or in your GARDEN
this month -
Top 10 Jobs
1. Plant shallots, onion sets and
2. Protect new spring shoots from
3. Plant summer-flowering bulbs
4. Lift and divide overgrown clumps of
5. Top dress containers with fresh
6. Mow grass on dry days (if
7. Cut back
Cornus (dogwood) and
Salix (willow) grown for colourful
8. Weeds come back in to growth - deal
with them before they get out of hand
9. Start cleaning the pond - after the
10. Open the greenhouse or
polytunnel doors and vents on warm days
Cultivate and prepare seedbeds,
covering them with clear polythene or fleece to warm up the soil before
Many vegetable crops can be sown this
month, especially in mild areas with light soil, including: broad beans,
carrots, parsnips, beetroot, bulb onions, lettuces, radish, peas,
spinach, summer cabbage, salad leaves, leeks, Swiss chard, kohl rabi,
turnip and summer cauliflower. Be guided by the weather, and sow only if
conditions are suitable (as per guidance on the seed packets).
Sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers,
aubergines, celery, salads and globe artichokes can all be sown in a
frost-free greenhouse. Artichokes and celery can be transplanted outside
later in the spring. Tomatoes can either remain in the greenhouse or be
taken outside from early summer onwards. Peppers, cucumbers and
aubergines do best kept under cover. Salad crops vary - it is best to
check the temperature requirements cited on the seed packets.
Plant shallots, garlic and onion
Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers.
Plant asparagus crowns. A deep,
friable, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter incorporated is
Chit early and main-crop potatoes. In
mild regions, earlies are planted out in the second half of the month.
In colder regions, it is better to wait until April.
Pot up tomato seedlings when they
develop true leaves above the more rounded seed leaves. After growing on
in small pots, they can be planted into larger pots or grow-bags.
Start to remove side shoots from any
older cordon tomato plants that you started off early under cover. These
side shoots develop in the leaf axils (i.e. between the stem and leaf),
and if left to grow will reduce the quality of the fruits by taking up
too much of the plant’s energy. Pull them off between your thumb and
Continue to harvest Jerusalem
artichokes, parsnips, spring onions, leeks, winter salads, spring
cauliflower and cabbage, Brussels sprouts, chicory, rhubarb, kale and
sprouting broccoli. Gardeners in suitable areas, who have got off to an
early start by using fleece to warm the soil, could already be
harvesting a new crop of radishes.
When spring cabbages are ready to
harvest, cut them off the stem and make a cross in the top of the cut
stem. Sometimes mini-cabbages, or ‘spring greens’ will grow from the cut
Feed any spring cabbages that have
been standing all winter. Use high nitrogen feeds such as Growmore or
pelleted poultry manure.
Feed crops which have been left
sitting over winter (e.g. lettuces and brassicas). A balanced fertiliser
such as Growmore or blood, fish and bone would be best, or a high
nitrogen choice such as poultry manure. Avoid tomato feeds (which have
high potassium levels) for green, leafy crops. There is enough potassium
in balanced feeds to keep them going.
Fleece and polythene can be used to
protect early outdoor sowings. Many vegetables can bolt if sown outside
too early without protection (beetroot being an example). A greenhouse
or conservatory is useful in all but the very mildest areas with the
lightest soils, to start seeds off - hardening off and transplanting the
young plants into the vegetable garden later in the spring.
Continue to force chicory and
seakale. Dig up selected chicory roots, pot them up, and position them
in a dark warm place (10-13°C/50-55°F), with an upturned light-proof pot
over them. The tasty chicons will appear in three to six weeks. Seakale
is best forced outside at seasonal temperatures, with an upturned pot or
cardboard box/tube over the top to exclude the light.
Put supports in place for peas.
You could prepare your runner bean
supports and trenches for sowing (in May) or planting out (in June).
This will save you time later.
Celery trenches can also be prepared,
but for planting very soon (depending on the weather in your area).
Plenty of organic matter, traditionally well-rotted manure, is key to
improving both water retention and drainage simultaneously, and in
helping to ensure the success of the crop.
Try to avoid digging in wet weather,
but if gardening on top of wet soil, work from a plank of wood, to avoid
treading on the bed and compacting the soil.
Start regular hoeing, to keep annual
weeds under control. Deal with perennial weeds as appropriate, either
digging them out or using weed killer.
Divide overcrowded clumps of
perennial herbs such as chives, sage, thyme and mint.
Sow parsley, chervil, chives, fennel
and marjoram. Coriander can be sown under cover.
It is easier to buy in young plants
of mint, tarragon, thyme or rosemary. These are harder to grow from
seed, some being prone to damping off, others unreliably producing ripe
seed, and others being more quickly and practically propagated by
division or cuttings.
Pest & disease watch
Covering plants with fleece can
protect them from flying pests, as well as from the cold weather.
Look out for signs of botrytis
(fluffy grey mould) on herbs, especially in wet weather.