Hungry gap

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In cultivation of vegetables in a temperate oceanic climate, the hungry gap is the gardeners' name for the period in spring when there is little or no fresh produce available from a vegetable garden or allotment. It usually starts when overwintered brassica vegetables such as brussels sprouts and winter cauliflowers and January King cabbages "bolt" (i.e. run up to flower) as the days get warmer and longer, but sooner if a very hard frost kills these crops; and ends when the new season's first broad beans are ready.

Means to bridge the gap or part of it include:

  • Using stored food: but stored potatoes sprout in store if kept too long in warm weather, and salted-away meat is used up or goes bad in store. See Lent#Origin.
  • Autumn-sown broad beans: this is a gamble with the weather, as they are killed in the ground when the ground freezes too deep.
  • Heated greenhouse, or hotbeds, to start summer vegetable seedlings sooner.

Other meanings[edit]

One variety of kale is called "Hungry Gap" because it crops during this period: see Kale#Cultivars. It was introduced to UK agriculture in 1941.


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