March is an exciting time on the allotment as the days finally start to get longer, the ground begins to warm up, and the growing season begins. Having said that, March can still be very cold, you need to be very mindful of the weather as you’re deciding which jobs to do.
A safe bet, whatever the weather, is preparing your greenhouse (if you have one). Clean the glass to ensure your plants get maximum sunlight, I am using Jeyes fluid which cuts through the dirt, I started with a small brush and realised this might become a bit time consuming so changed to a larger soft brush for speedier results! You can also prepare your greenhouse beds by digging in some manure; this enriches the soil for the tomatoes and cucumbers as last year’s crop will have taken the nutrients.
I’ll continue to tidy the plot by raking and weeding the soil beds, there are different types of rakes available, ideally you want a traditional soil rake for this. As the grass starts to grow on the paths in between the beds I’ll strim it back to keep the paths clear – this will be an ongoing job throughout the year.
I built a compost heap many years ago from old pallets and I continuously feed it with food waste from home, it’s a good thing to do if you have an allotment as it’s great for feeding the beds in the Autumn. Treat it like a sandwich with varied layers, woody then grass, then veg for moisture. My tip would be to never put weeds in there – once they’re in you’ll struggle to get them out.
A tasty job to do in late March is to harvest the first rhubarb crop. I planted my rhubarb plants about twenty years ago, they require very little maintenance and every year they give me a fantastic crop. The stems are just reddening up nicely now so I know it won’t be long before I can harvest them and turn them into a tasty crumble! I would definitely recommend planting some rhubarb if you have the space. It’s worth investing in some good secateurs, not just for this job, you’ll use them almost every day on the allotment. I’d recommend Fiskars – they’re not the cheapest but they have the best blade quality which is worth paying extra for.
As long as the soil isn’t too cold or wet, you can sow beetroot and parsnip seeds straight into the ground. Parsnips take a long time to germinate so don’t do this if it is still cold. The same goes for bulbs; if it’s too wet they will rot rather than germinate. Having said that, I have already planted my shallot sets as they’re more resilient, I’ll be moving on to the onions next.
Finally, I will be feeding my fruit trees with a potash feed. This is easy to do, you simply sprinkle it around the base. It is high in potassium which is good for the fruit ensuring you get a nice crop of delicious, juicy raspberries and strawberries throughout the summer.