Growing your own vegetables – April

Images above: Coriander; Pak Choi

Rose Lewis on what to plant in April

The last couple of weeks I have been planting more and more seeds – I now have more time and along with my allotment – I have also started some in my garden and my window sill. I figure that if I am going to be home all summer, I need extra food for my lunch as well as dinner.

The weather has also been extraordinary so seeds are germinating much quicker which is always more motivating. Its surprisingly satisfying coming down in the morning and seeing which seedlings are popping through the soil. Check out the pak choi that I planted just two weeks ago and that’s kale on the right which is also doing well.

Rocket is also coming through so I should be eating within the next few weeks. So here some suggestions for what you can grow in April.

Keep on growing lettuce; Rocket and any other green leafy salads to ensure you have a plentiful supply. Grow some new seeds every couple of weeks. Its amazing what dishes you can them too. I love putting rocket in almost anything – sandwiches for lunch, pasta for dinner – just add it like you would any other herb.

You can try other herbs too – who doesn’t hate buying little packets of herbs from the supermarket. Just buy packets of seeds, plant them in pots and leave on a sunny spot inside. Water sparingly and then watch them grow.

Coriander works well if you have a sunny spot inside – this is mine that I planted two weeks ago (image top left) – almost ready to harvest. You can see the rounded leaves before they take on the characteristic shape. Basil, Parsley and Mint are also firm favourites – although they take longer to germinate. My mint is only just coming through. You can plant herbs in one big pot although Mint (once it gets going) sometimes out competes the others so if you have the space – keep them separate.

The key thing about herbs is that they grow best when you keep on picking them so again like Rocket – use them generously – that way you will keep them healthy all summer. As the weather warms up there are more things you can plant both indoors and outdoors.

Images above: Potato plants; carrots before and after harvest 

Potatoes – if you can get hold of some seed potatoes – it might be worth trying them. So easy to grow. If you have enough outside space – then just follow the instructions. We planted ours this weekend.

If you are more limited – you can try growing them in a bag/bucket. You literally just fill up a bag/pot/bin full of compost and plant your seed potatoes – watch them grow and then harvest as and when you need them. They are ready when the leaves have died back completely. You can buy all these fancy bags which make it easier to harvest or you can just dig around with your hands until you find them.

Courgettes – I mentioned them last time but it’s a great time to start planting the seeds either in big pots or straight into garden. Make sure they have enough room though as the plants grow big.

Beetroots and Carrots seeds can also be planted now. You will be amazed when you see the seeds – you wont believe that are going to turn into plants. Plant them in pots to start with to give them best chance when you transfer them to a bigger area. No garden – no problem – transfer them into bigger pots when they get stronger. Just don’t sow too many seeds. Although if you do have too many plants – a generous gift to your neighbours am sure will be appreciated.

If you haven’t planted your broad beans or peas  there is still plenty of time so get cracking. Finally you can start your French beans off inside now too – so delicious and they are such generous plants – I got tons last year from just six plants. This one you need space for as they are climbers – many make wigwams to help them climb but a trellis or even just some wire on your fence will work just as well.

In our other news this week, we had a new colony of bees arrive on the allotment. 10,000 bees and a Queen were newly placed into the hives. Here is our resident bee keeper Alice helping them settle in.

Rose lives in Chiswick and has been growing vegetables on her allotment for the last few years.