Gardens Illustrated
Alice Pattullo's illustration for March's kitchen garden
© Alice Pattullo

Gardening jobs for March

Published: March 10, 2022 at 9:04 am

It's spring fever in the kitchen garden, as our columnist Aaron Bertelsen shares the gardening jobs for March. Illustration Alice Pattullo

My goal is to spend most of March doing my gardening jobs in Mrs Nextdoor’s glasshouse, sowing seed, pricking out and moving seedlings around. I feel so lucky to have this additional space. It really is such a luxury, especially in March when it feels like everything is happening at once.

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In the woodland area, bulbs, including jonquil daffodils and Scilla bifolia have naturalised under the deciduous canopy of Magnolia kobus, M. salicifolia and M. x proctoriana trees. Similar plantings mark the transition between garden and the countryside.

Every year, I have a bit of a panic when I think I am not going to have enough space – whether that is for my pricked-out seedlings or for the plants themselves in the garden. Yet I cannot stop myself sowing more and more seeds. Perhaps that is what people mean when they talk about spring fever.

Gardening jobs for March in the kitchen garden

As I start to sow seeds under glass, I keep detailed notes of what I’ve done and when, and try to remember to write the year on the front of the seed packets, so I can see at a glance when I bought them and how long they have been open.

March is the last chance for tidying before the growing season starts. Go through your pots and remove any sad-looking foliage, and chuck out plants that haven’t made it through the winter. Top dress those that remain with a sprinkle of food, such as organic chicken manure pellets, and a layer of fresh compost.

If you are forcing rhubarb, remember to keep it well watered. Sitting under cover, it’s easy to forget about, but regular watering will stimulate growth and keep the stems tender, just as they should be. Be mindful of other plants too, particularly those in pots. It’s all too easy to assume that things don’t need watering while the weather is still cool, but that is not the case.

As the growing season begins, weeds will also spring into life. Run a sharp hoe down the rows to make short work of them and keep things looking tidy.

Now is a good time to stock up on compost. I like to have a few bags of seed compost as well as peat-free John Innes No. 2 for pricking out and potting on.

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Authors

Having studied at Kew Gardens and spent two years at Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in Israel, Aaron Bertelsen is now vegetable gardener and cook at Great Dixter. His book, The Great Dixter Cookbook was published in March 2017.

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