March is officially the first month of spring. Hurrah! It is a key month in the food grower's garden and the first of three exceptionally busy months for the GIYer. Continue to prepare ground – there is still time to prepare a plot or make a raised bed to grow vegetables this summer. Remove the covering from covered beds that will need to be used for planting in March. Fork or rake over the soil and break up large clods of earth. Avoid treading on the soil. In mild weather you can start to harden off hardier seedlings by moving them outside during the day. Don't forget to bring them back in at night. Don't be fooled by the slight warmth in the air - March can still bring occasional frosts which will cause havoc for some seedlings and plants, such as potato plants. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and cover new seeds with fleece if you think a frost is due. You can buy horticultural fleece in most garden centres.
Always check the individual details on seed packets – more often than not, the information on the back of a seed packet will tell you the vast majority of information you need to know about growing that particular vegetable. Sow indoors on a sunny windowsill or heated greenhouse: lettuce, aubergine, pepper, chilli-pepper, cucumbers, celery, celeriac, fennel, sweet corn, basil, leeks, summer cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, parsley, courgette, French beans. Sow outdoors or under cover: broad beans, red cabbage, carrots cauliflower, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, onions, leeks, turnip, peas, radishes, early lettuce, asparagus. It's worth growing the following flowers because of the benefits they bring to your veggies: calendula (marigold), centaurea (cornflower) and nasturtium. These pretty annuals will help deter aphids and whitefly while attracting beneficial lacewings and ladybirds. Take the pain out of springtime sowing - consider a seed growing group with friends.
Have you been chitting your spuds? Plant your first early seed potatoes, as soon as weather conditions allow. Paddy's Day traditionally but wait until the soil is warm and weather has improved. Don't worry if that's not until April. Plant asparagus crowns, globe artichokes and Jerusalem Artichoke tubers.
March was officially called The Hungry Gap because of the dearth of fresh vegetables. The efficient GIYer thumbs their nose at the notion of a hungry gap and this month is enjoying (from the ground and from storage) onions, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, some varieties of lettuce, mint, sprouting broccoli, kale, rhubarb, chard, the first of the spring cauliflowers and cabbage, and spinach (perpetual, spinach beet). Under cover in the polytunnel or greenhouse you could also be harvesting lettuce, rocket, cauliflower and carrots (ready now from late autumn planting).