Your gardening calendar: Top tasks for March!
Our monthly calendar guides focus on what we do: Wildflowers, edible crops and wildlife. Here, we'll take you step-by-step through the most important sowing, growing and nature-friendly tasks for March.
Sowing and growing wildflowers
Go go go!
It's time! A host of wildflowers (both single species and mixes) can be sown during March.
Hardy annuals like cornflowers and field poppies should be fine even if a late frost rears its head after sowing.
Wild blue cornflowers are great wildflowers for beginners, or folk without much time. They grow vigorously, quickly and easily in most sunny spots, can bloom for months, and bees love them.
Try sowing wildflower patches in spare spots around your garden or vegetable patch, to add splashes of colour and valuable 'refueling' stops for pollinating insects.
Sowing and growing fruit, vegetables and herbs
There are lots of vegetable and herb seeds you can sow during March, and after the long winter months, you're probably very keen to get going! Just a couple of words of caution:
First, the climate in different parts of the UK can vary dramatically. Gardeners in the south of England can often get away with sowing seeds outside/in an unheated greenhouse two or three weeks earlier than those in the north of Scotland.
Second, beware spring frosts! If you sow too early and the seeds germinate during a warm patch, they are then at risk of getting killed off by a flash frost. So if in doubt, err on the side of caution, wait a couple of weeks and keep checking your local weather forecast.
Sowing and growing outdoors
With all that in mind , radishes and rainbow chard are both salad crops that can be sown directly into the ground during March.
Although many people sow borage as a wildflower for bees, it is actually a herb. Its leaves, stalks and flowers are all edible - and the flowers make very pretty ice cubes to pop into summer drinks.
If March is mild (and looks likely to remain so), borage can be sown directly into the ground as well. If in any doubt though, it's fine to wait until April.
Other vegetables you can sow outside during March include spinach, spring onion, turnip and early varieties of broad beans and peas.
Rhubarb and strawberry plants can also be planted directly into the ground.
And you can plant onion sets outside too - this RHS guide to growing onions and shallots will get you started.
Remember to hoe up any weeds that emerge on your veg beds as soon as you see them! It's much easier to attack them now, before they grow, spread and set seed.
Sowing and growing indoors
Back in February, we said you could start growing tomatoes, rocket and windowsill herbs indoors. You can still get all these seeds started in March - along with mixed salad leaves.
If you have a greenhouse (particularly a heated one) there are loads of vegetables you can sow during March: Aubergine, sweet pepper, cucumber, chillis, celery, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, leeks and lettuce - to name but a few!
Perennial herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme and lemon balm can also be started in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill, to be planted outside later in the year.
Top tips to help wildlife
Grow plants for pollinators
You can create a fantastic environment for wildlife by sowing the right wildflowers this month. A good mix of native plant species in a garden - both annual and perennial types - can provide food and shelter for a huge range of pollinating insects.
This Little Green Space guide - all about gardening for bumblebees - is a must-read.
And for more detailed advice on individual species, check out this Plants for Pollinators information, from the RHS.
Help your local birds build their nests
March is an absolutely key nesting month for many garden birds - and there are several ways you can can make it easier for them.
First, please don't prune back any hedges or trees if there's a smallest chance they could contain a nest (under both UK and Scottish legislation, it's actually illegal to intentionally damage or destroy the next of any wild bird while it is being built or in use).
Instead, support the nest-building process by providing blackbirds, robins, wrens and other local birds with easy access to the right materials.
It's a good wee activity for children, too - simply gather dried moss, hay and tiny twigs and tie it all into bundles which you can leave near your bird feeders for busy birds to find.
Here's a good guide from the RSPB, all about nesting birds and how to help them at this time of year.