Grower's Yearbook - March
The daffodils are in bloom, everything is becoming green once again and our goats have given birth to their kids, so that must mean spring is here! March is a busy month, there are loads of things to be doing in the garden. The seed beds will be getting filled. There’s lots of digging to do if you’ve not got round to that yet.
This time of year the garden is pretty much barren of anything to harvest so we’re relying on our stores of bottled, frozen and preserved food. It’s great to get outside and do some work though after having to be inside so much over winter.
Things to do
Harden off onions that were planted in January ready for planting out next month. August sown onion seedlings can be transplanted 6 inches apart (15cm) in rows with 12 inches (30cm) between them. You can also plant onion sets out now with the same spacings, I personally prefer to use sets.
Harden off green house cauliflowers and plant out 18 inches(45cm) apart in both directions. It’s important not to let them dry out as this will cause under sized heads.
What to plant
Garlic. I plant cloves (pointy end up) just under the surface 6 inches (15cm) apart and 12 inches (30cm) between rows. I look around green grocers to find the biggest most flavorsome garlic I can and this is what I plant.
Horseradish sauce goes really well with a nice juicy steak so it’s worth having a couple of plants. Pop it in a corner because once established it’ll spread and is tricky to get rid of. To plant them buy or cadge a piece of root preferably about a foot long although smaller pieces will work. Drive holes into the ground with a crow bar or an old fork handle and drop your roots into them. You’ll want to leave about 2 feet (60cm) between them.
Jerusalem artichoke is an odd vegetable, some people love them others don’t. They have really tall stems and yellow flowers like a sunflower. To plant them chuck pieces of root in the ground about 5 inches (13cm) deep with 18 inch (45cm) spacings, leave 3 feet (1m) between the rows. When the plants are big enough you can ridge them up like you would potatoes.
Shallots like a rich, firm soil. Poke them into the ground (pointy end up) so that the tip just protrudes from the surface of the soil. Allow 6 inches (15cm) between the bulbs and 12 inches (30cm) between the rows. A week or two later poke back any that have become dislodged from their position. Now all you have to do is keep weeps at bay!
Early potatoes can be planted in the south of England at the end of March. Potatoes are hungry plants, I dig loads of my compost on the potato patch and they love it. To plant them make drills in the soil 4 inches (10cm) deep in rows 18inches (45cm) apart. Chose spuds that have a couple of shoots, big spuds can be cut in half as long as there are shoots on both sides. Place these in your drill about 12 inches (30cm) apart. Draw the soil back over the spuds and make a small ridge over them.
Globe artichoke is a luxury vegetable that resembles a giant thistle. I find they’re too fiddly and slow to prepare for the table but they do make a bold decorative plant. Suckers or bits of root can be planted now or next month. You’ll want to leave a fair space between plants – 3 feet (90cm) should be plenty.
Brussels sprouts are a great winter vegetable. They take up space for a long period of time (about 8 months) and therefore might not be the best use of space in a small garden. If you have the space they’re well worth a grow. Plant early varieties in mid March in a sheltered seed bed about half an inch (12mm) deep in drills 9 inches (25cm) apart. When they’re an inch (2.5cm) tall thin out to one plant every 2 inches (5cm).
Broad beans can be planted now, the longer into spring you leave planting the more chance you get of being ravaged by black fly. Sow 3 inches (8cm) deep, 8 inches (20cm) apart and in double rows 8 inches (20cm) apart. Leave 30 inches (75cm) between each pair of rows. Plant a few extra seeds at the end of the row so you can replace any plants that fail to germinate.
Leeks are a great crop to grow they taste great and keep well throughout the winter. Sow them thinly in a seed bed about 1 inch (2cm) deep. For transplanting when they’re 8 inches (20 cm) tall.
Peas are fantastic! So I sow them every 2 weeks from February right through to April to ensure a constant supply and plenty for the freezer. I sow 3 inches (8cm) deep and 2 – 3 inches (5-8cm) apart. It is a great help if you soak the peas before for a day or two, this assists the germination process.
Summer cabbage is sown thinly in a seed bed in rows 6 inches (15cm) apart. When true leaves appear thin to 2 inches (5cm) apart.
Radish are quick to germinate and to grow so they are useful to sow alongside other slower germinating plants so you can see where you’ve planted. They’re also a tasty crunchy addition to salads.
Turnips are slow to mature so you can get a catch crop of lettuce between rows. I also pop a few radish seeds in with my turnips because they declare themselves quickly and I can see where to hoe. Plant them in rows 12 inches (30cm) apart and thin to 4 inches (10cm) when big enough to handle.
Cauliflowers should be planted in the seed bed. Sow thinly 8 inches (20cm) between rows and thin to 2 inches (5cm) when 4 leaves are present.
Spinach sow 1 inch (2cm) deep in rows 12 inches (30cm) apart. Later thin them to 6 inches (15cm) apart.
Some things to plant under cover
Carrots can be planted under a cloche. Sow 9 inches (20cm) between rows and thin to 1 inch (2cm) when true leaves show.
Celery is planted in seed trays and thinned to 2 inches (5cm) apart when big enough.
Peppers and tomatoes can be sown in seed trays in the house on a sunny window ledge. Transplant when big enough to handle.
What to harvest
Kale is one of the last things standing in the garden and it’s a handy winter green when nothing else is ready.
Leeks as I mentioned earlier are a great winter crop.
Broccoli if you have any left get out there and pick it pronto.
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