Wednesday, 22 March 2017

OUR ALLOTMENT Life on the Weald March 2017

March 2017 

from St David's Day to St Patrick's Day

According to the Meteorological Calendar, 1st March is the first day of Spring - if you are using the astronomical calendar you have to wait until 20th March. I didn't visit the allotment on 1st March but did venture out into the garden just to prove it was indeed St David's Day



The sight of the daffodils in full bloom made me think that Spring is on its way, even if it doesn't appear to have arrived quite yet.

As February drew to a close, during a brief gap in the rain, we did manage to transplant some currant bushes from Mile Oak to The Weald but there is a lot more ground clearance to be done before we can move the rest.





The few days of early spring-like weather in mid-February quickly disappeared and the last week was wet, windy and cold with daytime temperatures around 8 -9C and nighttime down to 2-3C.  It wasn't suitable weather for the allotment but it afforded an opportunity to sort out the shed at home and get the seed trays scrubbed and ready for indoor sowing.

I did manage to sow some seeds in our unheated conservatory - some summer sprouting purple broccoli and cavolo nero in seed trays and some rainbow chard and perpetual (beet) spinach in fibre pots for planting out when the soil has warmed up. I have not sown summer sprouting broccoli before so it is an interesting experiment; the seed packet says I should be able to harvest it in August/September.  Usually I sow early sprouting purple broccoli in March for transplanting in July for harvesting the following Spring and I will do this later in the month

Forever the optimist,  I also sowed some aubergines, which I hope to grow on in pots indoors until the weather really warms up..

The summer broccoli was the first to germinate after only 8 days and a few days later the chard began to show.

We had planned to spend a day on the allotment on Friday 10 March but despite a sunny afternoon the day before, Friday was wet in the morning and foggy in the afternoon.  We did visit but the ground was far too wet to consider digging.  Instead we spent an hour preparing a new raised bed and sowing a row of Boltardy beetroot and also parsnips and a double row of carrots.   For the carrots and parsnips I used seed tapes that I had bought from Sutton's.  I covered the bed with plastic mesh to deter the foxes, cats and birds.

Cats and foxes think the raised beds are purpose-built toilets and the birds think I have provided a feeding ground for them.  I used the mesh which I had used previously to cover the shallots, but they are now sprouting and have developed a roots so are fairly firm in the ground (fingers crossed).



By mid-March, the Aquadulce broad beans planted in November had begun to flower, so we are hoping there will not be late frosts!


And the Luz de Otono planted a little later are looking good.


We also sowed some Giant Exhibition Broad Beans in the New Year and they are just showing through. I scattered the soil with broken eggshells to deter slugs and snails.


We also managed to clear a space for a couple of rows of early potatoes



and we have now planted a row each of Charlotte and Nicola (second earlies) on St Patrick's Day!

After St Patrick's Day the weather got a lot cooler (down to 7C, colder than February) with blustery showers and we are off in search of sunshine for the last few days of March, hoping the allotment will take care of itself.

John Austin

March 2017



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