When I first started to grow vegetables I really needed the information to be in one place, so I could look it up easily. However, I found I had to search for lots of little bits of information, scattered between internet sites and books. It used to take me a long time to find the information I needed.
I thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place. So for the benefit of the UK gardeners, I write a list of things to be done each month and any useful information I can think of.
It is worth remembering that different parts of the UK have different weather conditions e.g. the last frost is expected earlier in the south than the north. Therefore, this is a general guide.
March can have some beautiful spring-like days, but don’t be fooled as it can also turn very cold. Snow isn’t unheard of in March and frosts are still common this month. March is the month when there is the most difference between the weather in the north and the south, but March is usually a little bit dryer than in January and February. The sun’s rays are beginning to grow stronger and daylight hours are lengthening so it can feel warm on a sunny afternoon but it can also feel bitterly cold, in cloudy, windy weather.
So March is the month to be cautious and to sow in pots and trays in a cold frame or greenhouse for earlier crops. Remember, if you sow too early in cold, wet ground you will probably be disappointed, as your seeds will just rot. It is safer to delay your sowings.
Vegetables and salads to harvest:
Harvest your last celeriac, swede, parsnips, brussel sprouts, endive and Jerusalem artichokes, if you haven’t already and continue to harvest kale, leeks, winter lettuces, mizuna and corn salad. Harvest your first rhubarb, Swiss chard, spring broccoli, cauliflowers, chicory, hardy spring onions and loose spring cabbages.
Vegetables and salads to sow:
Broad beans, Sprouting broccoli, spring onions, cabbages (red and white), calabrese, early cauliflowers, spinach, peas, lettuces, leeks can all be sown outside towards the end of the month, if the soil has been covered to warm it up, otherwise sow in cloches or in cold frames or indoors if it is really cold.
Lettuces, spring onions, radishes, rocket and herbs such as chives, coriander, fennel, oregano and parsley can all tolerate low temperatures, but cover with fleece if a frost is forecast. Again, the protection of a cold frame is advisable for germination.
Brussels, globe artichokes, cabbages, cucumbers, celeriac, aubergines, chillies, sweet peppers, kohl rabi, sprouting broccoli and tomatoes can all be sown indoors, either on a window sill or in a heated greenhouse.
Look at each seed packet for the temperature required for each individual vegetable to germinate.
Things to plant (if the soil is not frozen or waterlogged):
Peas and broad beans can be planted outside if you started them off in pots in a cold frame. Shallot sets can be planted this month and onion sets can be planted this month or next month. Early summer cauliflowers and jerusalem artichokes can be planted out too.
Pot up ‘cold stored’ strawberry plants and bring inside for early strawberries or plant outside.
First early potatoes can be planted this month in well prepared soil. Also, asparagus crowns can be planted in pre-prepared trenches.
Rhubarb sets can still be planted now and so too can blackberries, cranberries, gooseberries and all currants. Raspberries, grapevines can be planted too.
Jobs to do:
Feed overwintering crops with a top dressing of fertilizer such as blood, fish and bone or a seaweed fertiliser.
Rake your soil to a ‘fine tilth’ before sowing directly.
Apply an organic fertiliser approximately two weeks before planting crops such as shallot sets, broad bean plants etc.
Split chives every three or four years to make more free plants.
Weeds will start to grow more this month so it’s time to bring out your hoe and dig out any perennial weeds before they take hold.
Finish winter pruning of blueberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants. Autumn raspberries should be cut back down to the ground if this wasn’t done last month, as autumn raspberries fruit on the new years growth.
Feed fruit trees and fruit bushes with a high potash feed. Sprinkle it around them and cover with compost or manure.
Keep removing yellowing leaves from brassicas as they can spread diseases and harbor pests.
If possible, cover cherries, apricots, peaches and nectarines with fleece when a frost is due to avoid frost damage
Complete your winter digging and warm the soil with plastic before planting.
March pests and diseases:
Mice and rats love to dig up and eat newly planted broad beans, early pea seeds and garlic.
Pigeons are hungry and love eating brassicas so keep them netted.
Slugs can be a problem even in early spring.
Bull finches love the new buds on gooseberries, so net them early.
Cabbage white caterpillars can appear this month if the weather is mild and they have overwintered. Inspect the leaves of brassica’s and pick them off if you find them.
Continue to check for ‘big bud mite’ on blackcurrants. The buds will actually look big and swollen if affected.
Cover nectarines and peaches with a rain-proof sheet to protect against peach leaf curl.
I hope this information has been helpful.
Thank you for reading my blog today.