TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

August 27, 2009

Veg Questions?

Filed under: Uncategorized — TopVeg @ 8:03 pm


Have you got a problem in your vegetable garden? Ask Mike our resident gardener, by filling in the comment box below, or contact us. He would like to help you.

Ask Mike to solve your problem, in the comment box below.


  1. I have a greenhouse – which vegetable seeds should I plant in trays and keep in the greenhouse in March?Comment by Sara – March 2, 2007 4:27 pm
  2. Hi SaraSummer Cabbage, Leek, Brussel Sprout and Broad Bean seed can be planted in the greenhouse in March.

    Keep gardening


    Comment by TopVeg – March 2, 2007 8:51 pm

  3. Hi Top Veg,In your article on vegetables to plant in March. It says plant peas and broad beans in long pots. What do you mean by a long pot?

    A confused gardener!

    Comment by Elizabeth – March 8, 2007 8:40 am

  4. Hi Elizabeth
    This is a good question, with a long answer! So we have written a post at

Hope this helps

Comment by TopVeg – March 12, 2007 10:53 am

  • Hi Topveg
    What a great site – it is great to see so much practical information. The advice about protecting the garden during a cold spell has proved particularly useful this week and will hopefully have prevented any set backs in my garden. Thanks and keep gardening!
  • Comment by Jane – March 20, 2007 8:15 pm

  • Hi Top Veg,When is the best time to plant butternut squash seeds and do they need to be in the greenhouse or can they be planted outdoors straight away?

    Comment by Patricia – March 30, 2007 3:10 pm

  • Hi Patricia
    Butternet squash is delicious, but don’t rush! They like warm soil, so it is a good idea to start them off in the greenhouse.See the link below for more information :
    Happy gardening
  • Comment by TopVeg – March 30, 2007 5:05 pm

  • Hi Top Veg,My wife really likes melon and I collected some seeds last year, which I would like to grow for her. When can I plant them and will they need to be kept in the greenhouse all summer?

    Comment by Alan – March 30, 2007 8:02 pm

  • Hello AlanThanks for your question. What type of melon is it, & where abouts are you? If you are in the South of the UK, some melons grow outside. But I would keep them in the greenhouse to be sure of a good crop.
    Good luck

    Comment by TopVeg – March 30, 2007 10:49 pm

  • Thanks for the advice. The melon seeds are honeydew melons and I live in the North East of England so it can be relatively cold.Comment by Alan – March 31, 2007 2:04 pm
  • Hi Alan
    North East England may not be warm enough for your melons – so keep them under cover to be on the safe side.
    Melons require lots of warmth, water and plenty of food!
  • Comment by TopVeg – April 1, 2007 8:32 am

  • Hi Top Veg,
    Can you recommend a good watering can for watering my plants evenly in the greenhouse? I have 2 watering cans and the sprinkler nozzles are broken so water just gushes out at the trays and the seeds all move with the water! Or can you recommend another way of watering the greenhouse successfully?
  • A frustrated greenhouse grower!

    Comment by Sara – April 9, 2007 8:48 pm

  • Hi,
    The met office says a chance of frost next week. Will my potatoes be OK or will they need protection. My earlies are nearly emerging but I have only just planted the maincrop.
  • Thanks

    Comment by Stephen – April 16, 2007 5:28 pm

  • Hi Stephen
    The potatoes in the ground will be fine if there is a frost. But the potatoes that have emerged will need protection from the frost. The green leaves will be damaged by frost and this will set the potatoes back.
  • So cover all emerged green shoots if a frost is forecast. Keep an eye on the forecast everyday, by clicking on the MetOffice link!
    Good luck, TopVeg

    Comment by TopVeg – April 16, 2007 6:25 pm

  • Hi Sara
    Your watering cans sound a nightmare!! Having the right watering can makes all the difference.
    This link may help:
  • Put a Haws can on your birthday list!

    Comment by TopVeg – April 19, 2007 5:32 pm

  • Hi TopVeg,A blogging friend has just bought and planted an eggplant, but she is from the US. Can we plant eggplants in the UK?

    Sara @ Farming Friends

    Comment by Sara – May 2, 2007 7:41 am

  • Hi SaraEggplants are a cold sensitive veg and require a long, warm growing season. So it depends whereabouts in the UK you are. They grow well under glass. Have a look at this info on eggplants:
    Give it a go!

    Comment by TopVeg – May 2, 2007 8:13 am

  • Hi Top Veg,Can you give me advice on growing sweet potato slips?

    Sara from farmingfriends

    Comment by Sara – May 8, 2007 7:38 pm

  • Hi Sara
    Sweet potatoes are from the sub-tropical part of the world. They like very warm, humid conditions, growing best between 20 and 30C.
    They prefer a light soil.
  • Good luck, and lets hope for a hot summer!

    Comment by TopVeg – May 8, 2007 8:20 pm

  • Hi
    I am a first time veg gardener and have ordered plug plants – however, my plot is very small and now I have too many plants. Can I grow the following in pots/growbags?
    sweetcorn, winter squash (butternut and crown prince; summer squash.
    Thank you
  • Comment by TopVeg – May 23, 2007 3:57 pm

  • Hello Susanne
    Squash will grow in large pots or growbags, but only plant one per bag. They will need lots of water. Only plant as many as you will need, so that you give yourself time to look after them.
    I don’t think you will have much luck with sweetcorn in a container. It would need to be a huge container – at least a 5 gallon container for each plant. Remember to put them in a block so that they can pollinate each other. The sweetcorn will need quite a lot of plant food to keep them going.
    Good luck!
    Mike from TopVeg
  • Comment by TopVeg – May 23, 2007 4:06 pm

  • HelloGreat site,

    Its may 25 and the parsnips I sowed 6 weeks ago are really struggling to germinate the bed is full of chickweed and if I try to weed it I end up pulling up one of the few parsnip seedlings, Should i dig it up and start again? Is it too late to sow parsnips? I live in Northern Ireland.


    Comment by ciaran – May 26, 2007 12:33 am

  • Hello CiaranParsnips always take a long time to come up, so don’t worry!

    Are the parsnips in rows? If so, it should be easy to hoe between the rows. Then hand pull the chickweed within the row. Weeding little & often does not make it such a chore, & if you can get the chickweed when it is tiny, it will not disturb the parsnips so much. Did you see this post on hoeing?

    If you have one parsnip every 6″ or so, that will be fine. It is really too late to sow any more, but if you want to chance it- use short rooted varieties if sowing late.

    Good to hear from NIreland!

    Comment by TopVeg – May 26, 2007 2:01 pm

  • i want to grow an onion plant. what should be the depth of sowing the seeds and what would the plant take to mature?
    its summer in india at this time
  • Comment by Himanshu – May 28, 2007 4:19 am

  • Hello Himanshu, Welcome to you in India.All onions are sown 1cm deep.

    Are you wanting to grow onions for the bulb or for the spring onions where you eat the leaf & small bulb uncooked?

    To grow onions for the bulb, the seed can be sown in August and they will be ready in late June. Or you can sow them in March, when they will be ready in August or September of the same year.

    For the salad onions, sow anytime between March and July for a June- October crop. Salad onions take about 12 weeks from sowing to harvest.

    Keep in touch and let us know how your onions grow in India.


    Comment by TopVeg – May 28, 2007 6:03 pm

  • Thank you for the info re: growbags and pots. You say to feed the sweetcorn – should I use tomato feed or just normal organic liquid veg feed? Also, I have some lovely tomato plants which are doing really well in pots. However, I have noticed a yellowish marbling on some of the leaves – I thought at first it was scorching but I looked in mt “Veg Expert” and now think it might be a virus. If it is a virus, do I have to destroy all the plants?
    Thanks again for a great website!!
  • Comment by Susanne Rook – June 4, 2007 1:04 pm

  • Hi Susanne
    The sweetcorn are hungry plants and either tomato feed or just normal organic liquid veg feed will do.
    A lot of tomato plants seem to be suffering from virus this year. Try not to touch the infected parts, or if you have to, work on them last, so you do not spread it to the other plants. Then wash your hands & tools thoroughly.
    If it is tomato mosaic virus, it is probably not worthwhile removing the old plants, as they will produce normal fruit. As the greenhouse warms up, the symptoms of TMV will decrease.
    I wonder if you smoke? Smokers can infect the tomatoes with TMV.
    But is if is one of the other viruses, the plants will look pretty awful, & you will have to destroy them. I hope it is TMV!
    Let us know how you get on
  • Comment by TopVeg – June 5, 2007 10:52 am

  • can some one please tell me what veg i can grow in my greenhouse, thanks pat.Comment by patrick – June 6, 2007 12:50 pm
  • Hi Patrick
    What vegetables do you like to eat? Do you have an outside vegetable garden too?
    You can grow almost anything in a greenhouse, but if you have an outdoor patch, you will probably want to grow plants that need more warmth and shelter.
    Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash are usually grown in a greenhouse.
    But lettuce & radish do well inside & will probably grow more quickly.
    Have fun
  • Comment by TopVeg – June 6, 2007 1:40 pm

  • Comment by LIZ – June 8, 2007 10:52 am

  • Thank you for the info re: sweetcorn and tomatoes – yes I do smoke! I constantly have a roll up on the go when gardening! I will from now on have cigarette breaks. So the tomatoes should be OK if it is a virus caused by smoking? They seem very healthy in every other way. Also, I don’t have a greenhouse, so my tomatoes and other veg are all outside now – even aubergines which I started inside. They look a bit tired, some of the leaves have gone papery and dropped off and they seem to have stopped growing at about 8-9 inches. Could they be affected by smoking too? Everything else looks fine -
    Thanks again
  • Comment by susanne – June 8, 2007 10:55 am

  • Hi Susanne
    There is a possibility that the tomatoes have caught tobacco mosaic virus from your fingers which have held the roll up!! But it sounds as they are growing away from it, & they will certainly improve when… gets warmer! The aubergines are probably suffering from the cold northerly winds we have been getting & should perk up when summer arrives.
    Good to hear from you
  • Comment by TopVeg – June 8, 2007 11:20 am

  • Hi Liz
    Yes you can grow some delicious salads in pots. Try radish and salad leaves. If you have a big pot courgettes or squash would do well. They will need a bright spot.
    More info here
    Good luck
  • Comment by TopVeg – June 8, 2007 11:22 am

  • Hi Top Veg,
    Can carrots be transplanted easily?
    Sara from farmingfriends
  • Comment by farmingfriends – June 20, 2007 4:38 pm

  • IS IT TO LATE GROW BROAD BEANS IF SO WHYComment by R FOWLES – June 20, 2007 5:38 pm
  • Hi Sara
    Carrots cannot be planted easily, because they have a tap-root. If the tap-root is damaged by transplanting, the carrots become phangy, and slow growing.
    Thanks for your interesting question
  • Comment by TopVeg – June 20, 2007 9:10 pm

  • Bob
    Thanks for your question about growing broad beans. It depends where you live. In the UK we are about to have the longest day, and from then on, the hours of daylight (& length of time available for light to be converted into food by the plant in photosynthesis)will be reducing.
    It is too late to plant broad beans because they will probably not be able to grow fast enough to reach maturity, because of the declining hours of daylight. The beans will probably not be able to fill the pods.
    You could plant some broad beans in November, and they will be ready to harvest in early June next year.
    Good to hear from you.
  • Comment by TopVeg – June 20, 2007 9:24 pm

  • Bob
    An interesting question! If the onions at the end of the row are bigger, it is because they have less competition. It shows they like space, so if you want bigger onions, put them further apart within the row.
    We find the normal spacing recommendations give smaller onions, so we plant ours further apart.
    The same thing happens with carrots and parsnips, with many rows in a bed. The outside rows always produce bigger carrots. Therefore, in the outside rows the carrots are put closer together within the row, to get even sized roots in the whole bed.
    Hope that answers the question.
    You will be busy with a 10 pole plot!
  • Comment by TopVeg – June 21, 2007 8:56 am

  • Can I plant carrots in a container that has had potatoes growing in them?
  • Comment by Patricia – June 21, 2007 2:36 pm

  • Hello Patricia
    The carrots should be OK after potatoes. Choose a short rooted variety to go in a pot. They should grow quickly if you put them in before the end of the month.
    Thanks for your question, and good luck with the carrots!
  • Comment by TopVeg – June 21, 2007 3:32 pm

  • Hi Top Veg,
    I have been given some purple carrot seedlings. Any advice on growing would be appreciated, eg soil type, best position, spacing etc.
    Sara from farmingfriends
  • Comment by farmingfriends – June 21, 2007 7:32 pm

  • Hi Sara
    Thanks for your question – purple carrots sound interesting!
    Soil type – deep, fertile soil is what they like, but not freshly-manured soil.
    Position – a sunny spot
    Spacing – 5 – 7cm apart
    Keep the plot weed free, and damp. Heavy rain on dry soil will cause the roots to split.
    Enjoy your purple carrots!
  • Comment by TopVeg – June 22, 2007 2:05 pm

  • My vegetable garden is standing in water and has been for 3 days now. Will my veg crops be ruined?
    Sara from farmingfriends
  • Comment by farmingfriends – June 28, 2007 7:47 pm

  • Hello Farming FriendsSo sorry to hear that your garden is flooded out.

    Some crops are more susceptible to flooding than others. Peas do not like wet feet & strawberries rot off as soon as they get damp.
    Others seem to survive, so I am sure you will have something left, if the water drains away quite quickly.

    I do hope the weather will cheer up for you

    Comment by TopVeg – June 28, 2007 9:08 pm

  • Hello TopVeg,
    Hope your lovely garden is surviving this wet weather. I see you have a section on herbs as well as veg. I have a query about my Bay tree. I was away in June when we had some very hot weather and unfortunately my Bay Tree dried out. About two thirds of the leaves have gone a very dark brown – do you think it can be salvaged???
  • Comment by Sinead – July 2, 2007 8:33 pm

  • Hello SineadSo sorry to hear about your bay tree. That is the problem with plants in pots – it is so difficult to keep them watered. If the plants are in the ground, the roots can usually look after themselves.

    Are there any green leaves left on the plant? Make sure you give the root ball a good soak. It is very difficult to wet it once it has dried out. It may be worth immersing the pot in water for 24 hours (no more!).

    Also, move the pot into a sheltered position until the plant has recovered. Keep it out of wind, and full sun, so that it does not loose too much water from the leaves.

    I hope that the bay will recover. Thanks for your question


    Comment by TopVeg – July 2, 2007 9:54 pm

  • Hi Mike,I want to save seed from my shallots and plant them in my garden. Everything I’ve read about growing them says they are prone to disease and the best way to grow them is from the bulb. However, I want to give it a try. Can you advise me on growing them from seed?


    Comment by Lynn – July 3, 2007 10:03 am

  • how long do carrots need to be in the groundComment by ralph – July 3, 2007 10:31 am
  • RalphIt depends what you are after!

    What size carrots do you want? If they are big enough for you, then that is the time to pull them. Early carrots may be ready to lift 12 weeks after sowing. Main crop carrots will be ready 16 weeks after sowing.

    If you are planning to store the carrots, it is better to wait until October, when the growing season is over and the temperature is cooler.

    Hope that helps.


    Comment by TopVeg – July 3, 2007 11:50 am

  • Hi LynnOne of the advantages of growing shallots from seed is that the viral, bacterial and fungal diseases, that are usually carried over to the next crop on the bulbs, cannot survive in the seed. So crops grown from seed should be healthier.

    Shallot seed is similar to onion seed & can be grown using the same techniques. The seed can be started off in modules in the spring & transplanted, or sown directly into the garden. They are ready for harvesting at the same time as the onions- June to September. Each seed produces a single shallot bulb.

    To produce the best yield of well shaped bulbs it is important to sow seed at one cm spacing. Seed sown too thinly can result in the bulbs becoming coarse and splitting.

    I hope you have a successful crop of shallots from your seed. They should also benefit from hybrid vigour, giving you stronger seedlings.

    Thanks for your question.


    Comment by TopVeg – July 3, 2007 1:33 pm

  • Hi i have a poly tunnel typy green house it has ventilation would you think i should use some form of shaddingComment by R FOWLES – July 9, 2007 3:58 pm
  • Hi Bob
    It depends where you are and what you are trying to do.
    Generally, polytunnels do not need shading.
    If you could tell us your location, the height of the tunnel and what you are growing, we will come back to you.
  • Comment by TopVeg – July 9, 2007 8:07 pm

  • hi the height of tunnel is 10ft and 18ft wide we live in milton keynes and im trying to grow tomotoes pepper’s and ridge cucumber if there is any thing else i could try pleaseComment by R FOWLES – July 10, 2007 7:07 am
  • Rob
    You should not need shading in these tunnels, generally.
  • Courgettes & squash will do well, but may take up too much space! Most crops will vegetables grow in this environment – as well as soft fruit.

    With correct feeding, you should have a heavy crop of tomatoes, peppers & cucs. Have you tried chillies?

    Thanks for visiting.


    Comment by TopVeg – July 14, 2007 6:22 am

  • Hi there
    I have a probelm with my broad beans. The plants are in spectacular shape
    (about a metre tall). They started blooming more than a month ago and they are
    currently full of flowers but I have no been able to neither collect 1 braod
    bean as yet nor seen any small ones. The flowers seem to fall, although I can
    not find many flowers on the ground. I can not see any obvious sign of pests on
    the plants either. Any thoughts, comments, suggestions etc???
    Thank you
  • Comment by TopVeg – August 9, 2007 8:54 pm

  • Hi MarcusGood to hear from you.

    We had that problem, too. At the start of the season the broad bean flowers dropped off, because they had not been fertilised. We though it was because we had a cold spring and the pollinating insects were not about.

    But perhaps there is some physiologiacl trigger in the broad bean which allows bean development when the plant has reached a certain stage of development.

    We did eventually get a very heavy crop of beans, which was worth waiting for!

    I hope your beans do well.


    Comment by TopVeg – August 9, 2007 8:55 pm

  • Marcus wrote:
    If I spray vegetables with rhubarb infusion (oxalic acid) be eaten after washing
    the vegetables? how long should I wait after spraying to eat them?
  • Comment by TopVeg – August 9, 2007 8:57 pm

  • Marcus
    Are you making the infusion from your rhubarb? If you are not adding anything else, it should be fine to eat the veg straight away. Thanks for your question
  • TopVeg

    Comment by TopVeg – August 9, 2007 8:59 pm

  • I am getting raspberry canes in november. Can you advise on best site and soil type etc. Thanks
    Sara from farmingfriends
  • Comment by farmingfriends – August 24, 2007 5:55 pm

  • Hi Sara
    How exciting to have some raspberry canes. They will last for ten years, so it is worth giving them a good start. The site needs to be well draines, out of the wind and in the sun. Soil needs to have lots of FYM dug in. More info on
  • Comment by TopVeg – September 1, 2007 5:05 pm

  • Hi could you please advise me on how i can get carrot seed to germinate. I have worked in lodes of compost and manure to impove the soil over the past 5 year’s also tried different times of the year the soil is poor if it rain’s the next day when its nearly dride out i can get a thilth to sow seed about 1/8 of inch but after 2 or3 days cracks will appear. and from a row 10ft long ill be lucky to get a few to germinateComment by BOB FOWLES – September 7, 2007 1:15 pm
  • Hi BobIt sounds that you are on heavy soil, which is difficult to grow carrots on, if not impossible, because of the problems you are finding. When it rains the soil goes like concrete.

    On our heavy soil we have incorporated coarse sand to make it more friable. The sand particles help to keep the clay particles apart. You need a lot of coarse sand to have any effect. You need so much that it is not really practical.

    As you have discovered, adding a lot of organic matter does not solve the problem, because you need to add so much.

    Carrots have always been grown on sandy soils, or sandy-loams.

    One solution is growing them in a container – which you can fill with the perfect growing medium!

    Keep in touch and let us know how you get on with next years carrots


    Comment by TopVeg – September 7, 2007 7:40 pm

  • thanks for the help on carrot’s. I thought about digging a small trench and filling it with soil from mole hillComment by BOB FOWLES – September 8, 2007 6:28 am
  • Hi Bob
    That is worth trying. I always get soil from a molehill when I want some good soil for planting in. Let us know if it helps and you get some carrots
  • Comment by TopVeg – September 8, 2007 6:36 pm

  • This summer our crop of broad beans grew well with well shaped and formed pods, which unfortunately when opened the pods were blind and without any beans. The site is in sun, we didn’t use any pesticides or chemicals and the soil is very good and watered. Any advice please.Comment by Chris Rhodes – September 28, 2007 1:13 pm
  • Hi Chris
    This is so disappointing – when the pods look good and healthy, with no beans inside.
    I am afraid the answer is probably the weather. Hot, dry weather during pollination results in poor pod set.
  • Where abouts are you? Are there many bumble bees about?

    The other reason could be the quality of the seed. Research by Gardening Which has shown that the average packet of vegetable seeds contains pretty poor quality seed.

    Let us know where you are and we will investigate further. Thank you for posting a question on TopVeg.

    Comment by TopVeg – September 29, 2007 7:56 am

  • Hi TopVegI have grown Florence Fennel twice on our allotment. Both years it has grown well, looked healthy with lots of foliage but has not made a bulb. It just has a flat base. Can you tell me where I am going wrong?

    Comment by Gerry (Kath’s friend) – October 7, 2007 8:35 pm

  • We have been trying to grow sweetcorn but some of it is very small, shrivelled and hasn’t grown properly. Any comments/ ideas for next year?
  • Comment by Family Natters – October 22, 2007 8:13 am

  • Hi Familynatters
    Sweetcorn should receive at least eight hours of sunlight a day, so it needs a sunny site in the vegetable garden. It also needs plenty of water when it is filling the cobs – at least an inch a week. This year has been dull and dry, not helpful for sweetcorn north of Watford!
    Read this article on growing corn
    Hope that helps
  • Comment by TopVeg – October 22, 2007 8:16 am

  • Hi Top Veg, I have invested in a poly tunnel 10′ x 15′ can you give me some suggestions as to what I can plant during the winter months, thanksComment by Keith – November 2, 2007 1:55 pm
  • I have just planted some elsanta strawberries how do I look after them over the Winter.
    Sara from farmingfriends
  • Comment by farmingfriends – November 10, 2007 9:47 am

  • Hi SaraNewly planted strawberries will need watering in, to moisten the roots. Once the soil is damp, they should not need any more watering.

    Keep the strawberries weed free, so that they do not have any competition. But only scratch the surface when hoeing – & do not go deep or you will disturb the roots. Keep the hoe well away from the crowns.

    Good luck!


    Comment by TopVeg – November 11, 2007 6:10 pm

  • Hi TopVeg, Thanks for the strawberry advice – I’m back with another question. Can I move brassica plants now to a weed free area? Some of the brassicas I planted before the flood are growing but they are competing with too many weeds so I want to move them to a prepared bed.
    Thanks for all your advice. Sara from farmingfriends
  • Comment by farmingfriends – November 11, 2007 8:04 pm

  • Hi SaraPlease can you tell us how old & big the brassicas are & what they are?



    Comment by TopVeg – November 11, 2007 10:21 pm

  • Hi TopVeg,
    I think the brassicas are purple sprouting broccoli and they were planted early June but they are not very big may be 10cm in height.
    Sara from farmingfriends
  • Comment by farmingfriends – November 12, 2007 6:56 pm

  • Hi Sara
    If they are only 10cm tall, you should be able to dig up the whole root system, if you dig round and lift a big soil ball. Water them well, when you have moved them and give them some nitrogen, either pellets, or some liquid manure watered down. The puddles round the edge of the manure heap are an excellent tonic when mixed with water.
    If you take some weeds with you, you could smother them by placing some old carpet around the base of the broccoli.
    Purple sprouting broccoli is always welcome in the spring, so it is worth giving them a bit of help!
  • Comment by TopVeg – November 13, 2007 4:48 pm

  • KeithWinter crops in a 15’ X 10’ Polytunnel.

    Unlike glass, polythene radiates heat gained back into the atmosphere. Temperatures in a polytunnel can therefore actually be lower than outside, so only hardy salads and veg. can be successfully grown, although of course the tunnel provides excellent protection against the elements!

    Because Winter light values are low, the tunnel must be sited in the brightest place possible, but sheltered.

    Winter salads are excellent value, especially oriental varieties. They include:

    Mustards, e.g. Mizuna (mild), Chinese Green-in Snow (hot), Chinese Giant Red (very hot!).
    Radishes, e.g. Chinese Mantanghong, Japanese Mooli.
    Spring Onions. Sown in late June, Guardsman crops well and is fully hardy.
    Endives, various, mostly quite hardy.
    Lamb’s lettuce is an excellent winter salad.
    Baby Turnips, Tiny Pal stands well in Autumn and early Winter. Also wonderful as a steamed vegetable.

    Many vegetables can be grown on in a polytunnel for late Winter or early Spring cropping, mostly Brassicas. Personal favourite:

    Purple sprouting Broccoli. Try extra early Rudolph, or Red Arrow.


    Comment by TopVeg – November 20, 2007 5:45 pm

  • hi top vegthis is all a new experience for me and this site has been really helpfull i am going to plant some veg this year brussels sprouts swede cabbage lettuce etc is it ok to plant in greehouse then transplant small plants or is it best to plant seeds straight into garden i live on the east coast of scotland

    Comment by stewart – March 30, 2008 7:14 am

  • Hi Stewart
    It is a good idea to plant brassica seeds in the greenhouse and then transplant the young plants into the garden in late May.
    Once the seedlings have germinated, transplant them into small pots. Keep the pots in a light position and keep them cool, but frost free. Harden them off before you transplant them into the garden.
    Swedes are happier if sown in modules, so that the whole module can be planted out in the garden.
    Lettuce grow quite quickly, and you may want to keep some in the greenhouse for cutting earlier, and transplant others out into the garden when they are big enough to handle.
  • Hope that helps


    Comment by TopVeg – March 30, 2008 7:48 am

  • hi mike
    thanks for the advice on veg plants are tomatoes best grown in pots or long troughs (they are in the greenhouse)
  • Comment by stewart – March 30, 2008 8:10 am

  • Hi Stewart
    Tomatoes need a large container- so a big pot or a long, deep trough is OK. Many growers use growbags, with 3 tomato plants per bag.
    Growpots are a luxury, which help with the watering.
    Hope that helps
  • TopVeg

    Comment by TopVeg – March 30, 2008 6:59 pm

  • I am growing potatoes in pots,
    The leaves are in great shape and growing well but No flowers have come, some of the seed potatos that were too many fgor pots were put into the ground and these have flowered. Do I have a problem please?
    The pots have been looked after and fed etc.
  • Comment by Brian Morgan – July 11, 2008 4:49 am

  • Hi BrianI don’t think you have a problem. The pots will be a different environment to the open ground – & the potatoes will grow & mature differently.

    Were they all the same variety?

    Different varieties of potatoes flower at different times in the life cycle of the potato plant – so stage of flowering is not a good guide to harvesting time.

    You can certainly harvest some varieties of potatoes before the flowers appear. Time of harvest really depends on the size of the new potatoes. Flowering is not directly associated with the size of potatoes.

    It is possible to scratch away some soil and have a little look at the potatoes – to see if they are big enough to eat. Click this link to watch a video about how to check the size of new potatoes:

    It would be interesting to hear how the size and weight of potatoes vary from the pot & garden.

    Comment by TopVeg – July 11, 2008 8:09 am

  • This is my first year gardening, and am doing okay but am having a real problem with powdery mildew, especially on my swedes. How can I control it, and will it affect my soil quality?Comment by Tracey – August 17, 2008 11:33 am
  • Hi TracySwedes are very prone to mildew – which is difficult to control in a warm, humid season.
    The only way to control it once you have got it is with chemicals- & fungicides are available in garden centres.

    In future, you can grow mildew resistant varieties of swede. Also keep them ‘airy’- get rid of weeds so that there is a bit air circulation around the swedes.
    There is more info on mildew here:
    The mildew will not affect soil quality.

    Comment by TopVeg – August 17, 2008 1:01 pm

  • Hello Mike,
    A friend recommended I pose this question to you: I planted some eggplant seeds last year (mixed varieties of Asian eggplants) and one plant has been producing deep purple fruit – though not elongated as I had expected. But then came along these yellow-ochre ones that are fairly bitter. You can see photos of the purple fruit here:
    And the yellow ones are here:
  • Many thanks,

    Comment by nikkipolani – August 19, 2008 1:27 pm

  • Hi AnneIt looks as though you have some THAI YELLOW EGGplants – which are very special! Good to eat in Thai food!

    Comment by TopVeg – August 19, 2008 3:14 pm

  • Yes, but they aren’t always yellow — they are mostly purple and shaped like the usual oblong “Black Beauty” types. The two photos I linked to are of fruit from the same plant. Plus, Thai yellow eggplants (at least the images I’ve seen online) are notably round. Mine are not round, but slightly oblong.Comment by nikkipolani – August 19, 2008 3:46 pm
  • Sometimes, part of a plant seems to develop different characteristics – one branch has completely different flowers, leaves or fruits. Part of the wonders of nature, giving variation within the species and leading to evolution! These things just happen – and part of the skill is noting them.The other possibility is that insects are cross pollinating – bees can travel 3 miles – so a distant neighbour could have a Thai yellow – …

    Comment by TopVeg – August 20, 2008 4:27 am

  • Am growing butternut squash with some degree of success, but have never grown them before. I have quite a few fruits on each plant and have now snipped the tops to stop any more forming. My question is should I remove some leaves to allow water and sun to get through to the squash or will this damage the plant?Comment by Cheryl McGee – August 25, 2008 12:23 pm
  • Hi CherylButternut squash need a lot of water – Water them at least once a day – lift the leaves up, and water underneath the leaves, if it is not getting to the roots.

    I would not remove the leaves – let them die off naturally.
    Congratulations on your success!


    Comment by TopVeg – August 25, 2008 10:52 pm

  • Hi TopvEg,
    I have a crab apple tree, when should I pick the crab apples?
  • Sara from farmingfriends

    Comment by farmingfriends – August 28, 2008 4:58 pm

  • Hi SaraCrab apples usually start to drop off the tree when they are ripe.

    When the first apple drops, cut it open to see if the pips are brown. It is ripe if they are brown.

    If the apples come off the tree easily, when you cup them in your hand, and give them a gentle twist, they are ready for picking.

    Comment by TopVeg – August 28, 2008 5:43 pm

  • Have just completed 1st year as an allotment holder. Last year we planted onion sets in November/December and they did quite well. Have now seen that autumn planting should be for Japanese onions. I have bought Hercules onion sets. Is it too early to plant these now?Comment by Sue Faulkner – September 15, 2008 11:03 am
  • Hi SueHercules onion sets are usually planted in early spring. What varieties did you grow last year? You may want to plant a couple of the Hercules onion sets this autumn to see how they do? If you do, let us know what happens!

    Comment by TopVeg – September 15, 2008 12:32 pm

  • HiIam growing cauiflower and broccoli. I have put them in pots under a coldframe but something is eating them. Very soon there will be no plants left. Any suggestions?

    Comment by Julie – September 26, 2008 4:27 pm

  • JulieSorry to hear your brassica plants are being attacked.

    Where exactly is the damage? What does the damage look like? Is it neatly munched into holes (by caterpillars), or are odd bits ripped out (by birds), or are the tops neatly mown off (by deer), or are the whole plants being nibbled by slugs? Or is it the stem, growing centre, or roots?

    Please give us a few hints and we will start to piece the jigsaw together!


    Comment by TopVeg – September 26, 2008 7:17 pm

  • Hi Mike
    My red onions I planted about six months ago in early winter ( N.Z. April) seem to be a good size and some of the top leaves flopped six weeks ago. The plants are still fairly upright and green but some are developing seed heads ?? on the top of the leaves, does this mean I have left them too long, they dont seem truly round yet. Regards from N.Z.
  • Comment by Peter – October 14, 2008 11:30 am

  • Hi PeterThank you for your message. Seeding is more of a problem with red onions. It is caused by stress – which could be brought on by cold, when planting too early in the season, in cold conditions. It is not because you are too late harvesting.

    Break off the seed head when you first notice it developing. The plant may then continue to form a small bulb, allbeit not as good as a non-seeded onion.

    Use (eat) the bulbs from seeded-onions first as they do not keep well, so don’t put them into store.

    Happy gardening!


    Comment by TopVeg – October 15, 2008 6:18 pm

  • I am growing fennel and have been told it should not be grown with anything else, is this true or an old wives tale?Comment by Jennifer – October 26, 2008 12:36 pm
  • Hi Jennifer
    Fennel is a hardy, perennial herb, which tends to reseed itself, giving an ongoing clump of fennel which comprises young and old plants.
    Fennel is very similar to Dill, and it will cross pollinate with Dill (and Coriander).
    So the problem comes in a few years time when your original fennel plant dies, you could be left with plants which are fennel X dill – & not as good as your original fennel.
    That is why gardeners say keep the fennel on its own – to avoid cross pollination.
    Hope that helps!
  • Comment by TopVeg – October 26, 2008 1:20 pm

  • I have grown onions for the first time with great success but now find they are all rotting at the kneck am told I may have cut the tops of too short commentys please.Comment by Ken lane – November 11, 2008 12:21 pm
  • Hi KenSorry to hear your onions are not keeping well.

    It sounds like neck rot which is more common if the onions are lifted in wet weather. You can find out more about neck rot on :

    The onion leaves are usually left to dry off naturally and not cut off, as this allows disease to enter.

    Try to keep the onions in a well ventilated place, and allow air to circulate round the onions. Use the ones with poor necks first and remove any which are showing signs of rot, so it does not infect others.

    Hope that helps

    Comment by TopVeg – November 11, 2008 6:26 pm

  • Hi Mike
    Can you tell me if a cat using our veg patch as an occasional toilet will be causing the plants (or us) any harm.
    A mixture of root veggies, brassicas.
  • Comment by Peter – December 30, 2008 9:52 am

  • Hi PeterThe plants will not suffer – in fact they will benefit from the added nutrients. But there is a danger to you if you touch the cat droppings – so always wash your hands after gardening, and wash the root vegetables well. The brassicas should rise above the problem!
    Cat droppings sometimes carry toxoplasmosis, which is dangerous to expectant mothers, young children & those people with a suppressed immune system.

    It is possible to pick up toxoplasmosis in different ways:
    faeces of the infected cat may be accidentally swallowed
    the faeces may be touched whilst handling the soil when gardening
    tools may become contaminated when working in the soil

    Never use cat droppings as fertilizer. Toxoplasmosis is especially dangerous for pregnant women, because it is associated with birth defects and miscarriage.

    Comment by TopVeg – December 30, 2008 12:30 pm

  • Hi Topveg,
    I have received an email from one of my regular readers about growing garlic.
    Lynn wrote:
    Hi Sara,
    I’m fairly new at growing garlic. I didn’t get mine planted in the fall, but had been reading about softneck garlic and found that it can be planted in the
    spring, in some areas. It’s possible for me to plant out things like kale, chard, broccoli in March under a little cover protection. Would you think I could plant out my garlic as well?
  • I saw that many UK gardeners start their garlic in the greenhouse in cells. I could maybe get a jump on the March planting and start them in the house establishing some root and top growth first.?

    I would appreciate your opinion. Since I have ordered it anyway ~ I guess I’ll be experimenting! Any suggestions would be helpful and thanks in advance.

    What advice would you give Lynn who lives in W. Pennsylvania, United States in zone 5 for gardening.

    Thanks inadvance.
    Sara from farmingfriends

    Comment by farmingfriends – January 4, 2009 7:08 pm

  • Hi SaraThank you for your garlic question.

    Planting garlic in the spring has mixed results – depending on the spring weather. Although spring planted garlic bulbs are often smaller than those planted in the autumn, they are usually quite satisfactory.

    We tend to treat our soft-neck garlic like onion sets, and plant them in February, without protection – and we get good results. If some protection is available, this must help, and bring things forward a few weeks.

    It amazes me that onions and garlic started in cells in the greenhouse, continue to grow successfully when transplanted. But they do! We have grown onions that way, without any problems.

    I hope this helps -


    Comment by TopVeg – January 4, 2009 10:48 pm

  • Hi All ~ I’m the garlic question Lynn. Thanks so much for the help. I spoke to the supplier today and he’s sending out the garlic this month. Some of our suppliers won’t even consider shipping it until it’s nearing fall planting.I have copied the practice of starting shallots in cells that some of my UK friends do with good results. I’m really looking forward to starting this little project and will do as suggested to save some for planting out in the garden a little later. We’ll see how it goes.

    Here it is freezing rain today, very gloomy out and I’m getting ready to plant. It sure brightens up the season!

    Thank you again and I’ll let you know when my pictures are posted.


    Comment by Lynn – January 6, 2009 6:24 pm


    1. hi there-

      I live in South Africa so the weather is warm. It is summer, and i have been trying my hand at growing some aubergines. I got them as seedlings, but although they get ample water and sun they have not grown any bigger in weeks. Any ideas?


      Comment by tara — November 4, 2009 @ 2:04 pm

    2. Hi Tara
      Thanks for contacting TopVeg.
      You say you brought your aubergine plants in as seedlings. Are they still in pots or have you transplanted them into the ground? They could be root-bound, and find it difficult for the roots to grow. This happens if the soil is too hard or rocky.
      What is the temperature like at night. The plants will need warm, sheltered nights to grow.
      Will there be enough nutrients in the soil for the seedlings to grow?

      Let us know how the seedlings are growing – in a pot or in the ground & we will take it from there!

      Best wishes


      Comment by TopVeg — November 9, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

    3. Hi Topveg,
      What can I plant in a raised bed after potatoes that I can plant in February?
      Sara from farmingfriends

      Comment by farmingfriends — February 10, 2010 @ 8:55 am

    4. [...] Sara from farmingfriends has asked what seeds can be planted in her raised bed, on  Veg Questions? [...]

      Pingback by Seeds for a Raised Bed « TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs — February 10, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

    5. Hi Sara

      Thanks for your question, which is so interesting that I have written a post about it! The answer is at:
      Hope it helps!

      Comment by TopVeg — February 10, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

    6. Hi Topveg,
      I planted a row of radish and I am thinning out. I just wanted to know if I can move some of the radish seedlings without it upsetting the plant?
      Sara from farmingfriends

      Comment by farmingfriends — May 9, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

    7. Hi Sara

      Glad you have got some radish growing!

      If you are asking whether you can transplant the seedlings you have pulled out, the answer is ‘maybe’. They would need plenty of water & TLC.
      But it is probably better to use your time looking after the row you have thinned, & sowing a new row to follow these on.

      Comment by TopVeg — May 10, 2010 @ 6:57 am

    8. Hi Topveg,
      Just wanted to know when spinach beet is ready to harvest. Thanks
      Sara from farmingfriends

      Comment by farmingfriends — June 12, 2010 @ 7:29 am

    9. Hi Sara

      Spinach is ready for harvesting when the leaves are about 9inches long from tip of leaf to far end of stem. You may want to harvest leaves for salads when they are tiny – much smaller than this.

      The leaves keep coming (it is also known as perpetual spinach) – so keep picking whether you want them or not, to encourage new ones to grow.
      Cut leaves from the outside of the plant, taking care to avoid damaging the roots.

      Thanks for your question. Happy gardening!


      Comment by TopVeg — June 12, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

    10. Hi TopVeg,

      I have received an email regarding a baytree’s leaves going yellow. Do you have any advice for Anne?

      “I have 2 fine tall baytree standards I have grown from virtual twigs. There in big half barrells (each One) But at the underneath some leaves are going completely yellow. No black spots just yellow seems to be the young leaves other than that all looks very healthy?
      Thanks in anticipation.
      Anne Lea”

      Sara @ farmingfriends

      Comment by farmingfriends — June 19, 2010 @ 9:23 am

    11. Hi Topveg,
      Had this comment left on my website and thought you maybe able to help.
      “I have two standard bay trees in pots and have kept them like this for three years. Recently, I have noticed a black substance on the leaves which washes off with just plain water but keeps coming back! Do you have any idea what this is? Or what I can do to prevent this reoccuring? Mia”
      Hope you can help.
      Kind regards
      sara from farmingfriends

      Comment by farmingfriends — August 7, 2010 @ 9:25 am

    12. Hi Sara

      I asked our plant consultant Malcolm Allison & this is his answer:
      This would be a result of aphid infestation ~ the aphids secrete honeydew which provides a substrate & nutrition for the black mould. I’d recommend spraying the aphids with soapy water (or water with a bit of washing up liquid in it), hopefully this should deal with the problem.


      Comment by TopVeg — August 8, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

    13. hi i am growing leeks in my garden but for some reason the roots are twisted, but im not sure why, please can you help me? thank you

      Comment by emily — November 4, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    14. Hi Emily
      Sorry to hear you are having problems with your leeks. I wonder where exactly you are seeing the twist? Is it on the tuberous part of the leek in the soil? Or is the twist on the little roots at the base of the stem? Are there any bugs inside the leaves if you cut a leek open?
      If you can give us a bit more information we will do our best to help.
      Looking forward to hearing from you

      Comment by TopVeg — November 5, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    15. hi topveg this is a first for me, so here goes. Subject: broad beans grown in polytunnle, good looking plants nice sized pods however there is a severe lack of beans, no thats not right there is no beans. I am in need of some of your advise, so how about it. Yours in antisapation Richard.

      Comment by richard — July 3, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    16. Hi Richard

      That is so disappointing – when you see bean pods growing but then find they are empty. There are two main reasons – firstly poor pollination. There are often empty pods at the start of the season – as it is too early for insects to pollinate. But as we are now in July – and your beans are in a polytunnel – could it be too hot for the insects, or is it possible for them to get into the tunnel?

      The other reason for no beans developing is weather. We have had a funny season with a very dry start.

      Hope they will develop some beans for you in the next few weeks


      Comment by TopVeg — July 11, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

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