The Gardening Year for the Vegetable Garden


In early spring, plant perennial vegetables, such as globe artichokes and asparagus, in prepared ground. Sow hardy annual vegetables in a warm, sheltered place outdoors (or under a cloche); try broad beans, dwarf French beans, carrots, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts, lettuces, potatoes, parsnips and turnips.

Tender vegetables, including onions, leeks, tomatoes and celery may be sown under glass.

By mid-spring, seeds and plants started under glass may be pricked out and hardened off. Sow carrot seeds halfway through the season, along with beetroot, broccoli, spinach and kale.

In late spring, vegetable such as carrots and potatoes that were grown under a cloche or in a cold frame will be ready for harvesting. Asparagus may also be harvested as soon as the shoots reach 15 cm (6 in).

Continue to sow seeds such as carrots, lettuces and onions to give a succession of crops throughout the summer. Peas may also be sown, ready for harvesting in late summer.


In early summer, sow seeds of beans, cucumbers, peas, radishes, spinach, turnips and swedes. Lettuce should be sown every two weeks for a succession of crops. When the soil is moist, broccoli, cauliflowers and celery may be planted out. Seedling leeks may also be planted out into individual holes.

As the summer progresses, keep harvesting peas and beans regularly to keep them cropping, and make sure they are never short of water. Pinch ('stop') their shoots out when they reach the top of their supports. Ensure that tomatoes, courgettes, marrows and cucumbers also receive plenty of irrigation.

Harvest courgettes and cucumbers whilst they are fairly small (about 20 cm or 8 in). This will keep them cropping. Do not allow globe artichokes to flower; cut them down as soon as the heads are harvested.

Towards the end of the summer, sow seeds of cauliflower and onions for harvesting the following year, and radishes, spinach and turnips for winter use.


In early autumn, sow salad crops under cover. Broccoli, cauliflowers, onions and radishes may also be sown in the open ground for spring use. Winter salad vegetables and oriental brassicas may also be planted under cover.

In mid-autumn, start digging over and manuring empty parts of the vegetable garden. Leave much of the garden fallow over the winter so that the frost can break it down and make it friable for next season. Lift root vegetables such as beetroot and carrots when their tops fade, and cut down the foliage of asparagus when it is mature. Stake and earth up winter brassicas, celery and leeks.

By late autumn, lift globe artichokes and store them in sand, ready for planting out again in early spring. Dress the asparagus bed with well-rotted manure after any remaining growths have been cut down.


Finish digging and manuring the empty beds, leaving soil rough for the birds to get at insect pests and the frosts to break down the soil. Prepare seedbeds for spring sowing. Collect any debris and put on the compost heap; or burn it if infected with disease or infested with pests.

In mild gardens, a first crop of broad beans can be started in pots in an unheated greenhouse in early winter, ready for planting out in mid-winter. Cauliflowers and radishes may also be sown in south facing positions using cloches for protection.

In mid-winter, sow seeds of broad beans, French beans, beetroot, carrots, aubergines, leeks, onions, peas, radishes and tomatoes under cover. Potatoes can be placed in trays to sprout in a frost-free shed or garage; keep an eye on them over the winter, and discard any that do not remain healthy.

By late winter, shallots, winter lettuce and early potatoes may be planted out, and vegetables such as cauliflowers and radishes that have been grown under a cloche may be hardened off. Seeds of aubergines, broad beans, French beans, beetroot, brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, celery, leeks, peas, radishes, tomatoes, turnips, marrows, peppers, and potatoes for forcing can be sown.