Sowing Timeline for Vegetables

These dates are distilled from 36 years trial and error in my gardens, where my results have highlighted best timings for best results.

You can sow these vegetables at different times and they will grow, but the outcomes will be different, such as lower yield, more pest and disease, perhaps a tendency to flower rather than leaf. Hence for example I do not recommend sowing salad rocket and mizuna in the spring because it’s their flowering season, although many gardeners do and are happy with the smaller yield and insect-damaged leaves, compared with healthier leaves and more weeks, even months of picking, from August sowings.

Dates are based on the climate of Somerset in south west UK, USDA zone 8-9, last frost mid May and first frost mid October. They refer to sowing seeds, not planting plants.

Sowing and planting

These two words are often used interchangeably, which causes confusion. On this page at least, sow refers to seeds, from celery to tomato to garlic, even potato. Plant refers to setting out a plant with leaves.

  • How big your plant is when you set it in the ground is your call.
  • I recommend planting small ones of average 4 weeks since sowing, except for tomatoes, aubergines etc.
  • Always plant before the roots have used all available compost and before you see leaves going yellow or purple (lack of nitrogen mostly).
  • Older plants take more time to establish so you lose cropping time in the end.
  • Use fleece/row covers in spring to help young plants establish.
  • Fleece reduces light by 15-30% but in spring this does not matter, because there is a surplus of light, and fleece converts some of the surplus to otherwise-absent warmth. Result: net gain.

Undercover and outside/outdoors

Seeds require more warmth to germinate than plants need to grow. I recommend sowing “undercover” where it’s warmer: windowsill, electric propagator, greenhouse, anywhere warm.

After about two weeks as new leaves grow fast, most plants need full light as much as or more than warmth.

  • Planting “outdoors” means setting plants in the ground, as opposed to sowing seeds in a greenhouse or polytunnel. This page is about sowing and does not have planting dates – see my Diary for more on that.

Lettuce

The common advice of “sow every two weeks” applies only if you want lettuce hearts. For loose leaves, 4-5 sowings in the whole year* suffice, when you use my method of never cutting lettuce plants, but picking outer leaves every few days. This allows a long life to each plant, see my lettuce love video for more details.
*sow undercover Feb-Mar, then 1st June, mid July (these three sowings for growing outdoors), and early September for undercover lettuce in winter.

February

Best start date is after Valentines Day when light is increasing at last, and fast.

Sow undercover broad beans, spinach, lettuce, peas for shoots, onion, salad onion, early brassicas (cabbage, calabrese, kohlrabi, cauliflower, turnips), radish, parsley, coriander, dill. With warmth aubergine, pepper, chilli – sow these by early March

Sow outside broad beans, garlic if not already

March

Sow undercover as for February plus peas, Boltardy beetroot, celery & celeriac mid month. With warmth tomatoes – sow before mid month for undercover cropping, melon at month’s end

Sow outside broad beans, garlic if not already, and after mid month sow lettuce, spinach, peas, onion, salad onion, early brassicas, parsley, coriander, dill, parsnips, first early potato late March.

April

Sow undercover as for March (except its getting late for celeriac, sow asap), leeks, leaf beet, beetroot (all varieties), chard at month’s end, tomatoes for outdoor growing. With warmth and around mid month, cucumber, courgette, squash, sweetcorn

Sow outside all potatoes, broad beans, lettuce, spinach, peas, salad onion, early and autumn brassicas, parsley, leeks, leaf beet, carrots

May

Sow undercover Courgette, French and climbing beans, leaf beet, beetroot, chard, lettuce, winter brassicas, salad onion. Plus leeks and winter squash by early May.

Swede at end May

Sow outside same as undercover, also maincrop potatoes in early May, carrots, parsnips but keep seedbed moist until germinated.

June

Sow undercover beetroot, swede, lettuce, leaf beet, chard, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower for both autumn & spring, calabrese for autumn harvests.

After solstice sow endive, chicory, kohlrabi and Florence fennel.

Sow outside same as undercover, also carrots.

July

Sow undercover Kohlrabi, lettuce, leaf beet, chard, endive, chicory, Florence fennel, chervil, coriander. Plus beetroot and savoy cabbage in first week.

After mid month, land cress, wild rocket, Chinese cabbage and spinach.

At month’s end, mustards, pak choi, salad rocket, turnips – though first week August is often better.

Sow outside same as undercover, and carrots until mid July.

August

Sow undercover endive and Florence fennel until 10th, lettuce (late August sowings to overwinter as small plants), claytonia, oriental leaves, salad rocket, turnips multisown and true spinach.

August is fantastic for sowing salad rocket, oriental leaves and spinach. Sow by mid month in order to have vigorous harvests through autumn, sow late month for smaller plants in autumn that may overwinter more strongly.

  • chervil – coriander – dill – land cress – wild rocket -spinach by mid August for autumn cropping,
  • any salads in mid August for planting September and to grow under a cloche,
  • spinach – spring onion –  spring cabbage late August for overwintering small.

Sow outside same as undercover but approximately a week earlier

September

Sow undercover 

  • For outdoor planting to crop in autumn/winter lambs lettuce, mizuna, salad rocket,
  • For outdoor planting to overwinter small, in early September sow lettuce, spinach, chervil, coriander, dill.
  • For undercover planting sow in early to mid September all salads (includes spinach, chard mustards, kale etc which you can grow large for cooking), spring onion.

Sow outside same as undercover but a week earlier, last salad sowings by 10th September.

October

Outside sow garlic. You can also sow onion sets though I recommend caution with these as they risk harbouring mildew over winter which infects onions in May and thus reduces growth/storage potential of spring-sown onions. Spring onions sown in August, White Lisbon type, seem less prone to this.

Last sowings

Depending where you live, from early November its worth sowing broad beans to overwinter as small plants, such as Aquadulce Claudia and Monica; sowing in December is possible too, both undercover (unheated) and outside, likewise for garlic.

12 thoughts on “Sowing Timeline for Vegetables

  1. Love the new site, loads of info. Just planted up my new polytunnel with Tsai Tsai, mixed lettuce, pink chard, blue kale, broad beans and claytonia. Really exciting, can’t wait for spring😀

  2. Interesting! I’ve been keeping a garden journal for a few years and have been reviewing my results and observations. I’ve started to arrange a timeline for myself (zone 6a, northeastern US). Many of your suggestions comport with mine, except here or there I’m a week or two later to start things in the Spring and a week or two earlier for starting Fall cropping.

    Does that sound as it should be?

    1. Jen thanks for sharing this and yes, I reckon you are spot on. I guess your first and last frost dates are mid May to mid October?

      1. Yes, exactly. I’ve been watching you sowing spinach on youtube just now and I’m excited for Spring already. We’ve been having good luck with artichokes sown under lights in January so it won’t be long now! Thanks so much for the wonderful site and your reply.

  3. The new site is much easier to navigate and looks great! I started following no dig (your instruction) last year around this time and now my allotment is really turning around. It’s only my second year anyway, but it was inherited from a digger. I also have my house gardens all now no-dig. With my small children and a heavy load at the house it has really increased my enjoyment of gardening and my capacity too. Thanks!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your sowing calendar (and indeed the rest of your site, wonderful!). We’re in the north of Scotland, 35 miles north of Inverness on the east coast (57 north), but as we’re on a peninsula our frost dates aren’t that different from yours – though it doesn’t get as warm in the summer. What are your suggestions for adapting your schedule for up here, particularly as it’s so much darker for half the year?

    1. Thanks Marie, and I suggest sowing a month later in until April, maybe two weeks later in May.
      Then two weeks earlier after mid July, four weeks earlier by mid September.
      After a year of doing that, you will see where to adapt further.

  5. So enjoying poring over your site and this timeline is wonderful! A query please – we’re just taking on an allotment for the first time, unsure of which plot yet, but they range from scraggy to really overgrown. Is it too late to just cover and mulch now and expect things to be jolly by the spring, or will that likely be ok? Feeling all the more impatient as we’ll be moving out of the area next winter. Do we resort to an initial dig or start collecting cardboard? Many thanks

    1. Chris I would start now with levelling & mulchings. When you can plant depends what weds there are, how much compost.
      I would raise plants rather than sow direct, and check my video Two ways to clear weeds.

      1. Thanks – the video is really helpful. All the information and tips you provide are so empowering, there’s method in the magic. You’re an inspiration! Many thanks

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