growing vegetables April vegetable planting April vegetable sowing April

The Growing Calendar - April

Growing Vegetables
Root Stock
Most fruiting trees are actually two trees, gratfed (joined) together....
Overwintering
Over the winter growth of many plants and wildlife slows right down. M...
Intercropping
This is when you sow two, or more, different crops in the same bed. It...
January / February / March / April / May / June / July

August / September / October / November / December

If you want to grow your own vegetables or fruit, then the best time to get started is now. Here you'll find useful tips and tricks to get the most out of your veg and fruit crops.
Whether you're a beginner and just thinking about planting your first potato, or looking for advice on how to improve your existing crop, read on...

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  • Sow - ...
  • Plant - ...
  • Harvest - ...
  • Other Jobs - ...









































January

  • Sow - ...
  • Plant - ...
  • Harvest - Brussels Sprouts, Winter Radish, Winter Cabbage, Celery, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks.
  • Other Jobs - Start sprouts on seed potatoes, Force Rhubarb
Check out seed catalogues and go online to browse for the items you'll need when you're ready to sow seeds. All sorts of trays, propagators, root trainers are available to buy or you can make your own by recycling the plastic trays and pots that are usually thrown away as part of your household rubbish. Keep yoghurt pots, plastic ready meal trays, plastic fruit trays, toilet roll inards, in fact anything that might be useful. Let friends and family know youíd love their unwanted seed trays, and plant shop bedding trays. Also think ahead as to whether you need a cloche or two to protect young plants, and some sort of anti-slug control.
Plant labels are essential, so look out for bulk-buy bargains, as youíll waste a lot of time if you donít keep track of what youíve planted, and where.

When you can get out make sure youíve at least put a top dressing of manure or compost onto your soil. If the area of soil you are planning to use is new, you can cover it with some mulching fabric (keeps light out, but lets water in, and keeps the soil warm). A little digging will help but don't over do it - cover the soil with manure or compost and let the worms and weather do the rest.

Have you got a compost bin or area ready? If not, get it started, itís essential and a long term commitment, so you may as well do it now. Reckon on two years before you get some decent useable compost. If you canít have one, dig compost trenches in your soil. Itís best not to empty compost bins now as you may disturb a hibernating animal, or frog.

Got a water butt?. Find a down pipe, or put guttering on a shed, or some buckets you can tip into the water butt. Plan your plot or garden so that you don't need a hosepipe, and only water from butts by watering can.


February

  • Sow - Brussels Sprouts (frost protect), Early Carrots (frost protect), Maincrop Onion seed (protect), Summer Lettuce (protect), First Early Peas (protect), Summer Radishes (protect), Broad Beans, Parsnips, `Sprout` potatoes.
  • Plant - Maincrop Onion
  • Harvest - Brussels Sprouts
  • Other Jobs - Prepare carrot beds, prune fruit trees and bushes.
You should by now have some seed packets, so read the instructions and start sowing some early varieties. Donít overdo it, youíll need to leave space for more sowings in March and onwards.

Make sure you have ordered certified virus-free seed potatoes and then put them to be chitted. Late varieties may not need chitting, but earlies do.

Look for weeds in the veg patch, once they start showing you know the soilís warming up. Put some garden compost/manure on the beds, and maybe cover to help warm the soil up.


March

  • Sow - Broad Beans, French Beans (cloche protect), Broccoli (early sprouting), Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Early Carrots, Summer Lettuce, Maincrop Onion seed, Spring Onions, Peas (early), Summer Radish.
  • Plant - Maincrop Onion sets, New potatoes, Maincrop potatoes(from 15th onwards).
  • Harvest - Broccoli (early sprouting), Brussels sprouts (up to 15th), Spring maturing lettuce.
  • Other Jobs - Dig beds for tomatoes, runner beans, French beans and sweet corn.
Now is the start of the serious seed sowing season. Read the packets to see when they should be sowed, and start off a few in a greenhouse, growhouse or windowsill. Store your seeds in boxes marked with the month they can be first planted.

Anything nasty on leaves or fruit that is still about is harbouring the disease/pest for next season so check your trees and bushes and remove diseased material. In the veg patch, cover the soil with some mulching fabric, or clear plastic sheeting, to warm it up, and kill off the first weed seedlings. Remove the material a couple of weeks before planting and hoe off the weed seedlings that appear, you can repeat this process until you are ready to plant the area.

Sow more seeds indoors/under cover and pot up seedlings which have come through. LABEL EVERYTHING.

If you have lots of slugs and snails, put in some pest barriers now. Try using plastic plant pots with the bottom cut out as a barrier for young plants and upturned jars and pots as traps.


April

  • Sow - Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli (early sprouting) end month, Calabrese (early) (protect), French Beans (end of month), Runner Beans (protect), Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots (early), Carrots (maincrop) mid month, Summer Lettuce, Maincrop Onion seed, Spring Onions, Peas (early and maincrop), Summer Radish, Sweet corn (protect), Tomatoes (indoor and cloche).
  • Plant - Onion sets, New potatoes, Maincrop potatoes,
  • Harvest - Broccoli (late sprouting), Spring maturing lettuce, Summer Radish (cloche protected), Forced Rhubarb,
  • Other Jobs - Start sowing inside and out.
If you don't have a greenhouse use windowsills in the house, or create your own cold frame outside. Sheets of glass or clear plastic on some bricks is a start, as it keeps the rain off the seed trays/pots, and warms up the soil. Another way is to put trays and pots in a clear polythene bag, and put it in a sunny spot or under a cloche.

Plants may come on more quickly if you sow them in trays/pots this month rather than sowing then directly into the ground. You can then transplant them into open soil. The exceptions, are the root vegetables which like to be sown direct, but you may get away with planting them in biodegradable pots (or loo roll cardboard inners) under cover. When the shoots appear, transfer the whole pot into the soil.
Towards the end of April, you can sow everything directly outdoors.

Seedlings that have been grown in trays or pots, or under a cloche, need to be `hardened off` by being given limited time out in the real world, With a cold frame - just open the lid. With a cloche - you can lift it off during the day, and return it at night. Seedlings grown inside should spend the day outside and then be returned inside, or be covered at night.

It is better to sow a little and often so that you can harvest over a longer period. Keep sowing crops like rocket, lettuce, radish, salad onion all summer long, you'll want a small amount over a long period.
Youíll be able to pick off loads of slugs before they do their damage if you take a look at your plot at night if itís warm, and has been raining.
Find out about anyone else you know who works a vegetable patch or allotment, you can plant swap and get a range of varieties, and find homes for your spare plants.


May

  • Sow - Beetroot, Broad Beans (start of month), Broccoli (late sprouting), Calabrese (start of month), French Beans (start of month), Runner Beans, Cabbage, Carrots (maincrop), Lettuce, Peas, Summer Radish, Sweet Corn (end of month), Tomatoes (direct in soil).
  • Plant - Maincrop potatoes.
  • Harvest - Peas sown under cloches, Summer Radish, Rhubarb.
  • Other Jobs - Earth up new potatoes, Earth up maincrop potatoes, Transplant Brussels sprouts, Transplant Tomatoes.
This month you can sow most seeds outside and start to put out plants youíve been sheltering insaide. Keep keep an eye on the weather forecasts for any last minute frosts, and if frost is likely, cover your plot. To harden off veg that youíve potted up, put them out in the sun during the day and either bring them back in at night, or protect them somehow.

Grass mowings (unless you treat your grass, in which case you'll need to compost it elsewhere first) can go on the potatoes, around the courgettes and raspberries, and anything that likes moist soil.

Established asparagus plants will produce spears this month, ready for harvest. Cut off the spears just below the surface. Plants less than two years old should be left alone so that the spears can grow and produce a stronger plant for future years.

You need need to thin your seedings out if they have all come up, take a few out at first so that every seedling has a bit of space, then in time, take more out so that the crop has the correct spacings (check the seed packet). Some can be replanted elsewhere, maybe in a new row, or to fill a gap, and the rest can go on the compost heap.

If you can grow some crops in pots, it gives you flexibility. It means youíve got some plants that can go out early if the weather allows, or you can keep them under cover a little longer if itís cold. These plants will withstand slug attack, and be ready to crop earlier that seed sown crops which you can do next to them.

A last minute slug hunt with a torch before you go to bed will help protect your plants and keep the neighbours amused.


June

  • Sow - Beetroot, Cabbage, Carrots, Lettuce, Peas (start of month), Summer Radish.
  • Plant - ...
  • Harvest - French Beans (sown under cloche), Carrots (early), Lettuce, Peas, Summer Radish, Rhubarb, Spring Onion, New Potatoes (2nd half of month).
  • Other Jobs - Transplant Brussels Sprouts.
You may still have plants under cloches, bottles and covers in June, but remove them during the day. In the bright sun the plants could actually wilt and leaves get burned. Remember to put them on again overnight if the plants are new to the outside world, cloches also protect plants that may get flattened by heavy rain.

Plants can appear a bit weak if they have just been put outside, but panic not, they will pick up. Tomato plants should be well attached to supports, and pick out the shoots that appear between the branches so you have one main stem going up, with leaves branching off, leave the removal of leaves until next month to let light through to the fruit.

when it is dry some plants may bolt (produce a flower) - water to prevent this.

Check rows of seeds like carrots, parsnips, beetroot, spinach, beet, radish, salad onion, rocket that you have sown, and thin them out so that the seedlings can get a bit of air and water. Some of the seedlings you can transplant, others just wash and use in a salad.

A healthy garden will have pests and predators going about their business. Pests will appear before predators, so just keep them at bay by simply rubbing them off. Remove any plant parts covered in blackfly and remove completely from the garden. blackfly and remove from your garden. Young brassica plants get little holes in the leaves made by flea beetle, but itíll pass. Pick off slugs, snails and caterpillars you see until the birds and frogs move in to help. Infected potato foliage will appear withered and yellow to a healthy plant so dig it out and remove it completely from the garden.


July

  • Sow - Carrots (quick maturing), Lettuce (1st half of month), Summer Radish, Winter Radish (end of month).
  • Plant - ...
  • Harvest - Beetroot, Carrots, Lettuce, Peas, French Beans, Summer Radish, Spring Onions, Japanese Onions, Rhubarb, New Potatoes.
  • Other Jobs - Prepare for Japanese onion seed.
Just because you've got harvests coming from your plot at the moment, don't forget to plan ahead for your planting, that means, sow veg now that can overwinter and provide you with crops until April next year. If you havn't yet got room for your new plantings, then hold them in pots until space becomes available.

Potatoes that you harvest in July should really be used immediately, or within the week. So only harvest what you need as early and second earlies are not suitable for storing.

Any plants that like a regular water supply, like tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes can have their own private supply. Cut the end off a large plastic bottle and put it top first in the soil (no lid!) near the base of the plant. Then fill the bottle with water. The water will be deep in the soil where the roots need it, and not evaporating off the surface. Itís efficient, effective and makes manual watering quick and easy. Keep checking these plants, picking fruit when ready, tying to a support if necessary, feeding once a week. Look after them and they will ripen properly and crop for ages.


August

  • Sow - Japanese Onion seed, Summer Radish, Winter Radish (end of month).
  • Plant - ...
  • Harvest - Beetroot, Calabrese (Italian broccoli), Carrots, French Beans, Runner Beans, Lettuce, Spring Onions, Maincrop Onions (from sets), Peas, Potatoes (maincrop), Summer Radish, Sweet corn, Tomatoes.
  • Other Jobs - Prepare ground for new rhubarb.
You'll probably want to start storing some of your crop this month, make sure it is clean and dry and can be kept somewhere cool and dark. Potatoes harvested now are second-earlies and do not store well. Either eat them straight away or keep dry in a sack for a week at most. If you do harvest some of your maincrop, let them dry in the sun for a day or so before storing. Carrots, turnips and beetroo) can be stored in dry sand, or peat, or lain on newspaper and stacked. always remove the foliage the foliage before storing. Cucumbers and courgettes should be harvested as they get to the size you want. Cabbages can have the outer leaves peeled off and then be kept cool and useable for months. Tomatoes can be individually wrapped and stored, or made into sauce and frozen.
Check your stored regularly and remove any that are rotting.

If your stalks have flopped, or the foliage yellowed, then they are ready to be lifted. On a dry day, carefully pull up the onions, using a fork if necessary, and lay them on the dry soil, or anywhere dry and warm. If they can be raised off the ground this will help them dry underneath as well. After a couple of days, store them somewhere cool and dark. If you store them damp they will start to grow again but will use up the bulb. Onions will store better if their outer skins have been toughened by drying out in the hot sun.

Watering should be carefully done in August, as the ground can be so hot and dry that it will evaporate before doing any good. Water early in the day or late at night, and mulch with grass mowings, newspaper, compost after watering.

Sow some winter and spring greens now, so that you donít have to rely only on your stored food over the winter months. You can also try sowing some spinach and lettuce and they should be fine if the weather stays good for the next few months.


September

  • Sow - Spring-maturing lettuce, Summer Radish, Winter Radish (end of month).
  • Plant - ...
  • Harvest - Beetroot, Calabrese (Italian broccoli), Carrots, French beans, Runner Beans, Lettuce, Onions (from seed and sets), Spring onions, Peas, Potatoes (maincrop), Summer Radish, Sweet corn, Tomatoes.
  • Other Jobs - ...
As you are harvesting the last of the beans and peas, cut them off at the stalk leaving the roots in the ground.
If you have lots of potatoes it is worth investing in some sacks, but make sure they are dry first. Rub off amy excess soil and leave them to dry before storing.
You can leave maincrops in the ground, but watch out for slugs but lift all your crop by mid October, iIf you lift them on a sunny day, let them bake in the sun to toughen up the skin so they are less likely to be damaged in storing.

Sow some green manures. These are plants that protect the soil over the winter, and help fix nutrients in it. A green manure that stays in the ground all winter is very beneficial. You just dig it into the soil in the spring, or put it on the compost heap. You can sow these into a compost covered area of soil, or bare soil, and they germinate quickly now when the soil is still warm.

Japanese onions can be planted now. They will grow over the winter and be ready to harvest in June/July ahead of your later crop. And you can plant some onions sets, shallots and garlic this month. Check the variety to make sure its suitable for late planting first.


October

  • Sow - Spring-maturing lettuce.
  • Plant - Rhubarb.
  • Harvest - Beetroot (1st half of month), Brussels Sprouts, Calabrese (Italian broccoli), Carrots (1st half of month), French Beans (1st half of month), Lettuce (1st half of month), Onions (seeds and sets), Peas (1st half of month), Potatoes (maincrop), Radishes (1st half of month), Sweet corn (1st half of month), Tomatoes (1st half of month).
  • Other Jobs - ...
Frost will pretty much kill off anything when it finally comes, this simply signals the end of the season, but it does mean that any tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, squashes, sweetcorn etc need to be harvested BEFORE the frost. Usually the first frost is light, so should be taken as a warning to harvest your remaining crops.

There should not be any potatoes left in the ground by the end of October but Carrots, parsnips and beetroot can be left as long as they are healthy, if the ground is very wet, check they are not being eaten underground. It's probably best to store what you can.

If you didnít sort out your compost bins last month, have a go this month.

Make regular checks on the harvest that you have in store. Anything with any mould, or black bits needs to be removed, and used straight away. If you canít use it, put it on the compost pile, or remove if you think itís diseased. If a lot seems to be going off, make sure that the crop has plenty of air to circulate, and is kept cool and dark.


November

  • Sow - ...
  • Plant - ...
  • Harvest - Brussels Sprouts, Onions (first half of month), Winter radish.
  • Other Jobs - Prepare bed for New Potatoes, Prepare bed for beetroot, Prepare bed for Rhubarb.
Most green manures will not germinate now, so if youíve got bare soil for the winter, tip any home made compost on the soil to rot down over the winter. Anywhere in the plot will benefit from compost trenches. This is when you dig out a trench, say a spadeís width wide and just fill it with shredded newspaper and your kitchen scraps. When full, pull the soil over and start again. These trenches are great to grow peas, beans, potatoes and courgettes into, but thereís really nothing that wonít like it.

Leaves will be everywhere in your plot and garden, they can be put in a chicken wire store to rot down if you have the space, or put them into black bin bags with some air holes in, let the leaves get wet, and then just wait. In a year or so and youíll have a leaf mould to put around shrubs, on the plot, or over mulching fabric to keep weeds at bay. Putting dry leaves into the compost bin can slow the composting process down.


December

  • Sow - ...
  • Plant - Rhubarb.
  • Harvest - Brussels Sprouts, Winter Radish.
  • Other Jobs - Prepare beds for onions, Brussels Sprouts, Summer Lettuce, Maincrop Potatoes, Peas, Onions, Order vegetable seed catalogues.
Depending on where you are, some crops can be started off now. If you have a greenhouse, a cold frame, mini-greenhouse or even a windowsill facing south will get warm enough for some seeds to germinate. Once they are peeping through, keep them frost free and theyíll have a head start growth wise in early spring. Start some broad beans or peas off in pots somewhere warm until spring when you can plant them out under a cover.

Its traditional to plant garlic and shallots on the shortest day of the year (which is round about 22 December). Itís so easy to plant garlic cloves, or shallot sets, and you donít need to do anything bar a little weeding until harvesting in the summer.

Create more leafmould this month if you have any space left.



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