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March Jobs on the Plot

06th March 2019

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March spells the start of spring and the beginning of the busy half of the growing year. There’s plenty to be getting on with over the coming weeks, and ticking off your tasks is a fantastic way to stay on top of all those important jobs that need completing.

The Herb Garden
Providing the weather conditions are improving and the ground outside isn’t too waterlogged, you should be able to sow chives and parsley outdoors towards the end of the month. Be sure to cover at night if there’s a chance of frost. You can also start planting out any shop-bought, hardy herbs such
as rosemary, mint and thyme now, too.

Container growing
▪ Top-dress your established potted plants by removing the top 5cm of soil and replacing with fresh compost for a nutritional boost
▪ Remember to check your tubs regularly to prevent soil from drying out
▪ Start early varieties of carrots in pots, ensuring that there are ample drainage holes and that containers are at least 25cm deep
▪ Try strawberries in hanging baskets this month, growing like this keeps them off the ground and away from hungry slugs

Seasonal tasks
The vegetable patch

▪ Check soil temperature is warm enough. Prepare seedbeds for planting by warming the soil with cloches or sheeting, as many crops require soil to reach around 7°C in order for successful germination to take place
▪ Plant early varieties of chitted potatoes, unless we have a cold March or you have heavy soil, in which case it’ll be better to hold off until the end of the month
▪ Prepare for runner beans by digging troughs (around 50cm in width and 30cm deep) and filling with compost to add goodness into the ground as runner beans need rich, fertile soil. You can also get ahead by building a tent structure with canes ready to train your beans up later in the season
▪ Weed and mulch established asparagus beds for a successful year, and plant some more crowns now for future bumper harvests
▪ Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil to plant onion and shallot sets in
▪ Sow a wide range of delicious crops, including broccoli, summer cabbages, leeks and Brussels sprouts in short rows in a nursery bed – growing these on now means they’ll be ready to be transplanted in April

Under cover
▪ Label seeds as you sow them (even if you think you’ll be able to identify them) as this will make life easier once young seedlings appear
▪ Allow for adequate space between plants in your greenhouse, this will prevent fungal diseases as levels of humidity rise as we enter spring
▪ If the temperature remains cold, using an electric propagator for early sowings will result in better germination
▪ Give edibles time to adjust to cooler temperatures outside before planting them out by moving them to a cold frame first
▪ Keep an eye on emerging seedlings and prick out or pot on once they need to be moved
▪ Make sure your greenhouse is well ventilated on warmer days by opening a door or window to create better airflow

Fruits of your labour
▪ Now that spring is here, start planting fruit trees (i.e. apple, cherry and fig plants) in sunny but sheltered positions on your plot and mulch with well-rotted manure or garden compost. But, take care not to mound it around trunks to stave off rotting problems
▪ Force rhubarb crops by covering them with old buckets to encourage long, pale stalks with a sweeter flavour
▪ Feed blueberries with ericaceous fertiliser for a boost of acidity in the soil to keep it strong and healthy
▪ Protect apricot or peach blossoms from frost by using a screen or horticultural fleece, and avoid pruning peach trees at this time of year to prevent it suffering from silver leaf
▪ Plant your raspberry canes – cutting autumn-fruiting types to the ground to stimulate new canes and removing tips of summer raspberries just above the bud if they’ve grown too large for their supports

Focus on this: Keeping weeds under control
The end of winter may be good news for those of us waiting to get our growing season into full swing, but it’s also the time that weeds can start to take over, too. Stay on top of the problem by starting early and not allowing the issue to spiral. There are a variety of suitable hand tools, dandelion weeders and weeding hoes available that mean you don’t need to reach for the weedkiller
to tidy up your patch. Doing little and often is the best strategy to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the
workload required.

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