I find myself getting stupidly excited at this time of year, lying awake thinking about new seeds to try, crop rotation plans, and wondering if I can squeeze in a few extra plants here or there.
It’s also that time of year when no yoghurt pot makes it as far as the recycling bin, and I base most of my food shopping purchases around whether or not the packaging will make a good propagator. No point splashing out on gardening equipment when a plastic muffin carton will do just as well – and you get to eat the contents first.
This year, I am even more stupidly excited because after years of trying to make do with sheets of bubble wrap and an old shower screen (there’s only so far you can go with recycling) I finally have a proper polytunnel. Thank you Santa (aka Unhusband) – although he hasn’t quite got round to putting it up yet.* Slacker.
So, what can you plant in March – given there’s still a chance of hail / snow / sleet / hurricanes? Well hopefully not the last one, but it’s not exactly T-shirt weather.
Here is a list of seeds you can start in March:
Tomatoes – if they’re destined for a greenhouse or polytunnel, start them off at the beginning of March (if you didn’t do so in February) if not wait until mid to late March or they’ll get too big before it’s warm enough to take them outside.
Peppers – these have a long growing season, so need to be started in early spring (late February / early March.) Again, they’ll do best in a greenhouse eventually, or at least on a very sunny patio.
Aubergines – probably not be worth trying unless you have a greenhouse or polytunnel. If you do, start now.
Melons – I’ve tried to grow melons for years and never achieved anything bigger than an olive. Warning: don’t trust those packets that say suitable for outdoor growing. That’s basically bollocks (although if anyone’s managed it, well done!) The only reason I’m trying melons this year is because I have a polytunnel, so they’d better work. Did I mention it still needs putting up?
Cucumbers – this is one crop where the outdoor varieties do seem to work, just make sure you choose the right one.
NB: if you run out of window sill space, cars also make great greenhouses, if you don’t mind looking like a prat. I don’t.
It’s still a bit early for sowing many crops outside, and it’s generally better to wait until April when you don’t need to bother sowing under cover or warming up the soil, but here are a few that should be ok.
Parsnips – Mick at my old allotment always planted these on his birthday in February (I can’t remember the date now) but they were always amazing, as was everything else he grew.
Carrots – again, it’s a bit on the early side, but I’m impatient so am planting Nantes 2, an early variety, and will make later sowings over the next few weeks.
Lettuces – look for cold tolerant varieties.
Onions – sow onions from ‘sets’ in March / April.
Garlic – If you didn’t manage to plant garlic in the autumn (I didn’t) you can do it now.
Potatoes – if you’ve chitted some early ones and the ground isn’t freezing, these can go in now. Unfortunately a mouse has eaten most of mine.
Peas – start some now, and sow new batches every few weeks.
Celery – I’m growing this for the first time this year, a self-blanching variety, which is less work.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but hopefully is enough to be getting on with for now.
*Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that only men are capable of erecting polytunnels. I am sure loads of females could do it just as well. It’s just that I’m not one of them. DIY is not my forte, as I discovered the time I tried to use toothpaste for polyfiller.