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When it comes to gardening, it is never too early to start thinking ahead to the next season. Now is the perfect time to plan your spring crops and plot out what you want to grow in the coming months – and even in the next year!

To give you some inspiration, we bring you a detailed growing guide for some of the most popular veg to prep right now. If you are wondering what you would like to do in your garden this spring, allow us to help you get started.

What to do in the Garden in Spring 

Before you head into your garden this spring and start planting your next lot, it is worth taking the time to check in on your winter vegetables. If you were planning your spring garden last autumn, you will find that some of your veg will be ready in early spring while others can be harvested later in the season.

Spring onions can be harvested at the start of spring. These are closely followed by peas, broad beans and potentially some types of carrot, such as Adelaide.

Once you’ve harvested your winter veg, you can concentrate on what to do in the garden in spring. You can begin by filling the spaces in your polytunnel with produce that you can sow this season.

Whether you have a polytunnel that is 6ft wide or a bigger commercial size, you can use the beginning of the season as an opportunity to plan out where you want everything to go for the coming weeks and months so that you have an abundance of spring-sown veg later in the year.  

Your Spring Veg

When you feel your garden is ready, you can begin the planting process. While there are lots of spring fruits, vegetables, herbs and plants that you can sow at this time of year, we are going to take you through three that are sure to flourish in your polytunnel.

Gardening in SpringStart of Spring: Courgette

After the frosty weather has cleared away, you can concentrate on sowing your courgettes. In warmer areas or heated polytunnels, you can try sowing some seeds at the end of February, but the beginning and end of March are the best times to make the first sowing. By using a polytunnel you are protecting the seedlings from the elements, so there is the potential for crops to appear earlier when grown this way.

Sow one seed per 8cm pot and cover with plastic. In April you can pot on into 12cm pots to harden off and then plant out at the end of the month. Courgettes need a lot of room so allow 60cm between plants.

On cold nights cover your plants with a polythene cloche to act as ‘double glazing’ for your polytunnel and give extra protection to your crops.

Courgettes should be ready to start harvesting in May when they are still small and tasty.

Mid-Spring Planting: Beetroot

What to do in the garden in springWhile beetroot can be sown from February, March is the prime time to plant out seedlings. Should you choose to start a little earlier, a cover may be required inside your polytunnel to shield your beetroot from any frost or pests, especially in the early growing stages.

Beetroot seeds are in clusters, so it is important to keep this in mind when spacing them out. Avoiding overcrowding early on can help later.

Space your rows out at around 12cm intervals, with furrows of around 3cm deep. The soil should be enriched with compost and the plants should be well watered, ensuring the soil doesn’t dry out.

Beetroot grown in a polytunnel give earlier and sweeter crops. Ideally, you should harvest beetroot when they are the size of a golf ball or bigger.

End of Spring Sowing: Sweetcorn

Sweetcorn is perfect for sowing towards the end of the season. It flourishes in slightly warmer temperatures, so by this point in spring you will be clear of the winter chill. Start the sowing process in April with the aim to plant in the soil by May or June.  

Gardening in SpringAs well as enjoying warmer weather, sweetcorn is one of the veg types that is best suited to a larger polytunnel. This is because it needs to be carefully spaced out; when planting out your sweetcorn it is best to give them gaps of 30cm so they have the room they need.

Sweetcorn should grow very fast and they can be ready to harvest at anything from 60 to 100 days after sowing.

The main way to know your sweetcorn is ready is when the tassels turn dark brown. If you are still unsure, you can try the fingernail test. To do this, peel back the outer husks/the leaves at the end of a corn cob and press your fingernail into one of the kernels. If a creamy liquid appears, it is ready to be picked, but if the liquid is watery, it still needs some time.

What’s Next?

As spring comes to an end, it’s likely that you will still be maintaining your courgettes, sweetcorn and beetroot. Should you have sown other veg, you may discover that your potatoes, lettuce and cauliflower are ready to harvest too, so you can expect some tasty summer salads.

The spring months are also a time to look ahead to later in the year. Start planting tomatoes in April ready for a summer harvest and sow your broccoli now too.

If your main question has been ‘when can I start gardening in the spring?’ hopefully this guide has helped. To find out more about spring gardens, you can discover more here.

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More of us are growing our greens. With the rise in popularity of allotments, plus an increase in the number of vegan and vegetarian options that are available, it seems there is a trend towards plant-based diets and self-sufficient living

Whether you are a seasoned gardener or you are just starting out, if you are one of the many who want to try new ways to grow your own produce, a polytunnel could be the perfect option. They protect your crops in cooler months, allowing you to plan out your growing season with confidence.

Read on for polytunnel layout tips to help you get started!

Polytunnel Layout: Inside Your Polytunnel

There are plenty of polytunnel sizes available for you to choose from, from those that are 6ft wide for the corner of your garden to the huge 30ft wide options that are suitable for those with lots of land. Choose the size that suits your needs and which best fits the area you have set aside for growing your crops.

Once you have selected the size to suit your needs and you have built it, you can then use our guide below to plan your polytunnel layout.  

Plan Your Polytunnel Layout

Polytunnel LayoutIt is worth taking this time to plan out your polytunnel layout on paper before you do it for real. Plot out your blank canvas carefully as being able to move around easily inside is crucial for a successful and comfortable growing experience.

Map out where you want to place seedlings, add an area for storage space where you can stash your tools and pots, and find a spot for your hanging baskets.

The final set-up will depend on the size of your polytunnel, as well as what type it is. For example, if you have an allotment polytunnel it will look different to a larger commercial one.

Whatever the size or purpose behind your polytunnel, you will find that there are some desirable accessories and some essentials that you will need in order to produce a successful harvest, such as raised beds, staging, hanging baskets and grow bags.

Whether you have raised beds or staging will depend upon the condition of the soil you are using as well as the type of crops you are planting.

Raised Beds

If you want to add some raised beds, there are plenty of easy-to-build ones available that come in a selection of sizes designed to suit an array of crops. These are an ideal choice if you want to incorporate a different type of soil to your garden and allows you to concentrate one area on one type of plant, fruit or veg.

Staging

Polytunnel Layout InsideStaging is ideal if you want to maximise the space you have as this lets you create levels. These levels allow you to plan out where you want to sow.

For example, you may want to dedicate one tier to one type of veg so that it gets maximum light, while the plants below may not require as much light, so you can use the staging to block out the light for those ones. Trestle staging is also particularly useful as you can easily move your benches around to suit.

Polytunnel Pathways

Once you have plotted out where you want to place your staging, raised beds, pots and other features, it is time to look at the floor. When planning how many paths you will need, it is important to remember to leave some room to manoeuvre between crops.

Inside a PolytunnelGenerally you will have one or two paths. Smaller polytunnels generally have the room for one central path, while those tunnels greater than 10ft wide allow for the use of a double path system with crops growing in central beds and on each side of the polytunnel. Your aim is to maximise growing space, so keep this in mind when planning the width of the paths, ensuring you maintain a comfortable working space and access for wheelbarrows and wheelchairs.

Change It Up

While some aspects of your polytunnel layout are likely to be fixed unless you take things out and start again, there are plenty of additions and changes you can make as you go along. Try moving hanging baskets around, re-thinking where you place the trestle staging bench and re-jigging your raised beds to make the most of the space you have.

Whatever way you choose to set out your polytunnel, you are sure to grow some spectacular crops if you plan your layout carefully.

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