Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have a polytunnel, garden, veg plot and small woodland, all managed organically, where we grow our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and share our lives with Chickens, Cats, Guinea Pigs and assorted wildlife. Oh and we make a lot of compost! We try to live a more self suffient, self reliant lifestyle here, as best we can.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Things to do in the veg garden - March

 

March is the real start of the growing season for many of us in the UK as, unless the weather is exceptionally mild (as it was in 2012), February is often still too wet and cold to plant out into the soil. This year the cold wet weather continued the delay for getting growing.

 

But its time to get cracking, now,  in the garden. And if you have not tried it before, veg growing can be easy! There is lots of help available on the Internet, Garden Organic has a very helpful website (even more so if you become a member)  there are loads of books and excellent TV programmes on gardening,  and lots of blogs ( like mine) with hints and tips to help you along the way.  

 

And even if you have no outdoor garden space you can grow a surprising amount of food in pots and tubs, and even on a windowsill herbs and salads can be grown which will save you money and taste terrific. 

 

So go on - give it a grow!

In the Garden 

If your grass has started to grow again it is a good sign that the soil is warming up. On my heavy clay soil I will wait until another few weeks before sowing directly into the soil, but if you are on rich loam ( lucky you!) then you could think about sowing some hardy seeds now.  Remember though, if you sow too soon the seeds may rot or not germinate.

You can help to warm up the soil by covering it for a few weeks, in advance of sowing seeds. Black plastic or an organic mulch works well. Pull back the cover or move the mulch before digging and sowing.


It is also time to enrich your soil. All the rain we have had may well have washed away some nutrients, so add some home made or bought in compost to improve the soil. And try to avoid walking on your soil as it will compact it - if you must walk on it use a board to spread the load.

Seeds you could sow outside now in the soil (if warm enough)  are Broad beans, early Beetroot, early Carrots, Parsnips, Spinach, Leaf beet, Turnip and Peas.

I tend to sow Peas, Broad Beans and Spinach/Leaf beet in the Polytunnel and then transplant them out once the plants are established. I have lots of mice and birds all too willing to eat the seeds in the ground but who are not so keen on small plants.

You could also sow Onion and Shallot sets, Jerusalem Artichokes and early Potatoes now if the soil is warm enough.
  
Once you have clear soil keep your hoe moving! And gather up the weeds and add them to your compost bin or heap.


Inside the  polytunnel/greenhouse/heated porch/kitchen windowsill

Wash any glass or plastic cold frames, cloches, poly tunnel walls and greenhouse glass, if you haven't already. Clean plastic/glass lets through more light and is good garden hygiene.

When buying potting or seed composts please go peat free. Peat extraction does huge harm to endangered habitats. See the Garden Organic "I don't dig Peat" campaign site for more details.

I tend to sow Peas, Broad Beans and Spinach/Leaf Beet/ Leeks in the Polytunnel now, and then transplant them out once the plants are established. I sow Parsnips in paper tubes ( loo roll inners) and as soon as the seed has germinated I plant out the tube, burying it in a hole so only the top of the tube is above the surface.

You could sow the following in pots/modules for transplanting outside later on:- various Salad leaves,  Kales, early Cabbage, summer Cabbage, Calebrase, early Purple Sprouting, early Cauliflower, Spring Onions, Brussels Sprouts,

If you have a warm windowsill or heated propagator you could start Tomato, Pepper and Aubergine seeds, for growing on in a cold greenhouse or polytunnel. Later in the month you could think about sowing Cucumber and Courgette seeds for growing undercover.

But it is better to wait a week or two to sow seeds which will end up as plants outside - they will catch up if the weather is kind but will possibly die if put out too soon.

I also sow pots with early Carrots, Spring Onion, various Salad leaves, Peas ( for pea shoots) which I will leave in the Polytunnel to grow until an earlier harvest. I do the same with early Potatoes - I always plant up a few bags and pots with a couple of potatoes to get an early harvest from the Polytunnel. If you have a sheltered place why not try this? The pots do not have to stay in the Polytunnel and this is an ideal way to grow in you have no garden.

Other ideas

Why not try some more unusual seeds this year? Mustard and Coriander leaves are all tasty additions to  a salad.

Grow some herbs - they are easy to grow and taste so much nicer fresh from your own plant. Basil comes in many flavours  - I grow Red, Lemon, Lettuce Leaf, Cinnamon and Greek as well as the "usual" Genovese sort. Coriander is so easy to grow from seed and is lovely added to curries and as an unusual salad leaf. Perennial herbs such as Thyme, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Chives are all easy to grow, look beautiful as plants and will keep on coming back year after year with just a little effort to protect them over winter,



These are just a few ideas on what you could be doing in March, there is so much I could say but we would be here all day! I go into more detail in this post from 2009 .

One last thing - Garden Organic run an excellent Master Gardener scheme in some parts of the UK where you can get help and advice on growing, from an experienced organic gardener who will mentor you through a year of growing and provide help and support. If you are new to growing why not see if the scheme runs in your part of the UK?

 

Hope this all helps. Happy growing :-)

6 comments:

  1. Am hoping to grow lots of salad this year for my dieting. Did lots of lettuce last year, very good. Have a good compost heap coming along too. Just waiting for decent weather!

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    1. I like growing Asparagus lettuce , Mustard eaves, Rocket and Mizuma as well as red and green salad bowl. All these are cut and come again leaves - which I always grow.

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  2. Hello Compostwoman. On reading your profile, I think we probably live quite similar lives, although Cider and Wine making I leave to others.

    We can have frosts until mid May so I leave most of my planting until then. Otherwise everything is waiting patiently in small pots under plastic. Even my groaning compost heap is waiting. I can hardly wait to get this year's campaign under way!

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    1. Hello Cro Magnon and welcome :-) Yes - I thought what you do sounded familiar, but just in a different place. Yours sounds wonderful :-)

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  3. Looking out at today's snow, I'm glad I haven't got started in the kitchen garden!

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    1. Z, looking out at our snow, so am I ! I only have stuff in modules in the polytunnel or the heated propagators in the porsche

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