Grow vegetables from seeds
Cabbages to Cucumber

This is a very rough guide to growing Cabbage (Spring), Cabbage (Summer), Cabbage (Winter), Carrots, Cauliflower, Courgette and Cucumber (outdoor) from seeds in the UK, but even within the UK, the climate varies, so due allowance must be made for local conditions.

As well as variations in climate, there are also numerous different named varieties of the different vegetables - always read the seed packet for detailed guidance for particular varieties.

When sowing seeds, always mark the line of seeds to show the position and label the rows so that when the seedlings come up, you know what they are.


Terms used below:

Drill - a shallow depression into the bottom of which seed is sown - normally formed by pulling a hoe or a gardening trowel (backwards) through the surface of a prepared bed. Drills are used where the planting depth is relatively shallow and seeds are planted close together. Once the seeds have been sown, they are covered by pulling a hoe over the surface of the bed to fill the drills.

Seed bed - a specific area of the garden where seeds are sown for germination and later the seedlings are 'planted out' to other areas. The area is normally level and with a fine soil, this helps the young plants to grow and makes it easy to lift the plants for planting out.


Cabbage - Spring

Where to sow Outdoors in a seed bed

 

Site/Soil Unshaded - rich, moisture retentive - not freshly manured (best done previous Autumn) - lime soil if acid.

Avoid planting in an area where the previous crop was of the brassica family.

 

Sowing time Late July to early August

 

How to sow and after care Sow Spring Cabbage seeds very thinly in drills 1.2cm (½ inch) deep with about rows 15cm (6 inches) between rows.

As the Spring Cabbage seedlings grow, thin them out to about 7.5cm (3 inches) apart.

Once the Spring Cabbage plants have 5 or 6 leaves (late September/early August), transplant them to the final growing position. Water the rows in the seed bed the day before lifting. Plant the Spring Cabbage seedlings slightly deeper than they were in the seed bed in rows about 15cm (6 inches) apart with about 30cm (12 inches) between rows - the alternate Spring Cabbage plants are intended to be thinned in March to provide spring greens.

 

Time from sowing to harvest About 35 weeks
   
 

Cabbage - Summer

Where to sow Outdoors in a seed bed

 

Site/Soil Unshaded - rich, moisture retentive - not freshly manured (best done previous Autumn) - lime soil if acid.

Avoid planting in an area where the previous crop was of the brassica family.

 

Sowing time Late March to early May

 

How to sow and after care Sow Summer Cabbage seeds very thinly in drills 1.2cm (½ inch) deep with about rows 15cm (6 inches) between rows.

As the Summer Cabbage seedlings grow, thin them out to about 7.5cm (3 inches) apart.

Once the Summer Cabbage plants have 5 or 6 leaves (May or June), transplant them to the final growing position. Water the rows in the seed bed the day before lifting. Plant the Summer Cabbage seedlings slightly deeper than they were in the seed bed in rows about 30cm (12 inches) apart with about 30cm (12 inches) between rows.

 

Time from sowing to harvest About 20 to 35 weeks
   
 

Cabbage - Winter and Savoy

Where to sow Outdoors in a seed bed

 

Site/Soil Unshaded - rich, moisture retentive - not freshly manured (best done previous Autumn) - lime soil if acid.

Avoid planting in an area where the previous crop was of the brassica family.

 

Sowing time Late April to mid May

 

How to sow and after care Sow Winter Cabbage/Savoy seeds very thinly in drills 1.2cm (½ inch) deep with about rows 15cm (6 inches) between rows.

As the Winter Cabbage/Savoy seedlings grow, thin them out to about 7.5cm (3 inches) apart.

Once the Winter Cabbage/Savoy plants have 5 or 6 leaves (July), transplant them to the final growing position. Water the rows in the seed bed the day before lifting. Plant the Winter Cabbage/Savoy seedlings slightly deeper than they were in the seed bed in rows about 30cm (12 inches) apart with about 30cm (12 inches) between rows.

 

Time from sowing to harvest About 20 to 35 weeks
 
 

Carrots

Where to sow Outdoors in open ground

 

Site/Soil Light, right, stone-free - never sow on freshly manured bed

 

Sowing time Early March under cloches
OR
Late March to end of June

 

How to sow Sow Carrot seeds very thinly in 1.2cm (½ inch) deep drills with about 200cm (8 inches) between rows.

As the Carrot seedlings grow, thin them out to about 7.5cm (3 inches) apart. Throw away the Carrot thinnings as these do not transplant well and if they are left on the soil they will attract the carrot root fly pest.

 

Time from sowing to harvest About 12 weeks (earlies)

About 16 weeks (maincrop)

 

To store To store late cropping Carrots, lift the crop, cut off the foliage and store in dry sand with the carrots not touching each other on trays in a dark, cool (frost free) place.

In mild areas where the soil is not susceptible to water-logging, the foliage can be cut off and the carrots can be left in the ground provided they are protected from frost.

   
 

Cauliflower

Where to sow Outdoors in a seed bed

 

Site/Soil Slightly acid (pH6). Avoid freshly manured soil (the excessive nitrogen will make the growth very leafy)

 

Sowing time Late March to early May

 

How to sow and after care Sow Cauliflower seeds very thinly in drills 1.2cm (½ inch) deep with about rows 15cm (6 inches) between rows.

As the Cauliflower seedlings grow, thin them out to about 7.5cm (3 inches) apart.

Once the Cauliflower plants have 5-6 leaves (late June/July), transplant them to the final growing position. Water the rows in the seed bed the day before lifting. Plant the Cauliflower seedlings in rows at the same level as they were in the seed bed and spacing the plants 60cm (2 foot) apart for Summer and Autumn varieties - or 75cm (2½ foot) apart for winter varieties

 

Time from sowing to harvest 18 to 24 weeks (Summer and Autumn varieties)

40 to 50 weeks (Winter varieties)

 
 

Courgette - see 'Marrow, Courgette, Squash and Pumpkin'
 

Cucumber - outdoor

Where to sow Indoors in pots of compost

Outdoors in open ground

 

Site/Soil Very sheltered site, tolerates light shade in the summer - moisture retentive, humus rich

 

Sowing time Indoors- mid April

Outdoors - mid May to early June

 

How to sow Indoors - Sow two Cucumber seeds 1.2cm (½ inch) deep on their edges per 5 to 7.5cm (2 to 3 inch) pot, remove the weaker seedling later.

Harden off the Cucumber seedlings and plant them out late May/early June with 38 to 45cm (15 to 18 inches) between plants if a climbing varieties or 75cm (30 inches) between plants if a trailing variety. Plant out over a period of time to provide Cucumbers over a period.

Pinching out the growing tips of the Cucumber plants after 6 or 7 leaves have developed will encourage fruiting on the side shoots.

Outdoors in open ground - Sow two or three Cucumber seeds 2.5cm (1 inch) deep on their edges under cloches or glass jars with 38 to 45cm (15 to 18 inches) between the groups of seeds if a climbing variety or 75cm (30 inches) between seeds if a trailing variety. Remove the weaker Cucumber seedlings later.

Pinching out the growing tips of the Cucumber plants after 6 or 7 leaves have developed will encourage fruiting on the side shoots.

 

Time from sowing to harvest 12 to 14 weeks
 
 
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