Your yearly planner for planting seeds

Nick Moyle and Rich Hood 26 January 2021

Because every green-fingered hobbyist needs a proper gardening plan!

If you grow your own vegetables from seed then it can often feel like most of the work all happens at once. After the autumn harvest and winter lull, spring suddenly stirs us into action and, before you know it, your windowsills are over-subscribed with seed trays and you’re struggling for space in the garden.

To ease this sowing bottleneck it’s a good idea to plan what you want to grow for the whole year ahead, finding veg that can be sown during the quieter months to spread out the burden. To help you in this forward-thinking task we’ve picked out some star veg for every month of the year, helping to spread the load so that spring doesn’t bear the full brunt of your sowing activity.


January: Onions & Leeks

It’s cold outside and the frozen or soggy ground makes it hard to get much gardening done, so the comforts of your house and a warm window or propagator can be your sowing friend. The first seeds of the year we sow are onions and leeks, which soon emerge like green hooks before straightening. They can be transferred to a greenhouse or coldframe until strong enough to plant out. 


February: Chillis

It can take a while for chillis to germinate, and a lot of varieties grow slowly, so if you want your plants to be in prime condition ready for the hot summer months then get them started early. Propagators offer the most reliable rewards but they can also be germinated somewhere with consistent warmth. You can also get an early start on tomato seed sowing while you’re at it.


March: Parsnips & Carrots

Parsnips and carrots belong to the same family and are one of the first crops you can sow in situ when the soil becomes workable. To give them a head start, warm up the soil first by covering with horticultural fleece or a clear repurposed plastic such as bubble wrap, and keep the seeds covered until spring starts to provide more consistently sunny days.


April: Leafy Salads & Greens

Hopefully by April you’ll be able to spend more time outside preparing the garden. If it’s starting to get warm then you could try sowing some leafy salads such as lettuce or rocket and green veg including kale and true spinach, either in pots or directly in the ground. They’ll benefit from any extra warmth you can give them, such as covering with fleece in their formative days, or you could get them up and running in a greenhouse or polytunnel first.


May: Squash & Courgette

There is now a rapidly expanding list of plants you can grow from seed, but May is a month we always prioritise for squash and courgettes. We like to start them off indoors, but as they quickly take up a lot of space it’s not long before they need to go into the garden. May sowing means that by the time they’re ready to plant out, all frosts are finished and they’ll grow rapidly under the summer sun. 


June: Runner Beans

Runner beans have a much shorter window of sowing opportunity than the hardier French beans, with June being the best month to sow them directly outside. Make sure to put supports up for them to climb before sowing the seeds at its base. It’s also worth sowing a few spare seeds in pots and putting them in a safe place, as young plants can easily fall foul of hungry garden pests.


July: Beetroot

Beetroot can be sown throughout spring but it’s worth having a second sowing in summer to give you further crops later in the year. Sow thinly in rows or pots and, as is the case with anything growing in the summer months, water regularly.


August: Spring Cabbage

It’s easy to forget to plan for crops you’ll harvest the following year, but those veg gardeners who like to get ahead of the game will be sowing their spring cabbages in August. They can take up a fair bit of room, and now is a time your plot will probably be bursting with harvests, so sow them in modules ready to be planted out when space becomes available.


September: Oriental Greens

We’re heading into the greenhouse and polytunnel for our September suggestion. Oriental greens, such as mizuna and Chinese cabbage, are quick growing crops and a late autumn sowing with the extra warmth provided by a glass covering will see you harvesting tasty leaves in around just six weeks.


October: Broad Beans

There are some hardy varieties of broad beans that you’re able to sow in autumn for an early harvest the following year. Pop the seeds into trenches 5cm deep, spaced about 20cm apart, and cover with soil. If you’re in an area that gets prolonged spells of icy cold weather then that might push your beans to the limit, in which case sow in modules under cover and plant out in spring.


November: Garlic

Autumn sown garlic is one of the latest things you can get into the garden before the soil freezes over and becomes unworkable. Pop them into holes in November and, when they’ve germinated, they’ll send up green shoots before the bulbs start to fatten up in spring.


December: Lamb’s Lettuce

Lamb’s lettuce is such a hardy, easy to grow crop that it can be sown throughout the year. In fact it’s often classified as a weed, such is its determination to keep on growing. That growth can be slow during the winter months, so if you’re especially eager for an early crop then try growing it under cover instead.

Read more: A guide to growing tulips

Read more: Best veg to sow in autumn

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