Saturday May 24, 2003
Food that has been grown locally and is in season tastes better, so look out for it when you can. Climate change is extending the British season for some produce, so you have longer to enjoy homegrown fruits and vegetables. Here's our month-by-month guide to what's being harvested when, in this country, and what's available from store. The beginning of each crop's season will vary slightly depending on the weather in any particular year.
The winter months are the time to enjoy British root vegetables and stores of local fruit. Being harvested this month are leeks, green cabbages, parsnips, turnips, sprouts, celeriac, jerusalem artichokes, shallots, mushrooms and forced rhubarb. From store, you can buy British apples and pears, beetroot and potatoes. Main crop carrots are either stored in the ground or kept in cold store to be available from September till the end of May. Onions are available most of the year.
Winter root crops are still going strong. This is the month for early winter cauliflower, leeks, turnips, protected spinach, swede, celeriac, chard, forced rhubarb, and carrots. Potatoes, apples and pears are available from store. The sprout season comes to an end. Mushrooms are available most of the year.
New crops of vegetables planted previous year come in to season, including purple sprouting broccoli, more cauliflower, spring greens, radishes, parsley, early rhubarb, and leeks. Carrots are available both from the ground and from store but beetroot from store is finishing. Potatoes, apples and pears are available from store.
The stored British crops start finishing in the middle of the month, but the new crops are not in full flow. Between mid-April and mid-June is the leanest time. But new season's lettuce and watercress come in, along with some overwintered spinach, radishes and purple sprouting broccoli. Rhubarb is in too. Carrots and potatoes are still available from store but apples and pears are finishing.
This is the gap month, as winter crops finish and stores decline. But coming in are the first new potatoes and asparagus. Radishes available. Carrots and potatoes are still in store but winter cauliflower and spinach comes to an end. Rhubarb is available. The very end of the month sees the first outdoored reared, grass fed spring lambs come into season.
By the middle of the month, there is a wealth of fruit and vegetables to choose from. New potatoes are more plentiful, asparagus continues. New carrots come in at the end of month as do soft fruits including blackcurrants, strawberries, gooseberries, cherries. Tomatoes are in, broccoli is beginning, cauliflower comes at the back end of the month. Lettuce gets into full flow as do fennel, peppers, broad beans, Chinese leaves, and green beans grown in tunnels. Herbs coming in.
Another peak month, with strawberries, loganberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, tayberries, summer cabbage, spring cabbage, new potatoes, courgettes, broad beans, fennel, the first outdoor french beans, tomatoes, watercress, new cauliflower, carrots, lettuce, cucumber, broccoli.
The vegetables and soft fruits continue. Tree fruits come in at the end of the month. Lettuce, peppers, new potatoes, courgettes, leeks, sweetcorn, peas, aubergines, strawberries, loganberries, gooseberries, herbs, chard, courgettes, fennel, main crop carrots, broccoli. Onions are being harvested and will be stored through the winter. The first apples, and Victoria plums are picked at end of month, just as the season for vension from wild fallow and red deer begins.
A good month for fruit, and summer vegetables are joined by the earliest of winter ones. Blackberries, early apples, damsons, early pears, plums, spinach, figs, onions, all of the cabbages, curly kale, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, french beans, courgettes, red onions, peppers, aubergines, marrows, sweetcorn, leeks, red cabbage, beetroot and broccoli are in. Swedes come back and sprouts begin. Main crop potatoes are lifted in September and October and stored until the beginning of the summer months.
This is the main season for apples and pears. The first bramleys are in season as are figs. Also available are sweetcorn, marrrow, mushrooms, beetroots, squash, watercress, onions, and leeks. The Jerusalem artichoke season begins, while cauliflowers are at their peak, as are main crop potatoes and carrots, sprouts, and broccoli. Lettuce is running out by the middle of the month, and courgettes finish towards the end.
Tender vegetable crops are disappearing as the frosts come, but still going are cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, leeks, swede, parsnips, apples, pears, quinces, and sprouts.
It's back to winter vegetables and stores, with sprouts, turnips, swede, and parsnips available and potatoes, carrots, red cabbage, beetroot, apples, pears coming from store.
Our thanks to the Soil Association, John Davenport, Bob Kennard, Farm, and the National Farmers' Union for help in compiling this table. We have not included produce grown with artificial light and heat.