WHAT TO DO IN THE MIDDLE OF MARCH
- Plant Tree and carpet lily bulbs in pots for colourful summer displays.
- Prune shrub roses to low new shoots.
- Be on the look out for slugs and snails, which will attack emerging shoots of perennials.
- Plant Jerusalem artichokes in well-prepared soil.
- Grow early-maturing potatoes in a bag of compost.
- Fork compost into beds to prepare soil for planting.
- Chit potatoes by standing them in trays in a warm bright position until they develop small shoots.
- Dig out problem weeds and emerging annual weeds.
- Plant Jerusalem artichokes.
- Cover rhubarb with forcing jars to encourage long, delicious pale stems.
- Sow seeds of the following crops outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas, lettuce and Swiss chard.
- In your greenhouse, you can sow summer bedding plants, such as petunias, geranium, verbena and busy Lizzie. In the vegetable world, you can sow seeds of cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers to raise summer crops.
- Trim back old shoots of perennials left for winter interest, taking care not to damage emerging new growth.
- Prune tall, leggy mahonia by cutting off the leafy rosette at the top of stems to encourage branches to develop below.
Give it a try… Chilli plants will thrive on a sunny window sill or in a greenhouse. They have a long cropping season, so you could still be harvesting fresh chillies in December. You will need just two small pots to sow your chilli seeds. It’s important to use a good quality seed compost. Fill up your pots almost to the top with compost; you should water before you add the seed to make sure the compost is nice and moist. Spread out 4 or 5 seeds per pot and then sprinkle over some more compost or perlite if you have it. Cover the pot with cling film to create your own mini tunnel and then pop on a sunny windowsill. It’s very important to keep them in a bright place to ensure they germinate. When your seeds have germinated take off your cling film and leave on the windowsill. Keep them nice and moist, not too wet and not too dry! Voila in 7/8 weeks you should have a pot filled with chilli plants waiting to be separated and potted into their own pots. Keep on your sunniest windowsill and your chilli plants will reward you with spicy meals for many months to come.
March is the perfect planting time for a wide range of garden plants. It’s a particularly good time to plant roses. To get the best from these long-lived garden plants it's worth paying attention to the soil ahead of planting. Roses prefer a site rich in organic matter, so on sandy or heavy clay soils mix in some compost, at least two spades deep if possible. To plant, dig a hole twice as wide as the container the rose is growing in, but only 5-10cm deeper. Fork over the soil in the bottom of the hole, and add a 5-10cm layer of compost. Set the rootball centrally in the hole .To further boost the soil, mix in Osmo Rose Food to the excavated planting soil. This pelleted mix is enriched with horse manure – well-loved by roses - and will set plants off to the best start this spring. Set the soil back around the rootball, firming down with your heel as you go to knock out any air gaps. Water the rose in, then apply a mulch of compost around the base of the plant to help retain moisture and reduce weed growth. You can look forward to the beautiful roses of the future.