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Top March Allotment Tips

March Allotment Tips

At the beginning of March my allotment is doing a rather good impression of the Arctic tundra. The whole site is under a foot of snow and the wind chill real feel temperature is around minus 8. All of this highlights the unpredictability of our weather. Fortunately the small bed I covered last month for early sowings with black sheeting will keep the worst of the weather off that area of soil.

The recent weather is a reminder that fleece and cloches are an integral part of spring gardening. It certainly pays dividends to have plenty of spare fleece in your shed for any cold weather.

cloche

For most allotment holders and gardeners generally, any plans of an early start are currently on hold. However behind the scenes things are a changing!

My heated propagator continues to be ultra reliable and an essential piece of kit. The latest germination successes are sweet peas and sprouts.

Spurred on by this and perhaps as the ultimate act of optimism, I’ve now sown tomato “Gardeners Delight”. My three year old eats them simply as a healthy snack. Meanwhile my personal favourite is the superb, F1 variety “Shirley”. This is around thirty years old now, but fruits are very good flavoured with good disease resistance. Tomatoes need a fairly long growing season to give of their best.

Tomato Gardener’s Delight

Tomato Gardener’s Delight

In the greenhouse I’ve been protecting some of my pots from any impending slug and snail attack with copper tape. The tape acts as a barrier which the slug won’t cross. This is a great way of preventing seedlings or larger plants from being attacked.

March heralds the start of the busy seed sowing season. There are many seeds that can be sown in an unheated greenhouse including, broad beans, cabbage, lettuce, early peas, sprouts, sunflowers, and sweet corn.

Before the recent cold snap, I had time to cut down the 8ft tall haulms of my Jerusalem Artichokes. This improved the appearance of my plot instantly. The edible tubers are protected in the ground and are perfectly hardy for reliable winter fare.

My sprouts have just about finished and now need pulling up. I’m going to chop up the woody stems into small pieces before adding them to my second compost bin. By exposing more surface area of the stems like this, they will rot down far quicker than normal. Two compost bins are essential to allow the contents of the first to rot down.

Meanwhile the parsnips still in the ground are still in fine condition. Let’s hope I can remember exactly where they are buried in the ground!

Finally let’s not forget about garden birds. A bird feeder or even a bird table is not out of place on an allotment plot. Birds do a fine and often very overlooked job of hoovering up pests such as aphids and slugs on our plots. I think we should do what we can to encourage them.

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Lee Senior

About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and part time horticultural manager. He has also had an allotment for over 25 years. After, initially spurning horticulture as a career option, to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a train driver, Lee soon realised he couldn't resist getting his hands dirty to make a living. Horticultural College training led, to getting an allotment at the tender age of 18 (in the days when you could actually get a plot quickly). My gardening hero, is Geoff Hamilton" says Lee. "It was Geoff who convinced me that you didn't have to spray everything that moved in the garden. Watching him on Gardeners’ World in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a revelation. I was lucky enough to meet Geoff and I’ve also more recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Swift. Now over two decades of practical experience has taught me to work with mother-nature, not to fight against her and don't try to tame her, as so many gardeners seem to be on a mission to do. Small scale food growing is my passion and I can't wait for my my two daughters, one who is 5 years old and the other who is 3 to hopefully pick up the baton in the future. Nothing beats the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food. You simply cannot buy the same quality and freshness. Everyone can have a go at growing something says Lee, no matter where they live. Lee has also written his first book entitled "Walking on the Aire".The book is based on another of his keen interests which is walking. The book features 14 short family style, walks in Airedale, Yorkshire.

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