Action for March Fruit and veg
Protect early sowings
Fleece and clear polythene can both be used to protect existing seedlings and to warm up the soil before sowing. Some vegetables – beetroot, for example – can run to seed if sown too early without protection.
Towards the end of March plant out early potatoes, such as ‘Accent’ and ‘Red Duke of York’ that started chitting in January or February. Wait until April in cold areas. Alternatively, plant at the bottom of a large tub and gradually top up with compost (old compost is fine) as they grow, to prevent the tubers going green. Check the weight of the tub and water when it feels light.
Peas and beans
Harden off and plant out broad beans, peas, garlic and shallots raised in the greenhouse or coldframe.
Put up supports for peas and beans. You can use bamboo canes or twiggy sticks that you’ve removed when pruning.
Feed spring cabbage
Use a high-nitrogen fertiliser such as Growmore or pelleted chicken manure to give plants a boost. When you harvest the cabbages, cut them off and make a cross-shaped cut in the top of the remaining stem. This will encourage a second crop of mini cabbages to form.
What to sow
Sow broad beans, lettuce, radishes, spinach and spring onions. Towards the end of the month, sow early varieties of beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers and turnips.Stagger your sowings so that you don’t end up harvesting everything at once. Sow some under glass too as a precaution against pest and weather damage.
What to harvest
Harvest Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, spring onions, leeks, winter salads, cauliflowers, spring cabbage, Brussels sprouts, chicory, kale and sprouting broccoli.
Harvest forced rhubarb
Remove light-excluding covers. When picking rhubarb, the stems should be pulled off, not cut, as cutting can let in infection.
Cover strawberry plants with cloches to encourage earlier flowering and fruiting. Open the ends of the cloches during the day to allow insects to pollinate the flowers.
Cut old canes of autumn-fruiting raspberries down to ground level when new shoots start emerging from the soil. Shorten tips of summer-fruiting varieties if they have outgrown their supports. Mulch with organic material, such as garden compost, but don’t bury newly planted canes too deeply.