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.
Start 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
While 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.
As 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.
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.