Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary - March 2011
March is the beginning of the growing season and can become very hectic if you are not well organised, as it’s the month when most of us will be hoping to be able to tear open those seed packets and get our sowings under way, but if your soil is still too wet or its cold, warm it up with cloches, fleece or polythene, and delay sowing or you could be wasting your time and expensive seed. March is one of my favourite months getting all prepared for the year and sowing seeds of what you will be eating in the next few months.
Once again I have been very busy seed sowing this month, making sure every crop I want to see and eat in the Kitchen Garden this year has been sown and started off accordingly with the best nutrients they can get. All my seeds are germinating well, especially with a little help from my friend the Heating Mat; they love it, even more so for giving them a kick start. I haven’t had any real disasters this year yet either, so fingers crossed none occur.
Direct outside I have sown my carrots in a two tier Standard Raised Bed which I have added sand to, this helps to prevent forking of the carrots, and to improve drainage etc, also I have done similar for my four tier parsnip raised bed, however I created deep holes roughly 3” diameter for my parsnips, and filled with half seed compost and the other half sand, then sow the seed direct into the centre of each hole. This will also prevent my Parsnips forking off at all different directions. I made sure that no manure went in my root beds at the beginning of the growing season as this encourages root crops to fork.
Some of my seedlings have had such a boost they have been pushed to live outside already, sheltered by our mini greenhouse cloche tunnel, such as Little Gem Lettuce, Wild Rocket, and Spinach, all doing just fine and dandy.
My Sweet Peas are also in their final growing position, they will be growing up one of our pyramid obelisks. They are on view as you enter the Kitchen Garden as they are spectacular to look at and they certainly enhance the look of the garden.
I planted outside all of my early and 2nd early potato varieties which had been chitting since January, in a well prepared potato bed which had been warmed with polythene and had organic potato fertiliser added to a few months back. I have also planted two potato planting bags with earlies in them and placed in the greenhouse for an earlier harvest.
I ordered some horseradish root cuttings which I have now planted into containers. One thing to keep in mind is that when growing horseradish, you need to either give it lots of room or firm boundaries. Horseradish will spread vigorously if steps are not taken to contain it. If you do not wish for your horseradish plant to take over your garden, either grow it in a deep container or bury a plastic tub around it in the ground. This will keep the growing horseradish plant in check.
In my greenhouse we have a seedbed on the far wall, which I have removed all of the former soil from and replaced with fresh nutritional new compost, mixed partly with farmyard manure, so it will be all ready to plant my tomatoes and herbs in once big enough for their final position.
As everything is picking up in the Kitchen Garden and full of activity, I haven’t had much time to have a good clear up with my new luxury wheelbarrow, or been able to have a good ole dig to turn over the fallow beds, so that is why I am going to set myself a day towards the end of this month to do so.
As you can see Courtney has been rather busy and as the garden prepares to burst into life, you can be sure that the local pest population are slowly stretching, stirring and sleepily emerging from the winter hibernation too, with rumbling stomachs and big plans on how to fill them - all involving your plants. That's where our latest version of the Little Book of Pests - now entitled the 'Little Book of Least Wanted Pests' - proves invaluable as each of the 24 pages is packed full of information about the major garden pests along with plenty of ideas of how to prevent and remove the threat to your plants each one poses. What's more, this must-have pest guide is completely free so all you have to do is decide if you want to download a copy (below) or request the book from us!
If 2011 is your debut gardening season - or even if you're an old hand who knows their leeks from their legumes - a great way to start is by requesting a copy of our brand new, 116-page 2011 catalogue, jam-packed with new gardening ideas for the kitchen garden, patio and greenhouse - an inspirational addition to any potting shed or coffee table. Add in our new March newsletter which features tips, topical gardening debates, plenty of growing information and cash-saving special offers and it's crystal clear that we've also got the resources to look after you once you start growing.
And if the above isn't enough, you can also pick up loads of handy tips by following us on Twitter and Facebook; we've got a busy gardening blog on the go and we're always here to offer advice and support too!
So if your seedlings aren't quite turning out as you planned and you could do with some advice, or if you're particularly taken by some of our products and would like to know more, please get in touch - we'd love to help!