Hi again! How are you doing? Hope you’re keeping safe and well. We’re self-isolating in what I’d probably have to call sort-of-locked-down-but-not-really London, but we’re okay for the moment.
You don’t need me to tell you that there’s a global pandemic going on, so let’s keep it simple and manageable instead because I know many of us are feeling stressed right now and our daily routines are all over the place. Instead, I’ll be focusing on small things you can do to help yourself, and make it bite-sized stuff that’s easy to follow even if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Let’s start with growing your own food. If you can get hold of seeds, seedlings and ideally a bit of compost then you’ll be okay. I’ll pitch this for absolute beginners, so apologies to more experienced growers!
March is a busy month filled with potential if you have an allotment or a kitchen garden. Here are a few basics to consider:
- Full self sufficiency is very difficult, aim to supplement your diet rather than completely replace it.
- Keep it simple, and don’t try to grow everything all at once.
- Mainly stick to what you love to eat.
- Don’t over-water your seedlings.
- You don’t need that much outside space – think pots, window boxes, hanging baskets etc.
- No outside space? You can still grow herbs and salads on an indoor windowsill.
- You don’t need to spend a fortune – keep it simple.
Reliable things to grow for beginners include: salad leaves, herbs, French beans, runner beans, spring onions, radishes, tomatoes, kale, cabbage and carrots, but every plot is different and everyone has different tastes.
Here are a few timely reminders for what to sow this month, plus some other garden jobs to do as well.
What to sow in March: Outdoors
- beetroot (under cover, such as a cloche, mini greenhouse or horticultural fleece)
- broad beans
- Brussels sprouts (under cover)
- carrot (under cover)
- Jerusalem artichoke (tubers)
- kohl rabi (under cover)
- lettuce (under cover)
- mangetout (under cover)
- potatoes (‘first early’ types)
- rhubarb crowns
- spinach and chard (under cover)
- spring onion
- sprouting broccoli (to crop in winter & early spring)
- summer broccoli /calabrese (under cover)
- summer cabbage
- turnip (under cover)
What to sow indoors in March (warm windowsill or propagator)
- aubergines (if you own a greenhouse)
- chillies (getting a bit late for these but still possible)
- sweet peppers
March: what to sow indoors (room temperature)
- fennel (vegetable/Florence type)
- summer herbs
I also like to start off some companion plants to keep the crops happy, such as French marigolds, basil and nasturtiums around this time too, so they’re ready to go out at the same time.
Garden jobs to do in March
1. Ground care: If the soil isn’t frozen, you can remove any weeds before they get established, and dig in some compost. Top up raised beds with compost or topsoil if needed. Cover cold ground with cloches if it needs to be warmed.
2. Planting out veg: Chitted seed potatoes (i.e. they are sprouting), Jerusalem artichoke tubers, asparagus crowns, onion and shallot sets (not in freezing weather).
3. Fruit care: Plant out raspberry canes, cherry trees, apple trees, other fruit trees and canes. Feed rhubarb crowns with liquid feed or put some compost around them. Feed blueberry canes with ericaceous liquid feed or granules. Move strawberry plants into greenhouse or put a cloche over them for an earlier crop (you’ll need to pollinate them by hand when they flower).
4. Pest control: Put down some copper rings, slug pellets (ideally organic ones that aren’t toxic to other wildlife) or beer traps to control slugs and snails.
Are you thinking about growing your own fruit, veggies and herbs in 2020? All of this will get your gardening efforts off to a good head start for the year.
If you have any questions, please ask! If I don’t have the right answer then I’ll be able to send you in the direction of some very reliable people and organisations.