March at Plot 4

February has been a pretty rough month here on the south coast. It seems its rained for most of the month and the allotment is wetter than ever. Still, the last week of the month has brought glimmers of spring and I’m writing this sat in my light filled kitchen with thoughts of seed sowing and the spring preparations in my head.

We are well and truly into the ‘hungry gap’ and I’ve only been able to harvest a bit of produce from the plot. The Swiss chard continues to be a stalwart and has provided us with many a meal over the last few weeks. The rocket and other salads have also been gracing our plates, recently teamed with a rather delicious tartiflette made by my wife. We still have some Jerusalem artichokes in the ground and they need to be eaten before they begin to sprout and start growing again. However hard you try you can never get all the tubers out of the soil, so you’re guaranteed a crop next year. Many of the artichokes have gone into a beautifully creamy puree to accompany fish or grilled meats.

Hopefully we have had the last of the winter storms and the weather will be warming a little; I’ve rebuilt or reglazed the greenhouse too many times this winter, and the greenhouse is bound to fill up this month as sowing starts with earnest. I’ll be sowing tomatoes in the greenhouse, bought from the fabulous Franchi Seeds (a little more pricey than some seed companies, but the packets are always packed with seeds and they have a great range of varieties so justify the few extra pennies). Like the celeriac of last month, the parsnips need a good length of growing, so I’ll be pre-germinating some seeds this month before sowing in plugs in the greenhouse.

Last month’s rain has meant that many of the jobs I wanted to get completed in February have not been finished. I potted up some strawberry runners at the end of last year and have been gifted some strawberry plants too. So, I need to prepare a new strawberry bed by digging in some manure and compost to give the plants the best start possible. Strawberries are such a good crop to grow, as they cost a bomb in shops, and are pretty simple to grow. Apart from protecting them from the birds later in the year, the only problem is managing to get them home to use in meals, rather than being picked and eaten there and then. Its not just beds for strawberries that need preparation, once the wet soil drains a little I need to dig in compost and manure and prepare the whole plot for the growing season. In particular, I’ll be piling manure onto the squash patch, so when I plant squash out later in the year they will have an abundant source of organic matter to gorge themselves on.

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This post is contributing to The Garden Share Collective; an international group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills.