March can be a difficult and tricky month. As a rule winter is on the way out and spring is arriving but quite when isn’t so certain. The trick is to be ready to move when the weather allows – in your area. Spring can be a couple of weeks ahead of the north in the sunny south.
You can get ahead of the game using cloches and horticultural fleece covers. Set them up a week or two before you sow or plant out and the soil will have warmed up enough to get your crops off to a good start The only problem with cloches is that they can get blown around.
This last winter (2015 – 2016) has been the warmest and wettest winter on record for England and Wales. That brings two problems for the forthcoming season.
Firstly, a warm winter isn’t good news. Not only does it confuse plants into where they are in their cycle but it keeps pests, particularly slugs and snails, alive and breeding. We have ended February with a bit of a cold snap which will help but do be prepared for more slugs and snails than normal.
The second winter problem this year is the high rainfall, which has brought other problems. Many of us are behind on our winter digging, manuring and liming programs – it’s just a case of doing our best to catch up.
All this rain will have washed out a lot of nutrients from the soil. Be prepared to add fertiliser before planting or sowing to overcome this problem. So often the problems people have with vegetables are down to those vegetables being malnourished.
A general guide to what you can be doing on the allotment in March can be found here – this one is generally useful for those of us further north. I feel that this link is good for those who are further south or who have heated greenhouses or poly tunnel protection – a lot of the sowing suggestions here are ones that I would leave till much later in March or even April in Northumberland.