My allotment is on hold! The meteorological spring may well have been the first day of March but the soil is still rather cold and very wet. Horticulturally, we are still some way off spring here in the north of England. When your allotment is wet like this, it is best to keep off the soil. Otherwise you will do more harm than good, even if you are itching to get started like I am.
I have used old scaffolding boards to stand on in the past, to get potatoes in the ground when it has been wet later in spring. It was no fun, though the potatoes grew. However, there is no need to worry too much yet- we have plenty of time to do all the things we want to do. Patience is a virtue in these situations.
Brussel Sprouts need a long growing season if you are to have tasty home-grown sprouts for Christmas. With that in mind I am sowing some seeds now to allow the plants time to become a good size when they are planted out. Can you believe we are planning for Christmas already…
Much of our allotment activity in March is in the greenhouse and polytunnel. If you can provide frost-free conditions then this is an exciting time. I’m sowing summer cabbages both rounded and pointed types now and sweet corn later in the month.
In good-sized pots, I’ve already sown the carrot variety “Ideal”. This is a fast grower and I grow it in the polytunnel ready for picking delicious finger carrots in around ten weeks. I don’t even bother thinning the seedlings. I just let them get on with it.
If it does dry up down on the plot, as March wears on, I will be planting out shallots directly in a pre-prepared area, covered with fleece or cloches. I’m also continuing to sown broad beans in situ.
I will be adding an organic fertilizer to my soil as I go. It is important to build up soil nutrient levels at this time of year, with the main growing season just ahead.
Finally with a bit of luck, my early potatoes will be in the ground by the end of the month. Now that is optimism!
There is still ample fresh food to pick from the allotment; purple broccoli, winter cabbage, leeks (the last of), Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and swede are all still in business. Pick them as soon as you can. As soon as the weather improves, most will run to seed.