Several things happen in March which help to really make it feel like the beginning of spring, despite the fact that we still get cold and wet weather. Things like the emergence of swathes of crocuses in parks (and daffodils to follow), the first sign of blossom on blackthorn bushes, and the amazing bright green of the new foliage on hawthorn in hedgerows and verges. In the allotment too, things are stirring – daytime temperatures generally above 5C mean plants can start to grow again, so there is the exciting prospect that the garden will look subtly but noticeably different from visit to visit. I love being tuned in to these seasonal changes – when most of us work indoors all day it is all too easy to be oblivious to what time of year it is, so spending some time in the garden can really help to reconnect us with the seasons. And for me there’s nothing like the prospect of rhubarb crumble again to pique my interest….
Here’s a round up of what’s growing/sowing/harvesting in our plot. I’d be very interested to hear how this compares with your plot in terms of seasonal timings – leave a comment and let me know!
Oustide: purple & white sprouting broccoli, parsnips, leeks, landcress, sorrel, spring onions (overwintered), kale (and its broccoli-like flower shoots), forced rhubarb.
Inside (polytunnel): pea shoots, fava bean shoots
Outside: nothing yet, but I will sow radish, broad beans, peas, agretti and parsnips soon under fleece.
Inside (polytunnel): radish, lettuce, sweet peas, beetroot, broad beans, peas, coriander, spinach, cima di rapa, spring onion, herb fennel.
I have sowed most of these in module trays in peat free organic multi purpose compost, either as individual seeds (lettuce, spinach, coriander, cima di rapa) or as a small clump of 3-5 seeds which will grow together (radish, beetroot, spring onion). Hardening off isn’t really practical when we’re not at the allotment all day every day, so when they get planted out I’ll lay fleece over them for a couple of weeks which does a great job of protecting them from cold night time temperatures.
I’ll hold off sowing anything more tender such as climbing beans and courgettes until at least mid April – experience tells me these grow much stronger from a later sowing, whereas if it’s too cold when they are planted out then they’ll sit in the ground and sulk until a slug comes and puts them out of their misery.
Lots of things, but particularly noteworthy are the shallots, planted outside under fleece in February, which are now sending up shoots. Overwintered spring onions, landcress, chervil and various brassicas (as mentioned) are all going for it now too.
Garden Butterfly Survey
Another great harbinger of spring – I saw my first butterfly (a small tortoiseshell) last week. This year I’m going to log any butterfly sightings with Garden Butterfly Survey, which is aiming to discover more about how butterflies are faring in our gardens.
Let me know what’s happening on your plot, and more importantly – do you favour cream or custard with a rhubarb crumble?!