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Home | Turkish Gardens | Vegetables 1 | Vegetables 2 | Vegetables 3 |

- A small garden, figs, a little cheese, and, along with this, three or four good friends—such was luxury to Epicurus... Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)


Cucumbers ( Turkish: Salatalik ), grown either for pickling or slicing, have become one of the most popular planted crops in today's home garden. Although cucumbers require substantial growing space, they can be grown in small gardens by training vines onto trellises, or they can be grown in containers. The cucumber ranges in size from the small gherkin type to the long, thin slicing variety. There are also yellow and fruited varieties.

Cucumbers are a subtropical crop, requiring long warm days, plenty of sunshine and balmy nights. Many new varieties have shorter growing seasons, making them ideal for shorter summers. Vines bear two kinds of flowers, pistillate (female) and staminate (male). The first flowers, which are staminate, drop from the vine and do not bear fruit. Subsequent flowers include both male and female, and pollination can occur. Recently, gynoecious plants (those bearing female flowers only) have been introduced. The seed packet will have specifically marked seeds indicating that the marked seeds must be planted as well for proper pollination.

Cucumbers thrive at relatively high temperatures; 65-75 degrees F is the ideal temperature range. The plants do not tolerate frost. As a fast-growing crop, cucumbers require a substantial amount of moisture and plant nutrient elements throughout the growing season.

Cucumbers can be grown successfully in many types of soils, but they will be most successful in loose, well-drained soil,well supplied with organic matter and plant nutrient elements. Work in organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost before planting.

Lime and fertilizers are best applied using soil test results as a guide. One week after blossoming begins, and again three weeks later, use a high nitrogen fertilizer to side-dress the hills. Do not over-fertilize, as this encourages vine growth and retards fruiting.

You can gain growing time by starting the plants indoors 10 to 14 days before anticipated planting time. Use peat pots or pellets and avoid disturbing roots when transplanting. Planting outside should be delayed until the danger of frost has passed in the spring--usually late March. Cucumber seeds can be planted in hills consisting of four or five seeds per hill spaced at 4 to 5 feet apart. They can also be planted in rows 2 to 3 feet apart with rows 5 to 6 feet apart.

Mulches can conserve soil moisture, prevent soil compaction and rotting of the fruit and help suppress weeds. Black plastic mulch can be a valuable aid in keeping the soil moist and minimizing weed problems. Organic mulches such as peat moss, cocoa shells or buckwheat hulls also work well, also providing the added bonus of improving the soil.


Garlic ( Turkish: Sarimsak ) is a hardy, perennial member of the onion family. Probably native to Central Asia, garlic has long been naturalized in Southern Europe. Unlike the onion, garlic plants produce a number of small bulbs called cloves rather than one large bulb. Each bulb contains a dozen or more cloves, and is covered with a thin white skin. The larger outer cloves produce the best garlic. Garlic has flat leaves rather than the round, hollow leaves of the onion. Garlic is used largely as a condiment and as flavoring in gravies, tomato sauces, soups, stews, pickles, salads, salad dressing and breads. Many cooks find it indispensable in the kitchen.

Garlic grows best on friable (crumbly) loamy soils that are fertile and high in organic matter. Garlic does well with high amounts of fertilizer. The soil must be kept evenly moist, as dry soil will cause irregularly shaped bulbs. Heavy clay soils will also create misshapen bulbs and make harvesting difficult. Add organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost to the soil on a yearly basis to keep it friable.

Garlic must be planted very early in March or April to permit full leaf development. Later spring planting is not successful. Long days and warm temperatures favor bulb development in the garlic plant. As soon as bulbing starts, leaf initiation ceases. For highest yields, therefore, the cloves must be planted early enough to permit the development of large vegetative plants during the short cool days of March and April. The yield potential of the plants depends on the amount of vegetative growth produced before bulbing commences. Select only larger outer cloves for the best garlic. Garlic seed is not available and is rarely produced by plants. Be sure that the cloves are free of disease and are smooth and fresh.

Plant garlic cloves three to five inches apart in an upright position in the row and set them at a depth of one-half to one inch deep. Setting the bulbs in an upright position ensures a straight neck. Be sure to allow 18 to 30 inches between the rows. Do not divide the bulbs into cloves until you are ready to plant--early separation results in decreased yields.

The bulbs may be harvested when the tops start to dry, usually in August. Bulbs should be dug up rather than pulled to avoid stem injury. Allow the tops to dry. After the bulbs have dried, the tops and roots can be removed with shears to within an inch of the bulbs. It is essential that the garlic be well cured before being stored. The mature bulbs are best stored at 32 degrees F. Garlic stores well under a wide range of temperatures, but sprouts will develop quickly at temperatures at or above 40 degrees F. The humidity in storage should be near 65 to 70 percent at all times to discourage mold development and root formation. Cloves should keep for six to seven months.

The onion maggot larva is occasionally found in garlic cloves when harvested. An earlier symptom of onion maggot presence is the premature death of leaf tips. Sanitation is crucial to control; sprays are not available.

Hot Peppers

Hot Peppers ( Turkish: Aci Bibers ) are of tropical origin, plants thrive best when temperatures are warm. Peppers are very sensitive to cold, and planting should be delayed until all danger of frost is past in the spring. Ideal temperatures are 70 to 80 degrees F during the day, and 60 to 70 degrees F at night. Extremely high temperatures (90 degrees F or above) during flowering often results in blossom drop unless watered properly. A shortage of water at bloom time can also result in blossom drop or failure to set fruit. Pepper plants usually set satisfactory crops when temperatures are between 65 and 80 degrees F and the soil is well-supplied with moisture. Avoid soggy, water-logged soil when growing peppers.

Pepper plants grow best in warm, well-drained soils of moderate fertility and good tilth and are not particularly sensitive to soil acidity. Peppers are usually grown by using transplants rather than by direct seeding. Select stocky, sturdy plants that have 3-5 sets of true leaves. Avoid plants that already have flowers and fruit. However, in southern Turkey peppers are easily grown from last years seeds.Space plants 18 inches apart in rows 24 inches apart or more, depending on the type of cultivation used. Water plants thoroughly after transplanting. After the plants are well established, apply a mulch to conserve soil moisture, prevent soil compaction and help suppress weed growth. Once fruits have begun to set an additional sidedressing of fertilizer will help promote greater plant productivity.

Control weeds by hand-pulling or shallow cultivation to avoid injury to the plant roots. The incidence of disease can be reduced with proper spacing, by watering early in the day so leaves dry quickly and with the use of soaker hoses. Aphids should be controlled as they may carry viral diseases that can affect peppers. European corn borers may make small holes near the stem of the pepper and cause internal rot of the fruit.

Care should be taken when breaking the peppers from the plants, as the branches are often brittle. Hand clippers or pruners can be used to cut peppers from the plant to avoid excessive stem breakage. The number of peppers per plant varies with the variety.

In general, peppers have short storage life of only one to two weeks. Cool, moist conditions and 85 to 90 percent relative humidity are the ideal storage conditions for peppers.


Lettuce ( Turkish: Salata ) varieties can be loosely categorized into four groups: crisphead, butterhead, leaf and romaine or cos. Each group has its own growth and taste characteristics.

Crisphead lettuce is probably the most familiar of the four. It is characterized by a tight, firm head of crisp, light-green leaves. Crisphead lettuce is generally intolerant of hot weather and will readily bolt or send up a flower stalk under hot summer conditions. Its long growing period also makes it one of the most difficult of the lettuces to grow in New England.

The butterhead types have smaller, softer heads of loosely folded leaves. The outer leaves may be green or brownish with cream or butter colored inner leaves.

Leaf lettuce has an open growth and does not form a head. Leaf form and color varies considerably--some cultivars are frilled and crinkled and others deeply lobed. Color ranges from light green to red and bronze. Leaf lettuce matures quickly and is the easiest to grow.

Romaine or Cos lettuces form upright, cylindrical heads of tightly folded leaves. The plants may reach up to 10 inches in height. The outer leaves are medium green with greenish white inner leaves. Romaine is the sweetest of the four types.

Lettuce is a cool-season vegetable and develops best quality when grown under cool, moist conditions. Lettuce seedlings will tolerate a light frost. Seeds of leaf lettuce are usually planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Butterhead and romaine can be grown either from seeds or transplants. Due to its long-growing season, crisphead lettuce is grown from transplants. Transplants may be purchased or started indoors about six weeks before the preferred planting date.

Lettuce can be grown in a wide range of soils. Loose, fertile, sandy loam soils, well-supplied with organic matter, are best. The soil should be well-drained and moist but not soggy. Heavy soils can be modified with well-rotted manure or compost, or by growing a cover crop.

Since lettuce seed is very small, a well-prepared seedbed is essential. Large clods will not allow proper seed-to-soil contact, reducing germination. Lettuce does not have an extensive root system, making an adequate supply of moisture and nutrients also necessary for proper development. Seed may be sown in single rows or broadcast for wide row planting. Wide rows should be 12 to 15 inches across. Cover the seeds with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. Water carefully but thoroughly. Several successive plantings of leaf lettuce will provide a more continuous harvest throughout the growing season. Leave 18 inches between the rows for leaf lettuce and 24 inches for the other types. To achieve proper spacing of plants, thinning of lettuce seedlings is usually necessary. Thin plants of leaf lettuce four to six inches or more between plants, depending on plant size. Butterhead and romaine should be thinned six to ten inches between plants. Crisphead transplants should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart in the row.

An organic mulch will help conserve moisture, suppress weeds and keep soil temperatures cool. If weeds become a problem, pull by hand or cultivate very shallowly to avoid damage to lettuce roots. Planning your garden so that lettuce will be in the shade of taller plants in the heat of the summer may reduce bolting.

All lettuce types should be harvested when they have reached full size but are still young and tender. Over-mature lettuce is bitter and woody. Leaf lettuce is harvested by removing individual outer leaves, leaving the center leaves to continue to grow. Butterhead or romaine types can be harvested by removing the outer leaves, digging up the whole plant or cutting the plant about an inch above the soil surface, usually allowing for a second harvest. Crisphead lettuce is picked when the center is firm.

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