Rachel’s Seasonal Tips to help your Garden Grow
Choose your seed potatoes and start them chitting. Chitting is a way of encouraging strong growth shoots to develop. Place seed potatoes in trays or egg boxes in a cool and frost-free but light place. You will see that one end of the seed potato has eyes – it is this end which needs to be uppermost.
Put out new nest boxes.
Sow sweet peas in pots in the green house. We sow 3 seeds around the edge of a 9cm pot. These will be potted up individually in March and planted out at the base of supports in mid-late April.
At the first sign of growth of rhubarb place your rhubarb forcer over it. The dark and warmth of the forcer brings on the growth which is tender, sweet and lovely pink colour. Don’t force the same rhubarb crown two years in a row – allow it to rest. It’s also best just to pick the forced stems and then not pick subsequent stems from that crown in that year.
The traditional day for sowing parsley is 15th February. Give it go. Be patient, parsley seed is very slow to germinate. For a year-round supply of parsley, we make two sowings of parsley in Patrick’s Patch; one in February and one in June.
Radish can be sown directly in the ground in February. Cover the row with cloches or horticultural fleece.
If soil conditions are reasonably dry, prepare areas of your vegetable patch you know you will be directly seed sowing into. Gently break down any lumps and rake level, then cover with either black matting or horticultural fleece to warm the soil.
The soil is now warming up and things really start to get going.
This year in Patrick’s Patch we are planting a fresh row of strawberries. It is a good idea to refresh strawberry plants every three years. We also give all our fruit a sprinkling of high potassium granular fertiliser – you can use Top Rose for this purpose.
SB Plant Invigorator is a liquid tonic for plants, it particular benefits the leaves by supplying extra nutrients. Healthier leaves are better able to withstand pests and diseases. It is suitable for organic growing and applied as foliar spray. We use it on our over-wintered kale and chard which will then give us once last flush of leaves to harvest.
Keep an eye on sweet peas if you’re growing them from seed. They will need pinching back when they have three sets of leaves.
Providing it’s not too wet you can plant your early potatoes in late March. We also plant our Jerusalem artichoke tubers which we saved from last year’s crop.
In our unheated greenhouse we sow; beetroot and chard, celeriac, lettuce.
Out in the garden when conditions are right we sow; hardy annuals, radish, rocket, turnip.
April is a big month for seed sowing for the season ahead. Early in the month we direct-sow Broadbean de Monica (Mr Fothergill variety). It will produce beans slightly later than our autumn sown Broadbean ‘Aquadulce’.
The Potting Shed Club will be planting our Pink Fir Apple Potatoes and Beaulieu School always sow the sunflowers in the ground in late April. This year we are growing a sunflower meadow.
In the greenhouse there are lots of timely sowings to be made this month to ensure a fully productive season. Sow all Cucurbits (cucumbers, courgettes, pumpkins, and squash); sow any half-hardy annuals (cosmos, zinnias, and nicotiana), leeks (we sow them in tall/deep pots).
Out in the garden put some fresh straw around the strawberries to keep the fruit clean. Build all frames and structures needed by any climbers.