Growing Your Own Fruit & Veg For Dummies
Growing your own fruit and veg – at home or on an allotment – is an exciting and challenging experience that makes an enjoyable pastime and brings you rewards throughout the year.
Fruit and Veg Growing Calendar
If you thought that growing your own fruit and veg in the UK was a fair-weather hobby, think again! You can take steps all year round to make your plot a fertile one and to give your plants the best possible chance of producing a successful crop. This calendar enables you to remember all those little things that go towards making your year in the garden a productive one.
Concentrate on indoor activities if the weather is wet. Get your seeds ordered, browse catalogues for fruit trees and bushes, and even buy your fertiliser, sprays and pots. January is a quiet time in garden centres and they often have sales, so getting supplies in now can save you money.
In the greenhouse, get clean labels and pots ready for sowing and check that your propagator and heater work if you don’t heat it all winter.
Pick your winter crops such as Brussels sprouts cabbages, and leeks. As soon as the soil is clear, dig it over.
Buy your seed potatoes and start to sprout them. January is still early to sow most vegetable seeds but you can sow your first onions now.
Try to complete all your digging this month so the soil has a chance to benefit from frost breaking it up.
In the greenhouse or on the windowsill you can sow more seeds this month such as tomatoes, onions, celery and peppers.
Cover rhubarb with a large, upturned pot to encourage tender new growth.
Plant fruit trees and bushes when the soil isn’t frozen.
Cover areas of soil to be sown with seeds next month with black plastic or fleece to warm it and prevent it from getting too wet.
When the weather is warm and the soil is drying out a bit, you can sow lots of seeds outside. In the greenhouse and on the windowsill, March is the main month for sowing many crops.
Dig up the last of the overwintered crops such as parsnips and leeks.
Plant asparagus in well-prepared soil that you’ve cleared of weeds.
Towards the end of the month you can plant out the first potatoes. Also plant onion sets, shallots, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes.
Apply fertiliser around fruits and vegetables, mulch around fruit trees and bushes, and earth up potatoes.
Start feeding all plants in pots and make sure that they don’t dry out.
Look out for the first pests of the season. Organic or chemical controls can help you avoid the problems of slugs and snails attacking young seedlings, aphids – or blackfly – covering broad beans, and greenfly attacking the new shoots of plums and currants.
Continue to sow seeds outside – April is often the best month to sow because the soil is getting warmer. Continue to sow seeds in the greenhouse.
Plant up a herb pot for the patio.
Keep weeds under control by hoeing around your fruit and vegetables.
Under cover, sow fast-growing tender vegetables such as courgettes, French beans, marrows and runner beans.
Continue to look out for pests. As well as slugs, snails and aphids, gooseberry sawfly is a common problem this month and you need to put codling moth traps in apple trees at the end of the month.
In dry weather, water newly sown and planted crops.
Plant out leeks, brassicas such as cabbage and calabrese, and celery and celeriac.
Continue to sow salad crops and herbs regularly.
Sow more French beans.
Put the tender plants that are growing in the greenhouse outside to get them used to conditions before planting out at the end of the month (this is known as hardening off). If you don’t do this, the change in conditions can ‘shock’ the plants and check their growth.
Plant out tender veg: either your own-grown plants, or just buy ready-grown ones.
Protect strawberries from damage from slugs, from getting dirty with straw or mats, and from birds with netting or fleece.
Keep weeds under control by hoeing.
Keep removing the side shoots of tomatoes and feed them once a week. Make sure that you don’t allow tomatoes in growing bags or pots to dry out.
Stop cutting asparagus in the middle of the month. Mulch the rows with compost and give some fertiliser to build up the roots for next year.
Thin out apples, plums and pears if the branches are laden with small fruits.
As soon as strawberries have finished cropping, cut back the foliage and remove any runners that grow from the mother plants.
Cover blueberry bushes and other soft fruit with netting or fleece to protect them from birds.
Cut down early peas and broad beans that have been harvested. Leave the roots in the soil to add nitrogen to it.
Be prepared to spray potatoes against blight. Lift and harvest new potatoes.
Continue to sow salad crops and weed among your crops.
Prune blackcurrants as soon as the berries have been picked.
Mulch around squashes and pumpkins with compost or manure and keep them watered well.
August is the perfect time to sow Oriental crops such as pak choi and Chinese cabbage. Also sow spring cabbage and fennel.
You should have lots to harvest this month – pick while young and fresh.
Pull up any crops that have finished and sow fast-growing salads in their place, or if you’re not using the ground for crops until winter or next spring, sow green manures.
Sow overwintering onions and plant special new potatoes for Christmas.
Summer prune apples and many other fruit bushes and trees.
Continue to sow Oriental vegetables, salads and herbs. Sow endive, land cress and lamb’s lettuce for winter.
Pinch out the tops of tomato plants to prevent fruits being formed that won’t ripen.
Pick sweetcorn and squashes as they mature.
Start to harvest apples and pears as they reach ripeness.
Dig up potatoes as soon as they finish flowering and if the foliage starts to yellow.
Earth up or stake Brussels sprouts and other overwintering brassicas to help them stand up to winter gales.
Harvest all squashes before the first frost damages them. Finish lifting and storing potatoes.
Dig over bare soil. Put all green plants and weeds in the compost heap.
Plant garlic and broad beans.
Cut back Jerusalem artichokes and pull up sweetcorn.
Pick the last tomatoes from plants in the greenhouse.
Clean out the greenhouse, and make the most of any under-cover growing space there (and in the porch and conservatory for winter herbs and salads.
Order seed catalogues and fruit catalogues.
Clear the soil of crops that are past their best.
Pick up and pull off yellowing leaves from brassicas.
Harvest leeks, celery, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and the last of the carrots and beet.
Check the ties on trees and cover brassicas with netting to prevent bird damage.
Dig over any bare soil. Empty the compost heap and dig this into the soil.
Prune grapes and do any winter pruning of fruit trees and bushes.
Make sure that you add some garden items to your Christmas list!