Vegetable Series (Part 4)

F1 Hybrid Chilli Padi (Hot Pepper) Capsicum frutescens (Solanaceae)

These tiny, bullet-shaped chilies are extremely fiery and look decorative pointing up from the bushy plants, which reach no more than 8 in (20 cm) tall. Plants crop heavily. Also known as bird-pepper or chillipiquin, this is a branched perennial herb with a woody stem at its base. This pungent variety of hot peppers is usually small and red when ripe and has high capsaicin content. Hot weather conditions produce hotter peppers. Commonly used in sauces, soups and stews and also for flavouring. Chilli Padi is helpful for boosting immune function and protecting skin. They contain high levels of vitamin c and vitamin B6, which plays an important role in generating energy.

Type of vegetable:Fleshy fruited

Hot Pepper

Edible parts: fruits

Best soil: Fertile, well-drained, light, high in organic matter

How to plant: Sow seeds in trays indoors 6 to 8 weeks before setting out plants in the garden. Set out plants 18” to 24” apart in rows spaced 30” to 48” apart.

When to harvest: 60 to 100 days after setting out plants when the fruits are full size.

How to harvest: Cut with pair of scissors or sharp knife.

Care: Keep soil moist especially during flowering and fruiting. Weed regularly.

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Choy Sam (Chinese Flowering Cabbage) –  Brassica rapa L.  var. parachinensis Cruciferae

Choy Sam or Chinese Flowering Cabbage is an annual plant that grows vigorously under good conditions and it has broad, yellowish-green leaves and yellow flowers borne in loose clusters. This is an easy and productive vegetable for the home vegetable garden. Noted for non-fibrous good eating quality. The leaves are rich in vitamins A, B and C and in minerals like iron and calcium. The leaves and stems are consumed as a dish and in noodle dishes as one of the ingredients. The crispy stems are blanched or boiled as green vegetables and served with oyster sauce or various other sauced.

Type of vegetable: Leafy Choy Sum

Edible parts: Flowering stems, with associated small leaves and flower buds

Best soil: Fertile, well-drained soil with a pH level of 6.0-6.8 is most suitable.

How to plant: Sow seeds ¼” deep, ½” apart, in rows spaced 2 feet apart. Thin seedlings to 12” to 24” apart. It can be directly sown into the field or it can be planted in the nursery and transplanted to the field.

When to harvest: 30 to 45 days after sowing of seeds when the first flowers have opened

How to harvest: For greens, use whole plants when they are small. Cut off 2” to 3” from base of the stem.

Care: Keep soil moist. Weed regularly. Maintain good drainage

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Lettuce – Lactuca sativa L. (Compositae)

Leaf Lettuce, commonly called “loose leaf”, is an annual with cylindrical stem and a vigorous grower producing an abundance of tasty, attractive, frilly green leaves. Lettuce is the starting point for every good salad. It is also a basic in sandwiches, and as a decorative garnish for other foods. It is nutritious, yet low in calories. That is why it is so popular for dieters, and for those who want to stay trim. Dieting and health issues aside, we eat lettuce because it tastes good! Although you can serve the vegetable in a number of ways, the best is to eat it raw as all the vitamins and minerals will be retained. You can also cook it like any other vegetable; added to soups and stir-fries. The best way is to braise it: cut the lettuce into the desired size. Fry in a little oil. Add a little water and cover the pan for a few minutes. You can also blanch it by just immersing the lettuce in boiling water for a few seconds before removing it.

Type of vegetable: Leafy Lettuce

Edible parts: Leaves, stems

Best soil: Lettuce requires a good, rich but well-drained soil with plenty of compost dug in and continual watering during the growing season if they are to thrive. The seedlings of lettuce do not grow well in acidic soil.  A soil PH of 6 and 7 is most suitable and preferred.

How to plant: Lettuce seeds are very fine. Before sowing, the seeds are usually placed in a thin cotton cloth bag and soaked in water for an hour. The seeds can be mixed with fine sand and sown directly. You can also plant indoors in pots or boxes. When the seedlings emerge, transplant them as soon as they are large enough to handle into raised beds. The beds should have been heavily manured with compost. Space the seedlings about 9-12 inches apart.  Liming is necessary before seed sowing. Cover the seeds with a very fine layer of loose soil or starting mixture. Whether sowing indoors or out, you will likely want to transplant your seedlings with the proper spacing for full development without crowding. Lettuce likes lots of moisture. Transplanting should only be done in cool, preferably cloudy weather. If the weather is hot and sunny, we recommend putting off transplanting if possible. If this is not possible, then transplant in the evening. Water thoroughly and every day after, unless it rains, for about a week. The key to growing crisp, sweet lettuce, is to get it growing at a fast pace. That means plenty of water, and a healthy dose of fertilizer. When transplanting lettuce in hot weather, place some form of sun shade over the plant for a couple of days. Any makeshift shade will do.

When to harvest: Can be ready to begin cutting in as little as three weeks as soon as it is big enough to use. Harvesting should be done in the early part of the day. The outer leaves can be picked and the inner leaves are allowed to grow further. Loose leaf varieties will grow back after cutting.

How to harvest: Use a sharp knife or scissors. Or the whole plants are pulled up.

Care:  Water frequently during dry spells. Slugs and snails, as well as caterpillars are the biggest problem. Insects can become a real problem, too. Lettuce is delicate, and can absorb many insecticides. If you want or need to use insecticides, look for brands that are less harmful to you and the environment. We like to avoid insecticides on leafy vegetables wherever possible. We suggest organic sprays and a willingness to give up some of the harvest to insects versus using pesticides. After all, one of the reasons most of us have gardens is to avoid the pesticides. We do not recommend insecticides at all for loose leaf lettuce varieties. There are a variety of control methods.

Happy Gardening! =)

www.iLoveGardening.net

Vegetable Series (Part 3)

F1 Hybrid Eggplant BBS007 Solarnum melongena L. (Solanaceae)

Eggplant or aubergine is a short-lived perennial herb which is, normally grown as an annual. Not only is eggplant easy to grow, it is one of the more prolific producers of the vegetable world. On top of that, it is great in recipes. This is a popular fruit vegetable which belongs to the same family as tomato and chilies. This is a very productive variety for cultivation in both tropical and subtropical areas. The dark purple fruits are large and round with green calyx. The fruits, both mature and immature, are sliced and stir-fried, roasted whole or used in curries.

eggplant

Type of vegetable: Fleshy fruited

Edible parts: Fruits

Best soil: Fertile, well-drained organic soil with high potash to encourage good root growth. Before planting, add plenty of compost and manure, as eggplants thrive in rich soil. Keep the soil moist to promote maximum growth.

How to plant: It is propagated by seeds. Eggplants like full sun. Sow seeds very shallow, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. You can even set them on the soil and lightly water them in. If started outdoors, you can also sow seeds in a seedbed and transplant plant seedlings to the desired location. Space young plants 1 1/2 feet apart and  in rows 2 to 2 1/2 feet apart.

When to harvest: Fruits are harvested at 80-120 days from transplanting. Begin to harvest eggplants as soon as the first fruit reaches a desirable size. Keep picking them and do not let them get too big. By continuous harvesting, you will encourage more fruit to set all the way.

How to harvest: Cut fruits with a pair of scissors or sharp knife

Care: Keep soil moist. Keep eggplants weed free, so they do not compete for sunlight and nutrients. Aphids, Red Spider mites and whiteflies are common pests. Garden dusts like Sevin are usually effective.

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F1 Hybrid Lady’s Fingers BBS008 Hibiscus esculentus L. syn. Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) moench. (Malvaceae)

Lady’s finger or okra is an annual tropical herb grown for its mature fruits which are used as a vegetable. The flower petals are cream yellow and dark purple at the base and look like hibiscus flowers. The fruits, which are eaten in the young state, are long and green, tapering to a blunt point, and often five-sided in cross-section. Fruit is high in vitamin B, folic acid and fibers. For soups, stir-fries and Cajun cooking. The best way to cook okra without a lot of slime is by cutting the ends and cooking it whole. If you need to cut okra into smaller pieces, use a dry knife and chopping board.

Type of vegetable:Seed bearing pods

okra

Edible part: Whole seed pods

Best soil: Requires an open, sunny position and a fertile, well-composted soil to which potash has been added. Okra is quick growing in hot weather. It loves the heat more than perhaps most other vegetables. Keep them watered, but make sure to provide good drainage, as they do not like to keep their feet wet for extended periods. Apply both fertilizer and mulch.

How to plant: Growing Okra is easy, and it grows quickly. Okra is grown from seeds which are sowed directly in the ground. The seed is pre-soaked for 24 hours and planted and sow 1/2 inch deep, spacing them 6 to 8 inches apart, in rows 2 feet apart. A week or so after germination, thin to a final spacing of 12 to 18 inches apart. The seeds prefer warm weather and warm soil to germinate. They will grow quickly in warm weather.

When to harvest: 50-60 days. Harvest Okra when the pods are young and tender, about three to four inches long.  Continue harvesting pods every 2 days for freshness. This will encourage the plant to produce more flowers and pods for an extended period of time. If you wait too long, the large pods become tough and woody, making them unsuitable for cooking.

How to harvest: Cut off the pods when they are still tender (about 8 cm long). Wear gloves and use a pair of clean scissors or sharp knife. The plants have short hairs which may irritate bare skins.

Care: Keep soil moist and weed regularly. Unless you want the pods to ripen to produce seeds for propagation, you should cut off the pods, so that new pods can grow. Aphids and other insects enjoy sucking on the juices of the plants.  Insect control is important for a bountiful harvest.

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F1 Hybrid Carrot BBS009 Daucus carota L. subp. Sativa (Hoffm.) Arch. (Umbelliferae)

The carrot plant is an erect biennial, but grown normally as an annual. Carrots are a favorite of weight watchers and health conscious crowd.  It produces smooth skinned cylindrical roots of excellent quality. They are loaded with vitamins, and are nutritious. The vivid colour of carrot indicates that it contains vitamin A, and high levels of beta-carotene  (the red, yellow, and orange pigments found in yellow-orange fruits and vegetables), which have good anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, effective sun protect ant that helps the immune system to target and destroy cancer cells in the body in cases of lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestine, bladder and breast cancers. Carrot also prevents fat oxidation and protects cells against free radicals. On top of being good for you, carrots taste good, too.  They can be nibbled and munched upon whenever the urge arises. Carrots need little preparation and are most nutritious when harvested fresh, washed and eaten raw. Raw carrots also help to lower blood cholesterol levels. A healthy way to enjoy the raw goodness is to drink carrot juice. Nutrients actually increase with cooking – as long as not over-cooked.

Type of vegetable:Roots

carrots

Edible parts: Roots

Best soil:  A rich, sandy loam, enriched with humus and deeply dug in an open, sunny location is best. Make sure the soil is free of stones and clods. A slightly acid pH is preferred. Should be high in organic matter but never contains fresh manure because fresh manure and compost may induce malformation of the roots.

How to plant: Prior to planting carrot seeds, work the soil deeply. Add liberal amounts of compost. If compost is not available, add peat moss. When growing carrots, it is important to remove any rocks, stones and debris which may impede the downward formation of the roots. When a root hits an object, forked roots will result.  Carrot seed are among the smallest, finest of garden seeds. They are very difficult to space. Sow them very thinly, about 1/4 inch deep. Cover them with a fine garden soil. Or sprinkle them on top of the soil, and lightly water them into the soil. Space rows 1 to 1 1/2 feet apart. We recommend double rows spaced 1 1/2 feet apart, and then wider rows, to afford easy access.

Broadcast sowing is also popular with carrots. With broadcast sowing, sprinkle or spread the seeds across the area you are planting. Seeds fall randomly, and do not develop in rows.

Whichever method you use, it is important to thin the seedlings 2 inches apart before crowding impairs their growth.

Seeds will take 7 to 21 days to germinate.  Thinning seedlings is a must.

When to harvest: Carrot roots are ready to pick approximately 65 to 75 days, depending upon variety.  Harvest while they are still young, tender, and at their sweetest. At ½ to 1 inch in diameter, carrots are ready for table use. Can be left in the ground until needed.

How to harvest: Begin to harvest carrots as “baby” size, thinning the row as you harvest. Cut back the tops of carrots to 1 inch above the ground (before harvesting entire crop, pull up one or two roots to see how large they are).

Care: Need plenty of moisture. Carrots require relatively high amounts of phosphorus and moderate amounts of nitrogen and potassium.

Care: They are easily overcrowded, with any competing weeds usually winning out. While they may not show it, carrots need a good supply of water, in soil that drains well. They also respond well to fertilizer applied prior to sowing carrot seeds, and a couple of times during the season. Do not over fertilizer your carrots. Too much nitrogen in the soil, results in hairy (fine feeder roots), misshaped carrots.

Happy Gardening! =)

www.iLoveGardening.net

Vegetable Series (Part 2)

F1 Hybrid Tomato  BBS004  Solanum lycopersicum esculentum Mill.

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable for home gardeners. No other vegetable comes close to their popularity. And, it is no wonder, as there is nothing better than a ripe tomato straight out of the garden. Growing tomato plants is easy. They produce an abundance of fruit. The plants typically grow to 1-3 meters in height with a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over other plants. The best tomato is one that ripens on the vine.

Tomato is a must have ingredient in tomato pasta sauce, tomatoes help lend a sour tang to various cuisines around the world.  Tomato is a fruit but is commonly mistaken for a vegetable as it is used among other vegetables in the culinary sense. This vegetable produces globe shape fruits which are yellow, orange or red when ripe, smooth and of varying shapes and sizes. It contains significant amounts of chromium, vitamin C and vitamin B5 that attacks roaming oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, which are suspected of triggering cancer and it may also neutralize the harmful effects of UV light that can damage important skin structures. Tomatoes also stimulate the body’s immune system, reduces blood clots and lower cholesterol. Tomato is helpful for prostate health and glucose management. The ever popular tomato can be eaten raw or cooked. The fruit is consumed in many ways and can be, roasted, fried, sautéed, added to soups and also used in drinks and as garnishing in a lot of dishes.  Unlike other fruit and vegetables, tomatoes have greater potency after they are cooked.

Type of vegetable: Fleshy fruited

Edible parts:Fruits

Tomatoes

Best soil: Choose a sunny, open, well-drained spot with good air circulation for tomatoes. The best soil is slightly acid, organically enriched sand or clay loam and will also grow well in bags of peat or peat-like components.  Fruit will ripen faster in sandy soil.

How to plant: Tomato plants are usually started indoors. Planting tomato seeds is an exciting time. Begin starting tomato seeds indoors in small containers, eight to ten weeks. Sow seeds into individual pots of multipurpose potting mix, and cover with sifted potting mix. As soon as the seedlings emerge, they need full sunlight to grow sturdy. Lack of sunlight causes the plants to grow “leggy”. Erect supports and plant out in the final positions after hardened off. On planting day, pour liberal amounts of water with a soluble liquid fertilizer on them. Plant them in the garden carefully. To minimize transplant shock, avoid disturbing the roots. Normal spacing is 24 ” apart, in rows 30″ to 36″ apart.

When to harvest: 55 days to 85 days. Pick when fruits are still green or orange and have reached desired size and colour and barely soft.

How to harvest: Twist the fruit from the stem, bracing the plant to avoid damage, or cut off the fruit with a sharp knife.  Tomatoes store well in a cool, dry location. Do not put them in the refrigerator. While they last longer in the refrigerator, they will lose their flavor and texture. Keep them out of direct sunlight.

Care: Keep your tomato plant well watered and weed regularly. Deep watering is preferable, over more frequent, light watering. You want moisture to go deep to all the roots of the plant. Keep water off the leaves if at all possible. Excessive water and high relative humidity is harmful to the tomato crops. Tomatoes are susceptible to plant disease that grows in wet, humid conditions.

Tomatoes need to be pruned and trained to keep their rampant growth in bounds. Fertilize on a regular basis. Early applications should be high in nitrogen. As blossoming occurs, switch to fertilizers which are higher in Phosphorus and Potassium. Too much Nitrogen fertilizer results in lots of lush green leaves, and little fruit. A fertilizer specifically formulated for tomatoes, will help to maximize your crop.

To help your plants grow sturdy, lightly brush the tops of the plants with your hands a couple times each day. Blights and fungus infections can occur in the high humidity. Early treatment with fungicides is effective. Spacing plants too close cuts down air circulation and promotes disease. Tomatoes can experience insect problems with cutworms and a few other garden pests. Also, if not staked or caged, snails and slugs will munch on the ripening fruit. Do not water at night if possible in hot and humid weather if possible. Moisture and humidity combined with high temperatures promotes plant diseases. If possible, water at the roots.

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F1 Hybrid Red Chili (Hot Pepper) – Cili Merah  BBS005     Capsicum annuum L. – group longum (Solanaceae)

Red Chili or Hot pepper is a very variable branched perennial herb with a woody stem at its base and it contains a chemical known as capsaicin which is helpful for boosting immune function and protecting skin. Red Chili contain high levels of vitamin C and vitamin B6, which plays an important role in generating energy which is able to neutralize cancer-related cause and may help prevent stomach cancer. The height of the plant varies from 0.5 – 1.5 m. The fruit is small, narrow or rounded and can be grown in pots, in vegetable beds or in the ground. In its unripe stage, the fruit is green or purplish, ripening to red, orange, yellow, brown, cream or purplish. Red Chili can be eaten raw, pickled, cooked and added to stews, dried and ground and is used in a variety of dishes to add varying degrees of hotness, according to tasted.

Type of vegetable: Fleshy fruited

Edible parts:Fruits

Chilli

Best soil: Chilies need a very sunny, well-drained, open spot. They prefer organically enriched. Loose soil, not overly high in nitrogen. Soil should have a layer of good organic material on top of a  gravel subsoil.

How to plant: Sow seeds in trays indoors 6 to 8 weeks before setting out plants. Set out plants 18’ to 24” apart in rows spaced 30” to 36” apart. Alternatively, young plants can be kept in pots.

When to harvest: 60 to 100 days after setting out when they are full sized and either fully coloured or still green; they can be picked at either stage. A mature chili is heavy and firm to the touch.

How to harvest: Cut stems with a pair of scissors or sharp knife, ½ inch from the cap. Ddo not  pull, peppers from plants when they are full size and deep green or red in color. Frequent cutting encourages production.

Care: Water heavily when young; lightly for the rest of the growing season. Mulch or cultivate shallowly when young.

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Pak Choy Green BBS006    Brassica rapa L. subspecies chinesis

Pak Choy, also called Chinese Cabbage, is a Chinese vegetable that’s easy to grow and is widely and popularly grown in the orient. It is a small plant with a rosette of upright leaves with thickened and flattened usually white petioles and smooth, rounded blades. This type of non-heading cabbage grows quickly and is widely and popularly grown in the orient. The leaf stalks are a beautiful, light green: they are broad, flattish, and widen out at the base and the petioles are white and thickened. This whole vegetable is used extensively in cooking for their succulent texture, either braised, boiled, steamed or stir-fried. It’s a favorite in a wide variety of Chinese and Asian stir-fry recipes. It can also be steamed.

Type of vegetable: Leafy

Edible parts: Leaves, crunchy leaf stalks and young flowering shoots

Pak Choy

Best soil: Plant Pak Choy in rich, loose garden soil. Induce fast growth with an early application of fertilizer.  It is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions including soils with high acidity but does not thrive in well drained soils as it matures rapidly.

How to plant: Pak Choy is grown from seed.  The seeds can be directly seeded into your garden, or seeded indoors for transplanting later. Sow seeds and cover lightly with 1/4″ or less of fine garden or seed starting soil. Seeds germinate in 7- 10 days. Space or thin plants to 6″ – 10″ apart in rows 18″ – 30″ apart.

When to harvest: At 45 – 50 days after sowing; it can be used at virtually any stage. Should always be picked when the leaves and leaf stalks look fresh and crisp.

How to harvest: By cutting whole head above ground level.

Care: Pak Choy needs plenty of water in warm temperatures. Nitrogenous top dressing is required at regular intervals to obtain full leaf development. Keep plants well weeded. It is strongly recommend that you don’t plant Pak Choy, in an area where other members of the cabbage family have been grown in the past two years. This will help to minimize plant disease. Insects can be a problem when growing Pak Choy. Because this is a leaf crop, avoid using chemical insecticides. Use garlic sprays or organic repellents, only if problems arise.Wash leaves before eating.

Happy Gardening!

www.iLoveGardening.net