March into Spring

Ideas for March:

The long spell of cold weather and freezing nights has stopped many gardeners preparing their ground – which remains cold and often saturated – making it difficult to dig. Raised beds, if we have them, are draining more effectively, but the soil is still cold, preventing germination. Onions and shallots planted last month are not yet through; garlic planted in December is just getting going – a tiny sign of growth. What does this mean for March?

It means that February’s tips are still useful – the season is delayed. Onions and shallots can still be planted now. Potatoes of course have a long planting season depending on the type. If you haven’t started to chit your potatoes – getting the shoots going – start now.

The weather should turn milder as March proceeds – start digging – clear the ground of weeds – as the weather improves they will grow first! Add compost if it’s well rotted. Dig one row a spit deep (depth of the spade) then the second row and throw that up to make a trench. Put compost in the trench, and the next row goes over the compost. This lifts and breaks up the soil, helps it to dry and it will warm up more quickly.

If you have access to a greenhouse or have a very sunny porch or kitchen on the southern side of your home – you can start to sow beans – in particular broad beans. ‘The Sutton’ is a good dwarf variety. Start them in small pots of potting compost, one seed to a small pot; don’t overwater them (they will rot) don’t let them dry out (they will whither). A sunny window is best. If they get ‘stretched’ that is get ‘leggy’ and grow too tall, they are unlikely to recover. They do this searching for the light – so the need for a southern aspect – now the sun is rising in the sky!

Strong seedlings 2-3” high, can be planted out later in the month – 6-8” (150-200mm) apart and 9” apart in the rows – plant diagonally in the rows – as with the onion planting scheme in February’s tips. Do the same with dwarf French beans, of which there are many varieties. Look for different coloured varieties which look good on the plate – yellow – Golden Teepee or Concador; purple – Purple Teepee – or the exotic Borlotto bright red and flecked white!

There is a good calendar of times in the year to sow, plant and harvest vegetables available on the RHS website:

RHS veg planner (pdf)

February’s tips: Spring into Gardening

One Response

  1. […] planting seeds now if we haven’t done so yet. So – for May – look at the hints for March (March into Spring) and keep going. (I notice that in March I advised looking at February’s tips!) The seasons are […]

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