March can be a month of cruel cold and sharp winds…. or milder, sunny days … either way, the increased daylight seems to create more energy in me and the garden and I’m looking forward to it.
It’s still too chilly for many plants to grow outside, but undeterred by not having an allotment or a vegetable garden, until the garden has been sorted out and moved from a paper plan into reality, I’m using containers for planting.
I’m planting garlic that I’ve saved from last year, we’re all urged to buy new garlic each year, but lots of gardenes at my old allotments always planted from their previous years harvest, we’ll see what happens. Mine are going into a large window-box, I probably should’ve bought some new cloves to hedge my bets, but I’ve left it too late.
Shallots can also be planted now, these are one of those vegetables that are worth growing because you get a much bigger choice of different varieties by growing them yourself, and they’re not always commonly available in shops.
I’m planting new potatoes in old compost sacks, turning them inside out so that the black shows, rather than the garish, multi-coloured side. Though, if you could see the state of most of my garden right now, you may wonder why I bother, but these little things make me happy.
Bare-root trees and fruit bushes can be planted this month whilst they’re still dormant, they’ll be springing into growth by April and it’ll be too late. Bare-root are cheaper than buying in containers .. and some say they get off to a quicker start.
Rhubarb can be forced into an early harvest by covering it with a ceramic cloche [ or bucket] to completely exclude the light. This warms the plant, encouraging it to grow, forcing those pale pink, sweeter stems to grow … worth a go don’t you think?
Nurturing the soil by adding a thick layer, 10cm/4in if possible, is equally important as any of the above. Adding home-made compost, well-rotted manure or digging in green-manure improves the structure of the soil so that it holds on to water for longer. It also helps clay soil to drain…. basically, it’s good for any soil, whatever the type. A thick covering also deters weeds by excluding light, except for the really determined ones like bindweed and nettles.
Mulch doesn’t improve the fertility of the soil by very much, so I always used organic fertiliser at the allotment, like pelleted chicken manure or fish, blood and bone, sprinkling it on a couple of weeks before planting or seed sowing. They release their nutrients into the soil more slowly than chemical fertiliser, so they last longer, and they also promote beneficial soil organisms, healthy soils need these tiny creatures because they help to transform nutrients into a form that plants can use.
I’ll be sowing chillies, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes at the end of the month. These all come from hotter climates and some gardeners sow these in January, compensating our lack of heat with a longer growing time. I’m relying on a heated propagator on an indoor window-sill where they can grow lanky, leaning towards the light if they’re there for too long so the end of the month it is for me … until the greenhouse arrives.
I’m looking forward to foraging wild garlic this month. I love this stuff, I made pesto with it last year and froze bags of it which lasted for months through the year.
Check out Pennards Plants here, they have a good range of plants and heirloom seeds, as well as shallots.
Happy gardening, I hope March is kind to you, Jill