Gardening

Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England), September 30, 2010 | Go to article overview

Gardening


IS it worth growing gourmet vegetables or are you better off buying them in the shops? When you pick up your fine beans which have been flown all the way from Kenya, do you consider the air miles and freshness of the produce? Similarly, do high prices of gourmet veg steer you away from items such as artichokes, pattypan squash and tender-stem broccoli? With this in mind, Which? Gardening, the Consumers' Association magazine, trialled 22 expensive-to-buy or unusual vegetables which will all grow in a typical British summer without protection and produce reasonable yields. The veg, planted in the summer of 2009, were grown in designated blocks, so researchers could work out the value of the crop by the square metre, compared with the price of each vegetable in the supermarket. Some gourmet crops are so unusual that you won't generally find them in the shops -think purple carrots, yellow beetroot and round courgettes - and yet it's possible to grow them all economically here. Triallists grew the courgette 'Floridor', which bears round yellow fruits and should produce up to 30 round courgettes a year if picked regularly. They found that the cost of buying a standard long green courgette in the shops was pounds 1.80 per kg, while the 'Floridor' yield produced 8.9kg per square metre, worth pounds 16. Courgettes should be sown indoors in April to May, planted out May to June and harvested throughout the summer, until October. Fine beans are expensive as they are mostly grown abroad and flown in, but in this country you can have a summer crop for far less money. In the trial, 'Safari' - a typical fine dwarf French bean - was grown. They are quick to grow, typically taking 10-12 weeks from sowing to harvest, and produce a lot if you continue picking the pods. It's worth making successional sowings so you can harvest the beans through summer and autumn. …

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Gardening
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