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Top March Allotment Tips

My first early seed potatoes “Foremost” are screaming at me to be planted now! The strong, stout purple shoots are bursting full of promise and vitality. If the weather stays mild I’ll be planting them during the first two weekends of March.

After storm Doris, there were a few repairs to make to buildings on allotments in some of the worst affected areas. My shed suffered some torn felt. Some other plot holders lost glass and perspex panels from their greenhouses. It could have been a lot worse.

The weather has been rather mixed, though the sun feels noticeably stronger. Greenhouses are again warming quickly in the sun, yet they do lose heat equally quickly in the evening. Frost Protection Fleece is essential for covering young seedlings during frost. Bubble wrap is also very useful to further insulate sections of the greenhouse and can be affixed to the frame.

Outdoors on the allotment, I’ve been busy when the weather allows. A priority has been working on the areas for my early and second early potatoes. They have been weeded and dug over. I’ve also added handfuls of slow release, organic based granular fertiliser to the soil.

I’ve also been covering a patch of soil, with black polythene. This area is earmarked for direct early sowings of beetroot, carrots, and parsnip. The black polythene will absorb the rays of the sun, warming to soil underneath.

There is still lots to harvest too. Sprouts “F1 Brigitte” are coming to an end now, having cropped very well for three-months. The sweetness and non-bitterness of allotment grown sprouts is such that both my young children eat them without prompting! If you think that young children won’t eat sprouts, this is another reason to grow your own.

If you fancy sprouts by as early as September then “F1 Crispus” is for you. The seeds can be sown now in gentle heat. The plants crop from September to November, thus significantly extending the cropping season if a traditional overwinter variety is sown.

My purple sprouting broccoli is still going strongly. The more you pick the more you get with broccoli and it is one of my allotment must-haves. In fact I’ve just sown a very early cropping variety “Summer Purple” in the electric propagator. This is ready to harvest from mid-June until September, thus lengthening the broccoli cropping season significantly.

There are lots of other seeds to sow this month in the greenhouse too in gentle heat. These include: aubergine, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, early peas, tomatoes, lettuce, French beans and carrots in pots and containers.

My onion sets are growing strongly in the cold frame and I’ll be hardening these off towards the end of March.

The Suttons competition this year, is the best dressed unusual Tromboncino! This is a rather wacky butternut squash with a rather long slender neck. How creative can you be with these odd shaped squash? Everyone who buys a pack of tromboncino seeds is eligible to enter and try to win the Suttons Cup. I’m not especially creative I confess. However anyone who is, could have great fun letting their imagination run riot after harvest! Seeds can be sown in March through till May. Or if you prefer Tromboncino can be purchased as super plug plants and planted as late as June.

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Lee Senior

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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