Get growing edibles in March
Find out which delicious veg and fruit you can grow and harvest this month, with Rosie Yeomans
It's finally showing signs of spring outdoors. The arrival of some warmer weather and lengthening days means there's plenty to be getting on with in the fruit and veg garden.
From sowing seed outdoors to harvesting rhubarb - here are some of the tasks I'll be ticking off this month.
More fruit and veg advice:
March fruit and veg inspiration
Rosie's jobs for this month:
I decide whether it’s time to sow crops like carrots, salad leaves, spring onions and beetroot by feeling the ground temperature with my hand. It needs to be 10°C for a few hours during the day to guarantee germination and whilst a soil thermometer is the best tool, feeling it works well if you don’t have one. I have a string line to mark the rows then I use the edge of the hoe along the line to draw out a V-shaped drill 2cm deep.
Take the rose off the watering can and soak along the bottom of the drill. Next just pinch a few seeds in your hand, I sow in stations every 3-4cm because it makes it easy for thinning and weeding between plants later. Rake some soil back in to cover the seed by 1cm and tamp it down along the drill with the back of the rake so the soil cover makes contact with the moisture below the seed. I don’t water again until the seedlings appear, but I would after a few days if it’s very dry. I’d expect to see some germination in a couple of weeks.
Move your greenhouse tomato seedlings on to the next stage of growth. In my greenhouse I always have to make room on the bench first because each seedling will have its own pot. Fill some 9cm pots with a mix of peat free potting compost and John Innes no 3. Firm the compost into the pot then make a deep hole in the centre with a dibber. Next I press the dibber in underneath the roots of the seedling and lever it out whilst holding it steady by the seed leaf.
Lower the seedling into the hole and gently firm around it without touching the stem. If the seedling is leggy I drop it right down deep into the hole so that the leaves are close to the surface. Roots will grow on the buried stem and this bonus growth makes the plant stronger. Finally they all get a good soak, then placed out on the bench. In just a few weeks they’ll be ready for planting into their final position.
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The new rhubarb stems are coming thick and fast and are still sweet and perfect for harvesting now. It’s known as ‘pulling rhubarb’ but I find you need to grip the stem down near the base and give it a firm twist to pull it away from the crown cleanly. They’ll come away with a thin sheath which gets trimmed off before cooking. Stop harvesting from young plants by the summer to give them a chance to recover and strengthen for longer picking next year.
It’s time to plant the first early potatoes in the last couple of weeks in March. I dig out a 10-15cm deep trench or when my rotation system takes this crop to my raised beds, I plant them into holes about 10cm deep. Space the potatoes about 30cm apart and have the chits or small shoots facing up. Cover the tubers back over with soil. In as little as a fortnight, the shoots will emerge and need frost protection so I either rake loose soil over them if they are trenched or if they’re in beds where I don’t dig, I cover them with straw and compost .
They’ll keep emerging through the layers and it’s under these layers that the potatoes form so keep earthing them up or covering with more material to block the light from the new potatoes. Keep a note in your diary of when you plant them, you can expect to start the harvest 10-12 weeks after planting.
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