What can I Sow Now
Early to mid-spring (March and April)
This is the time to focus on sowing things that are hardy or need a long growing season. Even though we may have some nice days the weather can quickly turn chilly and the soil is still cold so hold off a few more weeks on the more tender things such as sunflowers, beans and courgettes. Even if you do get them growing, they will sulk in cold weather and later sown plants will soon catch them up.

Veg

  • Sow hardy crops such as lettuce, salad leaves, salad onions, rocket, spinach, kale, carrots, parsnip, beetroot, swiss chard, kohl rabi, radish, fennel and early peas. 

  • Start off sprouts, sprouting broccoli, calabrese, cauliflower and summer cabbages in pots outside to plant out later in the season. 

  • It’s the last chance to sow warm-season veg that needs a long growing season such as chillies and tomatoes. Sow these now indoors on a warm windowsill or in a propagator.


Herbs

  • Hardy herbs such as dill and chives can be sown outside in pots or directly in the soil.

  • Coriander and parsley are hardy but want a bit of heat to get going--try sowing them indoors to plant out later.

  • Basil can be sown and grown indoors at any time of year.


Flowers

  • It’s the last chance to sow sweet peas.

  • Now is the time to sow hardy annuals such as calendula, cornflower, nigella and poppies either in pots or directly into the soil. Sow wildflower seed mixes now, too.

  • Sow perennials such as delphinium and echinacea in pots outside.


Late spring (late April and May)


Longer days and stronger sunshine have begun to warm up the soil. One clue is that the weeds have started to germinate and grow--this is a sign that it’s a good time for plants to be growing! Late spring can bring warm, summer-like weather but don’t be fooled--the weather can still turn chilly and the last frost date is still a few weeks away. You can start sowing more tender things now but be prepared to protect them from chilly nights and late frosts. Hardy crops can be sown directly into the soil now, or you can carry on sowing them in pots to plant out once they are growing well.


This is a busy time for sowing but don’t feel pressured to get it all done at once. Many things sown at the end of this period and even into summer will still be growing away into the autumn when we often have warm and settled weather. In April prioritise cool-weather crops such as salads, spinach, pak choi and peas. Then you can turn towards warm-weather crops such as beans, courgettes, sweetcorn and pumpkins. Sown in May these will grow quickly and will need very little protection until they can be planted out. May is also the time to start sowing winter veg that need a long growing period such as sprouts, winter cabbage and sprouting broccoli. Annual flowers that say on the packet that they should be sown in March and April can very often be sown in May as well--you’ll just get your flowers a bit later. 


If you’ve already started to sow tender plants indoors or in a greenhouse or growhouse, don’t rush to plant them outside. You’ll want to ‘harden them off’, which means gradually getting them used to outdoor conditions. Bring them outside in the day but keep them protected at night. Do this for a week, leaving them out longer each day, and then plant them out in late May after checking the forecast for frost.


Veg

  • Continue to sow hardy crops such as lettuce, salad leaves, salad onions, spinach, carrots, beetroot, swiss chard, radish, parsnips and peas. 

  • Continue to sow summer brassicas such as calabrese, cauliflower, summer cabbage, and kohl rabi, and leafy brassicas such as kale, pak choi and rocket.

  • Sow leeks in pots or modules to plant out later.

  • Continue to sow early varieties of sprouts and sprouting broccoli in pots outside to plant out later in the season. Towards the end of this period, sow later varieties of sprouts and sprouting broccoli plus winter cabbages and swedes.

  • In May, sow warm-weather crops such as courgettes, cucumber, pumpkins, sweetcorn, beans and mangetout. These can be sown directly but will get a better start in a pot in a growhouse or a warm, sheltered spot.


Herbs

  • Hardy herbs such as dill and chives can be sown outside in pots or directly in the soil.

  • Coriander and parsley can be sown indoors or outdoors.

  • Basil can be sown and grown indoors at any time of year, or can be grown outdoors from the end of May.

  • Perennial herbs such as oregano, marjoram and thyme can be sown indoors.


Flowers

  • Super easy flowers to sow directly into the soil include nigella, poppies, calendula, cornflower, limnanthes and California poppies. These are all loved by bees and other pollinators. Wildflower seed mixes can be sown now, too.

  • Towards the end of late spring, sow half-hardy annuals such as sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, scabious, tagetes and nasturtium.

  • Sow perennials such as delphinium and echinacea in pots outside.


Text and photos by W Crowder 2020. Developed for Harbury Seed Share and Earthworms School Gardening Club.
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