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What to do out there in March

  • In the olitory garden, sow leeks, beets, chardbeet, scorzonera, parsnips, parsley, sorrel, ‘borrage’, chervil and ‘sellery’. Most to be ‘blanch’d’ by laying them under ‘netting’ and earthing up.
  • Boost plants growing permanently in containers with top dressing. Ensure the compost is moist, loosen the surface and remove the top 2.5-5cm (1-2in), along with any weeds. Sprinkle slow release fertiliser over the surface and dress with fresh potting compost.
  • Pot dahlia tubers under glass to encourage growth before planting out. To bring shoots for cuttings, set the tuber in a seed tray of compost in a warm propagating case.
  • Plant gladiolus corms 13-16cm (5-6in) deep and 15cm (6in) apart into well-drained soil.
  • Harvest tasty spears of purple-sprouting broccoli, taking a few from each plant. Plan sowings from mid-April to mid-May for next year’s pickings.
  • Prune hard, down to a low framework willows and cornus grown for winter stems, buddleja, late flowering clematis and Clerodendrum bungei.
  • Plant out penstemons, pinks and sweet peas. If these have been under glass, harden them off first by placing outdoors for a week. This avoids the double shock of weather and disturbance.
  • Sow peas direct to the soil only if it is beginning to dry out and warm up. Otherwise, start them under glass in pots, modules or guttering. Plant out broad beans started under glass earlier.

Module-grown peas ready for planting

Penstemon cuttings ready to separate and pot for planting out later

Gardening kit

Ideal for veg in a small garden, or a project for elderly relatives who can’t bend, VegTrug ( planters enable easy growing. Raised on legs and made from sustainable plantation-grown fir in a variety of sizes, the sections are delivered flatpacked. Although the website clip makes assembly look easy and straightforward, it might be a plan to invite a DIY-inclined relative to tea on the day of construction. Once up, the liner fitted and the trug filled with compost, the fun part can start. I rather like the VegTrug Cold Frame (£7.99 from designed to fit the Small Wooden Patio Planter (£1299.99 from Marshalls). The framed lid of double insulation polycarbonate is ideal for starting tender crops early and nursing along delicate plug plants. The lid can open partially or fully to ventilate on mild days.


Gladiolus corms ready for planting

Harvesting purple sprouting broccoli

Gardening expert and author of the Quilter Cheviot Gardening Club, Anne Swithinbank.

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