Beans – Broad, bush and climbing, lettuces, peas, cabbages, beetroot, radish and carrots can all be sown and planted outdoors in warmer areas. Labour day is the signal for tomato plants to be planted out as long as all risk of frosts has passed. As well as sun-loving tomatoes, in warmer areas other summer vegetables like aubergine, capsicum, pumpkin, sweetcorn and zucchini can also go in. If its still chilly where you live then it may pay to protect these tender seedlings with cloches or keep them in a cold frame or greenhouse and wait a few more weeks before planting out. By the end of the month just about all vegetable plants can be sown and planted countrywide as the threat of frosts generally passes.
Asparagus is at its best in the next 4 to 6 weeks. Spears are sweetest when freshly picked – enjoy your harvest but remember to only harvest from 3 year old plants and to leave spears from around mid November so they can feed the crowns in autumn as they die back. Broad beans can be harvested as whole pods when still slender and finger-length or shell out beans when pods are thick and long. Celeriac, Florence fennel, globe artichoke, lettuce, rocket and spring onion are all ready around now too. New potatoes are on the menu for those lucky gardeners that have a frost-free plot and managed to sneak their seed potatoes below ground during winter.
Tender seedlings are vulnerable to blasts of spring weather. Protective cloches come in handy – either as small poly tunnels stretched along rows, or recycled juice bottles with bottoms cut off and lids removed. If you see a cold snap coming you can also deploy frost cloth over young plants - as long as it is supported on stakes above the plants and is anchored around the edges. HOW TO MAKE A JUICE BOTTLE CLOCHEmore
"Place a half barrel or drum beneath your tap and keep it full of water - all you then have to do is dunk a watering can in it for a quick fill without having to wait for the hose"
It’s a good time to make some liquid comfrey as fresh foliage starts to appear on plants that have been dormant in winter. This will nourish your tomatoes as fruit starts to form.
Bottle up worm juice and liquid seaweed ready for feeding hungry plants.
Water beds during dry spells – seedlings are very sensitive to drying out. Use a sprinkler attachment on your hose or a rose at the end of your watering can to prevent seedlings from being washed away.
Place a half barrel or drum beneath your tap and keep it full of water – all you then have to do is dunk a watering can in it for a quick fill without having to wait for the hose.
Take a moment to plan what you will grow and where you will grow it during this spring and summer season. It helps to sit down with pen and paper, if you don’t get it all right first time round its easier to rub things out rather than having to dig them up! Sort out the tall growers like climbing beans and sunflowers from the shorter sun-lovers like bush beans, carrots and beetroot and arrange them so nothing gets left in the shade. Plan your planting structure so that it works for both the heavy producing slow growers like tomatoes and aubergines as well speedy catch crops such as lettuce, radish, rocket and basil that can grow and mature quickly in between and around them.
Remember to group your plants into their relevant families if you are doing a crop rotation scheme.
The idea behind rotating crops is to prevent a build up of pests and diseases in any given part of your garden and to make sustainable use of nutrients in the soil. Crops are grouped together according to preferred soil type, required nutrients and the types of pests and diseases that threaten them. These groups are kept together and
moved to a different bed or planting area with each new season which helps to keep the garden productive.
Check out this video to see an example of a crop rotation scheme.Growing Bumper Crops in Small Spaces