Here’s a quick overview of what could be happening in a garden near you over the next month or so. This is the time to get lots of things going so there is loads of sowing to do. For beans and peas soak them overnight, then over the following few days rinse them twice with fresh water. Once they have sprouted, pot them up (two or three to a pot) and keep them undercover and away from mice till they are established, then plant them out. Now is the time for planting potatoes, one method is to dig a trench, put in the tatties and then cover them up, the loose earth from the trench can be used for earthing up round the base of the plants later. It is also the time to sow carrots and parsnips, sow them direct into a drill in a very well-raked seed bed.
Carrots need protecting from carrot root fly which eats the roots and makes them all squishy. Something that works for us is to build a wooden frame at least 50cm high around the plot, then nail the fleece to it to form a wall. This way you can protect the crop but also check and weed the crop easily. Cucumber, courgettes, pumpkins and squash can all be sown in pots now in pots. Salads, edible flowers (like calendula and nasturtium) and herbs can be sown outdoors from now too. In a few weeks it will be time to sow beetroot, kohl rabbi and turnips all direct. It will also be time to sow cauliflowers if you want to be eating them in May next year!
Tomatoes, chard, summer cabbages, celeriac and kales could all have been sown already but it is not too late to start them off. If you have already sown them then now is the time to prick out the seedlings into larger trays. When plants that are in pots or tray like tomatoes, cabbages, kale, beans and peas, cucumber, courgettes, pumpkins, squash and chard are a couple of inches high they are ready to go out into the garden. Harden them off for a few days in their pots outside before planting them out. Once the root veg like carrots, parsnips, leeks, beetroot and turnips come up and you can see the individual plants they will need thinning out to allow the plants to get bigger.
Other jobs to do in the garden are preparing the beds for your young plants, putting straw around strawberries to protect the fruit and net any soft fruit bushes to protect them from the birds.
Lucky folk whose garden has survived the winter and who were on top of things in the autumn could be eating fresh asparagus, chard, salads, spring greens, and sprouting broccoli right now! Soon there will be cauliflower, pak choi, radish, rhubarb and strawberries. Lastly, don’t forget that wild harvest just sitting there waiting for you. Ramsons (wild garlic) are perfect for making into pesto or adding to a salad for a real blast of spring flavour. Also try the tender top leaves of nettles in a soup – they are fantastic!