The meteorological Spring starts on the 1st March. This means the days are getting longer, and increase in length more quickly, the temperature increases and spending more time in the garden becomes a possibility.
March means seed sowing time. Check individual seed packets for specific timings but most can be sown this month. . A heated propagator is very useful for encouraging seeds to germinate but as soon as those green shoots appear, the most important requirement is good light. A week or two on a windowsill is ideal but think about putting something white behind the seedlings on the inside of the room in order to reflect light back and encourage strong, straight growth (photo). Otherwise, keep turning the pots or trays round.
Tips for March
1. Buying seed potatoes
March is an important month to think about buying seed potatoes for chitting in a light frost free place. Apart from being delicious fresh from the soil and lightly cooked, the main reason for growing them yourself is to grow varieties that are less freely available in the shops. Grow first earlies to avoid blight. I grow Red Duke of York. Delicious.
2. Plant shallots
Shallots can be planted in small pots and kept sheltered until they are ready to be planted out. Longnor and Red Sun do well in Helensburgh. Longnor are easier to chop.
3. Plant tomato seeds
If you have protection and the weather is improving plant tomato seeds and others such as peppers. A heated propagator is good for starting them off. If not, the vegetable stall at the Annual Plant Sale is a good place to buy plants brought on by members..
4. Buy onion sets
You may wish to buy onion sets to store in a cool dark place. It’s too early to plant them yet, but storage in shops causes them to deteriorate. Sturon is a suitable variety.
5. Plant sweet peas
Plant sweet peas. They do well in root trainers, or if you don’t have them, five seeds in a five-inch pot works almost as well.
In March you can plant dahlia tubers into pots to start them growing. You can put these on the window sill. Or try growing from seed
7. Planning your garden
Herbaceous plants can be divided to reinvigorate them and spare roots potted up for the plant sale in early May. Members plant stall is a good place to buy plants that will grow well in the local area.
March is the time to prune and feed roses. Late flowering ‘Type 3 ‘clematis can be pruned back to the lowest pairs of buds.
Tidy up last year’s growth from herbaceous perennials, cutting down old stems and leaves. It is worthwhile putting out some early slug traps so that newly emerging shoots do not get a setback. A jam jar on its side with some beer dregs in it is very effective at catching slugs.(photo) In warm weather, refresh the beer once a week because the slug soup becomes a little unpleasant!
Cut back deciduous ornamental grasses and rake your fingers through other grasses to remove dead leaves
8. Edible salad crop
Sprouting seeds can provide a valuable fresh green edible salad crop. Red Clover grows in about 4 days and Alfalfa in 7 days.
9. Nesting birds
Birds start to nest in March. Avoid putting out peanuts as they are harmful to adult birds feeding nestlings.
10. Enjoy the spring colour
On one of the bright sunny days try to sit in the garden for coffee and start to enjoy the Spring colour. In the large Helensburgh gardens Rhododendrons are beginning to flower and are visible from the pavements. The early red one is called Rhododendron ‘Nobleanum’.