Like September, March is the main sowing month, only this time it is for autumn and winter crops. The main crops to grow are leafy greens (lettuce, Asian greens, spinach and Swiss chard), easy root crops (carrots, beetroot, radishes) and the big four of brassicas– broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale.
Make space by taking out summer crops that are finished or almost finished. If you don’t want to sacrifice the last tomatoes, says Marlaen Straathof of Kirchhoffs seeds, pull out the plants and hang them upside down (including roots) in a cool place for the fruit to ripen.
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Wash seedling trays and pots in hot water with liquid soap and stock up with a germinating mix. Renew the nutrients by adding in compost and working it into the top few centimetres. A slow-release fertiliser like Vigorosa can be added. It improves soil structure and fertility.
1. This is the season to sow lettuce, which grows and tastes better in the cooler months. if you like variety in one packet, sow Kirchhoffs lettuce mixed, which contains a selection of red and green lettuce, with varied leaf types. The outer leaves can be picked individually as new leaves grow from the centre or the plant can be left to form a full head. Cool-season lettuce needs full sun, fertile soil, and regular watering. Keep the soil consistently moist. Drought-stressed lettuce develops a bitter taste.
2. Baby spinach Lazio is ideal for baby-leaf salads, as well as stir-fries. The leaves are ready for harvest within 35 days. Snip the leaves with scissors. Although plants will grow again it is easier to sow in succession (every two to three weeks) to ensure a constant crop. It too needs full sun and fertile, moist soil.
3. Chinese cabbage Michilli (Kirchhoffs) grows like cos lettuce and has the texture of lettuce but the delicate, sweetish flavour of cabbage. It is good for salads or steamed as a green and is harvestable within 80 days. Like all cabbages, it needs very fertile soil, good drainage and regular watering. Watch out for aphids. If they infest the head of the cabbage it becomes inedible.
4. Beetroot Bulls Blood is a favourite Kirchhoffs variety because of its striking red leaves. When picked young they can be added to salads and baby greens. The large round beets have red and white zoning, making it an attractive vegetable for salads and roasting.
Vegetables. Picture: iStock
Beetroot needs light soil that drains well and is not too fertile otherwise the leaves develop at the expense of the roots. This heirloom variety is ready for harvest within 60 days.
5.Kale is the easiest of all the brassicas to grow and its leaves can be continuously har-vested through to summer. It thrives in cold weather, which improves the flavour. Kirchhoffs Vates Blue Curled is low growing heirloom veggie from Scotland with fine curling leaves that are super nutritious. Harvest within 20 days for baby leaves and 50 for mature.Plant in fertile soil that drains well and keep moist. Fertilise with a nitrogen-rich liquid feed once a month.6.Radishes are great in salads or as a snack. Both Cherry Belle and Sparkler (pink and white) have crisp, juicy flesh and a tangy flavour.
The first radishes can be pulled within a month. Garden tasks for MarchIn hot, dry weather, check for the red spider. Wet the underside of the leaves and if mites are noticed, spray underneath the leaves with Ludwig’s Insect Spray. Give a last application of fertiliser to chillies and peppers, tomatoes, brinjals and squash. Water regularly and weed.
Renew mulch; it also helps to suppress weeds.
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FOOD AND DRINK