Spring is when lots of new vegetable crops that were planted the previous autumn come into their own, and perennial vegetable and fruits are ready for harvesting. Perennials do take up a lot of space but they are reliable early croppers, Rhubarb and Asparagus are two classic examples.
If you want leeks for spring harvesting you need to sow those March – April and plant out in July for cropping the following spring. They will spend the winter gathering strength and not appearing to grow much at all, then suddenly they take off like a rocket and come May they will be delicious. Spring Onions do much the same and will liven up your salads and stir fry dishes.
Swiss Chard and some varieties of Spinach will overwinter and can be picked constantly from mid to late summer right through until the new crop is ready. ‘Bright Lights’ is a good variety of chard, and it can be grown in the borders rather than the vegetable garden as the stems and leaves are such wonderful colors. I plant radish between the rows as they grow quickly.
Provided you don’t have too many slugs around you should have spring greens ready for eating from sowings planted out in early autumn. Again they grow slowly over the winter, then suddenly put on a spurt as the weather warms up and the gentle spring rains fall. It can be worth netting them to stop the birds taking too much. I wage a constant war against sparrows who regularly dine out on my spinach patch.
With the warmer weather new beetroot can be picked. The thinnings, beetroot beads, are delicious in salads. They are best once they get to an inch or two in diameter, much more than that and they take too long to cook. I succession sow through the year to always have a good supply. Salad leaves to go with those beetroot beads can be grown in large pots so you always have some ready, just picking what you need each day or so. I have four 10 inch pots and that keeps two of us in salad most of the year. I grow a mixed variety of leaves so you never know quite what is going to be on your plate.
It’s time to plant out beans and peas, give them plenty of space and put the canes in when you plant them so you don’t damage the roots later on when they need support. I grow dwarf French beans between the wigwams I build for my runner beans and that always works well. Peas need to be netted so once the spring greens are eaten you can just transfer the netting across.
The Brassica family is prolific and is good value for the space. We eat the cauliflower leaves like cabbage, or finely shredded and stir fried. The same with Calabrese so it’s two vegetables for the price of one. Again, I succession sow so that we don’t have a glut all ready at once.
You need to think carefully about where your root vegetables will go as they take up space for a long time. Carrots grow well in a dustbin full of compost, sow them in layers as you fill the bin and you will have a much bigger crop than you think possible. Planting some salad potatoes now will give you a good crop in about twelve weeks time, just ready for those summer evening barbecues.