sow parsnips this month for Christmas dinner
sow parsnips this month for Christmas dinner

Planting seeds under glass You can use an unheated greenhouse, cold frame or windowsill for this and lettuce, parsnip, beans and brassicas all need to get going this month.

Once the risk of serious frost has passed these can all be sown outside under fleece or mesh protection.

Charles Dowding has a useful Sowing Timeline Guide

Watering seeds Although seeds need some moisture to begin germination too much water will rot seeds or cause small plants to “damp off”. Compost needs to be damp rather than wet.

Vermiculite Mixed into compost for growing seeds (10/20% by volume) vermiculite will regulate water and nutrient up take as the seedlings develop.

Potatoes Continue the sequence of planting, getting all in by the end of March. Potatoes can be planted in holes, drills or a trench which need to be deep enough to allow 15cms(6”) of soil above the potatoes.

To have room to earth up between each row make rows 75cm(30”) apart.

Earlies are faster growing varieties which here in Exmouth will be ready in 80-100 days from planting. They need to be planted with 30cm(12”) between each potato.

Second earlies will be ready in 100-110 days and maincrop ready in 125 days. They both need to be planted with 38cms(15”) spaces.

Add a sprinkling of potato fertiliser for each potato. This is better for potatoes than a general fertiliser like Growmore as it is low in nitrogen and will encourage root growth rather than top green growth.

Garlic,onions and shallots Plant sets  this month making sure that you allow enough space between them to be able to hoe around the plants as they grow. Make a small hole with a dibber, drop each set in and gently draw the soil around with your fingers making sure that you don’t damage the root plate leaving it vulnerable to white rot.

Green manure Its time to turn this in and get soil ready for planting so trim the top off and leave to on the ground or add to the compost heap. Dig remaining roots to one spades depth turning the spade to bury green growth too. This is immediately ready for planting out seedlings but will need to be left for 3 weeks before planting seeds.

Hoeing begins in earnest this month. If you hoe weekly it is much easier in the long run as weeds don’t get chance to take hold and chopped off will act as green manure.

Aphids Watch out for early aphids/white fly on new growth. Wipe off with your fingers or spray with seaweed extract..

Mulching With the soil still damp from winter rain, now is a good time to mulch with your own compost. If you have empty black lined compost bags these can be slit open and used as ground cover around individual fruit bushes.

Videos on seed sowing

Monty Don shares a wealth of tips in this step-by-step guide to sowing seed indoors:


Charles Dowding shares his knowledge: