Gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh hit the headlines recently when he said he avoids eating avocados because of the ‘enormous carbon footprint’ in getting them across the ocean from farm to plate, along with the destruction of rainforests to create such plantations.

 

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We may not be able to grow avocados outdoors in this country but there’s a wealth of edibles which will thrive in our climate – and which taste better if we grow them ourselves and eat them seasonally, rather than paying extortionate prices for pretty tasteless fruit and veg out of season.

So when you are planting up your veg patch or your fruit garden, consider seasonality in your choices, which will not only reduce the carbon footprint of your food substantially but also produce easy-to-grow staples that’ll keep you going throughout the year.

How to grow seasonal fruit and veg


1. Spring

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Sow: Beetroot, broad beans, lettuce, rocket, carrots, parsnips, turnip, spinach, spring onion and cabbage can all be sown outdoors, but if it’s really cold, hold back to later in spring when the soil has warmed up a bit. If you want to give some edibles a head start, sow tomatoes indoors, along with celeriac, greenhouse aubergines, cucumbers and peppers, courgettes and French beans.

Harvest: Forced rhubarb, sprouting broccoli, Swiss chard and overwintered spring onions. By the end of spring and beginning of summer you may be harvesting the first of the lettuces, radishes and rocket sown earlier in the season.

 

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Seasonal showstopper: Asparagus. Spears can be cut from mid-spring to early summer (end of May) but it is naturally a short season, with May being the optimum time. Growing your own asparagus requires plenty of space – it is a perennial so once established it should give you spears year after year – but may take three years to settle in your veg patch before producing a good crop.

2. Summer

Sow: Direct sow tender vegetables outside in June, including French and runner beans, sweetcorn, squashes and courgettes, once danger of frost has passed. Continue to sow salad leaves, carrots, swedes, sweetcorn and Chinese cabbage throughout summer. Put in young strawberry plants in August or September so they are ready for cropping the following summer.

Harvest: Strawberries, rhubarb, summer-fruiting raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, salad leaves, baby beetroot, calabrese, spring onions, turnips, herbs including mint, thyme and sage. Towards the end of summer, French and runner beans, the first outdoor tomatoes, sweetcorn and pencil leeks will be ready too.

Seasonal showstopper: Globe artichokes. These fantastically ornamental veg can grow to 1.5m and look as good in a herbaceous border as they do in a veg patch.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Their fist-sized flower buds contain delicious hearts, are ready to harvest in July, August and September and are easy to grow. Pick them before they open out into a flower, but if you miss some, they’ll reward you with purple ‘thistle’ heads which are also great for drying.

3. Autumn

Sow: Overwintering onions and quick crops like baby spinach to put in salad. Sow winter lettuce and oriental greens in a soil border under glass. Plant autumn onion sets and spring greens bought as plants.

Harvest: Continue to harvest runner and climbing beans at the beginning of autumn. Forage for blackberries which have turned a deep colour in hedgerows, gather apples and pears to eat them straight off the tree or store in boxes in newspaper, and harvest sprouts, autumn cauliflowers, maincrop potatoes , carrots and parsnips – root veg can be lifted as needed.

 

Seasonal showstopper: Autumn-fruiting raspberries. They are so expensive in the shops yet relatively easy to grow if you plant the canes in a sunny, sheltered spot in moisture-retentive fertile soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. Plant canes in late autumn or winter when they are dormant.

4. Winter

Sow: Overwintering peas and broad bean outdoors and winter salads including purple pak choi under cover, but you can grow garlic, buying bulbs sold for planting, and then planting individual cloves outdoors, which will give you a head start for spring. In January, chit seed potatoes so they’ll sprout on your windowsill before planting.

Harvest: Leeks, carrots, parsnips, sprouting broccoli, winter cabbage and cauliflower. Indoor grapes should also be ready for picking.

 

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Seasonal showstopper: Brussels sprouts. Love them or hate them, why pay over the odds on fancy stalks covered in sprouts at the supermarket when you can easily grow them yourself? And you don’t have to cut the whole stalk. Just remove the sprouts from the bottom of the plant as you need them.

Best-selling gardening tools

Need tools to help you garden? Check out our list of best-selling gardening tools on Amazon. 

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Last update on 2022-05-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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