March is a busy month for gardening – even if the weather is a little fickle. Getting a good start on your planting now will reward you later on with a bounteous harvest. Planting in March focuses on cabbage, peas and broad beans.
Brassica beds on the allotment in March
Get your early Brussels sprouts going under cloches within the next few weeks and they should be ready to plant out by May and on the table in autumn. Peer Gynt is a reliable early cropper, as is Nelson.
Summer cabbages are also ready for planting in your allotment in March for harvesting in summer. Try kohl rabi for something a little more exotic and more disease resistant than cabbage. Kohl rabi’s spreading root system also allows it to survive hot summer or periods of drought well. Harvest before it gets any bigger than a golf ball to avoid toughness.
Legumes for the allotment in March
Broad beans and early peas can also get started this month. To stretch their eating season out over the summer, sow little and often – beans can be sown one a month and peas every two weeks from March until May. If they are harvested early enough, broad beans can be eaten whole like mangetout.
Soak the seeds overnight before sowing in soil that has been well dug over, which will allow their large roots to spread comfortably. If temperatures remain low, hold off on the peas, which need at least 7C to germinate. Alternatively you can sow in modules and plant out later, once hardened off.
You can also start early carrots in March.
When the weather gets warmer
If all goes well, temperatures will be reaching 10-15C later in the month, so you can plant out globe onions and even start off early potatoes. It’s hard on your back, but the traditional way to plant potatoes is to the depth of your trowel, earthing up as they grow. Many allotmenteers devise complicated ways to get ahead with potato growing, but you have to be very dedicated to follow the competition. If you have a small plot, potatoes work surprisingly well grown in an old bin or a barrel. New potatoes grown this way will be ready for June.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s not too late to get your perennials in the ground – garlic, Jerusalem artichokes and asparagus crowns.
Concentrate on getting as much done as you can in March because April is the busiest month of the year on the allotment!