The gardening year will vary according to your location
Working out the right time to plant seeds is essential to getting strong healthy plants and a successful harvest. Seed packets usually give rough guidance in this respect but it is useful to have a month-by-month ‘to-do’ list to follow for all seed sowing, planting out and jobs in the greenhouse, fruit garden and vegetable garden.
With experience, we gain an understanding of when to plant certain crops in our locality. My own experience is this only comes from failures, learning when NOT to plant something as it either won’t germinate or will not thrive and be a good target for pests!
This guide: Vegetable Gardening in the U.K Month by Month is ‘roughly’ what works for me in Bedfordshire. It varies from year to year according to our weather so you should always add this into the equation. For example, in 2013 we had a very cold spring: We were almost a month behind in the garden and many of the rows of seed I planted in March just didn’t germinate. Towards the end of the month, we had a covering of snow on the ground and it seemed as though we were plunged back into the middle of winter, we even had a frost at the beginning of June which caught many gardeners out. January 2014 was the wettest on record and there was no way I could finish off digging my vegetable beds, these sorts of conditions can delay planting -it’s not worth compacting the soil by treading on it when it’s wet!
The biggest influence on ‘when to do’ things in your vegetable garden will be your latitude, the prevailing temperatures that year and circumstances specific to your ‘plot’ so it is a constantly changing story.
Just because Fred is planting his beans in raised beds in a sheltered plot in Brighton, doesn’t mean Bill can plant at the bottom of his garden with heavy soil in Yorkshire! The local conditions are different. Jersey Royal new potatoes are a fine example, where growers can get their new potatoes into the shops before others. They can also charge a premium for being first to the market. Many use south-facing slopes to help them capture as much sunshine as possible.
The further north you are, the later things will happen in the garden.
Rule of Thumb
There is no point in planting seeds if the soil is too cold so…
If the weeds are growing, the soil is warm enough to grow!
If you follow this rule, you should always know when you can start planting out. Before then of course there are many seeds that can be planted in the greenhouse so they have a head start and are protected from slugs and snails during those critical early weeks when the germinate and grow into young plants.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I bought a book called “A Year in Your Garden” by the (late) Geoff Hamilton. This book was an inspiration to me. Every month, it detailed what I could be doing and there were lots of practical ‘How to’ pages giving me a sound guide to gardening month by month. I used to write the ‘jobs’ down on a separate ‘gardening calendar’ we had hanging in our kitchen, but slowly this grew to the point where it was replaced by a notebook and every year, more pages of notes were added.
Much of my notebook has been transferred onto these pages and I keep these pages bookmarked to remind me what I should be doing now.
Just click on the link of the month below:
Snow and frost are likely and it may seem like there is nothing to do while the ground is frozen but there are actually quite a few things to be getting on with and many winter vegetables to be harvested.
It’s time to kick things off with some chitting of seed potatoes, and some early sowing both indoors and inside the warmth of a heated propagator. There’s still harvesting to be done of more winter vegetables.
The fun really starts in April as we start sowing tray after tray of seeds in the greenhouse.
The weather has started to warm up, a lot of seeds are coming up in neat rows in my vegetable beds and it’s a busy month with lots of jobs to do.
Another busy month! With the light nights and long days, we always seem to get a lot done in June. The fear of frost is thankfully well behind us so it’s full steam ahead.
There is a much more relaxed approach of getting things done as the weather permits. Even so, there is still some work to do, the main one being winter digging and adding organic matter to the soil.
There isn’t much you can sow, but there are still some jobs to be getting on with, seeds to be bought and plans to be made for the new gardening year.