22 April 2021

Top 5 vegetables to plant this spring

Whether you've got a vegetable garden or a windowsill box, it's time to get planting veg this spring.

By Ellen McHale

Lettuce, Kitchen Garden

Spring is the perfect time to dust off your gardening gloves and get growing. 

We round up the top vegetables to give a go this season. 

1. Lettuce 

Whether you're making a salad or want some greenery in your lunchtime sandwich, lettuce is the perfect easy vegetable to start growing. 

Lettuce loves the sun, so pick a sunny windowsill or spot in the garden. 

There are endless lettuce varieties to choose from. If you're growing in a pot or on a windowsill, it's best to choose loose-leaf varieties which grow well in small spaces. 

Sprinkle your seeds thinly onto compost, ideally in rows. Cover the seeds with roughly 1cm of compost. Water regularly when the soil feels dry. 

For a steady supply for lettuce through the summer, sow new seeds every two weeks to keep your crop going. 

Eat lettuce as soon as possible after your pick it, as it will wilt quickly. 

Read more about lettuce at Kew

Lettuce, Kitchen Garden
Oakleaf Navara lettuce, Kitchen Garden, Helena Dove © RBG Kew
Lettuce, Kitchen Garden
Flashy Butteroak lettuce, Kitchen Garden, Helena Dove © RBG Kew

2. Spring onions 

These easy to grow vegetables are quick growers that are perfect to get started with at this time of year, and are great to add to stir fries and salads. 

Ready to start sowing from March, sow every couple of weeks to get a supply through the summer. 

Sow them thinly, roughly 1cm deep. For the best flavour, havest when they're 15cm tall. 

3. Carrots

Carrots grow well in a sunny spot, in well-drained soil. For spring planting, choose an early variety which can be sown in spring and will be ready to pick around three months later.

A good early carrot type is a cultivar called ‘Nantes’, and a great one for a pot is ‘Paris Market’.

They are great for container growing. Sow 1cm deep in compost, 5cm apart, and firm the compost down with your hand. 

They don’t need watering very often as they are drought-resistant.

They are ready to be harvested about 3 – 4 months after sowing. Slightly smaller carrots have better flavour, so don’t wait for them to get too large before pulling them up. 

Carrots fresh out of the first
Carrots grown at Kew

4. Beetroot 

Sow the seeds around 5cm around from each other onto compost around 15cm deep. Cover the seeds over with 3cm of compost.

They are cluster seeds which means they're likely to produce several plants from one seed. 

Thinning the plants out will produce bigger beetroot, so once the plants have grown to 3cm high remove all but one of the plants. 

Let the plants grow to 5cm and begin harvesting for baby beetroot. Leave them to grow to 10cm for bigger beetroot. 

Beetroot © RBG Kew

5. Squash 

This is a good time of year to start sowing squash indoors, ready to plant out after the last frosts.

This keeps the vulnerable shoots safe from cold weather and peckish slugs and snails. 

Start sowing the seeds in April in pots on the windowsill or greenhouse, roughly 13mm deep in compost. 

After the last frosts, you can start acclimatising them to outdoor conditions (this is called hardening off). You can do this by moving them outdoors in the day and bringing them inside at night for a week. 

You can then plant them in the ground or in a large container outdoors. 

Growing pumpkins at Kew 

Pumpkin in the Kitchen Garden
Pumpkin in the Kitchen Garden, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

For vegetable garden inspiration, head down to our Kitchen Garden at Kew where you can see seasonal fruits and vegetables all year round. 

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