Real Men Sow

Its March! What Can I Sow?

Glancing back over my blog, I’ve posted a tad too much whimsical allotment pondering recently, ranging from asking whether there’s any point in me being there, to wondering if I could go car free on the plot.

With this in mind, I thought it was about time I attempted to post something vaguely useful again.

There are loads of people on Twitter and in the world around me getting very excited about sowing. Its mid March, the weather has improved a smidgen and the rhubarb is nearly ready to pick. Spring is almost here, and I’ve been rummaging through my seed boxes to remind myself what I can sow right now.

Last Saturday was a lovely day at the plot. The sun was out, there were lots of plotholders milling around, and we got through a lot of clearing up and preparation. However, before I left home I’d stuffed seed packets in my pocket, and this was playing on my mind like a chocolate cake sitting on the countertop. I just wanted to sow.

Eventually I gave in. I threw my fork down and sowed some seeds.

Carrots
I put some carrots into containers before the sun came down – just enough to satisfy my sowing urges. Both Early Nantes and Autumn King can be sown in March, and I’ve got packets of them coming out of my ears, although there are plenty of other varieties to try.

The weather is still fairly nippy, but other seeds can go in too. The soil needs to be around 5 – 6 C for hardy seeds to germinate, and it is said that if the grass starts to grow, the soil is ready. Looking at the state of my winter bed, this is certainly the case on my plot.

Beetroot
This weekend I’ll be sowing a big row of beetroot. Beets are one of my favourite things to grow, as they’re so easy and reliable. They’re hardy too, especially early varieties such as Boltardy.

Parsnips
Parsnips are also worth a try. They need a long growing season, but many believe this leads to us growers sowing them far too early, and there is a school of thought that their notoriously fickle germination is down to this. I have struggled to get them to germinate in the ground, so over the last couple of years I’ve done grown them in toilet roll modules and florist buckets.

Broad Beans and Peas
Its certainly not too late for a row of broad beans, even if you’ve overwintered some already. An extra few plants will make a good succession crop, and the surplus will freeze well too.

Peas are a hardy seed, and many are also happy to be sown now. Try Hurst Greenshaft or Early Onward for popular, reliable varieties. We’ve got them sown into old lengths of guttering at the moment, a contraption mum invented. We filled the guttering with soil, and screwed pieces of wood into each end to keep the soil and water in.

Once the peas are ready to be planted out, we’ll dig a little trench, remove the wooden ends and slide the whole lot out of the guttering and in to the trench.

Make sure there are plenty of holes in the guttering, and the soil is not too damp, or mould might set in. This is what happened to us the first time we tried to grow peas using old guttering.

If you’re sowing in the ground, a neat idea is to plant a bunch of seeds together at the end of the row. These can then be transplanted into the row to fill any gaps.

Perpetual Spinach and Radish
Other good seeds to sow and perpetual spinach and radish. Perpetual spinach will grow very quickly once spring gets underway and provide leaves well into winter, and regular three weekly sowings of radish will produce the peppery roots all through summer.

Happy sowing.

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7 Comments

  1. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!March 15, 2012 at 10:32 pmReply

    Love the guttering idea! I tried parsnips for the first time last year and it took *months* for them to germinate. Wonder if I should try again?

  2. saraMarch 18, 2012 at 12:29 pmReply

    Hi there..found you through louisa’s blog..you are just like my hubby..he can’t wait ti get it all growing again..loves his lotties..he has been and rotivated them and is all excited at getting his seeds sorted and growing..
    love your blog..will spend many hours reading..
    sara

  3. Amy BrambleMarch 18, 2012 at 4:18 pmReply

    I’ve been enjoying your whimsical posts but like many I’ve been itching to get sowing too. You’ve motivated me to get some beets, carrots and parsips in the soil this week so fingers crossed it stays warm enough for them.

    I’m fairly new to your blog but I am enjoying it hugely. Unless I missed it I’m not sure if you’ve put your potatoes in yet? I got carried away and put three bags in this week!

  4. Jono

    JonoMarch 18, 2012 at 5:56 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Sara and Amy – thanks for reading and commenting. Welcome along. :)

    Sara – sounds like a man after my own heart. Its an exciting time, but hope you don’t become too much of an allotment widow.

    Amy – I haven’t put my potatoes in yet, but that’s more because I’ve not got around to it than anything. I’m sure your potatoes will be fine.

  5. Naomi/OutofmyshedMarch 18, 2012 at 6:32 pmReply

    Hi Jono, I’ve been busily sowing flowers and veg under cover, but nothing in the ground as yet. Your post has got me itching to get out there sowing, so there’s no holding me back this week. Plus I’m running out of space as I attempt to pot seedlings on, so hurrah for warmer soil temperatures and can’t wait for the clocks to go forward next weekend too. Inspired by your parsnips in pots last year, will be giving this a go soon too. Thanks for license to sow!

  6. Jono

    JonoMarch 18, 2012 at 7:09 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Naomi, thanks for your comment.

    Messing about on the plot today, my soil is actually still quite cold, but the grass and weeds are growing fast. Put some beets this afternoon. I’m sowing old seeds at the mo, so figured I’ve nothing to lose.

    Wish I had somewhere to undercover – sold my house so a garden big enough for a small greenhouse is on my list of ‘must haves’!

    Be great to be able to sow that little bit earlier.

  7. Naomi/OutofmyshedMarch 18, 2012 at 10:46 pmReply

    Hope house/garden hunting going well. Only have a couple of small mini greenhouses leaning against the side of the house, but this does top me shoving any objects I can find in the house underneath seed trays by all available windows, much to my husband’s relief. Ooh, to have a proper greenhouse, how delicious!

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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