Baby Veg from seeds

Cucamelon, Melothria Scabra, Mexican Sour Gherkin

Baby vegetable seeds can be grown in a variety of different ways. You don’t
have to buy seeds which are specifically developed to give baby vegetables – you can also
harvest early or sow the seed thickly of some varieties, so they don’t have much chance to
develop. Some people like to harvest crops such as carrots and leeks when they
are small as a matter of course – they tend to be sweeter then as the sugars
have not converted to starch and they are also tenderer. If you take
precautions against attracting carrot fly – you can ask a dozen gardeners how
to prevent this pest and their replies will vary between putting ground coffee
on the ground, growing marigolds, onions and leeks nearby or using fleece –
then you can use two methods at once. You can sow thickly, then use the early
thinnings as baby veg and grow the rest on to maturity, harvesting as you go to
make the best of their sweetness.

Cucumber Iznic baby cucumber

Some plants are best grown from deliberately bred dwarf stock, such as
aubergines – Nicky’s Nursery stocks Hansel, an F1 hybrid with purple fruit that
can be harvested as small as two inches long. This is something to remember –
small is not necessarily ‘baby’; it might mean unripe and therefore not good to
eat. Check the packaging if you intend to eat something when it is not mature;
not all plants take kindly to being harvested young and you could end up with
an inedible crop.

Aubergine Hansel

Baby Veg Aubergine Hansel harvest from 2 inches to 10 inches

Baby vegetables not only taste good, they look good too and if you are
on a diet and tending to ‘eat with your eyes’ the plate appeal is very
important. As well as being small, some of the baby vegetables come in weird
and wonderful colours, such as the cauliflower strain ‘Sunset’. As its name
suggests, it comes in a glowing orange shade, which is deepest at ‘baby’ size,
but does still linger even if allowed to grow to full maturity. If you like
runner beans but prefer smaller veg, then Minnow would be ideal. They are the
size of a stringless French bean but with all the taste of a runner.

Cauliflower Sunset seeds

Baby or Mini veg Cauliflower Sunset

Tomatoes are the undisputed rulers of the baby vegetable patch. Many of
the cherry tomatoes are less than an inch across but the baby of even this tiny
strain is the tomato sweet pea currant, which has masses of fruits of less than
a fifth that size. Perfect in salads or to encourage children to eat more
vegetables, tiny tomatoes are a fun way to the five a day. For a perfect salad,
try Iceberg Warpath, a baby lettuce with the crisp leaves of a classic iceberg
but none of the bulk. Baby vegetables need to be sown in succession, to make
sure of a season-long supply of the little beauties.

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