Out with the old and in with the new

Leeks making way for lettuce.
Leeks making way for lettuce.
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Propagating facilities should be buzzing with germinating seeds and rooting cuttings from April onward.

Ours is only one metre square and has a soil-warming cable set at 15C to encourage the germination of early seeds, but that is switched off from June.

Just now, batches of chrysanthemums, viola, penstemon, fuchsia, osmanthus, and vegetable seeds in pots are vying for space.

Further vegetable sowings – runner beans, sweetcorn and courgette – are a priority. Planted singly into 10cm pots, watered once and placed in the propagator at 15C, they’ll be germinated and ready for a spot in the greenhouse within two weeks.

Early June is soon enough to plant them out with a head start over identical seeds otherwise sown directly outdoors.

It’s out with the old and in with the new if you’re after a succession of fresh, year-round vegetables.

Plants of Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli and cabbages which had kept us well supplied since last November were recently lifted and composted to make way for summer and autumn crops.

The savoy cabbages lasted longest simply because we removed the heads as required, leaving roots and outer leaves intact.

This encourages several fresh shoots to develop, and they are harvested as tasty spring greens.

There are more than a dozen leeks still standing on the bed that has just been planted with leaf lettuce, but they too must go to create more growing space.

They have been invaluable over the past six months, adding variety to the choice of kitchen greens.

Vegetables such as these are key to year-round supply. No sooner are we digging up the old plants than we’re sowing replacements.

If there are no facilities for this at home, just visit a plant outlet. Handy packs of leeks, cabbages and other vegetables are on display right now.