by Max Akroyd

According to one authority, the hour change at the end of this month is the harbinger of over two hundred extra hours in the garden. The adjective most associated with the new month is my gardening books is ‘hope’… it’s all a perfect antidote to the grind that was late winter. It may take until the 21st to be Spring proper, but no one told nature about that…

The other day I sorted out my seeds to be sown in March. During most months this process usually involves taking some seed packets out of a big box and sorting them into that month’s little box. For March you take out the seeds you’re not going to sow and put them in the little box. It’s still too early for runner beans and most French beans, sweet corn and winter squash but most other things vegetable and edible take a bow this month.

The big watershed is the proper start of the direct sowing season. Tentatively at first, seeds get sown into soil, not fancy seed compost but outside in the soil as nature intended. Peas, broad beans, beetroot, parsnips, spinach are all worth a shot before the end of the month. Similarly en plein air is the mass potato planting: it doesn’t get more important than that.  I know some people do carrots too, but around here that’s throwing them into an unwinnable battle with the first flush of annual weeds, so I’ll wait until a bit later.

It’s also planting out time for the October-sown stalwarts which have been waiting patiently in pots. Cauliflowers, collards, kales will colonise lots of bed space (albeit looking a bit scrawny at first in the big field). And that, for me, is the big flavour of this month: the occupation of winter’s bare soil before nature has her wicked way and clothes the lot in a thicket of weeds!