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Asparagus

Watching the very first asparagus spears of the year pushing their way out of the ground is one of the highlights of April. Start cutting them once they are about the thickness of your index finger – or earlier if you are unable to wait that long.

April is the start of the eagerly awaited asparagus season.

April is the start of the eagerly awaited asparagus season.

Salad leaves

Continue harvesting baby salad leaves grown from seed sown earlier in the year. Corn salad, rocket, and a wide variety of Oriental leaves should grow if protected under cloches or in cold frames.

Spring cabbages

Certain spring cabbages develop pointed, conical heads rather than the more usual rounded ones. Either wait for the heads to form, or pick when the leaves are still slightly loose.

Spinach

This month you may get your first, new-season spinach – provided you sowed seeds early in the year and were able to plant out last month. Tender, young leaves can be cut for salads.

Leeks

April is probably your last chance to harvest any remaining leeks – although you may have to trim off quite a few layers of old, weather-beaten outer leaves to reach the edible white stems. Aim to lift them all by the end of the month in order to free up space for new crops.

Rhubarb

Pick rhubarb stalks by gripping them firmly around the base with one hand, then giving them a twist. You shouldn’t need to cut them.

Rocket

Start picking rocket as soon as the young leaves are about as long as your thumb.

The more rocket you pick the more will grow. Either cut a few leaves at a time or slice off the whole plant just above the surface of the soil and wait for the stump to re-sprout.

The more rocket you pick the more will grow. Either cut a few leaves at a time or slice off the whole plant just above the surface of the soil and wait for the stump to re-sprout.

Spring onions

Early spring onions sown in autumn last year and left to overwinter should be ready now. For salads, pick them before they grow too large and their flavour becomes too strong.

Lettuces

Certain lettuces such as small, semi-cos varieties are bred so that they are hardy enough to withstand light frosts. Sown the previous autumn, and given some protection during the winter, they should be ready for harvesting now.

Spring cauliflowers

Overwintered cauliflowers will be coming to the end of their season by the end of the month. Cut them while the heads are still firm and before they discolour.

Swiss chard

Chards and leaf beets come in a variety of different colours. The red-veined form shown here is sometimes called ruby or rhubarb chard. Strip the leaves from any very tough stalks and cook them like spinach.

Sprouting broccoli

This month may be the last during which you can pick last year’s sprouting broccoli. But, if you sowed seeds indoors early in the new year and planted them out under cover last month or this, you shouldn’t have long to wait for a new crop.

Kale

If you have any of last year’s kale still left standing, April is likely to be its final month. Harvest and eat it now in order to make room for new crops. Though don’t grow kale in the same spot again - choose somewhere else instead.

Vegetables

Asparagus
Cabbages
Cauliflowers
Kale
Leeks
Rhubarb
Spinach
Sprouting broccoli
Swiss chard

Salads

Corn salad
Lettuces
Oriental leaves
Rocket
Spring onions

 

 

 

Text and photographs copyright © 2010 Alan Buckingham.

 

Allotment month by month by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Allotment Month by Month
(Dorling Kindersley, 2009)
Grow Vegetables by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Grow Vegetables
(Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Grow Fruit
(Dorling Kindersley, 2010)