Early Spring in the Veg Patch

Mid March always gets us excited for spring, and we know you’ll all be wanting to get going in the garden as soon as you can. Here’s a quick guide to the next few weeks and when to start planting.

Mid March – Mid April

  • Chit/plant seed potatoes – the ground may still be a little cold, depending on where you are. If so, chit your seed potatoes on a sunny windowsill and plant out in a couple of weeks or so, once things start to warm up. In milder parts, you can probably plant out seed potatoes now, especially if you’ve been warming the beds with block polythene these past few weeks. You should be able to plant happily in containers now too.
  • Plant onion/shallot sets & garlic bulbs – try to get these in the ground as soon as possible now. Remember to choose a sunny site with good drainage so that they don’t get drowned in the rain over the coming weeks!
  • Get beds ready – this is the time to really get going with preparing raised beds and digging over soil. Pull up early weeds, being sure to get the roots and add in plenty of organic matter to enrich the soil.
  • Wash down greenhouses/polytunnels & set up hoop tunnel frames – having somewhere warm to plant seedlings will help get your veggies off to a good start. Greenhouses tend to have a slightly green sheen at this time of year, so was off any algae to allow the sunlight in.
  • Start getting supports ready – if you need to build wigwams for your beans etc, now is a good time to at least start thinking about it so that you can make sure you’ve bought in what you need in the way of bamboo etc.

Mid April – Early May

  • This is the main start of the planting season – don’t get carried away!!
  • Don’t plant out tender crops – We often have late frosts at this time of year, so please, please, if you receive your plants now, be careful when planting them out. Tender crops – sweetcorn, aubergine, squash, courgette, beans, peas, tomatoes – will need to be kept warm and sheltered. If it’s too chilly to plant them out when they arrive, then plant them temporarily in a greenhouse, or porch (or equivalent) to keep them warm. Or cover with a tunnel cloche.
  • Plant out hardier plants – brassicas, spinach, chard, beetroot, carrots, leeks etc, will all be okay planted out now. If you are worried about weather conditions, you could simply cover them with a sheet of horticultural fleece until temperatures warm up a bit.
  • Get seed potatoes in the ground – ideally they’ll be planted out by late April, but you could squeeze a few in in May.

Mid May – Late May

  • You can relax and plant at ease now – it’s our favourite time for planting as everything gets off to a good start with the warmer soil and longer daylight hours.
  • Replace any frost-damaged or slug-damaged crops – it’s a great opportunity to replace and casualties to make the most of your plot.
  • Missed the boat? If you feel like you’ve missed an opportunity to plant, you haven’t. There is still time. You can happily plant out in late May/early June, and there are still things you can plant in early July too.