Even the smallest vegetable garden can be high maintenance and with March heralding the start of the new growing season, there is plenty to be getting on with. Here is a quick list of vital jobs to be doing in the vegetable garden during March.
Give your growing beds a final tidy up before you plant new vegetables by digging out problem perennial weeds and removing emerging ones. Dig in slow release fertilizer such as blood, fish and bone to improve the quality of the soil. Once this is done you can begin sowing the seeds of carrot, beetroot, cabbage, broad beans, spinach and even lettuce if the weather is not too cold. Sow under a cloche if the weather is cold. If you have over-wintering brassicas still in place, remove any yellowing leaves to prevent the spread of disease.
If you have been chitting potatoes ready for planting, March is the time to plant out early varieties. If you are short of room you can always plant them out in large deep bags of compost and they will grow just as well. Now is also the time to plant out Jerusalem artichokes. Also plant out rows of onion sets, spacing them about 15cm apart.
If you have fruit trees, make sure the base of each tree is free from grass and other weeds to reduce competition. Also spray fruit trees and bushes with fungicide to prevent diseases such as powdery mildew. To encourage an early fruiting of strawberries, cover the plants with cloches.
Now is the time to start off tomato, sweet pepper, squash, cucumber and courgette plants by sowing seeds inside a greenhouse. Also sow seeds of dwarf and climbing beans in pots inside. Keep a watchful eye out for pests such as whitefly and greenfly in the greenhouse and treat immediately. As the month progresses, continue to plant out second early potato crops, onion sets and other hardy leaf and root vegetables. Remove the forcing cloches from rhubarb to allow them to grow on uncovered. Feed spring brassicas such as cabbage with a nitrogen fertilizer to encourage growth.
Finally, get ahead and think of delicious summer dishes by sowing the seeds of herbs such as parsley, chives and other herbs in modules in the greenhouse. Plant out individual plants once they have formed true leaves. Take cuttings of established mint plants and plant out in garden planters in time to provide the perfect compliment to early potatoes.
Jo Poultney is a RHS qualified gardener who has recently set up a business selling garden planters and garden related gifts via a website. The business is in the process of opening a small village shop which we hope will be a valuable addition to our community, selling flowers as well as our usual range of unusual planters and gifts.