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The fruit and vegetable garden

March 2012



Previously in The Fruit & Vegetable Garden...

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011



carrotsWith the days now lengthening and generally with a slightly less chill in the air, early spring is an exciting time in the gardener`s calendar when we can`t wait to get planting and sowing. It is, however, a time for caution, as winter seldom comes to an abrupt, convenient end as spring approaches. A very common cause of disappointment for novice gardeners is sowing too early, particularly outdoors. Some gardeners use glass cloches and mini polytunnels to get an early start, but often seeds and plants put out several weeks later will overtake early crops because they have not suffered a check to their growth.

If you can, try to make early sowings in trays and pots inside or under glass, for planting out later when conditions are more favourable. Some vegetables are not worth sowing early because they mature quickly, and later sowings will be ready for harvest at the same time as the weaker, riskier early sowings. By mid spring many varieties of vegetables can be sown directly into a prepared seed bed, such as lettuce, radishes, spring onions, peas, carrots, beetroot and summer brassicas, but even then try to be prepared to protect vulnerable young seedlings from any sharp late frosts using horticultural fleece or newspapers.


rhubarbMarch is a relatively quiet month in the fruit season. Complete any pruning of gooseberries and currant bushes. Finish planting bare rooted plants and plant out strawberry runners into prepared beds when the ground is not waterlogged or frozen. Established rhubarb roots can now be covered over with a large pot or dustbin to force new stems, which should then be ready for the table in around six weeks time. Check fruit tree stakes for stability after the winter gales, sprinkle a general fertiliser around the base of trees and mulch to maintain moisture levels. Try to protect early fruit buds from birds, by netting over if possible.

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