Gardens

Monty Don's top 5 vegetable gardening tips – what to plant this weekend

The celebrity gardener shares five important vegetable gardening tips for the kitchen garden in March and April

Monty Don vegetable gardening tips
(Image credit: Toinane on Unsplash)

As we officially move into spring, what are the key vegetable gardening tips we need for the weekend ahead?

See: Kitchen garden ideas – easy ways to get started

TV gardening guru Monty Don to the rescue, as he shares the five key kitchen garden jobs to do this month on his website

These include things you can do on warm or cold days, wet weather tasks, indoor jobs, and seed sowing, too. These five jobs will help to ensure a tasty and varied harvest from your vegetable plot this year. 

1. Sow lettuce, tomato, beetroot, cabbage and celery seeds

Monty Don vegetable gardening tips

(Image credit: Laura Edwards)

At this time of year, Monty Don advises sowing these seeds under cover. So until the weather warms up sufficiently, start them off either in a greenhouse or on cool windowsills. 

'Do not sow any seeds outside if the ground feels cold to touch,' he says. However, if the weather is warm enough you can sow beetroot seeds outside, see below. 

See: How to grow tomatoes – the best ways to grow your own tomato plants

2. Sow broad beans, rocket and spinach outside if the weather is warm and dry

Monty Don vegetable gardening tips

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

Feel the soil in your hands, says Monty. If it feels warm enough, you can also sow beetroot, radish, mizuna, winter lettuce and parsnips straight into the ground. 

See: Raised bed gardening mistakes – and Gardener Scott's advice on how to avoid

3. Start seed potatoes

Monty Don vegetable gardening tips

(Image credit: RHS/Tim Sandall)

The TV gardener says it's time to 'chit' potatoes (allow them to sprout). 

Egg cartons make perfect containers for seed potatoes. Place them somewhere cool and light until the shoots are 1-2cm long. The seed potatoes can be planted out in the vegetable plot at the end of March or early April if the ground is dry enough. 

'Planting potatoes is dead easy,' says Monty Don in an episode of Gardeners' World. 'I start by drawing a deep drill and add a few inches of compost along the bottom of it.' 

Next the expert places the seed tubers on the compost about 18 inches apart, and draws the soil back over the planted potatoes. 'The rows do need to be far enough apart to allow for earthing up later on when the new foliage appears,' he adds.  

See: How to grow potatoes – an expert guide

4. Plant out shallot and onion sets

Monty Don vegetable gardening tips

Photo by Quin Engle on Unsplash

(Image credit: Quin Engle/Unsplash)

Until firmly rooted, newly planted shallots and onions remain vulnerable to birds pulling them from the ground. Monty Don advises covering them with fleece for around two weeks after planting to protect them. 

5. Prune red and white currants and gooseberries

Monty Don vegetable gardening tips

Photo by Jeremy Zero on Unsplash

(Image credit: Jeremy Zero/Unsplash)

It's time to prune gooseberries, and red and white currants. The aim is to have a good open, cup shape to the bushes. 

'To start with, prune away the middle, because the big problem with redcurrants, white currants and gooseberries is sawfly and mould,' says Monty Don as he demonstrates the pruning technique in a video from Gardeners' World. 'And both of them are best dealt with by good ventilation.' 

See: Monty Don shares his top tips for pruning hydrangeas in spring

Once you have the desired open shape, feed them with chicken manure pellets and add a thick layer of garden compost over the roots. 

Karen Darlow
Karen Darlow

I'm the homes editor of Period Living magazine and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. I've also moved house quite a few times – totting up 10 homes in 12 years during a particularly nomadic time in my life. I like to think that makes me quite the homes expert, or at least very experienced and with a clear idea of what I like and don't like in a home. 

I love visiting and writing about old houses for Homes & Gardens' sister magazine Period Living and working with photographers to capture all kinds of historic properties. It's inspiring to talk to people about their traditional homes and to hear the stories behind their furnishing and decorating choices. And by the time I've finished an interview with a homeowner I've always got a handful of new ideas to try in my own house, as well as plenty of good stories for the magazine. It's the perfect work-life balance.