March already, and spring has to be on the way, seeing as how the days are getting noticeably longer, and the clocks change at the end of the month. It just seems that nobody has told the weather gods about it yet, with Siberian snow bringing the UK to an icy standstill at the start of March, and yet more snow still forecast in mid-month. We don’t know about anybody else, but we’ve thoroughly had enough of it now. Bring on the spring sunshine!
So, assuming that at some point spring will send us weather warm enough to do some outdoor planting, what could you be thinking about sowing?
In the vegetable garden
March is the perfect time to get early varieties of potatoes in the ground. Towards the end of the month, you can even start with maincrop potato varieties, but do space out your planting, or you’ll have dozens of plants to protect from late frosts. And if you don't have the space to plant in the ground, our lovely willow potato planters are perfect for growing those tasty tubers on a patio.
Plant out onion sets, shallots and garlic before they start to produce shoots. If you planned ahead and grew onions from seed last summer, March is the month to transplant them into rows in their growing position.
If you have grown early peas, broad beans, cabbages or lettuces indoors or under glass, you can transplant these outside in March, but do keep an eye on the weather forecast and protect these tender plants if frost threatens.
If you have a greenhouse (or a bright space indoors and an understanding spouse!), you can sow the seeds of celery, celeriac, French beans, tomatoes, and cauliflowers. These can be transplanted on into their growing position in April, if ever we get some sunshine.
But excitingly, March is the month when you can start to sow hardier crops in open ground. Swiss chard, early varieties of beetroot, spring onions, carrots, parsnips, peas, broad beans, turnips, leeks, kale, summer and autumn cabbages, and lettuce can all be direct sown now. And it really feels like the season has begun!
In the flower garden
March is the month for the first sowings outdoors, and hardy annuals are in the spotlight. Get the seeds in the ground now, and they’ll be ready for a flying start when the weather allows.
Look for wildflower mixes which contain native flowers like Common (Field) Poppy, Corn Marigold, Corncockle, Cornflower and Corn Chamomile, as these are the flowers which are most beneficial for our native insects. Direct sow the seeds into well-prepared soil; don’t be tempted to simply sow them into a patch of lawn, as the grass will choke the flowers as it grows. Meadow flowers really need the same conditions as any other blooms, i.e. plenty of space to grow.
If, unlike us, you didn’t race to get some sweet pea seeds on the go indoors the minute you hung up your new calendar back in January, March is when you can start to sow sweet peas in their flowering position. They look pretty, smell simply heavenly and are perfect for the veg garden, where they’ll take up very little space and will attract those all-important pollinators.
And if you have access to a greenhouse or the proverbial sunny window sill, March is the time to plant flowering plants to give you abundant colour in the season ahead, at a fraction of the price of buying plants later in the year. It’s the perfect month to get summer bedding like lobelia, petunia, busy lizzies and pelargoniums started. Stocks will give summer scent, while asters will keep a splash of summer colour going well into the autumn.
Are you starting to feel summery yet?!