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Vegetable Planting Guide

Which vegetables grow in your part of the Mediterranean depends on your climatic conditions. If you are lucky to be on the coast with water available on demand then you will probably be able to harvest a very good range of vegetables throughout the year. If, however, you are in an area with extremely high summer temperatures and a limited water supply then you will probably have to grow the bulk of your produce in the cooler months of autumn, winter and spring. We are in a Cypriot valley with slightly cooler summer temperatures than inland areas and about 30 kilometres from the sea which provides a cooling breeze. We are also at a height of about 280 metres above sea level and have soil which is very fertile, so we can grow a variety of crops. The variation in sowing and planting times is dependant on your own climatic circumstances but the differences are likely to be between plus or minus two weeks. If you are new to an area keep an eye on local gardeners to see when they start sowing and planting or ask your local nursery who can usually provide invaluable advice. 
                                                                                                                        The following vegetables can be grown in the Mediterranean area and we will provide advice and information on each vegetable and include when and how to plant, soil conditions required, watering requirements and information on some of the common pests and diseases which effect each vegetable. 
The advice provided is to enable you to decide which vegetables best suit your conditions but the most important requirement is to grow and eat what you and your family enjoy most and gradually introduce a few new additions each season and continue with the ones you enjoy and discard the others.
The guidelines for each vegetable will allow you to grow and eat your produce at their best. By following sowing and planting times you will ensure plants are healthy enough to fight the pests and diseases which may come along with a minimum of intervention. Organic growing methods also require less watering and additional feeding of artificial fertilisers which generally just result in larger but tasteless crops. Always start with good seeds and ideal conditions and nature generally takes care of the rest. 
When planning your choice of vegetables to grow you must keep in mind crop rotation, different plants belong to the following families and those within a family have the same requirements and usually suffer from the same pests and diseases. By rotating crops we can avoid the build-up of a particular disease in the soil and ensure the soil is not depleted of essential nutrients which would result by continually growing one family in the same part of a vegetable plot. For more information on crop rotation go to Planning.

The  first, of twenty-two, deep beds of 1.5m width and 6m in length is completed.

All twenty-two deep beds are completed along with the herb garden.

Solanaceae (Require high nitrogen levels - which is provided by manuring before planting. Prefers a slightly acid soil of pH 5.5 - 7.0 and Rotation Cycle A)

This family of vegetables are high in antioxidants which help block the formation and fight and destroy free radicals that damage body cells. Low in carbohydrates and fats but have many essential minerals and vitamins.

Crucifarae (The Cabbage Family - most have a long growing period and require a pH  6.0 to 7.5 - Rotation Cycle C)

The health benefits and nutritional value of crucifarae family are many: some are that they are ant-inflammatory; have detoxifying properties; contain the compound sulforaphane which has been shown to stimulate antioxidants which can protect against harmful free radicals; high in fibre and vitamin K.

Leguminosae (The Bean Family - have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air - pH 6.0 to 7.5 - Rotation Cycle B
All legumes can be eaten fresh or dried. A rich source of protein, fibre, essential nutrients including folate, magnesium and potassium. By replacing foods high in saturated fats with legumes you will lower your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

A mature black eyed bean plant

Aliums (The Onion Family - pH 6.0 to 7.0 - Rotation Cycle D)
Although chives are a member of the alium family I have included these with herbs as they are a perennial. The health and nutritional benefits of aliums are many and some are: they contain anti-inflammatory chemical compounds; antioxidant properties; a natural anti-biotic and high in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and many other vitamins and minerals.

Further Information:

Garlic:  (a) Don't not buy expensive bulbs for planting, simply a pink skinned variety from your supermarket. (b) Start enjoying your garlic in early spring by using the green shoots in salads. (c) Once harvested dry your bulbs in the sun to extend storage time.

Leeks: (a) Use thinnings for cooking or salads.

Curcubitaceae (pH 5.5 to 7.5 - fitted into any spare bed spaces in the Rotation Cycle)
The curcubitaceae family contain high levels of water by weight and a watermelon is approximately 90% by weight. They can be mildly diuretic and contain high levels of vitamin C and other essential vitamins and minerals.

Other Information:
Melons: (a) Keep seeds from shop bought melons for planting.

Umbelliferae ( Ph 5.5 to 7.0 - Rotation Cycle D)

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamins C, D, E, K, B1 and B6. Carrots also contain the antioxidant carotene and essential minerals. Parsnips have a high vitamin C content and folate and are high in the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, sodium and potassium. Parsley is very beneficial as it contains twice the iron content of spinach and three times the vitamin C level of an orange. Celery can be a useful addition in a weight loss program as it is low in calories but provides dietary fibre. Celery seeds have a high calcium content.

Others (pH 6.0.to 7.5 - fitted into any spare bed spaces in the Rotation Cycle)

Sweet Potato:  You can produce your own slips for planting by suspending a sweet potato tuber in a jar of water. Start the process in November, so your slips are ready for planting out in March. If possible purchase an organic tuber, as many non organic tubers will have been sprayed with a growth inhibitor, and give it a good wash.  Place the tuber in a jar or water with the pointed end down and with the top third out of the water and supported with toothpicks.  Roots will emerge from the base of the tuber and slips will grow out of the top.  One sweet potato will produce anything from 10 to 50 slips. When the slips are 10cm long, twist them off of the tuber and place them in a jar of water.  The slips will produce roots after a week or so. Once the slips have a healthy looking root system, pot them up and allow to them to grow for a few weeks before planting out. 

Perennial Vegetables (Grown in a permanent spot and not included in a Rotation Cycle)