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Strapped for time? Try growing these 5 speedy crops

28th January 2019

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Discover which veg you can sow and harvest in a short period of time

Sometimes when growing crops it can seem like an age has passed between sowing and harvesting, as with many veg there is a prolonged period of waiting, such as from four to six months, before you can take the yields. Speedy crops however can be picked in a reduced number of weeks or months after sowing. Find out about these one term crops, which have a short-growing cycle and will produce delicious harvests in no time.

1. SPRING ONIONS
This crop grows quickly and the produce is taken young and added to a variety of dishes, including stir fries and summer salads. Ready to harvest in around eight weeks from sowing, they should be put directly into the site they will be growing, but make sure the area has good drainage and receives plenty of sunlight. Prepare the soil before planting by watering and removing any weeds, then create drills in the earth at a depth of about 1.5cm, and sow the seeds at a spacing of 10cm between rows. As the crops develop make sure to water them – don’t let the earth dry out or become waterlogged. Specimens may also need to be thinned so that they have the right amount of available light, space them at 2.5cm, but remember not to throw away the thinnings as they too are edible. This veg is great for beginner growers who want a crop that matures quickly.

2. RADISHES
This flavoursome crop is great added to salads and summer dishes. They are best enjoyed when they are young for the most appealing texture and flavour, as they turn woody and unpalatable with age, which means that in good conditions many varieties are available to pick in just four weeks after sowing! This quick crop can be grown directly in the ground or in containers, depending on space available in the garden. Summer cultivars can be started off early, from towards the end of February and continued to be sown until August, while for winter cultivars this is July and August. Put seeds at a depth of 1cm in the soil. As summer cultivars are growing they can be thinned so that they are around 2.5cm away from one another, alternatively you can space seeds at this distance when sowing. Winter cultivars on the other hand need to have a bit more space, 15cm, between the crops. You can make sowings of this produce every few weeks so that you have a constant harvest available. If you have gaps in the veg patch, which are not being used, such as between rows of different crops, you could even fill the extra area with this yummy veg.

3. SALADS
Lots of leafy greens are perfect speedy crops, as they do not take up a huge amount of space and are suited to being picked young. Peppery-flavoured rocket can be enjoyed from around a month after sowing, which can take place from April to September, with harvesting from June to December. During growth, crops should be thinned to a distance of 15cm to ensure sufficient development, however don’t discard the thinnings as they too can be eaten! The iron-rich leaves of spinach are another popular leafy green that can be ready to harvest at around six weeks and older – with warmer weather helping to speed the process up. Eat young leaves raw or use them in cooking to make the most of this healthy yield. Sow seeds at a depth of around 2.5cm, in rows spaced at 30cm. February to May is the correct period for summer cultivars, as they are suitable for picking from the end of May to October, with winter cultivars suited to end of summer sowing.

4. COURGETTES
It can take only around three months for this crop to be ready to harvest – take them when they are about 10-12cm long. This will also enable the plant to continue to produce yields so you should have plenty of this veg available from around June to October, depending on sowing date. A versatile crop, they can be sown either indoors or out. If outside do so towards the end of May to June directly into the veg patch at a depth of 2.5cm, and protect them with cloches. Remember to harden off plants grown indoors before transplanting them to the garden plot – take them outside or into the greenhouse for increased periods everyday for two to three weeks. When growing courgettes it is popular to adopt the idea of a planting pocket. This is when a small hole, around the size of a spade, is dug out in the veg patch, where the courgettes are to be grown, and is filled up with manure and compost. When it is the correct time to sow seeds or courgette plants are ready to be placed outside, they should be put on this area of manure and compost. Establishing planting pockets can be done around two to three weeks prior.

5. BEETROOT
This vibrant veg can be ready to eat in around three months after sowing, although this depends on variety and growing conditions. They can be picked when young and the size of a golf ball for use in summer salads, whereas larger specimens can be harvested once cricket ball sized – try roasting them to bring out the flavour. Suitable to sow from March to July, yields are produced from June to October. It is also worth noting that the leaves are edible, too. Put seeds at a depth of 2.5cm, at a distance of 10cm between specimens – some crops may need thinning to this spacing when developing. To give your beetroot plants an ideal growing medium of essential nutrients you can enrich your soil with organic matter and compost and dig it through the earth before sowing.

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