Time to sow, but don't lose the plot!

PUBLISHED: 11:22 13 April 2006 | UPDATED: 14:38 12 May 2010

Only robust veg' such as broad beans should be sown outside at the moment

Only robust veg' such as broad beans should be sown outside at the moment

GOOD Friday was the traditional day for country people to plant up their vegetable gardens, as in years gone by, because of its significance in the Christian calendar, it was the only day which farm labourers had as a holiday. While those gardeners were

GOOD Friday was the traditional day for country people to plant up their vegetable gardens, as in years gone by, because of its significance in the Christian calendar, it was the only day which farm labourers had as a holiday.

While those gardeners were driven by necessity, contemporary gardeners will also be out on their plots this Easter holiday, planting vegetable seeds because they want to ensure their families eat fresh produce which has not been sprayed with chemicals.

Because of the exceptionally cold and dry weather, growing conditions are still not very good, and only the robust vegetables, such as potatoes, broad beans, and peas, should be sown outdoors at present.

Early potatoes should be planted at a minimum depth of 4in, and for the best results trenches should be dug so that compost, well-rotted manure, or some other organic material can be added to the bottom of the trench before the seed potatoes are placed along at 1ft intervals.

Mark the ends of the rows and when the first leaves appear use a draw hoe to drag up soil to cover them and continue to earth up in this way to ensure that the new potatoes are not exposed to the light.

Broad beans can be sown in double rows at a depth of 2-3in, and I place two seeds in each hole in case one fails to germinate. If both grow they do not seem to suffer from overcrowding.

If you grow tall varieties, they may need a little support, but there are several dwarf types, such as the Sutton, which makes sturdy plants and crop very well.

Peas require well-cultivated soil and should be planted in a broad drill. I use a rake to form the seed bed, as it clears away any small stones and creates a fine tilth.

Scatter the peas as evenly as possible and then cover with the raked soil to a depth of 2in.

After sowing it is a good idea to protect the row with wire netting to prevent bird damage, and once the peas have any height, put in sticks or vertical netting for them to climb.

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