This UK zone 8 allotment planting plan follows a mainly ‘raise from seed’ method whereby vegetables and flowers are grown from seed started off in modules trays and recycled plastic bottles. As soon as leaves have developed then seedlings are to be placed outdoors undercover for hardening off. When seedlings are strong enough – usually from around four weeks from sowing – they are then planted outdoors into no-dig beds.
Multi sow four spinach seeds in each cell after the first week of February. They are hardy and tolerate colder temperatures both for germination and growing. Water the trays, let them drain and stack them on top of each other indoors for 5-7 days. Once they have germinated place them in a greenhouse or cold frame to prevent them from getting leggy. After four to five weeks they can be planted out approximately 20 centimetres or 8 inches apart and covered with fleece. You can cut and come again before they start to flower in early summer. Start harvesting the larger darker leaves around mid to late April, remove and compost the yellowing leaves to help stop pests.
Onions and/or spring onions
Multi sow Sturion (a bulb onion variety) 8-10 per cell at the end of February. Water the trays and stack them indoors to germinate. The day green shoots appear they need to be placed outside under cover or in a greenhouse. Plant them out in mid-March spacing them 20 centimetres or 8 inches with rows at 40 centimetres apart. Cover with fleece if you have any. Start harvesting for spring onions in the last week of May; thin them out to five per clump to allow them to grow into bulb onions. In the first week of July, the leaves should start to bend and yellow. Gently push over all of the onion necks to 45-degree angles to prevent them from bolting and allow the onion bulbs to swell. They should be ready for harvest in mid to late July once the leaves are brown. Leave to cure in a dry place like a garage. shed or greenhouse for about a month.
In late February multi sow 4 seeds per module and follow the instructions for germination and growing above for spinach. Thin seedlings to one per cell keeping the strongest and discarding the weakest. Plant out after 4-6 weeks when plants have developed leaves approximately 10 centimetres apart and cover with fleece. The plants can be watered through the fleece without taking the fleece off. In the first week of May larger leaves should be ready to harvest weekly by picking rather than cutting to allow stronger regrowth for later harvests. Weekly harvests should last for four weeks.
Early brassicas: calabrese, kohlrabi and early purple sprouting broccoli
In mid-February, sow two seeds per cell then remove the weakest seedling when after sufficient growth. Follow the germination and growing method above for spinach. Plant plugs 30 inches/75 centimetres apart.
In the first week of March, sow two seeds per module in large module trays of Sungold F1 tomatoes. This is one of the best varieties to grow outside. In the first week of April pot them on and harden them off in the first week of May. Plant them out when the risk of frost has gone.
First early potatoes
Direct sow in the third week of March after the seed potatoes have had time to ‘chit’. This means that they should be placed into egg boxes and allowed to form roots of approximately 3 centimetres long in a frost-free place about a month before planting. A garage or shed is good. With rows 45 centimetres apart plant seeds to the depth of a trowel 30 centimetres apart with the chits or shoots facing upwards, then cover with fleece. As the plants develop draw some compost from the side of the plants to ‘earth up’ or cover any potatoes that see daylight to prevent the potatoes from going green. You can also place compost from above directly onto the ground where the plants are growing. Harvest by pulling the entire plant out of the no-dig soil when the leaves start to die off by bunching them all together and pulling with gentle force out of the ground. Follow on with a choice of beans, carrots or kale.
These can be direct sown on the Spring equinox, usually around 20th March because the soil has warmed up from increased sunlight. Add a fleece to protect them from cold and carrot root fly. The fleece can be swapped for mesh when it gets warmer to keep protecting them from pests. Second sowings can be had from mid-June for a Winter harvest. Seed drills should be 1 centimetre deep and seeds should be sown thinly, approximately 5-8 centimetres apart. Rows can be 20 centimetres apart. Add a few radish seeds here and there as these will germinate sooner and show where carrots will develop later. Water the drills once they’ve been drawn before seeds are sown. The carrots should be ready to harvest after three months in the ground.
Should be direct sown at the same time as carrots and take a long time to germinate. Water the drills once they’ve been drawn before sowing the seeds. Just like carrots sow a few radish seeds in the drill which germinate quickly and provide a line where the parsnips will eventually grow. Harvest the radish between 4 – 8 weeks after sowing to allow the radish to develop. Sow parsnips in shallow rows thinly approximately 4 inches or 10 centimetres apart with each row at least 30 centimetres apart. Parsnips should be ready to harvest in September.
In late March sow 2-3 seeds of the ‘Sungold’ outdoor variety into winter sowing bottles and thin out. Plant out when all risk of frost has gone between plants of French Dwarf Marigold flowers which can be sown at the same time. Drive some bamboo into the ground near the plants and don’t forget to pinch off the side shoots as they grow.
Second early potatoes
Direct sow in the second week of April following the same planting methods as first early potatoes (above).
Sow 2 seeds into large modules and thing to one when seedlings appear. Plant them out from mid-May into teepees made from bamboo and string.
In mid-April multi sow sweetcorn indoors (2 per module) in root trainers or small deep pots because sweetcorn roots are long and need the extra space to establish. If two seedlings appear you can allow them to grow outdoors under cover and separate them when it is time to plant out. Sweetcorn is wind-pollinated so they need to be planted out in square blocks 45 centimetres between each plant to allow for good pollination. Maybe plant out half a bed several times for a block to form and use the rest of the row for different crops. Harvest when most of the hairs are brown.
In mid-April sow one seed into pots not trays 2 centimetres deep placing the seeds on their side, raise them indoors until they germinate. Set them outside in the greenhouse or cold frame to harden off before planting out. Make sure the final frost of the year has passed (usually mid-May) before planting. Butternut squashes can be grown either along the floor or up a pallet at a 45-degree angle supported by two posts. The fruits should be supported off the soil using bricks, tile or straw if they are left on the floor to grow. Water around the plants not onto leaves and fruits which can cause powdery mildew.
A bush variety of butternut squash such as the Butterbush can be grown in a large planter or container. Start by filling the container three-quarters full of manure and top with a layer of compost. If you have the compost simply fill the container with it and either sow direct or transplant raised seedlings.
Squash (Crown Prince)
Follow the same method as butternut squash (above) except they are to be grown on the ground since the fruits are heavy. Two plants will sprawl over a large area. When the leaves start to die off, that’s when they can be harvested (like potatoes). Cut around the stem, not on the neck of the squash. They can store until next April indoors.
Squash (Red Kuri)
Follow the same method as butternut squash (above).
Squash (Marina Di Chioggia)
Follow the same method as butternut squash (above) except they are to be grown on the ground since the fruits are heavy.
In mid-April multi sow leeks undercover 3-4 seeds per cell to plant out in the middle of May with a 15 inch/40 centimetre spacing for harvesting through the Winter. Leeks are frost tolerant and will provide vegetables in the coldest of months. Grow in a brassica cage to protect from allium leaf miner.
Dwarf French Beans
Sow in late May for a more reliable harvest later on in the year. Sow two seeds per module and remove the smallest when of the two when they grow on.
Sow a few seeds in each module and thin out once they start to germinate to one seed per module. Plant out after four weeks in rows approximately 60 centimetres between plants and 75 centimetres between rows. Watch out for pigeons as they can cause damage to leaves so be ready to cover them with mesh as they grow.
Quick maturing carrots can be sown in mid-June to escape carrot root flies that do not appear until around mid-August, experiment with sowing without a fleece cover to see how good the harvest is.
Towards the end of June, multi sow Cavolo Nero kale, four seeds per module to thin out the weakest seedlings leaving one seedling per module. Plant out when each plant has 5-6 true leaves into a brassica cage to protect from birds and white butterflies. Plant to a depth so that the first leaves are at ground level.
In the first week of July sow 2-3 seeds per module and thin out the strongest to one. Plant out seedlings after 4 weeks 30 centimetres apart as they have a wide outer leaf range. Once they form hearts that feel firm, twist them out from the ground and discard the outer leaves for the compost heap.
In the final week of July sow 2-3 seeds per module of the ‘Cruiser’ variety. Thin out the weakest seedlings when they appear. Plant out once they reach 4-5 inches tall.
In the first weekend in August sow 2-3 seeds per module and thin out as they appear. Plant out after four weeks to grow through winter.
Sow ‘Medania’ spinach in the second week of August in modules, 4 seeds per module and it is possible that they will survive through till late Spring.
White Lisbon onions
Sow up to ten seeds per module in mid August to get into the ground by early September for overwintering. White Lisbon are less susceptible to white rot when overwintering.
Multisow 5 seeds per module and transplant for autumn and winter harvests.
At the last weekend in August sow 2-3 seeds per module of the ‘Wheelers Imperial’ variety. Thin out and transplant after 4-5 weeks under a mesh or scaffold netting to deter pests.
Like Spring Cabbage, the last weekend in August is the best time to sow ‘Aalsmeer’ variety cauliflower. Sow 2-3 seeds per module, thin them out and transplant after 4-5 weeks under a mesh or scaffold netting to deter pests.
Start multi-sown wild rocket in early September in readiness to plant out in the following Spring. They will need to be potted on and kept under cover throughout the Winter. The rocket will crop until late June before it starts to flower.
White mustard (synapsis alba)
Scatter sow mustard seeds in late September to allow them to be killed by frost at around -4C and provide nutrients for the soil over winter. An easy way to not have to compost beds if you don’t have any compost or to provide extra nutrients before or after composting beds.
It is best practice to sow garlic in the Autumn (October-November) unless you have clay soil in which case plant in the Spring. The cold weather allows the garlic to form bulbs. Start by splitting the garlic seed cloves apart in a container and only plant the larger cloves resulting in larger garlic bulbs. Plant the cloves so that the sharp end is pointing upwards and plant them to a depth of twice their height. Rows should be 20 centimetres apart and seed 10 centimetres apart. Because garlic is in the ground for a long time you can plant winter salad leaves like rocket, mizuna, spinach or lamb’s lettuce/corn salad between the rows which will finish cropping by late April in time for the garlic to form bulbs.
Sow Aquadulce Claudia broad beans which are a winter hardy variety in modules undercover. After approximately four weeks plant 10cm between rows and 25cm between each plant in the last week of October. Such a late sowing is to ensure that they remain small plants to prevent stems from falling over in high winds.
Use large module trays to sow two seeds per module. For Autumn sowing germinate indoors until shoots appear at which time transfer outside undercover. When plants reach around 3 inches in height transplant into rows 50 cm apart with plants 5cm apart. Cover the transplants with nets to protect them from pigeons.