Welcome to the March edition of growing tips.
Well what a start to March we had. First it was the ‘Beast from the East’ which was quickly followed by storm Emma and to top it off then there was the ‘Mini Beast from the East’. A less than subtle reminder to us all that winter has not gone far.
For those of you who started off sowing indoors, hopefully you now have a tray or two of young vigorous seedlings in need of pricking out. This is the process where seedlings are transferred into individual pots or cells and allowed to grow until ready for planting in a permanent position. You will need to give the plant additional space to allow for further growth and watering will increase as the root system becomes established.
Beetroot pricked out into cells. Note a number of empty cells where mice have helped themselves.
Below are some peas which were sown in a heated green-house almost five weeks apart. The taller ones are ready for hardening off in a cold frame. This is when you gradually acclimatise your plants to outdoor conditions. It’s all too easy to lose plants at this stage if you plant them straight out. This is due to the sudden change in light levels, (burning of the foliage) fluctuating temperature (extreme highs and lows) and exposure to wind (wind rock and burn). A cold frame is a smaller version of a green-house but without any heating. It will provide a level of protection and with careful management of the vent (lid) you can regulate the temperature by opening it up during the day and closing at again at night. By the time your plants are ready for planting out the vent should be open at their widest or removed completely. As mentioned in previous posts always have a fleece at the ready in-case of frost.
The peas on the left showing haw succession planting works.
Now is the time to sow some brassica seeds. Brussel sprouts, kale, summer and autumn cabbage. The last thing you want is a bed full of brassicas all maturing at the same time. Therefore I suggest sowing in small batches and then sowing again in 2-3 weeks’ time.
Tomatoes should be through in 7-10 days from sowing. Mine have been sat on a propagating tray on a windowsill. Germination has been good with all my ‘Gardeners Delight’ seeds germinated in the one day. I moved them off the propagating tray and they now sit on the bench in the poly-tunnel awaiting the first true pair of leaves to develop. I will then look to prick out into a 9cm pot.
Next on the agenda will be cucumbers which due to the size of the seed will be planted directly into a 9cm pot. Planted on their edge as this reduces the chance of them rotting.
If your soil is dry enough give it a rake over to prepare it for sowing. Break up any lumps to create a fine tilth. Increase the fertility by fertilising with fish, blood and bone.
See you in Spring!