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March is a vital time of year in the vegetable calendar, particularly for sowing seeds. You can get your plants going both indoors and outdoors, depending on where they grow best at this time of year. With some careful preparation, you will be able to successfully reap what you sow at the busiest time of year!
You can sow vegetables such as aubergine, pepper and tomato indoors. Leave them on windowsills to germinate, if possible. Another classic kitchen favourite which complements these vegetables well is basil – now is the perfect time to sow your basil seeds in a pot on a sunny windowsill (basil needs at least 6 hours of sunlight per day). Once the chance of frost has lifted, it can be planted directly outdoors. Furthermore, it is a good idea to sow perennial herbs such as rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme now, keeping them indoors.
It is important to prepare your soil well before beginning to sow and plant your herbs and vegetables. Beware of weeds - they take essential sunlight, water and nutrients away from vegetable plants and can also hide insects that cause vegetable diseases. You can dig them out by hand, or, more effectively use a herbicide like Roundup Gel, designed for veggie patches. Cultivating, fertilising and mulching the area is also very helpful. It is the perfect time of year to sow onion (somewhere sunny!), cucumber, carrot, leek, parsnip and kale seeds. Sweet peas can also be directly sown where they are to flower. You can also start to sow some types of early potatoes such as rocket potatoes. To add to your herb collection, sow chives, coriander, dill and parsley directly into the ground, or in container – whatever suits your garden space best.
Once your seeds start sprouting, be sure not to neglect them! Set up netting over newly-planted seeds to protect them from any unwanted intruders such as birds when they begin to grow. March can still be cold, particularly at night, so it is wise to take care to protect any delicate plants and shoots. Keep an eye on the weather forecast for any signs of severe conditions. If you’re expecting a particularly cold spell, you can surround your shoots with a fleece covered frame, lay out a loose layer of straw to keep the soil frost-free or even use bell cloches. Your sprouts will thank you for the shelter from the cold.