dozen varieties can deliver sprouts from August to March. Sow under glass between mid march and mid april. Transplant May/June at 24 inch spacings. Earlier sowings can use Peer Gynt. The mix should be Peer Gynt or Cor for early and Rampart / Fortress for late sprouts. Only stop early plants. They need a lot of space and occupy the ground for a long time.
Spring – sow in late july or august in the ground or transplant in September. Grow closely as if for unhearted greens. Use a bolting resistant variety like Durham Early or Avon Crest. If you want wider spacing then use Harbinger also for May Maturation.
Early Summer – sow in modules in heat – transplant mid April – use HIspi or Marner Allfruh – mature 70 days after transplanting.
Summer – good varieties are Market Topper, Stone head and minicole. Sow under glass in March and plant out at 12 x 12 spacing in late may.
Autumn. Sow in May transplant in mid june. Hisepta will mature in September, Hidena or Jupiter will deliver white cabbage to harvest in November if planted outside in late April.
Winter cabbage for December – February sow in mid may and transplant end of June – avon coronet, Celtic, Celsa and aquarius are good. You can get a second set of small heads by cross cutting the stump.
We grow Pixie. Which? likes Hispi (a good reliable standard) Minicole, Primero (small and red), January king 3, Tundra and Pixie.
Calabrese Again one sowing of a variety combining express corona , green comet , green duke or premium cropl Sow late march to early april. Which? likes Tiara – we don’t grow it.
Roots – we don’t grow these much since it’s not the best use of our glass.
Carrots can be produced from end may until November – and later if rows protected from frost. You will need at least 3 varieties. Amsterdam forcing // chantenay red core / autumn king / Vita Longa
Alternatively sow every 3- 4 weeks – last call would be early nantes sowed in august. And covered in October.
Which? recommends early nantes and Bangor for a maincrop. I had good results with Avonresister in smallholding days.
Swede Which? recommends Marian
Potatoes Which recommends Accent for Earlies and Cara for Maincrop. I always liked arran pilots for earlies and King Edwards for maincrop – however they are supposed to be a bit drought susceptible.
Parsnips – Which? likes Gladiator and Lancer for babies
Celeriac One root which we do grow. Best results from early sowings and transplants. We grow Prinz.
Kohl Rabi – is an other – like a sweet turnip – works well as both a salad and a cooked vegetable. We grow Azur Star
Lettuce Which? recommends little gems and arctic king. We rather rate little gem too and also grow an oakleaf lettuce called maserati which I think is rather fun. Other varieties we’ve found reliable are flame, chrystal and green salad bowl. Amorina is a crinkly leaf. Howerver we are mainly growing fro cut and come again – usually we just take little gem, maserati and chrystal through for heads. We’ve also had really good results with Marvel of Four Seasons.
Spinach. We grow a lot of perpetual spinach – cut and come again. Its better value than ordinary spinach and is more resistant to drought and bolting (important to us under glass) we grow erbette.
Chard. Spinach’s more muscular brother. We grow loads. Silver Leaf and Rhubarb mainly but some bright lights for the colour.
Mizuna – mainstay of our both salad and stirfry packs. We grow green and purple varieties. Like most chinese leaves, they’re very daylength susceptible so don’t plant between March and June.
Kale – this is a good stable winter vegetable – easy to grow and usable in cut and come again mode. We use it with chard, spinach and mizuna as a stir-fry mix. We grow mainly red russian and cavolo nero varieties.
Other salad leaves Endive – Bianca, Blonde Heart. Radicchio – Indigo Cress – Belle Isle Rocket
Tomatoes – Which? recommends Gardener’s Delight and Shirley. We did well with Maskotna this year. We also do quite well with Tomatilloes – variety verde. These ARE the fried green tomatoes from the whistle stop cafe. I like them fried up with bacon.
Courgettes – pick early pick often. Which? recommends Patriot. We grow Soleil – a yellow variety. We start them in modules and then pot them on before planting out.
Aubergine – We grow Black Beauty and Rosa – a white and pink stripe variety. Both do well
Sweet Corn – We don’t grow this but Which? recommends Swift – don’t plant more than about 16 plants at once – you should get 1 or 2 ears per plant.
Squash – We grow lots of this – table ace, delicata, butternut, kuri, blue prince are all varieties that we’ve had success with.
Peppers – these do really well – we’ve grown marconi, corno rosso, thai, Apache F1, plus a range of turkish peppers.
Fennel – we grow Romanesque, Florence. Does well from a January sowing under glass. Bolts between weeks 17 and 24.
Celery – We’ve had best results with Utah.
Leeks – Which likes Carlton and Bandit – we tried Hannibal
Onions – Which? likes Centurion and Red Baron. We did well with Ramrod this year
Chinese leaves We’ve done well with Pak Choy -Dwarf Canton Tatsoi Zuukina and Mustard – Tere, Red Mustard, Green in Snow