At a glance sowing guide

Sowing key: Spring Summer Autumn Winter


There are three types of cabbage, spring, summer, and winter. Spring cabbages should be sown in July-August and transplanted in September-October. Summer cabbages should be sown in March-May and transplanted in May-June. Winter cabbages should be sown in April-May and transplanted June-July. All cabbages/brassicas need to be firmed in hard, this is to prevent wind rock which will blow cabbages/sprouts which can be still be eaten but are just leaves.


Sprouts should be sown in mid spring and transplanted once four true leaves appear. As with all seedlings harden off for 7-10 days before planting in their final position.


Both caulis and broccoli require the same conditions as other brassicas, manure the soil the season before planting and firm plants hard to prevent wind rock.  To stop cauliflower heads from discolouring tie the leaves over the developing head.

All brassicas should be netted with a fine mesh net to prevent cabbage white butterflies laying eggs on plants.


Use onion sets for disease free crops. sow sets either in early spring or in autumn to over winter. sow in rows about four inches apart leaving the pointy bit just above the soil surface.

Spring onions

These are just onions planted closer together and picked earlier. Sow seeds half inch apart in rows 12 inches apart from spring to autumn.


Plant garlic by separating the cloves and planting each individual clove leaving just the pointy bit above the soil. Plant in autumn and harvest the following summer.


Sow seeds in spring in greenhouse and transplant when plant is roughly pencil size. Use a dibber to create a hole about 4-5 inches deep and drop plant into hole then puddle in and leave. Harvest in autumn/winter.


These are relatively easy to grow if you use fresh seed every season. Direct sow in spring in soil that hasn’t been manured water well until seedlings come thru then only water in very dry spells. Cover with mesh or fine netting to prevent carrot root fly. Harvest approx. 12 weeks after sowing.


All that applies to carrots can be applied to parsnips apart from they need a lot longer in the ground  to develop. Start them off in  toilet roll middles indoors in February and plant outside once true leaves appear (toilet roll middle as well so as not to disturb roots).


Beetroot is  another easy crop. Sow direct in spring and harvest about 12 weeks later.

Kohl rabi

This brassica is grown in the same way as others of this family but are ready after about 10 weeks.

Florence fennel

Sow in spring and keep free from weeds and well watered and as the plants grow earth them up to blanch them. When harvesting cut with a sharp knife and leave root in the soil to regrow leaves.


Sow in early spring placing seed on soil surface,(as seed needs light to germinate) and transplant in late spring/early summer  water well.  Celeriac takes a long season to grow its swollen stem.


Swedes are grown as other brassicas but take a long time to develop (5 months+). approx. 9 inches apart.


Chit before planting earth up two or three times during growth and harvest after flowering. There are three types of potatoes, earlies, second earlies and main crop. The differences are the amount of time in the soil and how long they can be stored. Plant in spring allow roughly 12 weeks for earlies, 14-16 weeks for second earlies and around 18-20 weeks for main crop.


Start off indoors in early spring, the seeds need light to germinate so sprinkle on surface of compost. Plant out when they are about 6 inches tall and plant in blocks, harvest with roots intact watering first to keep from wilting.


To grow a successful crop of squashes you need very fertile soil add plenty of well rotted manure or compost to the soil and sink a watering pipe to get water to the roots. Sow indoors about six weeks re last expected frost then transplant allow at least 3 feet between plants and feed weekly with comfrey tea. Water well.

Peppers and chillies

Sow indoors in early spring and transplant after threat of frost is gone. Pinch out growing tip when plants are about 10 inches tall this promotes bushy growth. Feed weekly with comfrey tea.


Sow indoors in early spring, when plants have their first pair of leaves pot into individual pots and then pot on as necessary (usually weekly) feed with comfrey feed once flowers appear. Don’t let plants dry out as this will affect fruit. There are two types of tomato,determinate (bush) or  indeterminate (cordon or vine). Pinch out side shoots on indeterminate plants but encourage side shoots on bush types.


Sow seeds in early spring and transplant after last frosts. Grow ridge types if you don’t have a greenhouse. Water regularly and harvest often.

Sweet corn

Sweet corn needs a long  growing season so start the seeds off indoors about 4 weeks before last frosts then transplant outdoors when temperatures are above 10c. Plant sweetcorn in square blocks 9×9 or 12×12 to help pollination.


Sow turnips outdoors in early spring and protect seedlings with fleece or cloches. Turnips don’t germinate so well in hot weather so spring and early autumn  are the best times to grow. Turnips can take as little as 6 weeks so stagger sowing.


Spinach is another crop that doesn’t do too well in hot conditions so it’s best sown in spring or early autumn. The more you pull the leaves the more it will grow.


I prefer to soak peas over night before sowing then sow in bio-degradable pots and plant out once the plants have established. I find it best to over winter peas and then to plant a different variety in the early spring. Protect from birds with fleece or netting as they eat le of the pea plant.

Broad beans

Sow seeds direct in rows about 4 inches apart in the autumn support with string tied around stakes and harvest as soon as beans are big enough.

Runner beans

Sow beans in bio-degradable pots 6 weeks before last frosts and transplant outdoors in prepared ground with lots of well rotted manure or old newspaper buried to retain moisture.