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Hello March! What a wonderful time of year this is, it will be officially Spring on the 20th. Things are starting to come to life, It is lovely to see the snowdrops and everything that is in flower. As daylight begins to lengthen, I always feel brighter in myself and its nice to get out for walks and take in nature.
I like to observe the changes that happen, for example showing my children a fallen twig from a tree. We look at what it looks like with no leaves and how different it may be to another twig.
I show them the tree that it came from, and we can see the changes as the year goes on. Just an example of one small thing that might be missed otherwise.
We can watch as the buds form, fresh leaves emerge along with flowers and fruits.
In warmer areas of the country, it may be possible to start sowing some seeds, it may be wise though to hang on a little in cooler parts of the country.
It is so tempting to want to get out and get started but please try and hold off if needed.
There are some varieties of broad beans and peas suitable for early sowings. These can be made under cloches if you have a sheltered and sunny position. If you have a cold frame, it could be an option to prepare a seedbed for any direct sowings.
If sowing undercover – a greenhouse or cold frame, you can sow early varieties of cauliflower celery and broccoli.
In areas of the country that are a little milder, you can sow onions and leeks but grow them undercover in cooler areas.
I like to sow Swiss Chard too which is so versatile and can have brightly coloured stems which make it very attractive.
Make sure the weather is milder for direct sowing in a sunny spot. This is a wonderful opportunity for successional planting!
In a greenhouse you can start to sow tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.
If you like aubergines, there are smaller varieties available. Some varieties will take up a lot of room and some can be quite thorny, so another thing to check.
There are a whole host of varieties available on the market which don’t look anything like an aubergine you would see in the supermarket.
Varieties to look out for are 'White Knight,’ ‘Green Knight’ and ‘Violet/ Purple Knight’ these are long slim varieties.
When thinking about tomatoes there are a few things to consider. Do you live in an area where you have issues with blight?
If so, there are varieties available that have very good resistance such as, Cocktail Crush, Merrygold, Burlesque, Consuelo and Nagina to name a few.
Have a think about whether you want to grow Bush tomatoes, cordon tomatoes or would you like to have them in a pot or a hanging basket.
Some varieties are earlier than others so check on when they will be ready to harvest
The more modern types are easier to grow. They are parthenocarpic which means they are self-pollinating.
They are seedless and much easier to grow as you don’t have to remove the male flowers and you don’t have to rely on insects for pollination.
If you want to grow cucumbers that aren't parthenocarpic and varieties that are, then they will have to be kept separate.
Some really tasty heavy yielding snack cucumbers which are easy to grow are, ‘Party Time’, ‘Goblin’, ‘Merlin’ and ‘Honey Plus’.
As with tomatoes think about what size of pepper you would like. There are big bell Peppers, medium bell Peppers, pointed ones which are long.
There are plants which are quite compact which you can grow in a pot which have much smaller fruit. They love a sunny warm spot on a patio or in a Conservatory.
So whether you would like a large or really small fruiting variety, there is something out there for everyone.
I really like a variety called ‘Popti’, this can be grown in a pot, it is heavy yielding and has small red fruit.
Another one which I think is fantastic is called ‘Cardinal’. this variety is a really dark purple, almost black, then it ripens to red, the inside is green. You can use it when it is at the dark-coloured skin stage which makes a really attractive addition to a salad with the dark skin and the green inside.
Another one of my favourites is called ‘Tangerine Dream’, this one is a little bush variety which has small pointed orange fruits. The flavour has a very slight hint of spice which is not what you would expect. This can be grown in a pot in a conservatory or again in a sunny warm position in the garden or patio.
You can even grow melons!
There is a variety called ‘Little Darling’, a watermelon. This can be grown successfully in a cold greenhouse.
I took seed a few years ago to Alnwick Castle garden. They trialed it in a polytunnel and managed to harvest several fruit from just two plants.
This watermelon can be grown so it spreads on the ground or it can be strung, the fruits may need support If grown in this way.
Start these in a greenhouse or sunny windowsill. Zinnias, Marigolds, Petunias, Alyssum, and Nasturtiums, to name a few can be sown now to get them started. Choose what colours you like and what quantity you need.
Maybe you are growing to fill pots, hanging baskets or to fill your borders. Sometimes it's nice just to go for a mix of colour and different varieties.
Otherwise it's nice to have pots by the front door with a colour scheme. I'm quite liking the Peach and white colour scheme at the moment.
There are so many ideas of planting combinations to go for so now is the time to think about putting your ideas into reality.
Prepare your soil making sure it is all broken up. Soil needs to be well drained, if not then add compost and work in.
If not planting directly into a bed or border then a lovely display can be achieved in a pot. Plant in groups to create impact, ensure you take into account the height and spread, especially if you are using a mix of varieties.
Make sure the planting hole is at least two to three times the size of your bulb. Plant with the shoot facing upwards leaving a little space between bulbs. Backfill the hole and firm gently.
Finally, water well and wait patiently to enjoy your blooms.
We are getting some nice dry, mild days now. If you feel you could do to take a little off your grass now is a good time as it is starting to put on a bit of growth. Ensure your lawnmower is at a high setting.
Hold off reseeding until next month just in case temperatures plummet again, you can’t be too careful!
Make sure your grass is clear of any debris, anything left rotting can cause issues and be detrimental.
Enjoy March and I look forward to writing my next blog. I am quite excited to talk about house plants, more lawn care and what veg to sow.