Sow thinly in drills 1in (2.5cm) deep and 12in (30cm) apart, thin out to 4in (10cm) apart. Too early sowing can result in the crop bolting (running to seed), so make the first sowing in mid-spring, with a successional sowing about four weeks later, and the maincrop sowing in early summer.
Celery is a crop that requires a lot of attention. Trench celery requires early preparation of the site with a 1ft (30cm) trench dug early in the year. The bottom is filled with 6in (15cm) of manure or compost, followed by a 3in (7.5cm) layer of soil. The remainder of the soil is used for earthing up the crop.
Self-blanching and green celery varieties require no earthing up and are rapidly increasing in popularity. Allow about 9in (23cm) apart each way for celery plants. Crops need adequate moisture throughout the growing period and should be protected from autumn frosts with straw, bracken or cloches.
Welcomed by the connoisseur of winter salads for its tangy bitter-sweet taste and crisp texture. Seed should be sown early in the summer direct into moist, rich soil. Germination can be rather erratic in hot weather, but growth is rapid once the seedlings emerge. Salad chicories are sown in summer and grown like lettuce, while for chicon production a late winter sowing gives a harvest in autumn, spring sowing gives chicons for winter use.
Sow salad chicories in shallow drills 12in (30cm) apart and thin out to 5in (13cm) apart. For chicons sow in drills 15in (38cm) apart, and thin out to 9in (23cm).
Lift the roots in autumn and cover with 6in (15cm) of soil till ready. Then plant upright in deep boxes of moist soil and cover with 7-9in (18-23cm) of dry soil or sand kept in place by an upturned box. Keep at below 60F (15C). Cut after 8 weeks or so removing only as many as you need.
Greenhouse varieties sow early in the year singly in small pots of compost with the seeds about 0.5in (1.25cm) deep. Germination takes 3 - 15 days at 70-75F (21-24C). Plant singly into 5in pots and grow on at about 65F (18C).
Plant out at the four-leaf stage into large pots or growing bags allowing three plants to a standard-size bag. Water regularly but avoid waterlogging. Train the main stem up a cane or wire to the roof of the greenhouse, pinch out the growing point and allow two side shoots to develop.
Spray with water at greenhouse temperature during hot weather and feed weekly with a liquid fertiliser such as Maxi-crop. All-female varieties can be allowed to fruit only on the main stem with the side shoots removed along with any male flowers that might appear.
Outdoor cucumber seeds are started off the same as the indoor cucumbers but timed so that the plants are ready for hardening off and transplanting in late spring. Outdoor plants, other than bush varieties, will trail and should be given support to climb over. Bush varieties can be grown in growing bags, allowing three plants to a bag.
Sow the seed thinly and shallowly in succession from spring to mid-summer. Sow in drills 12in (30cm) apart and thin out seedlings to 12in (30cm) apart. Blanching is carried out from late autumn to mid-winter and involves covering the plants so they are dry. Use upturned flower pots, wooden boxes or cloches covered with black polythene sheeting.
Sow anytime during the spring when the ground is workable. First having dug over the area to remove any perennial weeds. Once the ground has settled after the digging, it should be raked to a fine tilth.
The contents of the packet can be sown by scattering lightly over the soil and then raking the seed in, but weed control is greatly simplified if the seed is sown in rows. Draw 0.25in (5mm) deep drills 12in (30cm) apart, sprinkle the seed thinly along the row allowing 6-8 seeds per 12in (30cm) of row then firm and lightly rake over the area. On germination any seedlings which are overcrowded can be transplanted whilst still quite small. Keep the weeds down by hoeing along the rows until the plants grow into one another.
Harvest the flowers early in the day, preferably early morning just after the dew has gone, and only wash the flowers if necessary otherwise some of the fragrance and nectar may be removed. Keep the flowers in complete heads until just before you make the salad.They can be stored for a little in the refrigerator if required.
N.B. Never use any petals which have been sprayed with chemicals.
Cabbage, cos and iceberg types of lettuce are ready to eat 10-12 weeks after sowing, while the loose-leaf varieties are ready to start cutting about seven weeks after sowing.
A hardy annual grown for cutting fresh in winter and early spring. Sow direct into moist soil from early to midsummer. The crop is ready about 12 weeks after sowing and can be used whole or as cut and come again leaves. Cloche protection over winter will give supplies in early spring.
Sow the seed as you would for tomatoes (see Growing tomatoes from seed) and move the young plants into 3in (7.5cm) pots at the four-leaf stage. Plant out after hardening off when all danger of frost has passed.
Peppers can be produced outside in growing bags, large pots etc. and are particularly suited to production in the unheated greenhouse which should be kept well ventilated and sprayed regularly in hot weather as an aid to pollination and a deterrent to red spider mite.
These are particularly easy to grow and can be intercropped with rows of lettuce or beetroot or broadcast in patches to take up a minimum amount of space. The earliest sowings can be made in a cold frame or under cloches in late winter with successional sowings following at about three-weekly intervals. Choose a sunny, sheltered position in soil that is well fed with organic matter. Sow the seed thinly, evenly and shallowly in drills 4-6in (10-15cm) apart and thin out early to 1in (3cm) apart. Water the soil thoroughly before sowing and after the seeds emerge.
Sow the seed thinly 0.5in (1.25cm) deep in short drills 8in (20cm) apart from early spring through to early autumn, allowing about a 4-week interval between each sowing. Ishikuro types should be sown thinly in drills 12in (30cm) apart and thinned out when 2in (5cm) tall to 1in (3cm) apart. Then after 6-8 weeks to 4-6in (10-15cm) apart. Through the summer they can be selectively picked leaving the final plants to mature in autumn when they will be the size of leeks.
As with all salad crops, be careful that they are loved by pesky slugs and snails. Use a suitable organic slug killer to avoid your crops being reduced to a minimal!