Go find some bargains!

This point in the year is a great time to grab a bargain at your local garden centres and DIY shops. Thinking for the winter and following year ahead you can pick up all sorts of tools and materials that will be sold cheap as it is the wrong season to be selling them.

For example, we have grabbed some mini polytunnels of varying materials that we can use to help warm a patch of soil next year and protect those seedlings next year from frost and predators, and they were better than half price! Fertiliser is another good bargain find, as it’s not used as much this time of the year, so large buckets go cheaply.

So do get hunting now as it’s never too early to start prepping for next year.

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Sowing seed and chitting potatoes

In this post I am going to talk about what we should be looking at starting in our allotment for the year. By now your plot should almost be ready to go. Don’t worry if not as there is still time to turn over soil and add compost. I still haven’t finished prepping due to all this weather! You should be looking at applying some fertiliser to the ground in preparation for planting. We are just going to use standard fertiliser from a nursery. Do look into what of your chosen crops like/dislike fertiliser and apply so.

A lot of the books would have told you by now to sow seeds indoors/greenhouses. We haven’t done this because simply we do not have the room, so I am going to by-pass this area of sowing. (If anyone out there would like to talk about this area then please let me know)

The one thing we are doing inside is potatoes. Potatoes are always started off indoors and this process is called “chitting”. A lot of people would have started this by now but we have been a little lapse with getting them ordered! But again there is still plenty of time to do this. When you go online or to your nursery to buy some you will be faced with different varieties. There will be some for mash, some for roast and others for salad potatoes so do take your time in choosing them.

You will also notice they come under different categories. These categories are classified on how long the potatoes sit in the ground before they are ready. There are “Earlies” which are normally ready to lift from 80-110 days after planting. These are the first varieties you plant, and you will look to do this from mid-march onwards, weather dependent. This will give you a crop in around June/July. Next are “SecondĀ earlies”. These varieties take anything from 100 days to 120 days to mature. You can plant from mid march onwards, but are usually planted early to mid April, and this will get you a crop in mid August. The last variety isĀ “Maincrop”. These take from 125-140 days to mature. Again these can be planted from mid-march onwards, but tend to be more popular to plant in mid April. This will get you a crop from late August through to October.

I’m going to be getting a mixture of the varieties. By using all three, it will give you a spread out crop from June through to as late as November. We planted some potatoes last year in May and got a good crop from them, so you really don’t have to rush getting them planted if you can’t. I would say that the earlier you get some in, the longer the spread of the crop.

During March we are sowing a lot of crops, most of which will be sown at the end of the month. These crops are broad beans, peas, onions, shallots and asparagus. So if you haven’t got these seeds yet do so as you do not have long. There are of course other crops out there that will be ready for sowing so check your chosen crops.

One crop that you can actually start planting from now onwards is garlic. We plan to have plenty of garlic, and are using plain bought garlic from the shop. I will be doing a post on garlic explaining the best way to plant it.

The crucial thing when sowing your crops is quantity. Keep in mind that if you plant 30 broad bean seeds at the same time, you will have 30 broad bean crops ready at the same time! Spread your sowing out. There is a good window for sowing the majority of the common crops, so spread the sowing out to make sure you are not inundated. For example you can sow broad beans from mid march to late april. That is six weeks difference for you to play with.

Do keep in mind the weather. All the guides on sowing and planting you see in books and the internet are based on a normal British spring. This time last year we had snowfall, pushing the growing season back a month. If the weather is right there is no reason you can’t plant in early March onwards, but there is a risk of frost still, so be aware.