April can be the leanest time of year in the vegetable garden as stored carrots and onions have been used up but the new season’s veg is still at the seedling stage. However, with judicious planning and a bit of luck, I have been able to continue putting food on the table through late winter and spring. Here’s the best of the month’s harvest.
Celeriac, or turnip rooted celery is a great winter vegetable that can still be picked in late spring. Planted in mid-summer my celeriac bed stood this year’s mild winter well. Heavy snow in previous years damaged these pseudo-roots, making some of them unusable. A thick layer of straw would have protected them, but this year they managed with no special attention at all.
2. Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are often over by late winter. If you leave them too long they start to shoot, instead of remaining in the tight buttons we expect. A late planting (these went in in August) may, with luck, produce an April harvest – as these did. I planted a mixture of varieties, including some with kale-like leaves, which are providing some fine brussels sprouts, colourful leaves, sprout tops and even flowering shoots – like a looser kind of sprouting broccoli: All make good eating.
I planted a 10′ x 4′ (3m x 1.2m) bed with Organic Plants Winter Cauliflower Collection in August last year. This consists of two plants of each of the following:
Medallion (February-March), Isadora (Early April), Jerome (Mid April), Chester (May), Peron (June)
The idea is that they provide a succession of curds, rather than the glut that comes if you plant lots of the same variety. I planted them in sequence with the first to mature closest at the south (sunny) end of the bed, so as each is cut, more light gets to the next in line. It has worked well, with the first three producing in sequence as expected. Medallion, however, did not produce its first curd until early April despite the mild winter – perhaps because I planted them a bit late?
4. Sweet Peppers
What? In April? Yes!
I was given some good strong pepper plants, about 30cm high, in February from a local pepper factory (yes we have pepper factories here!). I potted them up in 5” pots and grew them on in my extension/conservatory wich kept them at about 20 deg: They loved it. By the end of March they needed repotting in 7” pots, and now, in mid-April I have planted them out in the greenhouse, where they should produce peppers for the next five or six months. I picked the first usable peppers (green) in late March.
Other April crop possibilities…
I have taken my first few cuts of asparagus – a really worthwhile perennial crop if you can find the space and have the patience. In previous years I have had purple and white sprouting broccoli and winter cabbages in April – but I didn’t grow them this year. Here are some pictures from previous seasons to inspire you!