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Updated June 11, 2012, 4:25 pm betterhomesgardens
Some of the most popular garden vegetables are picked straight off the vine. Here's how to grow pumpkin, peas, beans and more.
Climate: Not for cool temperate areas.
Planting: Pumpkin is a warm-season crop. Sow seed directly where it is to grow or, in cooler areas, in pots several weeks before the arrival of warm, late spring weather. Soil must be free-draining, fertile and rich in rotted organic matter.
Growing: Water deeply once a week and mulch around plants with straw. Try to keep water off the leaves and flowers. Pull weeds promptly and to ensure good fruit set, brush pollen from male flowers onto stigmas of female flowers. Apply low-nitrogen fertiliser when fruit begin to form. Mildew is common in humid weather: control with a suitable fungicide. Aphids and pumpkin beetle will attack plants especially in spring and early summer: control when first seen or damage may be severe.
To harvest, pick before frosts when the vine has died down. Leave a portion of the hard, dry stem attached to the pumpkin. Fruit is ripe when it sounds hollow.
Climate: Beans grow in all climate zones but do best where summers are humid. In tropical areas and anywhere else where winters are warm and frost-free, beans are grown year round or from autumn to spring.
Planting: Sow seed into soil that is warmer than 10C. In cold areas, start seed indoors and plant out after frosts. A 2-3m row of beans feeds four people.
Growing: Beans have shallow roots and must not dry out. Feed by digging in complete plant food before sowing and give liquid or soluble fertiliser three times in summer. Aphids and spider mites are common pests, and diseases such as anthracnose sometimes strike. Diseased plants and decaying plant matter are best removed from the bed.
To harvest, pick beans when they are young and small -the more you pick, the more they produce. Harvesting begins about 10 weeks after seedlings appear.
Most popular varieties: Hawkesbury Wonder, Windsor Longpod, College Pride, Redlands Pioneer and Tendergreen. Climbing and pole varieties include Westralia, Blue Lake, Epicure and Purple King.
Climate: Good everywhere but especially in tropical, dry subtropical and hot arid climates.
Planting: Sow seeds 5cm deep and about 20cm apart. In cooler areas, sow in early to mid-autumn and again in late winter for a second crop. In frost-free places, delay sowing until late autumn. You'll need 5-8m of broad beans for a decent crop.
Growing: Keep soil moist and don't feed the plants heavily. They'll need supporting. Aphids are sometimes a problem but rust and broad bean wilt are more serious. Remove infected plants at once. Either harvest the immature pods, or pick the mature pods for the shelled beans within.
Climate: Suitable for all zones except the colder parts of cool temperate areas. In temperate and cool temperate areas grow in the warmest spot possible.
Planting: Sow year round in the tropics, spring to summer in warm zones and late spring only in cooler areas. Sow directly where it is to grow only if the soil temperature exceeds 20C. If not, sow in pots and grow on until the soil temperature rises.
Growing: Keep lightly, evenly moist and remove weeds promptly. Feed once or twice with liquid or soluble fertiliser while growing and when fruit begins to set apply complete plant food. Aphids, caterpillars and spider mites are the main pests of eggplant. An all-purpose insecticide will control the former two but a miticide will be necessary for the latter.
To harvest, pick as soon as fully coloured but before the skin begins to wrinkle. Leave some stem attached to the fruit.
Keep water off the leaves and stems of marrows.
Climate: Suitable for all climate zones but in the colder parts of cool temperate areas the growing season may be too short for the fruit to mature.
Planting: Sow seeds where they are to grow or, in cooler areas, in pots a few weeks before warm late summer weather. Sow year round in tropical areas, spring to summer in warm zones and in early summer in cool ones.
Growing: Water well but try to keep water off leaves and stems. Pollinating flowers by hand may be necessary. Mildew is a common disease controllable with a fungicide. Aphids and pumpkin beetle can build up in spring: spray with a suitable insecticide.
To harvest, start picking two to three months after planting and, in cooler areas, before frosts strike.
Don't plant peas in the same spot two seasons running.
Climate: Peas may be grown in all climate zones but pea seeds won't germinate if the soil is colder than 10C, and although the seedlings are frost resistant the flowers can be damaged.
Planting: Sow seeds 5cm deep and 10cm apart. Plant into well-drained soil that has had a handful of complete plant food deeply dug into each metre of the row. Cover the fertiliser with soil and place seeds on top so they don't touch it. Plant 3m of peas every three weeks for a continuous crop. In cool temperate areas, sow winter to mid-spring (if frosts are sharp plant indoors). In other areas, sow in autumn and early winter.
Growing: Keep the soil moist and free from competing weeds. Birds may pick the crop for you but otherwise peas are largely trouble-free. Don't plant in the same spot two seasons running.
Harvest garden peas and whole pod (sugar snap) peas as soon as they mature. Snow peas are picked when the pods are small and the peas just visible. Pick often as this will stimulate more flowers.
Climate: Suitable for all climate zones except the colder parts of cool temperate areas.
Planting: Sow seeds into warm soil. The soil must be heavily fertilised and rich in rotted organic matter. In cooler areas, sow in pots and plant out when the soil temperature rises. Zucchini is a warm-season crop that grows best when night temperatures are over 11C.
Growing: Keep free of weeds and water well but try to keep the leaves and stems dry. Hand pollination of the flowers may be necessary, especially in cooler areas. Mildew strikes leaves in humid weather and must be controlled with a fungicide. Watch for aphids and pumpkin beetle: pick off by hand or spray with an all-purpose insecticide.
To harvest, pull when fruits are 10cm long - large zucchini are woody and bitter. Constant picking prolongs production.Source: Gardening: A Commonsense Guide (Murdoch Books)