Preparations for the vegetable plot can begin early this month with seed potatoes put to chit in a cool light place. Cardboard egg boxes are ideal for this job, the potatoes can stand up in them without touching each other and the shoots will soon appear. The traditional time for planting potatoes is Good Friday but it is perhaps better to go by weather conditions. A dry day in mid April will be fine to begin the job. Some gardeners start much earlier but a cloche will be needed if a frost is forecast, others leave it until May, their crop will just be a little later.
By the time April comes along the garden is transformed from its winter sleep and is full of daffodils and pulmonaria, the first tulips and bright primulas. Pots and containers can be planted up with spring bedding to brighten the patio and spring blossom trees are about to burst into bloom. It is such an optimistic time for gardeners, there is plenty to enjoy and even more to look forward to.
It is the start of the busy time for the vegetable plot with seed sowing the top of the list. Beetroot, broad bean, carrot, lettuce, spinach, chard, pea and spring onion are amongst the crops to be sown in trays. It is a good idea to sow just a pinch of each at a time followed by another small amount in May otherwise everything is ready at the same time and it is impossible to eat it all. Small trays with domed transparent lids are ideal for this, they can be kept in a cool, light room or frost free greenhouse where they will germinate and begin to grow. Once the shoots begin to appear the lids can be removed and the seedlings put outside for an hour so during the day if the weather is kind. This will get them used to the natural air movement outside and begin to accustom them to the garden. They don’t need to be left for long, May is soon enough for proper hardening off to begin.