Now is the time to start frost-tender vegetables including courgettes, cucumbers, French beans and squash. You’ll find these on sale at the garden centre in Chislehurst, Newchurch, Canterbury and Welling both as seed or as young plants, ready-grown for you. These plants are destroyed by cold weather so can’t be planted outdoors until after the last threat of frost has passed: luckily they grow at lightning speed, so it doesn’t matter that you’re starting them off later in spring.
Large seeds are best sown one per 5cm module tray or small (8cm) pot, barely covered with compost. As soon as the seedlings are big enough to handle, move them into larger pots so they can carry on growing at their breakneck pace: bought-in young plants should also be potted on as they grow.
Harden your plants off carefully once you’re ready to plant them outside. Move your young plants into a cold frame and open the lights (glass lids) for longer each day over about 10 days until they’re fully open. By the end of this your plants will have adjusted to the cooler, breezier outdoor conditions and can be safely planted out. Cover with a cloche to begin with until they’re established well, then remove and let them grow away for summer.