Vegetable production

The choice of cultivar is an important decision that has to be made before growing starts. There are many possibilities for each crop, but a major consideration is the need for uniformity. Where this is important, e.g. for 'once over harvesting' or uniform size, then F1 hybrids are normally used even though they are more expensive (see p144). Required harvesting dates affect not only sowing dates but the selection of appropriate early, mid-season or late cultivars. Other factors for choice include size, shape, taste, cooking qualities, etc. Examples of carrot types to choose from are given in Table 1.1.

Table 1.1 Types of carrot shapes

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Figure 1.3 Spacing of plants in rows; offset rows to the right and mature plants to the bottom

Figure 1.3 Spacing of plants in rows; offset rows to the right and mature plants to the bottom

Table 1.1 Types of carrot shapes

Type

Features

Examples

Amsterdam

Small stumpy cylindrical roots

Amsterdam Forcing-3, Sweetheart

Autumn King

Large, late-maturing

Autumn King, 2 Vita Longa

Berlicum

Cylindrical, stumpy and late crop.

Camberly, Ingot

Chantenay

Stumpy and slightly tapered, for summer

Red Cored Supreme, Babycan

Nantes

Broader and longer

Nantes Express, Navarre, Newmarket

Paris Market

Small round or square roots, early harvest

Early French Frame, Little Finger

Paris Market

Small round or square roots, early harvest

Early French Frame, Little Finger

Most vegetables are grown in rows. This helps with many of the activities such as thinning and weed control (see p267). Seeds are often sown more thickly than is ideal for the full development of the plant; this ensures there are no gaps in the row and extra seedlings are removed before plant growth is affected. The final plant density depends on the crop concerned, but it is often adjusted to achieve specific market requirements, e.g. small carrots for canning require closer spacing than carrots grown for bunching. The arrangement of plants is also an important consideration in spacing; equidistant planting can be achieved by offsetting the rows (see Figure 1.3).

Seeds are often sown into a separate seedbed or into modular trays until they are big enough to be planted out, i.e. transplanted, into their final position. This enables the main cropped areas to be used with a minimum of wasted space. It is also a means of extending the season and speeding up plant growth by the use of greater protection and, where worthwhile, with extra heat. Larger plants are better able to overcome initial pest or disease attack in the field and also the risk of drying out.

Intercropping (the growing of one crop in between another) is uncommon in this country but worldwide is a commonly used technique for the following reasons:

  • to encourage a quick growing plant in the space between slower ones in order to make best use of the space available;
  • to enable one plant species to benefit from the presence of the others which provide extra nutrients e.g. legumes (see p366);
  • to reduce pest and disease attacks (see also companion planting p54).

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    How to offset VEGETABLE spACING?
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