Your garden – or windowsill – can offer solace and pleasure as life in lockdown goes on. Here’s how to grow, what to plant and who to follow.

April is one of the most satisfying months in the gardening calendar. Not only are the signs of spring and new growth a signal of hope, but if you have done your due diligence in the winter months – clearing, cleaning and sorting – you should be ready for the fun stuff: planting and sowing. Now, knowing the right time to plant out is highly dependent on where you are in the UK, but also your position. Are you in a windy, exposed spot, or on the relatively mild south-west coast? It can shift the ideal planting time by weeks. Bear this in mind when looking at your planting planner and still be prepared to cover vulnerable outdoor seedlings with horticultural fleece in case of a last frost.

Whether you have a vast walled kitchen garden (lucky you), or a modest kitchen windowsill, this month we share the best things to be sowing and planting out in your garden, plus the accounts to follow for more inspiring garden content.

Potato planting



Now is the time to ‘chit’ and plant out potatoes – early varieties at the beginning of the month, ‘lates’ towards the latter end of the month. Not sure how to chit your spuds? It couldn’t be easier and it’s a great job for keen green-fingered children. Simply place your tubers ‘eyes up’ in an old egg box in a light, draught-free room. Wait one to two weeks and they will start to grow shoots. Once these have reached 3cm in length they are ready to plant out.

If you don’t have masses of space you can still grow your own potatoes. Do look for smaller new potato variety and grow them in pretty much any container – an old dustbin is popular with thrifty gardeners. Put a layer of soil at the bottom, place your tubers at the bottom and cover with a few inches of soil. As the potato plant grows, keep an eye on it and ‘earth up’ around your shoots, leaving just the top few leaves visible each time to encourage a bumper crop. Great for balconies or small terraces.

Outdoor sowing



There are plenty of root veg options to get sowing outside this month, from beets to carrots. Leeks, peas and spinach can also go directly in the soil now. Don’t forget your shallots, onion sets and garlic: these can all be planted out this month, too.

Asparagus may be a long-term investment time-wise, but getting your crowns in the ground now will give you a crop you can harvest in two- to three-years time. Patience is the key with asparagus, but home-grown truly does taste best.

If you are lacking space, now is the ideal time to plant up container fruit bushes and trees. Many nurseries offer dwarf varieties that will happily flourish in pots on a sunny terrace.

Indoor sowing



Now is the time to make the most of those warm patches of spring sunshine on a sunny windowsill and get some seeds germinating ready for planting out next month: marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squash, as well as sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, celery, celeriac, salads and globe artichokes can all be planted in trays. Keep them moist but don’t over water. Once ‘true leaves’ have formed, prick out the strongest specimens and pot them on, ready to harden off early next month in a greenhouse or cold frame.

Looking ahead

May and into June tends to be when veg gardeners are at their busiest so get prepared where you can – ensure you have all the beds ready to plant out into, do you have the right support for your beans and peas? Do you need any specific equipment, such as grow-bags for your tomato plants? Make a list of all the seeds you have sown and plan out the next stages in their growing journey to stay one step ahead.

Three People To Follow And Find For More Gardening Tips


@AnnaGreenland


Suffolk-based vegetable gardener Anna Greenland has spent the last decade growing the organic veg for star chefs, from Raymond Blanc and Tom Aikens to Jamie Oliver, as well as a stint as head gardener at Soho Farmhouse, where she created the vegetable, fruit and herb gardens from scratch. Her site is a mine of useful, practical tips, from where she gets her seed supplies online amidst the boon in edible gardening, to the best crops to plant for the bumper yields.

@bigcitygardener


If you’ve got an urban space to grow your produce, Texas-based Timothy Hammond has a great Instagram account, full of informative graphics on what to plant when and inspiring quick tips to maximise your space.

@charles_dowding


If veg gardening is your thing, then chances are you are already one of Charles Dowding’s 136k followers. If not, then do seek him out for his Insta-worthy market garden, rather appealing sounding ‘no-dig’ approach to veg growing for healthier soil and fewer weeds (win-win), and his instructive online courses for those looking to up their green-fingered skills.

By Lydia Mansi
April 2020

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Lydia Mansi

Lifestyle Editor

Lydia is an all-round lifestyle guru, tireless champion of women in business and our resident expert on beauty.

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