It’s 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.
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.
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 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
It’s 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 into 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.