The Gardening Coach – top tips for March

It's time for sweet peas

It's time for sweet peas - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Judy Shardlow’s top tips for making the most of March in the garden

Nothing says summer in an English garden like sweet peas. Although it’s only early spring, planting sweet peas now will give your garden a summer wow factor, with flowers that both you and the bees will appreciate.

Although autumn is traditionally the time for sowing this plant, seeds can still be sown from February and will flower prolifically throughout the summer from June. The alternative is to buy sweet pea plants in modules from reputable online suppliers. These are cheap but very good quality, and are a worthwhile short cut. Colour mixes, such as Unwins Fairy Tale Mix are a good option and take the guess work out of putting different colours together.

Sweet peas have simple needs – deep rich soil in full sun and something to climb up. Adding plenty of farmyard manure when planting out in May will help to feed the young plants as well as retain moisture in the soil. As they begin to grow, they need to be carefully tied to a supporting structure, like a wigwam or trellis. Then keep them well watered, pick the flowers frequently and feed fortnightly with a high potash liquid fertiliser such as tomato feed.

March gardening jobs.

Plant summer bulbs such as the stunning lily landini, can be bought and planted now, as well as dahlia’s, gladioli and eucomis.


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Mulch borders deeply with garden or farmyard manure, taking care to avoid the crowns of any emerging plants.


Plant vegetables. Onions and shallot sets can all be planted now along with broad beans, peas and spinach.


Chit potatoes. Get early varieties of seed potatoes, such as rocket, off to a good start by putting them in a light cool place. It will encourage the potatoes to sprout before planting .


Plant a stunning specimen tree, such as magnolia stellata or amelanchier lamarkii. But make sure you plant it with care and water regularly for the next 12 months at least.


Judy Shardlow is a Herts-based gardening coach.

01438 833858