Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary March 2013
As I am writing this, the sun has briefly peeped through the clouds,which is an uncommon sight in the Kitchen Garden recently. We have been lucky enough to have escaped the latest load of snow, but a biting fierce easterly wind is dragging the temperatures down and we are suffering harsh night time frosts. Cloches and fleece have been our best friends in the Kitchen Garden, protecting our precious crops from the awful weather.
Earlier in the month, when conditions were milder, we sowed parsnip, cabbage, beetroot and red orach seeds outside. These have been covered by fleece to protect them from the cold temperatures. Our broad beans are now sheltering under a freestanding hoop and fitted cover kit. This is acting as a portable cold frame to keep them snug and stop the wind from destroying them.
Other tasks we have completed this month are soil PH tests. Our soil can be very acid in the Kitchen Garden, so we need to keep a close eye on our PH levels as some vegetables prefer alkaline soil and lime may need to be added before planting. We have also put our raspberry beetle traps in place. These need to go in four to six weeks before the raspberries flower.
We have moved a mint plant into the greenhouse to force some early foliage and this is putting on lots of lovely lush growth. We have also divided our outside mint to give it room to grow. This is best done every year as mint can lose its vigour if congested.
Most of our work this month has been in the greenhouse, which is a nice and warm place to work thanks to our Indiana heater! Jo has been very busy sowing lots of seed including tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, leeks, calabrese, beetroot, peas, sweetcorn, squash and courgettes. The tomatoes, peppers and aubergines sown last month have been potted on and moved out of the heated propagator and onto a heated mat. We’ve also planted some early potatoes in planting bags which are already showing green shoots.
Our pride and joy this month are our Ava strawberry plants. These are growing in pots in the greenhouse and are covered in lovely white flowers promising an early crop. Jo has been playing ‘bee’ with a paintbrush to make sure they develop into an early crop of juicy strawberries.
Here are some of the jobs we've got planned for April in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden:
- Plant potatoes.
- Apply nematodes onto moist soil in temperatures of above 5 degrees.
- Mulch fruit bushes with strulch.
- Apply liquid feed to potted fruit trees every two weeks through the growing season.
- Prepare plant supports for beans and peas.
- Sow cauliflower, carrots, beetroot, radish, lettuce and peas outside.
- Sow beans in the greenhouse.
We're always here to offer advice and support. Go to the Ask the Expert section on the website and Email Horticultural Advisor Jo Blackwell with your Kitchen Garden queries or Pest Control expert Gavin Hatt and they'll do their best to help!
We're busy tweeting about all things Harrod Horticultural - what we're doing, special offers, gardening tips and advice and you can always use Twitter or Facebook to get in touch with us as well. With our webteam manning the Tweet decks and Facebook site, you can be sure you'll get the best service we can offer!
Our 116-page 2013 catalogue is out now and it's packed full of gardening ideas, products and solutions to the problems every gardener faces, plus plenty more seasonal ideas to help get the harvest in and keep it fresh!