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25.03.2009 00:59 Age: 6 yrs
Category: food

March on the allotment - spring

March has brought with it the promise of Spring. Daffodils and primroses are flowering, our fruit bushes and trees are in bud and new growth is everywhere. Unfortunately, it is not all sunshine and flowers down at the allotment. Over a period of a week the site was broken into three times and a great deal of damage was done to sheds, greenhouses and even chickens were killed by intruders. The threat of vandalism is something all allotment sites have to contend with and ours is no exception. Luckily for us, our plot was not targeted this time but we are resigned to the fact that it is always a possibility.

The sunny weather has tempted us down to the plot where we have worked hard to 'bring it back' from its winter slumbers by extensive weeding followed by a generous dressing of our rich homemade compost, which will hopefully do wonders in the coming months. The overwintering broad beans are doing well as are the leeks and onions and soon we will be sowing seeds indoors, to bring on before planting out.

However, when exactly should you start to sow seeds? The seed packets tend to say 'sow March to May' but when exactly is the best time? From our experience it's better to be a little late with your sowing, as seeds will usually catch up with the warm weather brought on by the longer days.  If you sow your seeds early it may be too cold to plant them when they are ready to go in the ground and there is a risk they will become leggy (grow tall and weak) if left in their pots for too long. By leaving it until the end of April or early May to sow seeds you will find that they are swift to germinate and the weather is more likely to be warm when they are ready for planting out, so you don't have to worry about the risk of a late frost which can be devastating to tender plants

One more tip is to find time to tidy your shed, if you are lucky enough to have one. For some reason last year we didn't bother and we spent the season battling with falling rakes and spades, missing gloves and not even knowing what was dwelling at the back. An hour spent clearing out the debris of past Summers will go a long way to making your relationship with your shed a very happy one.

P.S. The snow didn't kill the slugs. We found lots hiding under the 'poached egg' plant! We have encouraged this plant onto the plot because its flowers are beloved by bees and other pollinators. The down-side is that slugs also love it. So we compromised by digging only half of it up.