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March Allotment Tips

young seedlings

young seedlings

The allotment stakes are raised a little higher this month. The calendar tells us this is the beginning of a busy period of the allotment year. Yet after the almost incessant spells of wet weather and high winds many of us have had other things on our mind.

Experience teaches us to be patient. This is no rush, nature is a great leveller. We know it will all come good in the end!

It is worth checking the condition of your shed, outbuildings and greenhouse or polytunnel for any storm damage and making the necessary repairs after the recent weather. I’ve had some felt ripped off my shed roof-something that needs dealing with before it gets worse.

The greenhouse as ever, has been a place of refuge. Not just for we gardeners but seemingly for mice too. I have been the victim of a smash n grab raid by members of the local mice population. Early sowings of  broad bean “Aquadulce Claudia” and early peas “Early Onward” have been systematically dug up, eaten and some have even been stashed in the corner of the greenhouse behind several plant pots! A setback, but the ones that are growing strongly were left untouched. So it is time to re-sow, only this time indoors on the ever increasingly crowded windowsill.

Other seeds that can be sown indoors in gentle heat this month include: summer cabbage, calabrese, sweet corn and of course not forgetting the allotment stalwart, the ultra-reliable onion sets. There is still time for shallots too.

Although garlic is better planted in autumn, a later planting now should still provide a decent crop.

Back in the outdoors, down on the plot, the Purple Broccoli variety “Rudolph” is still cropping strongly. The mild winter has allowed this unbelievable plant to crop from December through to the end of February and it is still going! Cutting the central head first, encourages a proliferation of tasty nutritious spears.

Swedes too are still cropping, along with the rest of the leeks, although these soon will be sending up a flower spike, so are best eaten quickly.

During drier spells prepare the ground for early potatoes, which can be planted at the end of the month or during April, depending on the weather. Remove any pernicious perennial weeds.

Then I like to use an organic based slow release granular potato fertiliser sprinkled liberally and lightly worked into the soil where the tubers will be planted to supplement the organic matter in the soil.

Fingers crossed now for some drier weather!

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About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and horticultural consultant. 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 two daughters, one who is 8 years old and the other who is 5 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 two books; 'Pennine Way, The Highs and Lows' which is a humorous, personal account of walking this momentous iconic walk. His second book 'Walking in the Aire', features 14 short walks in Yorkshire.

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