MARCH IN THE VEG PATCH


Its March lets get growing some food. Raised beds work for me. 
If you are a beginner at growing vegetables and are a wee bit phased by all the terminology and new words out there to do with horticulture,don't worry real experience comes with trying and maybe failing,but then using your experience to get it right the next time. Anyone can grow vegetables.
Most of my  limited knowledge comes from exactly the above and from wise words from old wise gardeners be it a back yard city gardener or and old farmer in the country. Give it a go. Once you start and you smell or taste the fruits or veg of your labour ,you will be hooked.My city wife couldn't believe that carrot smells so much of carrot.
Also don't forget to get the kids involved and check out our kids growing blog http://www.patchworkjunior.blogspot.com/


March can be a funny old month, with temperatures rising in the greenhouse and polytunnel on sunny days, but still the threat of frost at nights. You will need to be vigilant, particularly in caring for young seedlings.There are alot of experts saying hold off ( and they are correct) ,watch the frost,but for me as an impatient grower, I like to see a few seedlings popping their heads up early.My motto is if I lose them,I start again. But if you take a few precautions and cover with a cloche etc,you will have success. The reward, if the weather is mild, is the first tender harvest of early-sown salads. Still at this time of year when you see the frost and clear skies in the morning ,you know you are going to have a lovely afternoon.
So what can you be doing. 

• Sow in pots or modules for planting out undercover: Tomatoes*, peppers*, chillies*, aubergines*, courgettes*, French beans*, basil*, cucumbers*, half-hardy companion plants (such as French marigolds, cosmos)*
• Sow in pots or modules for planting on veg plot: tomatoes*, summer cabbage and cauliflowers, parsley, leeks, broad beans
• Sow direct undercover: Carrots, beetroot, second batch of cutting salads (leaf lettuce, rocket, cress, oriental greens); green manures
• Plant undercover: Calabrese, cabbage, lettuce, kohl rabi, sugar peas, spring onions (all sown in pots or modules last month), leftover onion sets
(* crops which need extra heat) 
Early-mid March is the last chance to sow tomatoes, aubergines and peppers if they are to give you a worthwhile crop. Otherwise you will need to buy plants. To be sure of a choice of varieties, order now from mail-order catalogues for April or May delivery rather than rely on the garden centre. 
When planning a vegetable garden, remember that you want to plant all warm season vegetables after the last frost. Pay attention to these frosts, and plan accordingly in order to choose the best, safest growing option. Planting zones and recommended times are usually listed on the back of seed packets. But as you know the weather can be unpredictable.
In mild areas, sow courgettes, French beans, and outdoor varieties of cucumber in heat for planting out in polytunnel beds. They only take three to four weeks to be ready for planting, so only sow if you will be able to keep the plants frost free by then – otherwise wait until early next month. Greenhouse cucumber plants need to be maintained at higher temperatures (at least 15C/60F), so early sowings need heated greenhouses.
While the soil we supply is nutrient enriched you will still need to feed your vegetables. Proper fertilizer is essential for your new vegetable garden. Seamungus would be a favorite of mine.Water soluble or granular fertilizer is the best option. 15-15 or 20-20 fertilizer is a good choice, as it affords your plants the correct balance and mix of essential nutrients and ingredients they need. You should fertilize the soil before planting the seeds by at least a week or so before. The fertilizer should be worked into the top soil six inches deep. After your plants begin to grow, you can always add more fertilizer to your vegetable garden as the need arises.
It is not an exact science and all growing seasons/temps are different between Donegal and Cork and Dublin and Galway. So have a good season. And don't forget to order some raised garden beds. So lets get vegetable gardening in some raised vegetable beds following some good gardening advice and you are well on the way to the grow your own life.