Garden Diary, March 2nd

The newly budding May tree (above) was planted as a sapling by my father when we moved here, some forty years ago. Below it, a ring of tulips is already beginning to grow up around the trunk and the crocuses have already put in an appearance in the rockery. February closes and March opens, heralding the beginning of my gardening year! It is time to get out into the fresh air and do some work!

Now is the time to prepare the soil for spring sowing. I took these pictures a couple of days ago to show the basic layout of my patch. There is still spinach growing in the main bed (top left) along with the curly kale and the remaining carrots (bottom left). The carrots will soon be ready to pull, as babies, which will be nice. The main bed can then be prepared for the coming seasons crops. Broad beans, carrots, leeks, onions, peas, potatoes and parsnips are the commonest vegetables for March sowing. Preparing the beds now spreads out the work and it also allows the soil a few weeks to settle down. A basic soil preparation plan is 1) Remove all weeds, 2)Dig over thoroughly, 3) Add compost and dig in, 4) Sprinkle a handful of blood, fish and bone per square yard and hoe it in, 5) Loosely level off the soil with a rake.

To the left of the main bed are the fruit trees, an apple and a plum. Like the May, both are budding nicely. Now is a good time to give established fruit trees a scattering of three or four handfuls of blood, fish and bone in a 3 foot circle around the base of the tree and gently trowel it into the soil. Beside the compost bin is the rhubarb patch. I should be able to crop some by the end of the month. The burning I should have done back in the Autumn (far left) is going on apace and I hope to take the top off of the lawn over the weekend.

The soft fruit cage also suffered badly from the unaccustomed snow but everything is budding and showing signs of new life. Replacing the netting is not a major problem just yet, so long as it in place before fruit starts to form and the birds become interested!  Soft fruits such as the raspberries, blackcurrants, loganberries and gooseberries (above) and the blueberries, wild strawberries, redcurrants and late raspberries (below) will also really appreciate, after a good weeding, a good sprinkling of blood, fish and bone (available from all good garden centres and some of the larger chain stores), gently dug in around them.

At the same time shall need to get the greenhouse spruced up and the seed trays prepared for the new crop. I also need to replace a couple of panes of glass (and the door that came away one particularly blustery night) hat didn’t survive the winter. I tend to grow tomatoes, cucumber and peppers in pots in the greenhouse and these will need to be prepared, ready for planting.

The purple sprouting broccoli is finally beginning to form florets. The snow was not kind to it and it is late in coming through. The same snow totally ruined my cauliflower crop which was a great shame. Since the ground is earmarked for a second crop of potatoes toward the end of next month it still has a few weeks to produce a result!

It is always best to work out a basic crop rotation plan in advance, so that you know where each of the vegetables is going to be grown. For myself I’m not over-concerned by crop rotation but it does help to keep pests and disease at bay.

It will soon be time for the first lawn cutting of the year, this coming weekend hopefully, if the rain holds off.

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