Royal Paddocks Allotments website masthead
Nature blog - Jenny Bourne

Introducing
The RPA Nature blog with Jenny Bourne.

Watch the seasons unfold right here at our very own allotments

Click for the blog.

email icon

Any comments, ideas or suggestions for what you’d like to see on the website? Please email us.

April is a tricky month for deciding whether to sow or not. The temptation is to tear open your new seed packets and get plants off to an early start. But outdoors that’s still risky. Unless you’re lucky with a really mild spring, temperatures may not be high enough to guarantee that seeds germinate. In many cases, it’s wiser to sow just a few advance handfuls of seeds in pots or modules kept indoors on a windowsill or in a heated greenhouse. Then you can gradually harden them off next month and safely plant them out in early June. You can always follow up with additional sowings as the weather warms up.

Chillies, peppers, and cucumbers

To be safe, continue to sow indoors. Outdoors in April, seeds may not germinate, even under cover.

Even once they’ve germinated keep chillies indoors. They still need a minimum temperature of 18ºC (64ºF) during the day and 16ºC (61ºF) at night.

Even once they’ve germinated keep chillies indoors. They still need a minimum temperature of 18ºC (64ºF) during the day and 16ºC (61ºF) at night.

Aubergines and tomatoes

April is probably your last chance to sow seeds indoors for transplanting out. Any later and the plants will have too short a growing season for fruits to ripen outdoors.

Broccoli, cabbages, and other brassicas

Brussels sprouts, calabrese, sprouting broccoli, summer and autumn cauliflowers, and cabbages of all kinds can now all be sown outdoors. Either sow them in pots or modules, or in a prepared seedbed from which you can transplant them in a couple of months’ time.

Carrots, beetroots, and other root vegetables

Most root crops can now be sown outdoors. Indeed, April may be your last chance to sow parsnips. Beetroot may need covering with cloches if the soil is cold and wet.

Celery, chicory, endive, and Florence fennel

Sow indoors to ensure that seeds germinate successfully. Harden off next month, and plant out in June.

Courgettes, pumpkins, and other squashes

Sow seeds indoors ready for planting out next month – or when you’re sure there will be no further frosts.

Leaf vegetables

Spinach, Swiss chard, and Oriental leaves such as mizuna, mibuna, and komatsuna can all be sown outdoors now, although prepare to cover them if necessary. Kale is best sown in pots or modules indoors.

Oriental mustards sown under cover in seed trays should now be emerging.  Pick them young for use in salads.

Oriental mustards sown under cover in seed trays should now be emerging. Pick them young for use in salads.

Leeks and onions

Sow leeks outdoors now, either direct in the ground on an area of your plot reserved as a seedbed or clustered in modules or multiblocks for transplanting later. You can sow onion seeds, too, if you’re not growing them from sets.

Lettuces and other salad crops

Sow lettuce, rocket, land cress, summer purslane, corn salad, and other salad leaves outdoors this month, under cover if the weather is still cold.

Melons

Sow seeds one per pot, cover them with a plastic bag, and put them somewhere warm – an airing cupboard or propagator. When seedlings appear, move them into the light on an indoor windowsill or in a heated greenhouse.

Peas and broad beans

Continue to sow both pea and broad bean seeds outdoors, protecting them with cloches if the weather is still cold.

Sweetcorn

Sweetcorn has a long growing season so it’s worth starting early by sowing seeds in pots indoors.

Herbs

Follow up on last month with further sowings. Almost all herbs can be sown or planted outdoors now.

French and runner beans

To get ahead, sow a few seeds in pots and keep them on an indoor windowsill or in a heated greenhouse.

Sow outdoors under cover

 

Beetroot
Lettuces
Oriental leaves
Rocket
Salad leaves
Turnips

Sow outdoors


Broad beans
Brussels sprouts
Cabbages (summer, autumn, winter, and red)
Carrots
Calabrese
Cauliflower (summer and autumn)
Kohl rabi
Leeks
Lettuces
Onions
Oriental leaves
Parsnips
Peas
Radishes
Spinach
Spring onions
Sprouting broccoli
Swiss chard/Spinach beet
Turnips

Sow indoors

 

Aubergines
Cabbages (summer, autumn, winter, and red)
Cauliflower (summer and autumn)
Celeriac
Celery
Chicory (sugarloaf and radicchio)
Chillies and peppers
Courgettes and summer squash
Cucumbers
Endive
Florence fennel
French beans
Kale
Kohl rabi
Marrows
Pumpkins and winter squash
Runner beans
Sprouting broccoli
Sweetcorn
Sweet potatoes
Tomatoes

 

 

 

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)