Seasonal Gardening Planner
As the weather warms and the days lengthen, vegetable gardeners are always eager to get growing. However, it is a good idea to find out the average date of the last frost in your area and not to sow any tender crops under cover until 4-6 weeks before this date. This gives plants time to grow to a good size for transplanting and hardening off, without their getting too large or leggy.
Sowing and Planting Outdoors
Many hardy vegetables can be sown directly into sun-warmed prepared soil.
- Early spring: sow fava beans, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, green onions, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsley, parsnips, peas, summer cauliflowers; plant asparagus, globe and Jerusalem artichokes, early potatoes, garlic, onion and shallot sets.
- Mid-spring: sow arugula, beets, purple sprouting broccoli, cabbages, calabrese, carrots, cauliflowers, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips; plant globe and Jerusalem artichokes, onion sets, potatoes.
- Late spring: sow arugula, cabbages, cauliflowers, carrots, French and runner beans, lettuces, parsnips, peas, radishes, sweet corn, Swiss chard.
Sowing Under Cover
Sow hardy vegetables under glass for an early crop, and give tender vegetables a head start with protection from unpredictable spring weather.
- Early spring: arugula, basil, beets, carrots, celeriac, celery, cucumbers, eggplants, lettuce, parsley, peppers, tomatoes.
- Mid-spring: basil, celeriac, celery, cucumbers, eggplants, French and runner beans, parsley, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes.
- Late spring: squash, summer squash, zucchini.
Harvest overwintered brassicas, and pick crops that have been grown under cover.
- Early spring: cabbages, cauliflower, evergreen herbs, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, salad leaves.
- Mid-spring: cauliflower, evergreen herbs, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, salad leaves, Swiss chard.
- Late spring: asparagus, fava beans, green onions, kohlrabi, peas, perennial herbs, radishes, salad leaves.
There are plenty of tasks to keep you busy at this time of year, so make the most of good weather.
- Prick out and pot on seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle. Harden off young plants as the risk of frost decreases.
- Hoe to control weeds; prepare beds for planting; put up supports for peas and beans; lift and divide perennial herbs; repot herbs in containers; water plants in pots.
- Earth up potatoes to protect from frost and cover early crops with cloches or fleece to keep out the cold; protect young brassicas from birds.
Try to make a little time every day for weeding, watering, and harvesting. Even in tiny gardens, gluts of vegetables are possible, so sow small amounts of seeds successionally every 2-3 weeks to ensure a steady supply over summer.
Keep up successional sowings throughout the summer, and don't forget those late summer sowings that can be protected with cloches and harvested in winter.
- Early summer: arugula, beets, calabrese, carrots, outdoor cucumbers, French and runner beans, green onions, herbs, lettuce, peas, radishes, rutabagas, squash, Swiss chard, turnips, zucchini.
- Midsummer: Asian greens, beets, calabrese, lettuce, green onions, turnips.
- Late summer: Asian greens, radishes, spinach, spring cabbages, turnips, winter radishes.
In early summer, transplant into their final positions young plants raised under cover or outdoors in seedbeds. Ensure tender crops are not placed outside until the risk of frost has passed. Some tender types are best grown indoors. Make sure that you water transplants well.
- Indoors: cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes.
- Outdoors: Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers, celeriac, celery, French and runner beans, kale, leeks, purple sprouting broccoli, sweet corn, tomatoes, winter squash, zucchini.
Frequent picking encourages many plants to produce more flowers and crop for longer.
- Early summer: beets, cabbages, cauliflower, fava beans, globe artichokes, green onions, herbs, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, early potatoes, radishes, salad leaves, Swiss chard, turnips, zucchini.
- Midsummer: beets, cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, fava beans, garlic, green onions, herbs, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, early potatoes, radishes, salad leaves, and tomatoes, zucchini.
- Late summer: cabbages, carrots, calabrese, chili peppers, cucumbers, French and runner beans, eggplants, herbs, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, salad leaves, second early potatoes, shallots, sweet corn, tomatoes, zucchini.
Raising strong plants and caring for them well helps to maintain a healthy and productive garden.
- Keep the garden neat, and water, fertilize, and weed all plants regularly. If you go on vacation, enlist the help of a friend or neighbor while you are away.
- In early summer apply a thin mix of shading whitewash to greenhouse glass. Monitor greenhouse ventilation daily and keep watch for signs of pests and diseases.
- Train climbing vegetables onto their supports, remove sideshoots from cordon tomatoes, and earth up maincrop potatoes and tall brassicas.
- Be ready to store any vegetables and herbs that you cannot use fresh.
The vegetable garden is still full of life, with plenty left to harvest and lots of seeds to sow for early crops next year.
Sowing, Planting and Transplanting
- Early fall: sow under cover Asian salad leaves, Japanese onions, spinach, Swiss chard; transplant spring cabbages.
- Mid-fall: sow calabrese, carrots, fava beans, peas.
- Late fall: sow fava beans, hardy lettuce; plant garlic cloves.
- Early fall: beets, carrots, chili peppers, cucumbers, French and runner beans, peppers, maincrop potatoes, salad leaves, sweet corn, tomatoes, winter squash.
- Mid-fall: cabbages, carrots, maincrop potatoes, salad leaves, tomatoes, turnips.
- Late fall: cabbages, herbs, kale, leeks, parsnips, salad leaves.
- Tidy up the garden, removing all annual, non-seeding weeds and spent crop plants to the compost pile.
- Cure squashes so they store well.
- Wash shading paint from greenhouse glass.
- Remove lower leaves of tomato plants to help the last fruits ripen.
Although this is the season to catch your breath, remember to consider the year's successes and failures and use your experience to help choose suitable crops for next season.
Sowing and Planting
Hardy crops can be sown as early as midwinter under cover.
- Midwinter: sow early cauliflowers, early carrots, fava beans, leeks, lettuce, onions, shallots.
- Late winter: sow Brussels sprouts, summer cabbages, fava beans, leeks, onions, peas, radishes, shallots, turnips; plant Jerusalem artichokes.
- Brussels sprouts, cabbages, kale, leeks, parsnips; under cover: salad leaves, especially Asian greens and chard.
If you want to change the garden layout, this is the time to build paths, raised beds, or other features, so they are ready for spring planting.
- Order seeds, seed potatoes, and onion sets. Begin chitting first early seed potatoes in midwinter in a cool, light place.
- Dig and manure the soil in fine weather as it becomes free of crops; apply lime where necessary.
- Wash down the greenhouse and staging with horticultural detergent, and clear away old plant material to prevent the spread of pests and diseases.
Text copyright 2007 Royal Horticultural Society