Choosing mini vegetables

30-Mar-2015

Vegetables that produce small, delicate and tasty produce are ideal for small gardens and households. Planted in blocks in raised beds or in large tubs, they can also look very attractive.

Introduction

Most mini-veg are sown in spring and summer. However, check the seed packets for the best times to sow – these will be the same as normal-sized veg, as it’s just the early harvesting and closer spacing that makes them smaller. It is best to sow mini-veg every three weeks in small batches to spread the cropping.

What to grow

Here are eight vegetables that are particularly suitable for growing and eating at the mini size:

  • Baby-head broccoli and calabrese: Planted 20cm (8in) apart, calabrese produces small, tight spears. ‘Kabuki’ is especially suitable.

  • Baby beetroots: Try any good F1 hybrid, such as ‘Solo’. Being monogerm (one seedlings per seed), there should be no need to thin the seedling-clusters if you sow sparingly. However, still ensure there is 10cm (4in) between each beetroot seedling.

  • Dwarf kales: Kales, such as ‘Redbor’, make attractive little plants with an abundance of coloured leaves, which are ideal for stir frying. Plant about 30cm (1ft) apart.

  • Finger carrots: Round carrots (Paris-market types) can be used. But long carrots, including Amsterdam cultivars (such as ‘Amsterdam Forcing 3’) and F1-hybrid Nantes-types (such as ‘Nelson’), produce better-sized small carrots. Plant in rows 15cm (6in) apart and 2.5cm (1in) between plants.

  • Kohl rabi: Sow these at 8in (20cm) apart and gather the swollen stems when they are golf-ball size. Purple cultivars, such as ‘Kolibri’, look especially attractive.

  • Mini-cauliflowers: ‘Igloo’ is usually recommended, although most summer cauliflowers can be planted at 15cm (6in) spacing to give mini heads.

  • Radishes: All radishes are mini, but ‘Short Top Forcing’ is ideal for making small, easy-to-gather roots. Allow 15cm (6in) between rows and 2.5cm (1in) between plants.

  • Turnips: Sow these at 20cm (8in) apart: ‘Atlantic’ has small leaves and is particularly pretty.

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