The main job this month is soil preparation.
- Don’t rush into jobs, pace yourself the last thing you want at this time of year (or at all) is too put your back out from overdoing things and keeping you off the allotment for the next couple of months.
- After a couple of dry days and a bit of sun the surface of the soil will begin to dry and become perfect for making the first outdoor sowings.
- Spend some time breaking down the larger lumps with the back of your fork, Lightly tread the soil to remove any soft spots that could sink and form water holding craters. Its important to create a firm level surface to ensure all of the seeds are sown at the same depth to provide even germination.
- Weeds will start to appear this month, keep your hoe moving through the soil at every opportunity.
- Dig in any green manure as soon as possible to avoid any deep cultivation of the soil in the April.
- Harvest – leeks, parsnips, kale, savoy cabbage, sprouting broccoli and sprouts.
- If over wintered crops such as leeks and brassicas get in the way dig up and replant them in the shade, they will remain fit to use for several weeks as long as they are kept moist.
- Outside – Sow seeds of parsnips, leeks, carrots, peas, beetroot lettuce, broad beans and Khol Rabi in the open ground.
- In the greenhouse sow seeds of Brussels Sprouts, celeriac and celery.
- Plant out shallots, late garlic and early cultivars of potatoes but only if the soil has warmed, delay if the ground is till cold as planting them in cold soil will set them back by several weeks. Also any check to onions will cause them to bolt in the heat of the summer.
- Dig your runner bean trench and fill with your kitchen peelings. Cover with soil. You can use this area to grow a quick catch crop of lettuce before your beans are planted out in May.
- Check all ties and stakes of fruit trees and bushes before they break into growth and start to produce their delicate fruiting buds. Any damage to fruit buds will provide the perfect entry point for disease.
- Protect Strwaberry plants from frost. Cover them with fleece or cloches but don’t forget to ventilate on sunny days.
- Harvest forced rhubarb.
Pests and diseases.
Following sunny warm days the female aphids will be leaving their overwintering quarters and are looking for somewhere to lay their eggs. The soft fleshy tips of young growth on fruit trees are the perfect spot. Inspect plants regularly and be ready to spray with a suitable insecticide or fatty acid before their numbers get out of hand. Be extra vigilant under glass in the warm conditions the population of green and white fly will soon get out of control. Although it is too cold for biological controls set up sticky traps to capture the first hatchlings.