Getting a Head Start on Summer
Every gardener knows that to get the best out of your summer, you have to start in the spring which is why we’ve been providing monthly guides on what to plant and when throughout the year.
As we step into March, we can begin to look forward to sunny days, dry weather, and hopefully the last of winter’s chill. Now that the frost has mostly disappeared for another year, it’s time to get excited about planting in earnest.
Our planting will be broken into three sections, vegetables, fruits, and flowers and we’ll be covering our favorites from each, some of their uses, and ideal growing conditions over the next few weeks, starting with vegetables.
The First Harvest
A great way to add color and texture to your summer cooking, as well as an excellent source of fiber, and vitamins A and C.
Start the peppers in small, individual pots in a greenhouse or warm room, ensure that they get plenty of light, after they have established stems about 2-3 inches tall, transfer the specimens to larger pots and repeat the process until around mid-May. At that time they should be ready to be planted out doors.
Any good quality multipurpose compost provides a good medium for sweet peppers, just ensure that they have good drainage and, for best results, pinch out the tallest stem when it reaches around eight inches to encourage bushy growth and the maximum yield possible.
Our next entry may require some prior investment into sheets of fleece or cloche since they’re going to be sown straight into the ground and so it’s wise to provide them with a little extra protection.
We love beetroots, especially for smaller gardens because, if space for growing your own veg is at a premium, then the versatility of beetroots is difficult to beat. Smoothies, juices, mezze spreads like hummus, sliced into a salad or pureed into soup, their number of applications – and health benefits – is frankly dizzying.
Aside from the beets themselves, their purple-hued stems can also be eaten raw or steamed and we recommend planting them in batches once a fortnight to ensure a steady supply of fresh stems when harvest begins.
You’ll want to dig through the soil you’re planting in and remove any weeds as well as ensure that it has decent drainage for your beets and, if they are struggling to grow, consider upping the nitrogen content of the soil.
Another all-star for its versatility and health benefits, Kale has enjoyed an elevation to super-food status in the past few years and not without good reason.
A cup of this cruciferous leaf provides your daily vitamin A, C, and K requirements several times over, in addition to being a rich source of fiber, calcium, and potassium.
However, its celebrity status also seems to carry over to its growing habits, Kale has a habit of hogging the spotlight when grown outdoors so it’s best you grow it separately from your other produce to ensure that they all get enough light as well.
In terms of growing conditions, kale prefers moist but well-drained soil, full sun where possible, and can really be helped along by a well-incorporated mulch as this not only retains moisture but also discourages too many weeds from developing.
If you want to really multiply your kale production, keep an eye out for any flower shoots that appear and trim them immediately, the plant will respond by growing more leaves.
Later this week, we’ll be breaking down the best fruiting plants to provide you with something sweet after chowing down on all this salad and vegetables. As always, thank you for reading and we hope that you’re able to put some of our advice to good use in your own garden.