Spring is getting ever nearer, and the garden is edging back to life. This is a great month to get edible plants off to a good start. Getting the gardening prep done in March will give you a harvest to be proud of!
Sort your garden soil
Soil is the backbone of the garden. Without great soil, you can’t grow great plants.
The first job is to find out which type of soil you have. Take a handful of moist soil and squeeze it in your hand. If it forms a ball and feels smooth and shiny, you have clay. This is a rich, heavy soil that can get waterlogged.
If it feels gritty and won’t stick together, you have sandy soil. Sandy soils are dry and free-draining, but tend to be lower in nutrients.
If it looks dark and feels balanced, and forms a sausage shape that crumbles easily, you have loam. These soils are usually well-balanced, draining easily but retaining nutrients.
No matter what your soil type, you will need to improve it because plants take nutrients out of the soil, so you need to keep replenishing them. Dig in plenty of organic matter when you prepare new beds. Add loose, bulky material like leaf mould for clay soils and rich compost for other types.
Start the veg plot
March is a great month to get the veg garden underway. I always recommend growing onions because they are a great easy crop for beginners. Plant sets, which are immature bulbs, by pushing them into the soil so the pointy tip is just showing. They should be 10cm apart in rows 30cm apart.
Now is also the time to plant early potatoes. Prepare the seed tubers by chitting them – find the rose end with the most ‘eyes’. Place them rose end up in an eggbox on a bright windowsill until they sprout to about an inch.
They can then be planted out into prepared soil about 12cm deep and 30cm apart, or in containers at least 30cm deep and wide. Then, come June, the potatoes will be ready to harvest.
Plant soft fruit bushes
Get soft fruit bushes in the ground this month. The best time to plant these is between November and March when the plants are dormant.
Raspberries, blackberries and gooseberries all make a great addition to the garden. Plant soft fruit bushes in a sunny, sheltered spot, leaving plenty of room for the plant to grow. Mulch around the plants to conserve water.
Raspberries and blackberries may need support as they grow. So, attach a few horizontal wires on the wall or fence behind, or to freestanding posts.
Chillies are an easy, edible crop to grow at home, which makes them so popular. The seeds can take a while to germinate, so give them a head-start by soaking them in water overnight before sowing.
Sow seeds a few millimetres deep into a tray of potting compost. Water well and place the tray in a propagator or cover with a plastic bag and keep somewhere dark and warm like an warm airing cupboard. They need temperatures of 18C to germinate. Ensure you keep the compost moist.
When the seedlings appear, bring the tray onto a warm, bright windowsill and keep plants watered.
Pot on the seedlings into larger 9cm pots once they are large enough to handle and give them plenty of sunlight.
So, before we officially welcome spring, get a head-start with growing with these gardening projects for March. In no time you’ll have a garden full of fruit, veg, and blooms.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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