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What to Grow

What to Grow
  • Herbs
    Herbs deserve a place in any VegTrug. They are easy to grow and can be very attractive. Put your VegTrug in a nice sunny spot close to the kitchen as you will be harvesting your herbs regularly. Herbs have many uses from cooking to cosmetics and also medicinal properties.
    Basil is a lovely fragrant herb which is important in the making of Pesto. It does however; need to be protected early in the season if there are frosts around. Plant a pot-grown specimen in early June in a well drained sunny spot place about 20cm apart and pinch out shoots to create a bushy plant.

    Bay is usually grown as a bush or a small tree and is used for flavouring soups and stews, the leaves can be used fresh or dried.  Plant a pot-grown specimen in late April early May.  They can be pruned quite hard and shaped. Pick leaves as required.

    Chervil is a relative of Parsley and is used with a wide range of dishes including fish. Sow in shallow drills made 30cm apart, make sure the soil is well-drained and sow in August. The plants will then have a longer season for the leaves to be used and for the seed to mature.

    Chives are wonderful chopped into salads giving a lovely onion flavour. Chives are a hardy perennial - reproducing itself from small bulbs - growing to 30cm tall. It is propagated by division every three to four years; the bulbs are teased apart and replanted into rich soil, plant about 8in (20cm) apart in spring or autumn. Plants may be raised from seeds sown in shallow drills in April. The plant should not be cut until their second year. Whilst chives will grow almost anywhere, they seem to have a better flavour if grown in sunny, dry situations. Not being allowed to get too lush with watering or over-feeding.

    Coriander likes dry light soils and the leaves are used as flavouring in many Middle Eastern and South East Asian cookery, the seeds are also used as a spice. Plant coriander where you want it to grow; it quickly develops a deep taproot that doesn't respond well to transplanting.  Sow seeds 1.5cm deep after all danger of frost has passed. When plants emerge, thin them to 10cm apart and mulch to conserve moisture and deter weeds. Keep a close eye on young plants to make sure they don't dry out, but once established, coriander needs little water.  Ensure a steady supply of leaves by sowing succession crops every three weeks until late summer.  Harvest entire plants when they're about 15cm high if you want only the leaves.

    This is a fast growing herb. Dill does not like to be disturbed so sow the seeds in your VegTrug in April where the plants are to grow and thin to 20cm apart.

    Garlic can be used in all types of cooking. Plant individual cloves 6cm deep and about 9cm apart in March. Apart from watering there is nothing else to do until the foliage turns yellow in July or August. Lift the bulbs and allow to dry under cover., then store in a cool place.

    Mint is a quickly spreading plant that is very easy to grow and is wonderful for flavouring all those lovely new potatoes.  Also makes a wonderful refreshing tea.  The best way to plant mint is within a small container within the VegTrug as the mint can take over. Plant small pieces of root 6cm deep and 15cm apart in late April early May or early September.  Top dress with compost in the Autumn.

    Nasturtium is a pretty trailing plant with bright orange and red flowers, the leaves can be used in salads and the fresh seeds are a good substitute for capers.  Plant out in April about 3cm depth and about 20cm apart.  You can use a trailing variety that can hang over the side of you VegTrug.

    Parsley is an important herb used in lots of recipes.  Sow seeds 3cm deep in April for a summer and autumn crop and again in August for winter use. Germination is slow and can take up to 2 months.  Seedlings should be trimmed to 15cm apart.  Pick regularly for a continuous supply of fresh leaves

    Rosemary is another evergreen herb good with lamb. You can sow seeds in May or buy a pot-grown plant and plant in the spring. You can sow seeds in May or alternatively buy a pot-grown plant and plant in a sunny sheltered spot.

    Sage is an evergreen herb native to southern Europe and is used a lot for flavouring. Sage can be propagated by cuttings from the end of April through to September. Insert the cuttings 30cm apart in a lightly shaded place; leave them until they are well established, then they can be removed and placed in a permanent position. Sage prefers chalky soil in sunny areas, but will thrive in a fertile workable soil with good drainage, water well until moist. Old plants tend to get woody, so replace every 3-4 years. Cutting back hard in spring can rejuvenate the older plants. Sage tea is also said to be good for the throat and ears.

    Tarragon has aromatic leaves that are used in fish and meat dishes and can also be used in salads.  It needs a sheltered position and you can plant a pot-grown specimen in March.  Remove the flowering shoots to maintain a fresh supply of leaves on the bush.

    Thyme is a fragrant herb of the Mediterranean and it grows easily in light dry soils.  Plant in late April early May in your VegTrug in a sunny spot at about 20cm apart.  Pick leaves as required. It grows new stems, which need to be divided and planted every two or three years.

  • Vegetables
    Nothing quite compares to the satisfaction you get growing your own Vegetables in your very own VegTrug. They can be easily grown especially from seed and different varieties can be harvested all year round. Your mother always said, "Eat your vegetables" and she was right. Vegetables are a great source of vitamins & minerals that help keep your body healthy.
    Beetroot is an excellent source of betain (one of the B vitamins) and helps to keep you healthy. Tiny immature beets can be eaten raw in salads but generally they are better cooked.

    Sow your beetroot main crop in early summer (April and May) and you only need a couple of seeds every 15cm in the row. Put the seeds in 2 to 3cm deep. You will have to thin them, as the seeds are multiples. The very young beets that are thinned can be eaten raw in salads.

    Leave them in the VegTrug until you need to use them or until the first heavy frosts set in otherwise pull them in the autumn (September or October). Make sure that you twist rather than cut the tops off, not too near to the roots themselves. Store them in sand in a cool place for use over the winter.

    My Mum always told me that carrots help you see in the dark. I'm still not sure about that, but I am sure that I do love carrot cake! One thing I do know is that they have more vitamin A than anything else we are likely to eat. They store well through the winter and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked with absolutely anything.

    Sow carrots in the late spring (March through May). Sow them quite shallow and tamp them down a little after sowing. It might even be a good idea to sow some radishes in the row so that you can see where they are before the carrots start to show above the soil. You can then pull the radishes for eating as soon as they are ready and leave the carrots to come through. Some people also like to intercrop carrots with a few onions as it is believed that the carrot flies are put off by the onions and the onion flies are put off by the carrots!

    It is a good idea to water the rows well to encourage germination and make sure that you never let any weeds grow in your carrot rows. To get a heavy crop you can thin out the rows as they start coming through so that you see plants every 8cm or so along the row. After this, you can thin again (harvesting every other carrot) to leave them around 15cm apart. After thinning each time, make sure that you tamp down the earth again. This method will produce big carrots, which are excellent for winter storage.

    Harvest the main crop late summer (as late as October) and before the first frost of winter. Carrots can be stored in a cool place in sand but make sure that you do not wash them or they will need to be eaten immediately.

    Cauliflowers are not a beginner's crop, but one which yields well in the VegTrug with care and attention.

    Sow in late spring (April and May) 60cm apart in rows using the centre (deepest) part of the VegTrug. Make sure that your cauliflowers always have plenty of moisture, as they can't withstand drought. Keep them growing, top dressing with fertiliser and nitrogen if necessary.

    Harvest in July and August when they are ready. Early in the morning is best. Never boil them to death!

    Lettuce is the firm base of any salad throughout the fair months of the year. You should experiment in the VegTrug with different varieties as some are more crisp than others! Sow about 2cm deep in rows in the spring and then thin the plants out to about 30cm between the plants. You can re-plant the thinning’s into another row (or another VegTrug) because they do transplant easily.

    Don't sow too many at one time but instead try and keep sowing a few each week throughout the summer. Keep the soil around the plants weed free and water whenever necessary.

    Peas are best when they are eaten green, fresh and in season. They can be gown in the VegTrug a little way in from the back or front edge and will produce a wonderful crop.
    Plant them in a small trench throughout the length of the VegTrug in spring from February through May. For a very early crop sown in February, favour round seeded peas if you have a mild climate. Most of the crop should be sown mid-March onwards however and you can make successional sowings in the VegTrug right into July. For your last sowings late in the summer, use 'early' varieties, which will ripen quickly before any frosts come.

    Dig a little trench about 8cm deep with a hoe and plant each pea 5 - 8cm apart. Cover and firm the soil over the peas. It will help a great deal if you have soaked the peas for 2 or 3 days first to get them germinating so that they sprout early.
    Pick them young to eat raw in salads. When the pods become tightly packed, use them for cooking.

    Potatoes are a staple of our diet and one of the best sources of energy we can grow. They are also our main source of vitamin C throughout the winter.

    Potatoes love peat and are one of the few crops that love acid soil. For very early potatoes you can 'chit' your seed potatoes ie lay them in trays or even egg boxes in the light, but not in the frost - 5 to 10 deg C is about right. When you plant them be careful not to knock off all the shoots, but leave 2 on each tuber. Don't chit the main crop, but put them straight in the VegTrug in the late spring.

    Plant early potatoes in rows about 8cm deep and 45cm apart. The main crop can be planted later in a row towards the middle of the VegTrug about 13cm deep and still 45cm apart.
    As soon as the leaves show band earth lightly over the potatoes. Earth up again 3 weeks later and with the main crop, again 2 weeks after that.

    You can start to harvest and eat the early potatoes when they are quite small and then continue to harvest until they are finished. If you have put in 'second earlies' you can then go on to harvest them. Your main crop will then take over for immediate eating. but don't lift the bulk of the main crop until the tops have completely withered away. Fork them out carefully and let them lie on the ground for a day and a half to set the skins. Do make sure that you don't leave them longer than this as they may go green (in which case they become poisonous). They can then be stored in the dark. Never allow your potatoes to be affected by frost or they will go bad.

    Radishes added to salads provide a wonderful extra flavour, crunchiness and colour. They are very easy to grow in the VegTrug. Sow the large seeds in drills and simply pick them when they are ripe, usually within 6 weeks.
    Put them in all through the spring and summer (you can start in March and April) for a constant supply of tender young radishes. Never let them get old and go to seed. Keep sowing and harvesting every 6 weeks. What could be nicer!

    Runner Beans have a wonderful flavour and need tall sticks to climb. They like rich and deep soil. Plant them in a long row towards the centre of the VegTrug (where it is deepest). They should be planted about 5cm below the surface and about 20-25cm apart. They should be sown in early summer (May or June). Put tall sticks in early enough to give the plants a good start.

    Keep them well watered especially in a dry season. Mulch with compost and spray the flowers with water occasionally.
    To harvest the plants just keep on picking. They should be ready in July, August and September, usually producing a large crop.

    Onions are a very easy vegetable to grow and store and few have more uses in the kitchen making them an excellent candidate for the VegTrug.

    Onions are planted late February through to early April. Spring onions are sown from March to July for pulling from June to October. If you sow in August you will get a crop the following March to May. Sow the onion seeds very thinly into drills (holes) in a row only 2cm deep, in rows around 20 to 25cm apart. Carefully cover the onion seed with soil and gently water in. They will germinate in around 21 days.

    Thin out your onion seedlings when they have pushed through the soil and are standing vertical to about 3 to 5cm so that they stand about 5cm apart. You can then thin them again later pulling every other plant until they are about 10cm apart. Make sure that the soil is moist when you pull the onions and that you clear the thinning’s properly so as not to attract the onion fly.

    You can also purchase onion sets which are young seed onions grown especially for ready planting. Simply empty the onion sets into a tray and keep them in a cool dry place until you are ready to plant them. Cut off any excess dead growth from the growing tip so that birds do not pull at them. Plant from mid March through to mid April 10cm apart in each row. Just make a small hole in the soil with a trowel and put the onion set in so that the growing tip is just below the surface of the soil. You can then firm the soil around it. Do make sure that you water in after sowing.

    Make sure that you feed occasionally with a liquid fertiliser and water them only if the weather gets dry. Cut off any flower stems that appear because you want all the energy going into swelling the bulb and not setting seed. Stop watering once the onions have swollen and begin to ripen.

  • Fruits
    Don’t let the name fool you, VegTrug’s are perfect for growing all of your favourite fruit. Fruits taste great individually, in a smoothie, even as a nice jam on your toast. Fruits are the ultimate brain fuel, making your brains recall information faster. Which is great for remembering your grandma’s apple pie recipe!

    Growing

    Top-dress blackberries with 100g per sq m (4oz per sq yard) of general-purpose fertiliser in mid-spring and cover with a 7cm (3in) organic mulch annually. Make sure the mulch is placed 5cm (2in) away from the new canes and the crown to prevent rotting.

    Water young plants every 7-10 days during dry spells. While mature plants shouldn’t need extra watering, their fruit size will benefit from watering every 10-14 days if the summer is particularly dry.

     

    Pruning and training

    Blackberries are vigorous and need regular pruning and training. Regularly tie in the shoots of newly-planted canes. Once these reach their first winter, cut back all side-shoots produced on these main canes to 5cm (2in). It is mainly from the resulting fruiting spurs that flowers are formed.

    In the second year after planting the crown will throw up new canes from ground level. Loosely bundle these together; insert four bamboo canes in a square vertically around the crown and pull the new canes into the centre; then tie some sturdy twine around the square to hold the new canes in place.

    Remove the one-year-old canes once they have fruited by pruning them into shorter sections with loppers, then extracting them carefully to prevent their thorns snagging on new canes. Then untie the twine around the new canes and train them along the wires.

     

    Planting

    Blackberries can tolerate light shade, but they will be more productive in a sunny, sheltered site. They prefer moisture-retentive, but free-draining soil. If you have chalky, sandy, or heavy clay soil, improve with plenty of bulky organic matter (two bucketfuls per sq m) before planting.

    They are usually bought as container-grown plants. A single plant can be incredibly productive, but if you plant more make sure they have plenty of room. Spacing depends on the vigour of the cultivar, ranging from 2.5m (8ft) to 4.5m (13ft) apart. When planting, cover the rootball with about 8cm (3in) of soil.

    Vigorous cultivars need a sturdy support system. Use a wall or fence, 1.5-2m (5ft - 6ft 6in) high, with horizontal wires spaced 45cm (18in) apart, with the lowest wire 23cm (9in) from the ground. Alternatively, run the wires between two strong vertical posts.

    After planting cut down all canes to a healthy bud. This may seem drastic, but it will ensure plants throw up lots of vigorous, healthy shoots in spring.


    Growing

    Blueberries are relatively easy to look after. Keep the compost or soil moist, but not soaking wet. Don’t allow it to dry out between waterings. Water plants with rainwater, not tap water, unless you have no alternative in a drought. Tap water will raise the pH level and blueberries like acidic conditions.

    Ensure the soil stays at pH of 5.5 or lower, to avoid problems. Check the pH of the soil in spring and add sulphur chips if it needs lowering. This shouldn’t be necessary with container-grown plants provided ericaceous fertiliser and rainwater are used.

    Feed container plants every month using a liquid fertiliser formulated for ericaceous (lime-hating) plants, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

    You may find open ground plants don't need feeding apart from the annual ericaceous mulch and a high nitrogen feed such as sulphate of ammonia in late winter. Blueberries are sensitive to overfeeding.

    Pruning is rarely needed in the first two years. After that you should prune in late February to early March. Once you start pruning, you should aim to remove a quarter of old wood at the base every year to keep the plant productive.

    In colder regions, many cultivars will need winter protection.  In spring, flowers may need some fleece protection if frost threatens.

     

    Planting

    Plant in a moist, well-drained, acidic soil. Blueberries prefer light soils rather than heavy clays. Choose a sunny, sheltered spot. While blueberries are tolerant of shade, better crops (and autumn colour) are obtained in the sun.

    Blueberries are very fussy about soil acidity. They will not grow well if planted in alkaline soil. Soil acidity can be measured by a pH testing kit. You can buy these from most garden centres. The pH of your soil needs to be pH 5.5 or lower for blueberries to thrive. If your soil is marginally higher than this, you can try lowering the pH by adding sulphur chips well in advance of planting.

    If your pH is higher you’ll be best to plant blueberries in a container. Container cultivation is often best if your soil is a heavy clay too.

    If growing blueberries in garden soil, add plenty of bulky, acidic organic matter such as pine needles, leaf mould or composted conifer clippings. Avoid well-rotted farmyard manure as this is too rich and alkaline.

    While some blueberry cultivars can produce a good crop on their own, all yield much more heavily if planted near another, different cultivar. Check the labels on the plants when you buy.

     

    Growing in containers

    If growing in a container, choose one that is at least 30cm (12in) in diameter for young plants, then move into a 45-50cm (18-20in) container when it outgrows the first one.

    When planting, place a crock (small piece of broken clay pot, or polystyrene) across the drainage hole to retain the compost. Select an ericaceous compost. You can buy this at most garden centres.



    Grow

     

    Site

    Raspberries thrive in moisture-retentive, fertile, slightly acidic soils, which are well-drained and weed free. They dislike soggy soils and shallow chalky soils. For best results, plant in a sunny position (although they will tolerate part shade). Ideally, site your rows running north to south, so that they do not shade each other.

    Raspberry flowers are self-fertile and pollinated by insects, so avoid a very windy site. Also, the fruiting side branches of some cultivars are very long and may break in the wind.

     

    Annual care

    In early spring, sprinkle a general-purpose fertiliser such as Growmore around the base of the plants, then add a mulch of garden compost or well-rotted farmyard manure. This will prevent weeds growing.

    Keep raspberries well-watered during dry periods.

     

    Summer-fruiting raspberries

    In early summer, pull up suckers between the rows of summer raspberries. Cut back fruited canes to ground level after harvesting in summer; do not leave old stubs.

    Select the strongest young canes that have grown during the current season, around six to eight per plant, and tie them in 8 –10cm (3–4in) apart along the wire supports. These will fruit for you the following summer.

     

    Remove the remaining (excess) young stems to ground level.

    Autumn-fruiting raspberries

    Cut back all the old, fruited canes to ground level in February. New canes will start growing in spring. These will bear fruit for you later in the year.

    Reduce the number of canes slightly in summer if they are very overcrowded. Thin to around 10cm (4in) apart.

     

    Plant

    Raspberries can be planted any time during the dormant season, between November and March, providing the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. They are sold as either: bare-root canes (the roots are exposed when you buy, usually mail order) or in containers.

    Most people grow summer-fruiting raspberries, which are ready for harvesting in early summer. You can also buy autumn-fruiting raspberries, which are ready for harvest from 

    late August to October.

     

    Planting

    Before planting, clear the site of perennial weeds, as these are difficult to control once raspberries are established. Dig over the site and add a bucket of well rotted farmyard manure per square metre or yard and a general fertiliser such as Growmore or fish blood and bone at 90g per sq m (3oz per sq yard).

    Space the plants around 45-60cm (18in–2ft) apart if planting in rows. Top with a 7.5cm (3in) thick mulch of bulky organic matter. Avoid alkaline mushroom compost or overly rich farmyard manure, which can burn the new shoots.

    Prune the canes to within 25cm (10in) of the ground after planting. However, summer fruiting rapsberries can be supplied as one year old canes (long canes). Don't prune these as they'll fruit for you that season.

     

    Container growing

    You can grow raspberries in containers.

    Single raspberry plants can be grown in 38cm (15in) diameter containers of 80 per cent multipurpose compost and, to add weight for stability, 20 per cent loam-based potting compost, tying the canes to bamboo canes.

    Keep the compost moist and feed with a liquid general-purpose fertiliser on a monthly basis during the growing season. In hard water areas try to use harvested rainwater.


    Growing

    Water frequently while new plants are establishing. Also water during dry periods in the growing season. Try to avoid wetting crowns and fruit as this can promote disease.

    In early spring, apply general fertiliser such as Grow more at a rate of 50g per sq m (2oz per sq yd). During the growing season, give strawberry plants a liquid potash feed – such as a tomato feed – every 7 to 14 days.

     

    Netting may be required to protect from birds. If squirrels are a problem, protect with wire mesh. In May, protect your bed with fleece if overnight frost threatens developing fruits.

    As fruits start to develop, tuck straw or fibre mats underneath plants to keep fruit clean. This will also help suppress weeds. Pull out any weeds that do emerge.

    After cropping has finished, cut off old leaves from summer-fruiting strawberries to allow fresh leaves to develop. This isn't necessary with autumn fruiting plants, instead just remove old leaves in the end of season clear up. Also remove the straw mulch, fibre mat, or black polythene, to prevent a build-up of pests and diseases. Take off any netting so birds can feed on any pests.

    Expect strawberry plants to crop successfully for four years before replacing them. Rotate your strawberry patch onto fresh ground to minimise the risk of disease build up in the soil.

     

     

    Planting

    Strawberries are so versatile – they just need sun, shelter, and fertile, well-drained soil. Avoid areas prone to frost and soils that have previously grown potatoes, chrysanthemums, or tomatoes because they are all prone to the disease verticillium wilt. 

    Strawberries are traditionally grown in rows directly into garden soil. In poor soils grow in raised beds, which improves drainage and increases rooting depth. Alternatively, try growing in containers or growing-bags.

    Avoid windy sites which will prevent pollinating insects from reaching the flowers.

    Buy plants from a reputable supplier so that cultivars are true to type plants are disease free. 

    Strawberries can be bought as potted plants or bare-rooted runners.

    Strawberries for sale in pots or packs (normally from late spring onwards) can be planted as soon as you buy them.

    Runners look like little pieces of roots with very few leaves. Don’t be alarmed, this is how they should look. You can buy runners from late summer to early spring, and they should be planted in early autumn, or early spring (avoid planting in winter when the ground is wet and cold).

    You can also buy cold-stored runners. These can be planted from late spring to early summer and will fruit 60 days after planting.

     

    Strawberry types

    Summer-fruiting varieties have the largest  fruit. They have a short but heavy cropping period over two or three weeks. There are early, mid-, and late fruiting cultivars cropping from early to mid-summer.

    Perpetual strawberries – sometimes called everbearers – produce small flushes of fruits from early summer to early autumn. The crops are not so heavy as the summer-fruiting ones and the fruits are smaller, with the plants less likely to produce runners. Perpetual strawberries are useful for extending the season.

    How to plant

    Prepare your ground by digging in two buckets of well-rotted manure or garden compost per sq m (sq yd). Add a general purpose fertiliser such as Growmore at 100g per sq m (3oz per sq yd).

    Measure out planting holes 35cm (14in) apart. Space rows 75cm (30in) apart. Dig out a hole large enough to accommodate the roots. Trim the roots lightly to 10cm (4in) if necessary, then spread them out in the hole. Ensure that the base of the crown rests lightly on the surface before firming in gently. Planting at the correct depth is important: if the crown is planted too deeply it will rot; if it is planted too shallowly the plants will dry out and die. Water the plants in well.

    If planting in the autumn or early spring, remove the first flush of flowers of perpetual strawberries, but remove flowers of summer strawberries only if the plants are weak.

    If you've planted  cold-stored runners in late spring to early summer, leave the flowers on. These will produce strawberries in 60 days, reverting to their natural cropping period the following year.


    Sowing

    Tomatoes generally come in two different growth habits: cordon (or indeterminate) tomatoes grow tall, reaching up to 1.8m (6ft) and require support; bush (or determinate) tomatoes are bushy and don’t require staking.

    Tomatoes are easy to grow from seed. You can sow seed from late March to early April if you will be growing the plants outdoors. If you are planning on growing your tomatoes in a greenhouse, you can start sowing seed earlier, from late February to mid-March.

    Sow in small pots indoors, using a propagator or place the pots in a plastic bag and keep on the windowsill. The young seedlings need to be kept at around 18°C (64°F).  Transplant into 9cm (3½in) pots when two true leaves have formed.

    Young plants are available from garden centres in spring if you don’t have the space to raise tomato seedlings. But they will still require frost-free conditions and hardening off before planting outside.

     

    Growing

    When the flowers of the first truss are beginning to open, transfer to 23cm (9in) pots, growing bags or plant 45-60cm (18-24in) apart outside. Plants for growing outdoors should be hardened off first. 

     

    Cordon tomatoes - Tie the main stem to a vertical bamboo cane or wind it round a well-anchored but slack sturdy string. Remove the side shoots regularly when they are about 2.5cm (1in) long. When eventually plants reach the top of the greenhouse or have set seven trusses indoors or four trusses outdoors, remove the growing point of the main stem at two leaves above the top truss.

     

    Bush tomatoes - Those grown as bush or hanging basket types do not need support. You won't need to remove side shoots.

    Water regularly to keep the soil/compost evenly moist. Fluctuating moisture levels can cause the fruit to split. Feed every 10-14 days with a balanced liquid fertiliser, changing to a high potash one once the first fruits start to set. Irregular watering, together with a lack of calcium in the soil leads to blossom end rot - the bottom of the fruit turns black and becomes sunken.

    For indeterminate (vine or cordon tomatoes), there is evidence that removing some leaves above the ripening truss (which allows the fruit to be warmer during the day but cooler at night) can encourage slightly earlier ripening without negatively affecting cropping. Removing leaves below the ripening truss does not improve ripening but can help reduce the spread of diseases such as tomato leaf mould or tomato blight where these are a problem.



     
       

  • Looking After Your Vegtrug Over Winter
    Grow A Winter Crop

    1. If you live in a climate that will support a winter crop then go ahead and plant the whole VegTrug with a winter type grass then till into the soil in the spring to help nourish your soil. There is a product called “Green Manure” that you may want to look into if your able to grow over the winter.  If any snow does fall you want to make sure it gets cleared from the VegTrug.

    2.  Clear your finished crops and cover with a breathable cover then keep any snow off the VegTrug.  
    It is suggested to have a breathable cover so no mold grows in the soil and to keep snow off the top of the VegTrug so it doesn’t get damaged. You can also add compost to the soil (if you compost) which will decay over the winter and help  nourish your soil for spring planting.
     
    3.  Empty the VegTrug and store indoors for the winter
     You can empty the VegTrug and bring indoors for the winter. It is recommended to change out the first 8 to 10 inches of soil each spring anyway and if your VegTrug is empty you could start the season with a new liner and new soil and be  ready to go. And since the VegTrug would be empty for a time it would be a good time to give it a nice coating of a water soluble food based treatment (as recommended).
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Nothing quite compares to the satisfaction you get growing your own Vegetables in your very own VegTrug. They can be easily grown especially from seed and different varieties can be harvested all year round. Your mother always said, "Eat your vegetables" and she was right. Vegetables are a great source of vitamins & minerals that help keep your body healthy.
Beetroot is an excellent source of betain (one of the B vitamins) and helps to keep you healthy. Tiny immature beets can be eaten raw in salads but generally they are better cooked.

Sow your beetroot main crop in early summer (April and May) and you only need a couple of seeds every 15cm in the row. Put the seeds in 2 to 3cm deep. You will have to thin them, as the seeds are multiples. The very young beets that are thinned can be eaten raw in salads.

Leave them in the VegTrug until you need to use them or until the first heavy frosts set in otherwise pull them in the autumn (September or October). Make sure that you twist rather than cut the tops off, not too near to the roots themselves. Store them in sand in a cool place for use over the winter.

My Mum always told me that carrots help you see in the dark. I'm still not sure about that, but I am sure that I do love carrot cake! One thing I do know is that they have more vitamin A than anything else we are likely to eat. They store well through the winter and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked with absolutely anything.

Sow carrots in the late spring (March through May). Sow them quite shallow and tamp them down a little after sowing. It might even be a good idea to sow some radishes in the row so that you can see where they are before the carrots start to show above the soil. You can then pull the radishes for eating as soon as they are ready and leave the carrots to come through. Some people also like to intercrop carrots with a few onions as it is believed that the carrot flies are put off by the onions and the onion flies are put off by the carrots!

It is a good idea to water the rows well to encourage germination and make sure that you never let any weeds grow in your carrot rows. To get a heavy crop you can thin out the rows as they start coming through so that you see plants every 8cm or so along the row. After this, you can thin again (harvesting every other carrot) to leave them around 15cm apart. After thinning each time, make sure that you tamp down the earth again. This method will produce big carrots, which are excellent for winter storage.

Harvest the main crop late summer (as late as October) and before the first frost of winter. Carrots can be stored in a cool place in sand but make sure that you do not wash them or they will need to be eaten immediately.

Cauliflowers are not a beginner's crop, but one which yields well in the VegTrug with care and attention.

Sow in late spring (April and May) 60cm apart in rows using the centre (deepest) part of the VegTrug. Make sure that your cauliflowers always have plenty of moisture, as they can't withstand drought. Keep them growing, top dressing with fertiliser and nitrogen if necessary.

Harvest in July and August when they are ready. Early in the morning is best. Never boil them to death!

Lettuce is the firm base of any salad throughout the fair months of the year. You should experiment in the VegTrug with different varieties as some are more crisp than others! Sow about 2cm deep in rows in the spring and then thin the plants out to about 30cm between the plants. You can re-plant the thinning’s into another row (or another VegTrug) because they do transplant easily.

Don't sow too many at one time but instead try and keep sowing a few each week throughout the summer. Keep the soil around the plants weed free and water whenever necessary.

Peas are best when they are eaten green, fresh and in season. They can be gown in the VegTrug a little way in from the back or front edge and will produce a wonderful crop.
Plant them in a small trench throughout the length of the VegTrug in spring from February through May. For a very early crop sown in February, favour round seeded peas if you have a mild climate. Most of the crop should be sown mid-March onwards however and you can make successional sowings in the VegTrug right into July. For your last sowings late in the summer, use 'early' varieties, which will ripen quickly before any frosts come.

Dig a little trench about 8cm deep with a hoe and plant each pea 5 - 8cm apart. Cover and firm the soil over the peas. It will help a great deal if you have soaked the peas for 2 or 3 days first to get them germinating so that they sprout early.
Pick them young to eat raw in salads. When the pods become tightly packed, use them for cooking.

Potatoes are a staple of our diet and one of the best sources of energy we can grow. They are also our main source of vitamin C throughout the winter.

Potatoes love peat and are one of the few crops that love acid soil. For very early potatoes you can 'chit' your seed potatoes ie lay them in trays or even egg boxes in the light, but not in the frost - 5 to 10 deg C is about right. When you plant them be careful not to knock off all the shoots, but leave 2 on each tuber. Don't chit the main crop, but put them straight in the VegTrug in the late spring.

Plant early potatoes in rows about 8cm deep and 45cm apart. The main crop can be planted later in a row towards the middle of the VegTrug about 13cm deep and still 45cm apart.
As soon as the leaves show band earth lightly over the potatoes. Earth up again 3 weeks later and with the main crop, again 2 weeks after that.

You can start to harvest and eat the early potatoes when they are quite small and then continue to harvest until they are finished. If you have put in 'second earlies' you can then go on to harvest them. Your main crop will then take over for immediate eating. but don't lift the bulk of the main crop until the tops have completely withered away. Fork them out carefully and let them lie on the ground for a day and a half to set the skins. Do make sure that you don't leave them longer than this as they may go green (in which case they become poisonous). They can then be stored in the dark. Never allow your potatoes to be affected by frost or they will go bad.

Radishes added to salads provide a wonderful extra flavour, crunchiness and colour. They are very easy to grow in the VegTrug. Sow the large seeds in drills and simply pick them when they are ripe, usually within 6 weeks.
Put them in all through the spring and summer (you can start in March and April) for a constant supply of tender young radishes. Never let them get old and go to seed. Keep sowing and harvesting every 6 weeks. What could be nicer!

Runner Beans have a wonderful flavour and need tall sticks to climb. They like rich and deep soil. Plant them in a long row towards the centre of the VegTrug (where it is deepest). They should be planted about 5cm below the surface and about 20-25cm apart. They should be sown in early summer (May or June). Put tall sticks in early enough to give the plants a good start.

Keep them well watered especially in a dry season. Mulch with compost and spray the flowers with water occasionally.
To harvest the plants just keep on picking. They should be ready in July, August and September, usually producing a large crop.

Onions are a very easy vegetable to grow and store and few have more uses in the kitchen making them an excellent candidate for the VegTrug.

Onions are planted late February through to early April. Spring onions are sown from March to July for pulling from June to October. If you sow in August you will get a crop the following March to May. Sow the onion seeds very thinly into drills (holes) in a row only 2cm deep, in rows around 20 to 25cm apart. Carefully cover the onion seed with soil and gently water in. They will germinate in around 21 days.

Thin out your onion seedlings when they have pushed through the soil and are standing vertical to about 3 to 5cm so that they stand about 5cm apart. You can then thin them again later pulling every other plant until they are about 10cm apart. Make sure that the soil is moist when you pull the onions and that you clear the thinning’s properly so as not to attract the onion fly.

You can also purchase onion sets which are young seed onions grown especially for ready planting. Simply empty the onion sets into a tray and keep them in a cool dry place until you are ready to plant them. Cut off any excess dead growth from the growing tip so that birds do not pull at them. Plant from mid March through to mid April 10cm apart in each row. Just make a small hole in the soil with a trowel and put the onion set in so that the growing tip is just below the surface of the soil. You can then firm the soil around it. Do make sure that you water in after sowing.

Make sure that you feed occasionally with a liquid fertiliser and water them only if the weather gets dry. Cut off any flower stems that appear because you want all the energy going into swelling the bulb and not setting seed. Stop watering once the onions have swollen and begin to ripen.