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Vegetable Gardening Tips

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3. Sheds and fences may need repairing and painting to protect them over the coming months. Always choose a safe preservative

4. Watch out for chickweed which can soon overwhelm winter salads and other plants, particularly on rich soils.

5. Insulate worm bins for the winter to keep worms active and producing compost.

6. Start a compost trench - Bury kitchen waste at about a spade’s depth, preferably where the runner beans will grow next year. Cover the waste with soil, as soon as you add it, to prevent foxes or other animals from scavenging.

7. Make sure that bare ground is covered. Autumn leaves make a good winter mulch spread over the soil protecting it from heavy rainfall.

8. Check stored crops regularly. Remove immediately anything showing signs of decay, to prevent rots from spreading.

9. Lift Celery as required in December. Any plants left in the ground can be covered with a thick layer of straw to protect from winter frost.


February Vegetable Garden

Things to do:

1. Get organised:

  • collect plastic bottles and make bottle cloches
  • buy plant labels, canes and other essentials
  • check fleece, netting and other crop covers for holes and buy more if they are in tatters
  • scrub seed trays, modules and pots with hot soapy water

2. Buy your seed potatoes now if you haven't already got them.

3. Rhubarb plants can be 'forced' in January and early February to produce a crop of delicious, slim, pale pink stems.

4. Start to dig in overwintered green manures such as grazing rye and winter tares.

5. Ground works

'Top dress' overwintered crops, such as autumn planted onions, broad beans and spring cabbage, to give spring growth a boost. Use a good rich garden compost or chicken manure pellets.

6. Feed the soil

7. Compost trench: Continue to add raw vegetable kitchen waste to your compost trench.


March Vegetable Garden

Things to do:

1. Keep hoeing: As the sowing season is upon us, we must not forget to keep on top of the weeds. Hoe regularly, when weeds are small. Do so on a dry day but collect up the weeds and compost if rain is likely, to prevent re-rooting.

2. Sow green manures where soil is bare awaiting tender crops in May/June - Mustard, Phacelia or Tares - if the soil is warm enough. They will provide ground cover for 2-3 months, feed the soil and provide cover for beneficial insects emerging from hibernation.

3. Warm soil by placing black or clear plastic sheets, cloches or garden fleece on the soil.

4. "Top dress" overwintered crops, such as autumn planted onions, broad beans and spring cabbage, to give spring growth a boost. Use a good rich garden compost or chicken manure pellets.

5. Finish digging in overwintered green manures such as grazing rye and winter tares.

6. It’s not too late to start a compost trench for your runner beans, they benefit from good moisture retentive material at the roots

7. Don't forget to plan a crop rotation taking into account the fertility of your plot.


April / May Vegetable Garden

Things to do:

1. Protect potatoes from frost by ridging and covering with straw

2. Prepare runner bean site by incorporating manure or garden compost into a 18in strip, one spit deep. Tie in bean poles either in a wigwam shape or opposing poles, tying in with a horizontal strut to add strength and rigidity.

3. Continue cutting asparagus

4. Green manures alfalfa, buckwheat, crimson clover, Essex red clover, fenugreek, lupin, mustard, phacelia and trefoil are all appropriate for sowing in May.

5. Hoe regularly to keep down weeds.

6. As the soil continues to warm, you can begin to plant out some of the more tender crops, and to sow them directly. A good start makes all the difference to how they will perform eventually.

7. Support peas with twiggy sticks or pea netting


June Vegetable Garden

Things to do:

1. Encourage runner beans to climb up their supports. They twist the other way from most other beans, climbing clockwise when viewed from above.

2. Hoe regularly to keep weeds at bay.

3. Earth up potatoes to protect the growing tubers.

4. Protect brassicas from pests

5. Any ground not being utilised for summer crops should be mulched or a suitable green manure sown.

6. Remove side shoots from your tomato plants (unless the plant is a bush variety) - this will direct more of the plants energy into growing fruit.

7. Continue to plant out courgettes, beans, pumpkins and other tender crops, and to sow them directly. A good start makes all the difference to how they will perform eventually.


July Vegetable Garden

Things to do:

July is usually the hottest month of the year and our vegetables are receiving plenty of much-needed sunshine. By now you should be reaping the rewards of your vegetable plot with freshly picked salad leaves and herbs, beetroot, onions, garlic, peas, the first baby courgettes and first early potatoes.

In fact why not show your nearest and dearest how good organic growing can be and treat them to an organic lunch, picnic, buffet or dinner.

With regards to watering your vegetables, the golden rule is 'soak not splash', giving plants an occasional thorough soaking rather than little and often. Apply water directly to the soil in the mornings to prevent leaf scorch.

In theory of course, your advanced planning was so good that you no longer have 'gluts' of vegetables.


What you could be eating now

- if you remembered to sow it and if the weather has been kind!!

  • Globe artichokes
  • Asparagus peas
  • Broad beans
  • French beans
  • Runner beans
  • Beetroot
  • Leaf beet
  • Cabbage
  • Calabrese
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower, early/mini
  • Celery, self blanching
  • Chard
  • Chicory
  • Corn Salad
  • Courgettes
  • Cucumber (outdoors and in)Endive
  • Garlic
  • Kohl rabi
  • Lettuce
  • Mibuna/Mizuna Greens
  • Onions, autumn planted
  • Onions, salad
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Potatoes, early
  • Summer squash
  • Radish
  • Rhubarb, from crowns
  • Rocket
  • Shallots
  • Spinach
  • Sweetcorn
  • Tomato, indoor

 

August / September Vegetable Garden

Things to do:

Eat

 

October Vegetable Garden

Things to do:

1. You can save money by keeping leftover seed for use next season. Most vegetable seed should last at least a couple of years, with the exception of parsnip, and some can last much longer.

2. Make sure compost bins are covered to keep the heat in and the water out.

3. Start reducing ventilation in the greenhouse. Insulate and check that greenhouse heaters are working properly.

4. Remove all plant debris from the vegetable plot.

5. Plant rhubarb sets in October-November.

6. Start a compost trench: add kitchen waste to a trench of about a spades depth, as it is produced and cover with soil to deter foxes and rodents.

7. Insulate worm bins with bubble wrap or old carpet, or move it into a warmer spot, such as a porch or greenhouse. If you keep them protected in winter they won't stop work in cold weather, though they will slow down.

8. From this month onwards, examine stored crops and remove anything showing signs of rot or damage to prevent spread to healthy material.

9. Dig up the last remaining outdoor tomatoes and hang upside down somewhere warm and light for the fruits to ripen.

10. Ripen the last of your squashes and pumpkins in the sun before taking them in to protect from the frost. Ripening them in this way improves their storage longevity.

11. Chicory and seakale can be forced to provide you with leaves for the winter. Forcing chicory improves the flavour by reducing the bitterness.

12. Earth up celery for the last time if not done last month, leaving just the tops sticking out. If frost is forecast cover the tops with fleece or cardboard to stop them rotting.


November Vegetable Garden

Things to do:

1. Protect cauliflower curds by folding over the leaves. This will delay opening of the flowers and keep the curds compact.

2. Begin to pick early brussel sprouts

3. Lift and store all remaining root crops still in the ground now such as carrots, swede, beetroot and turnips.

4. Finish clearing crop remains and compost them.

5. Continue to gather up fallen leaves to make your own leafmould

6. Stored crops should be checked regularly for signs of disease. Dispose of any showing signs of rot so it doesn’t get a chance to spread.

7. Clear out bird boxes ready for spring.

8. Clean pots and seed trays now to make the spring rush less frantic.

9. Start a compost trench - Bury kitchen waste at about a spade’s depth, preferably where the runner beans will grow next year. Cover the waste with soil, as soon as you add it, to prevent foxes or other animals from scavenging.

10 .Make sure that bare ground is covered. Autumn leaves make a good winter mulch spread over the soil protecting it from heavy rainfall.

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