Top March Allotment Tips-Suttons Gardening Grow How

The spring bulbs are out, the birds are singing and there is a newfound feel-good factor in the world of allotments! This is one of my favourite times of the year as it’s full of optimism and promise.

After the deluges of midwinter, the soil is drying out nicely after a good few days of settled weather.

A good way to tell if the soil temperature is increasing is by observing weed seed germination. As soon as the first flush of weed seedlings emerges this is a key indicator.

When the soil is ready, early varieties of chitted potatoes can be planted outside later this month, in well-drained soils. If your soil is heavy and slow to warm up, tubers can also be grown in pots. However you grow them, potatoes are very susceptible to frost. It is essential to keep a roll of frost protection fleece close to hand for when those young shoots emerge.

Unless the weather is inclement, onion sets and shallots can be planted directly in prepared soil now. Cover the sets with fleece or cloches to encourage root formation. This will also deter birds from disturbing them too much as they scratch around looking for grubs.

This month I’ll be preparing a couple of raised beds for early seed sowings from mid-April onwards. It is a good idea to warm the soil in the beds by covering it with black sheeting. The black absorbs the rays of the sun. The sheeting also acts as a magnet for slugs which can then easily be hand picked and dealt with.

Cloches or, portable polythene tunnels are great also for trapping heat in the soil as well as protecting the young seedlings. Crops such as beetroot, carrots, parsnip, radish and spring onions are all suitable candidates. Of course, this is all very weather-dependent. It is important we don’t get too gun ho, just yet!

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