Growing fruits and vegetables is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding activities there is. As well as providing the grower and their family and friends with year-round food and nutrition, gardening is great exercise for the body and the mind.
Working outside throughout the year, becoming aware of the changing seasons, and how they effect the soil and the conditions for each seasons plants, with the sun, wind and rain blowing all around, is healthy and a form of ‘gardener’s meditation’.
What to Plant in Spring: March & April
A British spring is usually mild, but cold snaps and snowfalls can surprise the gardener and wreck plans for planting. It is important to check long and short-term weather forecasts before planting, as sudden cold spells could destroy seeds and seedlings recently planted. If in doubt, wait.
From march and April, a gardener can start sowing some seeds directly into the soil, rather than under protection or in a greenhouse, and plant some matured plants also directly into their growing place.
These are: seeds to sow directly –
Beetroot, broad beans, broccoli (purple sprouting), brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, kale, leeks, onions, parsnips, peas, radishes, rocket, spinach, spring onions, turnips, swiss chard.
Plants to plant now: Asparagus crowns, Jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes, onion sets, potatoes, raspberries, rhubarb crowns, shallot sets. All these plants are available from garden centres in a ready-grown form.
What to Plant in Summer: May, June & July
This is a chance to plant anything that didn’t get planted in spring due to uncertain weather conditions. Having made a year-long plan for the plot of land or allotment where the vegetables will grow, now assess how much space to allot to each vegetable, and what to replace each one with once it has grown and been used.
Seeds to sow directly: Cucumbers, fennel, lettuce, runner beans
Many of the spring vegetables, if planted early and if there was no bad weather, will become ready for picking and harvesting over the summer season. At the start of may is a great time to plant sunflower seeds around the garden. As well as looking wonderful, they help to provide some shade around the plot, and can attract some wildlife, in the form of butterflies and bees.
To make a head start for autumn planting, sow sweet corn, pumpkins and courgette seeds in pots to develop into seedlings. Also french beans can be started this way. The early summer and summer gardening season is a good time to continually do light weeding between and around the growing vegetables, and thin seedlings so that each has enough space to develop.
Into Autumn: August, September, October
Autumn is the time of beautiful change in the light, temperature, and ground conditions. From august, this is the time to start sowing and planting in directly, all the winter vegetables: cabbage, lettuce, onions, radishes, spinach and chard. Give some space on the allotment for a winter crop of broad beans. Buy or prepare strawberry plants for planting now as well. Also, plant bulbs of garlic for over-wintering.
There will be a lot of harvesting in early autumn of the summer planted vegetables.
Into Winter: A Gardener Rests & Plans Ahead
Winter is the season for a gardener to look back at the past year and reflect upon the growing season. Which vegetables grew in abundance, and which vegetables didn’t do so well? This is the time to consider the soil conditions, site of the allotment, and start planning for the next year ahead.