Finish all digging, unless you have a light, sandy soil. Light soils can usually be dug just before cultivation. Do not apply rich compost or manure to land that is intended for root vegetables as this will encourage the roots to 'fang', producing two or more growing points per root.
With drier soil conditions, warmer weather and increased light, many more vegetables can be got under way.
Continue sowing tomatoes, aubergines and peppers, as well as French beans for early forcing, either in a heated propagator, greenhouse or indoors on a warm windowsill. Peppers (capsicum) for example will need an even temperature of between 18-21°C (65-70°F) to germinate successfully (depending on the variety). It is also time to start sowing, cucumber, celery and celeriac under cover.
The following can be sown outdoors in a sheltered spot or under cloches. Once the seedlings are emerging strongly, remove the covering to prevent them becoming weak and drawn.
Lettuce & Salad Leaves
The following can be sown direct outside without protection:
There is still time to plant out Jerusalem artichokes shallots and garlic. Autumn-sown onions can be planting out now - space them 15cm (6 in) apart. Frame raised summer cabbages sown last month and autumn sown cauliflowers can also be plant out onto their final positions. All should be planted firmly.
Use a dibber to plant cabbage, allowing 30-40 cm (12-16 in) between rows. Onion sets should be planted with the tops only just showing above the soil surface so that starlings, etc, are less likely to pull them out of the ground. Keep an eye on onion sets, replanting any that the birds pull out of the ground.
Early potatoes that were chitted indoors can be planted out during the latter half of the month, provided the soil isn't too cold or wet. Plant them 30 cm (1 ft) apart with 60 cm (2 ft) between rows. Be ready to protect from frosts once they have developed shoots above ground.
You can also plant rhubarb, ensuring it has plenty of room and a rich and heavily manured soil at the time of planting.
The first batch of the year should soon be ready for harvesting. This may well include spinach beet and possibly purple sprouting broccoli. Some early spring greens may even be approaching readiness. However, root vegetables (carrots, swedes, etc) in store will soon be spoiling, so eat them up before long.
Many species of herbs can be started this month. Mint can be planted now. You can sow basil, chervil, parsley, thyme, sage and marjoram indoors. Borage, chives and dill can also be sown outdoors in a sheltered spot, ideally near the kitchen.
Hoe the ground at first sight of weeds. However, if the land is too wet for hoeing, delay it until it dries out. Spring cabbages sown last August should be fertilized now by applying a compound fertilizer high in nitrogen. Hoe in fertilizers if possible, and if the ground is dry watered in well.
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