Keeping up the harvest
Planting a veg garden really kicks off the year. By the end of March you'll have bought new potatoes and onion sets from our Donaghadee, Bushmills, Ballymena and Ballyclare garden centre and tucked them into their new homes, and with a bit of luck you'll be getting out those seed packets you chose from our extensive range of fruit and veg to sow the first hardy crops like carrots, peas, cabbages and beetroot.
But what happens when that first flush of productivity is over? Once you've harvested those new potatoes it's still only June, there's half the growing year left but you've got bare patches opening up all over the place.
Planting for a continuous harvest throughout the year is one of the holy grails of veg gardening. With a little planning and some tricks of the trade you too can avoid boom and bust, evening out your harvest so there's always something to pick somewhere on the plot. Here's how:
- Successional sowing: Fast-growing veg like baby-leaf salads and carrots are ready within weeks, so repeat sow just half a row at a time every month through the season to keep them coming.
- Intercropping: use every inch of space by sowing quick-growing carrots, spinach or beetroot among slower-growing brassicas: that way while they're growing, you get an extra harvest from the same space.
- Plug plants: in our garden centre you'll find a huge range of young vegetable plants, ideal for dropping into gaps opened up by harvesting lettuces, cabbages or leeks for a near-instant second harvest.
- Sow different varieties: many types of veg, like carrots, calabrese and sprouts, have early, mid-season and late varieties: sow all three and they'll mature at different rates, extending your harvesting time.
- Remember winter: you won't feel like sowing crops for winter while it's still spring, but if you don't your harvest will stop dead in October. Plant purple-sprouting broccoli, winter cabbage, leeks and parsnips in March to keep the veg garden pumping out the harvest through the chill.
Please ask the staff in our garden centre in Donaghadee, Bushmills, Ballymena and Ballyclare for more information and advice about keeping a continuous harvest from your vegetable garden throughout the year.