Allotment monthly calendar
Weather trends in March
Tasks to do in March

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Jobs to do on your allotment or vegetable plot in March

All allotment and vegetable gardening tasks are weather dependant, so let's first consider what the weather is like in March.

The weather trends in March

General trends
What is the weather usually like in March? Well, March can be a very changeable month. The weather changes from day to day, and from year to year. So it is difficult to predict. Plants rest over winter but begin to grow again when the temperature rises above 6°C (43°F). For gardeners, the obvious sign is that the lawn starts to grow.

Around mid-March, Spring arrives in the South of England, Midlands, and coastal regions of Northern England and Scotland.

The Pennines and Highlands often have to wait until April until the temperature consistently rises above 6°C.

Throughout March, the sun’s rays are growing stronger, causing temperatures to rise. In the Midlands, peak March temperatures now average 10°C (50°F), but at night temperatures can still drop to around 2-3°C (36-37°F). When temperatures drop to this level, frosts can catch vegetable gardners unawares.

Average night-time temperatures in western Scotland are similar, although eastern Scotland sees nightly dips as low as 0°C (32°F). Peak temperatures in Cornwall and south Devon are much warmer, 12°C (54°F) being common, and lows dipping only to 2.5-4°C (36-40°F). Frost here is extremely unlikely.

If your allotment is in a town or city, you should remember that temperatures in urban are several degrees warmer than rural ares. So in urban areas in Northern regions, it is possible to begin plantings that would normally take place a few weeks later.

The trend recently has see above average and even exceptionally above average temperatures in March.

There are widespread showers this month, but usually less total rainfall than earlier in the year. The recent rain trend has seen below average rainfall in March for most regions of the UK (Northern Ireland being the only exception). As temperatures rise and rainfall lessens, the soil begins to drain and become more workable. This is why March is often a good time to prepare beds.

Heavy showers and melting snow continue to wash nutrients out of the soil, which which means that a Spring application of fertiliser is always welcome. Actual averages for March rainfall vary from 43mm in East Anglia, to 65mm in southeast England, 100mm in south-west England, 90mm in northern England and eastern Scotland, and140mm in western Scotland.

North-westerly winds often bring cold, strong breezes. And, like the saying ‘March winds will blow and we shall have snow’, snow, sleet and hail are also likely. Winds can reach gale-force, particularly along the western coast of the UK. This can cause damage to fruit trees - so make sure you are prepared and your trees are secured properly.

The days are now longer and light is beginning to reach adequate levels, even in northern regions. The clocks go back towards the end of the month - a welcome relief to all. There is an average 30 % increase in sunshine levels across the UK in March. 90-100 hours are expected as a broad average across the UK. South-east, south and south-west England usually get more sunshine that northern England and eastern Scotland. The least sunshine is found in western and northern Scotland.


* Sow early celery, peas, broad beans & spinach

* Plant out autumn sown onions

* Hoe frequently for weed control & soil aeration

* Clean & weed asparagus bed

* Add manure or fertiliser in final soil preparation.

Peach trees can be pruned between now and early April. Hardy grapes can be pruned at any time. Now is a good time to plant fruit trees. If you are not able to plant trees and bushes immediately, store bare-root plants in a cold area.

Growing things
March is a good time to propagate (begin growing) most plants. March to April is a good time to start seeds indoors, in a greenhouse or a cold frame. Many vegetable crops can be sown this month, especially in mild areas with light soil, including: broad beans, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, bulb onions, lettuces, radish, peas, spinach, summer cabbage, salad leaves, leeks, Swiss chard, kohl rabi, turnip and summer cauliflower. Check the weather. If the weather is cold and miserable, do not plant. In 2008, it snowed at the end of March and temperatures were below freezing.

March is a good time to start preparing beds before planting. Prepare seeds beds, covering them with clear polythene or fleece to warm up the soil before sowing.

Chit early and main crop potatoes (this can be done from December onwards. Place the potatoes in an egg box in a cool room with some light. The potatoes will begin to shoot, ready for planting. In mild regions, earlies are planted towards the end of March. In colder regions, it is better to wait until April. Good Friday is traditionally a good day for planting out potatoes.

Onions, shallots, garlic and onion sets
Plant shallots, garlic and onion sets.

Artichokes, asparagus
Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers. Plant asparagus crowns. A deep, friable, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter incorporated is ideal.

Tomatoes can either remain in the greenhouse or be grown outside from early summer onwards.

Salad crops
Salad crops can be difficult to plant in March, but not impossible if you life in a mild area or the weather is fine and the risk of frost has passed. It it best to read the instructions on the back of seed packets to check on the temperature requirements.

Other plantings
Sweet peppers, cucumbers, aubergines, celery, salads and globe artichokes can all be sown in a greenhouse (you will need to provide some heating if there is a risk of frost.

Check rabbit proof fences are still in tact. Put up supports for runner beans, peas etc.

When spring cabbages are ready to harvest, cut them off the stem using a sharp knife and make a cross in the top of the cut stem. Sometimes, if you are lucky, mini-cabbages, or ‘spring greens’ will grow from the cut stems.

Pests and diseases to watch out for in March

Tree pests
Now is the time to be on the alert for pests on your outdoor trees and shrubs.

Now is a good time to check your shed for mouse nests. Make sure that crops that are sill in the ground, and new sowings under protective cloches, are free from from mice.

Fruit and vegetable stores
Check for an remove any mouldy or rotten produce. Check for mouse nests.

Slugs are a never ending threat. Make sure you have a strategy for dealing with them throughout the year.

Pigeons love to eat brassicas and many other vegetables. The only reliable method of control is to use cloches or netting frames to keep them away from vulnerable crops.

Yellow leaf watch - sprouts and cabbages
Pick yellowing leaves off Brussels sprouts and other brassicas promptly, to prevent spread of grey mould and brassica downy mildew.

Natural predators
Many forms of wildlife including amphibians will eat pests. Attracting wildlife to your garden can act as a method of pest control.

As the temperature increases, insects will begin to emerge. If winter and spring has been particularly mild, this problem can start early. It is not unknown to see cabbage caterpillars in early spring or even late winter - usually because they have hatched from eggs laid the previous autumn and have survived the winter.


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