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Asparagus

Harvest asparagus with a sharp knife, cutting the spears just below the surface of the soil when they are about 13-18cm (5-7in) long and no fatter than your thumb or forefinger. Cook and eat as soon as possible after picking

Make the most the short asparagus season: it will be over by the end of May

Make the most the short asparagus season: it will be over by the end of May

Garlic

The first garlic of the year is a real treat. Lift a few heads while they are still green, before the leaves turn yellow, and use them straight away while still “wet” and mild-tasting.

Globe artichokes

New-season artichokes will still be tiny and, although it’s tempting to leave them to grow larger, pick some now for cooking and eating whole. They’re delicious. And, anyway, more will grow to take their place.

Pick artichokes before the leaves open out

Pick artichokes before the leaves open out

Lettuces

Non-hearting, loose-leaf lettuces can be either harvested whole or a few leaves at a time, as a cut-and-come-again crop.

Radishes

Summer radishes are fast-growing and if you sowed or planted out some seedlings last month they may be ready now. Pull them up and eat them before they grow too large.

Oriental leaves

Mizuna is just one of numerous Oriental brassicas you can harvest now for salads while their leaves are still young and tender. You may need to keep them covered overnight if there is a risk of frost.

Eat ‘Red Giant’ Japanese mustard greens in salads or stir-fries

Eat ‘Red Giant’ Japanese mustard greens in salads or stir-fries

Rhubarb

Pick rhubarb when the stalks reach about 30cm (12in) in height. Don’t let them get much longer or they tend to become stringy.

Spinach

Pick spinach leaves as a cut-and-come-again crop. Young, tender leaves can be eaten raw in salads, while older, larger ones are best cooked.

Spring cabbage

The end of May could well mark the last of your spring cabbages. Make the most of them now, as you may have to wait a month or two before the first of your summer varieties are ready.

Spring onions

You may be able to harvest your first new-season spring onions from seeds sown in the spring – especially if the weather has been mild or you’ve used cloches or a cold frame.

Spring cauliflower

May is a crossover month for cauliflowers. It probably marks the last of the winter and spring varieties you sowed and planted last year. But next month should see the first of the new-season’s early summer cauliflowers.

A late spring cauliflower ready for picking after successfully surviving the winter

A late spring cauliflower ready for picking after successfully surviving the winter

Turnips

The first, baby turnips of the year should be ready now. Lift them while they’re still young, small, and at their very best. Cut the leaves (or “turnip tops”) too – and steam them or add them to stir-fries.

Vegetables

Asparagus
Garlic
Globe artichokes
Rhubarb
Spinach
Spring cabbage
Spring cauliflower
Turnips

Salads

Lettuces
Oriental leaves
Radishes
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)