Get your soil in tip-top condition, says Peter
“Succession sowing is best”
ILOVE this time of the year – all the fresh, green young growth and promise of things to come, especially on the vegetable patch. Fortunately, most of my 30x40ft (9x12m) plot was dug before the frost and snow in early March, such that when the surface is drying it crumbles down into a lovely fine tilth for sowing and planting.
Where you have had neither time nor opportunity to do this, it is too late to dig deep now, particularly on heavier, drier soils. The best bet here is to very thinly slice off the top weed growth onto the compost heap and then chip up the top few inches with a spade.
Deep-rooted perennial weeds will need easing out with a fork. If you can lay your hands on some fairly weed-free well-rotted garden compost, and even better a weed-free old grow bag/potting compost to cut into the surface as you go, so much the better.
There is the temptation at this time to sow everything, but succession should be the name of the game. I try to sow a row of garden peas every two weeks from late March to late May, using an early cultivar such as ‘Feltham First’ at the beginning, and then main crop kind, usually ‘Greenshaft’, subsequently to get a steady supply of fresh green peas.
I am not a great fan of mangetout/ sugar-snap types, especially where peamoth maggots are a possibility, although this may change with the arrival of sugarsnap ‘Lusaka’ (Thompson & Morgan). The pods on a trial planting sown late in my polytunnel were so sweet children were eating them like sweets.
I try to sow a row of garden peas every two weeks from March to late May
Hoeing a drill