This Morning: Carol Klein offers advice on gardening in spring
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Allotments are areas of land leased from either private or local authority landlords for the use of growing fruit and vegetables. These patches of land have been in existence as far back as Anglo-Saxon times and today tend to offer a great opportunity for socialisation and the improvement of mental wellbeing. March is an important time in the gardening season, so make sure to get on with the jobs below to keep your allotment in great shape.
What should you do with your allotment this March?
March is a busy time for your allotment as Spring arrives and the weather is getting warmer.
The growing season is truly getting underway meaning weeding is a crucial job for this time of the year.
In March, you should attempt to dig out all problem weeds including perennial weeds.
To avoid the return of weeds, you should hoe it regularly to prevent seedlings from growing.
For those who enjoy eating fruit and vegetables they have grown themselves, March is an important time in the growing season.
You should sow a number of vegetables at this time of the year including swiss chard, broad beans and salads.
Early sowing of other vegetables including carrots and peas is also possible at this time if the soil is warm enough.
Warm your soil
For those hoping to take full advantage of the growing season, March is a good time to warm your soil to enable early crops.
To do this you should cover your beds with cloches or black plastic to warm the soil during early spring.
You can even encourage the growth of early strawberries in the early summer period by covering them with a cloche.
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Plant fruit and vegetables
By the end of March, if the weather is warming you can plant some early potatoes.
Wait until the potato shoots have reached around 2cm long before planting them.
You can also plant shallots, onion sets and asparagus crowns by the end of the month.
March is also the very last month you can plant bare-root fruit trees and bushes.
Raise the soil PH level
Brassicas prefer soil to be neutral or even alkaline (ideally pH 7.00) to help them maximise nutrient input.
Adding manure can help raise the acidity level of your soil.
You should test your soil and raise the pH if needed to reach if required – adding lime is an effective way to raise the pH.
Raising the soil pH will also prevent club roots and encourage growth.
You should feed cabbages and other brassicas with pelleted chicken manure or other nitrogen-rich fertiliser.
You could also feed fruit trees and bushes, including cherries and plums.
Other jobs you should undertake in March include:
- Prepare seedbeds in readiness for sowing seed later in the month.
- Top-dress overwintering vegetables with a general fertiliser
- Prune your blueberries
- Buy trays of young plants if you do not have the time or space to grow them from seed.
- Prepare trenches for runner beans making sure they are set up in well-rotted manure with shredded paper at the base.
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