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What to think about

March in the Veg plot.

Prepare the soil for planting

March is the month when planting get under way and before planting it's worth spending a bit of time to improve the soil and raise yields. Most vegetables are hungry feeders and it's a good idea to enrich the soil with organic matter such as well rotted manure, chicken pellets, or compost.

Digging the soil and mixing in organic material will break up the soil ensuring it is not compacted, and prepare it for the growing season. However if it is very wet, or has been a wet winter it is more important to keep off the soil so it doesn't get compacted.

Many crops such as salads and carrots like a fine soil and stones are a hindrance. Raking the plot to render the soil finer make it easier to plant into and creates a better growing medium. In the image right, the next step is to cover with plastic/cloches to help warm the soil, suppress the weeds and keep cats off.

Chitting potatoes and planting out first early potatoes

Depending on where you are in the country you can either carrying on chitting potatoes, or later in the month, plant out early Potatoes.  Potatoes are an easy, rewarding crop. Potatoes can take up a lot of space in the veg plot and they are just as happy in large pots.

 There are many vegetables suitable to grow in containers ideal if space is at a premium. If you have a greenhouse, sow vegetables or plant young plants into containers and keep them in the greenhouse until the weather improves and then move the containers outside. The time growing on in the greenhouse will get the plants off to a good start so that the plant is established when finally planted out in the veg plot.

 Keeping the containers in the greenhouse also works well later in Spring when planting up hanging baskets and containers with bedding. Growing them on in the greenhouse for a few weeks helps to get the plants more established in the container before exposing them to the weather. Note that both veg and bedding will need to be "hardened off", which means accustomed to the harsher outside conditions gradually.

How to start sowing veg in March

Whether you are growing your vegetables from seed or small veg plants, whether to plant out in the veg plot depends on the weather conditions and your plot. The hardiest of the Bean family are Broad beans and they can be planted out. In March, you can sow outside if the soil is warm enough but you will need to protect new growth from a heavy frost or snow by a fleece or cloche.

An alternative if you have a conservatory, greenhouse,  or cold frame March is an ideal time to sow seed and grow all types of beans under glass so you have sturdy plants to put into the veg plot later in the Spring. The same applies if you are buying small vegetable plants, they will need protection for a while from the worst of the weather. Small plug plants are good value but will need protection from the weather.

All types of Beans like a long root run are best in root trainers or loo rolls holders. Sow seed  nearer the top of the holder so the roots can reach down. The same is true if you are sowing sweet peas. Beans need no attention whilst growing other than to ensure light levels are good so that plants do not get spindly. Water carefully if in loo rolls, only in the centre, try not to drench the holder as it will disintegrate.

March is also a good time to sow and germinate tomatoes under glass. One seed into a small pot and keep warm to germinate. Water carefully with a mist spray until established.

Happy Gardening

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The ‘Crimson Flowered’ variety of Broad bean looks good and is very tasty and illustrated in the image above.

Gardening Tips for March ((Courtesy of the ‘Sunday Gardener’)