After January’s appropriate chill, February threw us a curve-ball in the shape of a blast of warm air up from the Canary Islands. A few days of positively June-like warmth saw weed seedlings shooting up, pear and apple blossom buds almost breaking (hopefully they’ll have paused again now the weather has returned to grey, damp normal) and the first insect-bite of the year (ouch!)
Now the calendar has turned again, and March presents us with new additions to the list of jobs to be cracking on with. It won’t be quite as busy as April, when the Propagation starts to ramp up and the seed-sowing production line really clicks into gear, but there are still plenty of maintenance and preparation jobs to be done on the plot.
Here’s a run-down of what’s on our to-do list:
Jobs On Plot #59 (main plot)
We’re pleased with the amount we were able to get done in February – in stark contrast to last year when we were stuck inside, sheltering from the Beast From the East – the highlights of which were undoubtedly starting off a hugelkultur bed, setting up and planting out the new raspberry section, dividing and replanting half our rhubarb crowns, and pruning the Plot #79 orchard. (If you’re interested in a more detailed run-down of activity last month, please see the Feb 2019 journal page.)
- Planting – two more step-over trained apples.
- Constructing – a post-and-wire support for cordon apples, planting the six that I grafter last year, which have been growing in air-pots at home.
- Sowing – parsnips (direct).
- Planting out – potatoes. Er, if I remember to get hold of some seed spuds from somewhere, that is. And broad beans, once the plants in the greenhouse are large enough.
- Greenhouse deep clean – I’ve done the the 10’x8′ at home but the 6’x6′ on the plot still needs to be citrox-washed and sluiced down. I’m hoping to get that done during the week.
- Planning – for a pond. (We’ve been thinking of buying a plastic liner and putting in a small pond at the plot, just big enough to host a few frogs and their spawn.)
- Central path laying – (still on the list…) there are another 7 or 8 3×2′ industrial-grade concrete slabs waiting to be bedded down, but the base needs digging out first and sand spreading.
- Clearing grass – (ditto…) a lack of time at the plot last year has led to a resurgence of grass in a few places. I plan to scrape it back and use the rough turf on the aforementioned hugelkultur bed.
Jobs On Plot #79 (orchard)
My good mate Ian P and I took care of the formative pruning of the apples, pears, quince and medlar a couple of weeks ago, so that’s done and done well. Members of the Prunus family – our plum, gage and damson – will wait until late April or early May, once the risk of silverleaf disease has abated.
I’ve also weeded the tree circles, which leaves the following:
- Additional stakes and ties – one or two of the young trees are growing away at odd angles. A fresh stake and a re-tie should help encourage them into a better growth pattern.
- Tree circle re-mulch – add a bit more composted bark where needed.
- Path repair – the flag path between plot #79 and the next-door neighbour is in a pretty poor state of repair. It needs lifting, digging out, re-sanding and re-laying.
Jobs at Home
With the main (10′ x 8′) greenhouse freshly scrubbed and hosed down, it’s ready for the seed sowing season to start. Although April and May are the main months for mass-propagation, there are a few plants it’s either wise or necessary to start off a bit earlier, or that we’re trying to sow and grow in waves this year, to avoid massive gluts. (Ha! 50p says nature has other ideas…)
On the list for this month:
- Sowing – early cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, beetroot, first batches of salad leaves, squash (patty pan types), maybe a few others.
- Re-Sowing – early / hardy herbs – The first batch did not work well. Old seed, maybe. I’ll check the dates on the packets, re-sow a few, see what happens.
- Shed sort-out – ongoing. Still some rubbish to clear though.
- Pot and label cleaning – (as per Jan / Feb) it hasn’t happened yet, but if the weather deteriorates it’ll be time to get out the scrubbing brush and mild detergent to clean up a batch of seed trays, pots and plant labels.
How about you? What are you planning to crack on with in March? Let us know, via the comments…