The days are getting longer, the soil is warming, the sap is rising, and allotmenteers emerge blinking from their winter hibernation, ready to tackle another growing year.
- Harvest any remaining over-wintering veg and forced rhubarb.
- If the soil is warm enough, sow parsnips, leeks, carrots, peas, beetroot, lettuce, broad beans and kholrabi in the open ground. Plant out shallots, late garlic and early cultivars of potatoes. Delay if the ground is still cold, as planting them in cold soil will set them back by several weeks.
- Sow short rows for succession and long rows for main crops that will stay there for the rest of the summer. As there is still the danger of frost damaging young crops, organise frost protection at the end of the rows to cover them in an emergency.
- In the greenhouse, sow Brussels sprouts, celeriac and celery for later planting.
- Check the ties and stakes of fruit trees and bushes before they break into growth and start to produce their delicate fruiting buds. Damage to fruit buds provides the perfect entry point for disease.
- Protect strawberry plants from frost. Cover them with fleece or cloches, but don’t forget to ventilate on sunny days.
- Thin out seedlings as they grow.
- Keep potting on, hardening off and transplanting new seedlings.
- Watch for slug and snails, vine weevil and aphids.
- Dig your runner bean trench and fill with your kitchen peelings and other compost. Cover with soil. You can use this area to grow a quick catch crop of lettuce before your beans are planted out later.
- Keep earthing up potatoes.
- Sow outdoor main crop varieties of carrots, leeks, beetroot, winter cabbage, kale, broccoli, sprouting broccoli and swede.
- Sow parsnips and Swiss chard outdoors.
- Sow outdoors and into June sweetcorn, French beans and runner beans.
- Sow courgettes, marrows, squashes, pumpkins and cucumbers indoors or under cover.
- Tuck straw or mats under your strawberries to prevent rain splashing earth over the fruit and to deter slugs.
- Prune out any unwanted shoots of raspberries for good air circulation.
- Sow outdoors parsley, coriander and dill.