March is always busy in a kitchen garden – there’s so much to do to get the garden up and running productively for the year. There are a few extra jobs to do if you’re going to try growing all year round as well, you sort of have to ‘cheat the seasons’ as well as eat them.
Part of this is about beating the colder weather. If you’re more relaxed about your kitchen garden, you can simply wait for the weather to warm up for most crops, and sow most things outdoors at the end of May. However, some plants have longer growing seasons, so that approach won’t work for sweet peppers and chillies, you just won’t get a crop. Also, we’re heading into ‘the hungry gap’, a time when many edible winter plants are finishing and the spring/summer ones haven’t had a chance to get started yet.
To avoid an excessive hungry gap this year, I’ve sown some pots of marrowfat peas and ful medames beans on a windowsill to get pea and bean shoots, hopefully to eat at some point next month, and I’ve sown another pot of mixed baby leaves. I’m also trying to sprout a few broccoli seeds to get shoots for salads, although that’s a bit of an experiment as the seeds are ancient.
Then I had the permanent / perennial / biennial plants from last year to take care of. Now’s a good time to re-pot herbs, remove any dead leaves and stems, prune them whilst dormant and/or top dress their roots with some good quality compost to revive them for the spring. So far this month I’ve gone through the contents of the mini greenhouse and given the Moroccan tea mint, chives, sage and tarragon plants the equivalent of a spa day.
Out in the garden, the pots of thyme, rosemary and bay have had the same treatment too. The builders killed quite a few of my strawberry plants, but at least some of them look like they’re going to recover so I removed all the old dead leaves and broken stems and gave the survivors a good liquid feed to perk them up. I mulched the cherry tree and the raspberries while I was at it, and tidied up the rhubarb bed.
I’ve also tried to get ahead of the seasons by sowing more seedlings on our large, sunny warm windowsill, so they’re big and healthy when they get planted out at the end of May. Hopefully their size will make them less susceptible to being killed outright by slugs and snails. Speaking of which, these garden pests are just starting to wake up (along with greenfly and other nasty creepy crawlies) so I’ve put down a few organic slug pellets here and there to try to keep their numbers down.
The sow list was massive, here goes. Indoor sowings of: Tondo di Nizza courgette, Red Kuri / onion squash (winter), Sweet Dumpling winter squash, Sunburst F1 patty pan summer squash, chives, different types of basil, marjoram, marigolds, red giant mustard, fennel, dill and chervil. In the mini greenhouse: a pot of Tendergreen dwarf beans, a few Red Salad Bowl lettuce seeds, a couple of Kolibri kohl rabi, and some Blue Green Autumn Neptune leeks.
Outdoors, in modules under fleece and bubble wrap: Kalibos red summer cabbage, Golden Acre/ Primo III cabbage (summer/autumn ballhead), Perpetual Spinach leaf beet, spinach, Brokali Apollo (an unusual cross between calabrese and kailaan), summer sprouting purple broccoli, pak choi, yu choy, Roodnerf / Seven Hills Brussels sprouts.
Outdoors: Sugarsnap peas, Kelvedon Wonder dwarf peas, Little Gem lettuce, Ultimate Mixed lettuce seeds for bigger lettuces, Niche Mixed salad leaves for baby leaf, Shimonita Japanese bunching onions (a variety of Welsh Leek), Toga red spring / bulbing onions, French Breakfast III radishes and some random leftover mixed radish seeds.
The last few days on the plot have seen lots of stuff sent flying by the wind, and my tiny polytunnels don’t look too steady. Also, the ground seems a bit cold still, so I’ve decided to hold back on sowing any beetroot, carrots or turnips. Let’s hope that turns out to be a sensible decision.
There are still tasks left that need to get done in the next couple of weeks, but I’m taking a breather for a day or two. Phew!