Growing your own veggies is a great way to know exactly what is going into the food that ends up on your plate. By planting, feeding and monitoring your crops you can ensure that you get the healthiest product possible. However, a common stumbling block for would-be growers is timing – when should I plant this vegetable? When should I harvest another? Here we offer some key tips and advice on home growing.
The start of the year can be very frustrating for vegetable growers. January is generally very cold in the UK with plenty of frost and not much sunlight which can make it difficult to sow or plant anything. Well, at least outdoors anyway. While you have some success with peas, shallots or garlic, you’ll struggle with anything else. Indoors you can use a heated propagator or LED grow lights to start growing tomatoes and aubergines, however it’s a lot of effort to save yourself a bit of time. Instead, you could just use January to put together a plan of what you will grow throughout the year and add it to your calendar.
February is notoriously unpredictable and a mild end or vicious cold snap could scupper your growing plans this month. If you’re keen to get started then you can begin chitting potatoes ready for planting in a cool room that get a little sunlight, but not too much. You can also start planting parsnip seeds now but if the ground is still cold then you might have more success in March time. Now is also a good time to start planting cabbages, turnips, spinach and onions and also to remove any dead leaves and plant matter covering up your beds.
March is when you can really start to get going with your garden or allotment growing. You can start planting turnips, radish, lettuce, leeks, Brussels sprouts, peas, broad beans and beetroot. You can also begin planting the potatoes that you’ve been chitting. Be mindful of the weather though as it can still be bitterly cold.
By this point of the year, the weather should be on the turn with some fairly mild weather arriving. Now is the time to get busy. You can start sowing beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kale, leeks, lettuce, peas, radish, rocket and spinach. You might also be able to plant some celery, cucumbers and tomatoes under the cover of a greenhouse.
Your soil should be beginning to warm up in May and most of the cold should have gone. But, it’s likely that the cold days will still be outnumbering the warm ones until the very end of the month. May is a good time to start sowing the following vegetables: French beans, runner beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflowers, kale, lettuce, peas, rocket, radishes and spring onions. Under the cover of a greenhouse you can start sowing courgettes, marrows, pumpkins and squash. While you can now begin moving Brussels sprouts, cabbages, celery and leeks outside to finish growing, you should keep peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse.
With all the sunshine that comes with June your vegetables have plenty of opportunity to soak up nutrients. However, it’s important as you move through the summer months to make sure your plants are being watered as well. Here are some vegetables which you can sow in June - for some it’s the last chance for a while. They include beetroot, carrots, cauliflowers, courgettes, French beans, runner beans, peas, squash, Swedes and turnips. You can also move broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbages out from the greenhouse.
Although you certainly can’t count on the weather in the UK, July does tend to be the driest month of the year. If you do experience a dry spell in June then be sure to give your crops plenty of water and make sure your greenhouse is properly ventilated. July can prove a pain for pests too so try and keep on top of weeds and utilise pest control (nets, sprays, repellents, etc) where you can. While the bulk of sowing is usually over by July you can still plant beetroot, cabbage, carrots, French beans, lettuce and peas.
Another hot month, August is all about continued maintenance as your vegetables soak up the sunshine. Water your crops regularly, stay on top of your pest control duties and if you’re looking for something to sow then consider cabbage, radishes or spinach. You can also move any cabbages or cauliflowers that you planted earlier in the year outdoors to complete their cycle.
September ushers in the end of the summer which means cooler weather and lots of harvesting on the horizon. You should find that the majority of your crops should be ready to harvest in September – October time including artichokes, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cauliflowers, courgettes, kale, leeks, lettuce, marrows, onions, pumpkins, radishes, spinach, spring onion and turnips. So, get ready to enjoy the fruits of your labour!
Like September, October is when you’ll begin to see the majority of your crops come to maturity. Any crops which aren’t ready to be harvested will need to be protected from the elements as there can be downpours and plenty of wind throughout October. Once you’ve harvested up the lion’s share of your veg you should use the spare time you have to dig over the old plots to keep it fertile.
With winter well on its way it’s time to prepare for the elements. Frost, rain and snow puts an end to most of your crops but you can use the time you have to continue digging over old plots. This promotes nutrients and stops your soil from becoming hard and impacted. If you do have any leftover produce in the ground like carrots or Brussels’ sprouts then they may be ready for harvest but generally most of your plot will be empty by now.
Stepping out the house is unlikely to be high on your agenda in December with all the planning for the holidays and miserable weather. This makes December a good time to plan out when you will grow your crops the following year and most importantly put your orders in for your seeds – perhaps shopping around for good deals or new varieties that you’re yet to try out. It’s also a good opportunity to repair any of your tools ahead of sowing season.
Do you enjoy gardening? Do you have any special tips on growing your own veg or creating a garden sanctuary? Tweet us @TimeForYouGroup and let us know, or alternatively visit us at https://timeforyou.cleaning/uk/ for more tips and advice.