Vegetables Hints and Tips

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Jan

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Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

May

As potatoes show, earth them up with soil; potatoes in pots should be covered if frost is forecast. Sow maincrop carrots and french beans. Prepare your squash beds with well rotted manure; at the end of the month, sow three seeds together and remove the weakest two. Sow runner beans in two rows or a wigwam shape, with strong cane supports, tied together at the top; some dwarf varieties require no means of support. If you live in the colder north, you can plant the runner beans in pots and plant out later in the month. Cauliflower sown last month can now be planted out. Gradually harden off any plants that you are growing under cloches. Sweetcorn can be sown towards the end of the month, in small blocks; they can be successful in the north if grown in a sunny, sheltered spot. Prick out salad and vegetables which you have sown in pots or rows; keep sowing salad to get a succession of crops.

Buy seeds and plants from Thompson and Morgan.

June

Keep seedlings thinned - if you're lucky you'll already be eating baby carrots and radishes. Marrows and outdoor tomatoes can now be planted out and should be kept well watered. Brussel sprouts and cabbages can be planted now and swede sown in drills, for winter cropping. It is not too late to make further sowings of peas and french beans, or indeed, your first sowings. Pinch out the tips of runner beans when they are 1m tall - this will encourage more sideshoots which will produce pods earlier. Continue successional sowings of salad crops, such as lettuce, radish and spring onions. Plant leeks by dropping them into holes made by a dibber or stick, watering them to let the soil fill the holes. Start to lift early potatoes. Watch for signs of potato blight - cut off infected foliage and dispose in dustbin. Finish cropping asparagus at the end of the month and give it a top dressing of pelleted chicken manure.

July

Leeks can still be planted for late cropping as can late sprouts, winter cabbages and both sprouting and spring broccoli. By the end of the month onions and shallots will be maturing and just about ready for lifting and storing – weather permitting shallots can be dried in the open sun on a shed roof or patio area before storing in a cool but frost proof room or shed. Winter radishes are an excellent crop for sowing at the moment – hardy and unaffected by frost they are strong in flavour and can be cooked like turnips, sliced and fried or used in salads.

August

Now is the time to sow spring cabbage seeds in the vegetable patch – it would be wise to take precautions against club root by dusting with a proprietary powder before planting. This is also the time for planting winter lettuce seed – there are many varieties which will over-winter without cloches. Brussels sprouts can also be sown now to produce an early crop next year. Sweet corn and celery plants should be maturing now and should be picked for use or storage as soon as they are ready to get them at their best.

Buy seeds and plants from Thompson and Morgan.

September

Plant spring cabbages with their leaves at soil level, watering them in well. Lift carrots and use any damaged ones as soon as possible. Carrots can be stored in boxes of sand in a shed or of course be given away to lots of family and friends. Marrows can still be left on the plants for another month. Carrots can be sown now for early cropping - use cloches to protect during the winter.

October

Spring cabbages, brussels sprouts and lettuces can now be planted in well fertilized beds. Tomatoes and many vegetables will be coming to an end now and will need to be harvested and stored e.g. marrows, beetroot etc. Clear away any debris from the now vacant vegetable plot and turn over the soil to expose it to the forthcoming winter frosts.

November

Broad beans can be sown in sheltered sites in the south. 'The Sutton' is recommended and is short enough to grow under cloches. Ensure the ground is weed free and cover the ends of the cloches. Lettuce can still be sown under cloches early in the month. Chicory for eating during winter can be forced in a heated greenhouse under the staging but you will have to discard them afterwards. Leave 1 inch of top growth and pack closely into large pots with some moist soil. Cover with other pots and then black polythene to exclude all light.

Buy seeds and plants from Thompson and Morgan.

December

If you live in a very cold area, lift swede and turnip and store in a clamp; otherwise, earth some soil around them and cover with some straw to give protection. If you intend to grow runner beans it is worthwhile spending some time preparing your trench. Put a layer of manure in a 12 in. deep trench, cover with a layer of soil and then another layer of manure. Fill the trench in and mark it. The manure will rot down and provide a good planting base for your beans in the Spring.

January

Rhubarb can be planted into well manured soil, planting just below soil level at intervals of 3 feet. Place a small mound of leaf mould or manure over each plant to provide some protection; the rhubarb will be ready for pulling in its second season. Previously planted rhubarb should also receive the same protection. If you only have a small patch, terracotta rhubarb forcing pots look very attractive and provide adequate protection. Peas can be sown in the South under cloches; Celebration or Kelvedon Wonder are lovely early varieties. Broad beans can also be sown now - try The Sutton which is very tasty. If you have the space, sow Summer Savory amongst the broad beans which will help deter blackfly. Shallots can be planted in the South into well drained soil. Jerusalem artichokes should be ready to crop; take care to lift them intact.

February

If early potatoes are on your list then you need to buy the tubers as soon as possible and put them in shallow boxes in a single layer and place the boxes in a light frost free position to allow the new shoots to develop. Early varieties of carrots can be sown in cold frames this month for picking in June. Shallots can also be planted this month in open ground - watch out for birds pulling them out and just firm them back in and roots will soon develop to anchor them in.

Buy seeds and plants from Thompson and Morgan.

March

Move onions and garlic grown in pots in the greenhouse over the winter, outside. Sow Brussels sprouts, parsnips, leeks, salad onions, radishes and parsley. Plant chitted early potatoes and if growing in pots, during bouts of heavy rainfall, cover the pots to provide protection. Sow peas and summer spinach. Dress the seed of carrots and sow under cloches. Plant asparagus and if you are lucky enough to have an asparagus bed, apply a manure mulch.

April

Sow successional salad crops and plant onion sets. Early potatoes can be planted if you haven't already done so. Sow peas, carrots, beetroot, cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli. Outdoor tomato plants should be ordered and the flowers removed from rhubarb as soon as seen. French beans can be sown in the south if protected by cloches. Asparagus will be ready to cut in two-year old beds.

Gardening information, hints and tips on growing your own vegetables in the garden and pots including sowing, hardening off, crop succession and general care advice.