Happy Friday GIYers, March is officially the first month of spring. Hurrah! It is a key month in the food grower’s garden and the first of three exceptionally busy months for the GIYer. Here are all our top tips as to what to get up to in the garden this month;
|Preparation Continue to prepare ground – there is still time to prepare a plot or make a raised bed to grow vegetables this summer. Remove the covering from covered beds that will need to be used for planting in March. Fork or rake over the soil and break up large clods of earth. Avoid treading on the soil. In mild weather you can start to harden off hardier seedlings by moving them outside during the day. Don’t forget to bring them back in at night. Don’t be fooled by the slight warmth in the air – March can still bring occasional frosts which will cause havoc for some seedlings and plants, such as potato plants. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and cover new seeds with fleece if you think a frost is due. You can buy horticultural fleece in most garden centres.
|To Do List Once you sow seeds you need to protect them from your nemesis, the slug. Start your daily slug patrols and lay beer traps. Don’t let new-season weeds take over your plot – now’s the time to get on top of them by hoeing. Hoe your entire veggie patch once a week if possible. Last chance to prune apple trees and perennial herb plants like thyme and mint etc. Top dress over-wintered crops such as onions, spring cabbage etc. Use good quality compost or well-rotted chicken manure – this will give the crops a good spring boost.
|Sowing Seeds & Planting Out Always check the individual details on seed packets – more often than not, the information on the back of a seed packet will tell you the vast majority of information you need to know about growing that particular vegetable.
Sow indoors on a sunny windowsill or heated greenhouse: lettuce, aubergine, pepper, chilli-pepper, cucumbers, celery, celeriac, fennel, sweet corn, basil, leeks, summer cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, parsley, courgette, French beans.
Sow outdoors or under cover: broad beans, red cabbage, carrots cauliflower, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, onions, leeks, turnip, peas, radishes, early lettuce, asparagus. It’s worth growing the following flowers because of the benefits they bring to your veggies: calendula (marigold), centaurea (cornflower) and nasturtium. These pretty annuals will help deter aphids and whitefly while attracting beneficial lacewings and ladybirds. Take the pain out of springtime sowing – consider a seed growing group with friends.
Have you been chitting your spuds? Plant your first early seed potatoes, as soon as weather conditions allow. Paddy’s Day traditionally but wait until the soil is warm and weather has improved. Don’t worry if that’s not until April. Plant asparagus crowns, globe artichokes and Jerusalem Artichoke tubers.
What’s In Season? March was officially called The Hungry Gap because of the dearth of fresh vegetables. The efficient GIYer thumbs their nose at the notion of a hungry gap and this month is enjoying (from the ground and from storage) onions, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, some varieties of lettuce, mint, sprouting broccoli, kale, rhubarb, chard, the first of the spring cauliflowers and cabbage, and spinach (perpetual, spinach beet). Under cover in the polytunnel or greenhouse you could also be harvesting lettuce, rocket, cauliflower and carrots (ready now from late autumn planting).
|Leek & Cashel Blue Cheese Tartlet This Denis Cotter recipe appeared in our book GROW COOK EAT and was originally in his cookbook Paradiso Seasons. It serves 4. Ingredients 150g plain flour
• a large pinch of salt
• 75g cold butter
• 40mls cold water
• 500g leeks
• 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon chopped chives
• 100g Cashel Blue cheese
• 400g cherry tomatoes
• drizzle of olive oil
• 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar Directions Sift the flour and salt together, rub in the butter, add the water and form into a dough. Shape it into a ball with your hands, flatten it gently and chill for at least half an hour. Roll the pastry and cut out circles to fit four small tartlet cases of about 7cm diameter. Prick the pastry cases all over with a fork and chill them again for 30 minutes, then bake them for eight to ten minutes at 180°C/350°F, until crisp. Slice the leeks in half lengthways, and wash them well, then slice them thinly.
Melt the butter in a wide pan and cook the leek and garlic over high heat for about five minutes, until the leeks soften. Add the mustard and chives, and cook for one minute more. Season with salt and pepper. Fill each pastry case three-quarters full with the leeks, and crumble some blue cheese on top. Bake the tartlets at 180°C/350°F for eight to ten minutes, until the leeks have warmed through and the cheese has melted. Put the cherry tomatoes in a small oven dish and sprinkle with a little olive oil and salt. Roast in the oven for eight to ten minutes, until softened a little, adding the balsamic vinegar for the last minute of cooking. Spoon a pile of roasted tomatoes in their juice on each plate and place a tartlet on top.
|Read For World Book Day “Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” To celebrate World Book Day we are challenging you to enjoy the simpler things in life like diving into a great book. If you can’t decide on a book what a better way to celebrate than with our own pride & joy – GIY’s Know It Allmanac & GROW COOK EAT!
|Shop Seeds At GIY From aubergines to our wildflower mix there is something for all kinds of growers. You can shop the full range on the GIY website.
|Our first season GROWBox from our GROWBox subscription has started shipping. If you have already ordered yours you should be receiving yours shortly. Don’t worry if you haven’t order yet. There is still time to get your subscription started. Our Early Spring GROWBox gives you are top seeds to start sowing in late February/early March. Order your subscription now so you can enjoy continuous veg throughout the year! When will you receive your boxes? Early Spring (dispatch 1st week of Feb): Tomatoes, Chillis, Beetroot & Lettuce Late Spring (dispatch 1st week of April): Squash, Courgette, Peas & Carrots Summer (dispatch 1st week of June): Chard, Kale, French Beans & Basil Autumn (dispatch 1st week of Aug): Rocket, Oriental Greens, Radish & Spinach