It might be snowing outdoors, but inside the greenhouse or on the windowsill there should be a frenzy of activity this month as seed sowing reaches its peak and the first potatoes are (eventually!) planted outdoors…
Sow chilli peppers
Chillies need a long growing season to produce good-sized fruit so March is your last chance to sow for a bumper crop. Sow one or two seeds per modular tray indoors 5mm deep and keep warm (at least 18-25C). Cover with a plastic bag, tied with an elastic band, or pop in a heated propagator. Once the seeds have sprouted, take them out of the propagator (or bag) and keep on a windowsill or on the bench of a heated greenhouse, and when they reach 1in tall, pot up. Make sure the leaves are just above the compost surface. Keep frost free and pot up again once you see tiny white roots emerge from the base. Stake them when they reach 8in. Water in the morning – and sparingly (tough love will produce hotter peppers!) – and harden off in May once the danger of frost has passed.
Make a seedbed
An outdoor seedbed is a great way to bring on cool-season veg seedlings for later transplanting. It gets them used to outdoor conditions more quickly and is much easier than sowing everything into trays and pots. It works well for brasscias but avoid sowing root crops into seed beds as these hate being moved. Make a ‘fine tilth’ by picking out any stones or weeds and raking until the soil resembles fine breadcrumbs. Leave for a week to settle and then sow.
Make a wormery
Worms are super scrap eaters and will convert kitchen leftovers into dark crumbly compost in no time. Use a medium-sized, plastic dustbin with a lid and drill a circle of drainage holes a few centimeters up from the base. Add another row of air holes below the lid. Place a layer of gravel or coarse sand in the bottom and cut some wood into a circle to fit inside of the bin, just above the sand and grit. Add a few drainage holes and layer with damp newspaper and at least 15cm of ‘bedding’ material such as garden compost and leaf mould. Give it a good water so it’s nice and damp. Place approximately 500g worms on top (ideally native compost worms, try Wiggly Wigglers) and then add kitchen scraps but avoid lots of acidic scraps such as onions or citrus fruit peelings. Finish with a layer of damp cardboard or newspaper and leave undisturbed for a few weeks in a sheltered spot. Slowly add more waste, little and often. On very cold nights, the chomping might slow right down as worms don’t like to be chilled. Insulate your bin with bubble wrap, or bring it into warmth. When it’s full of soil, remove your lovely, rich compost – and free the worms – and start all over again!
Lavish bread with homemade garlic butter by growing your own below…
Grow pots of potatoes
You don’t need acres of allotment to grow potatoes – try patio potatoes in a sturdy shopping bag or old dustbin. You can get a head-start by planting first early or new potatoes into greenhouse beds, or into deep pots, buckets, bags, barrels, or even tyres. Here’s how…