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March in the kitchen garden - Sowing Root Crops

March in the kitchen garden in Andalucia - Sowing Root Crops

By Nick Nutter | Updated 30 Sep 2022 | Andalucia | Organic Garden | Login to add to YOUR Favourites or Read Later
Spanish Red Potatoes

Spanish Red Potatoes

The Spanish reds and white potatoes I planted in mid January are well up now. We should be digging those about the end of April.

The weather has been perfect for working in the garden over the last month. A little rain here and there and warm days. Many of the crops finished so I have been preparing for the next crops by clearing, digging and applying compost. I want to have my rows prepared for the hungry spring sown plants such as tomatoes, peppers, chillis, squash, melon, courgettes and pepinos.

Crops that finished this last month are the Romanescu, red cabbage, swede sown last May, rocket, swiss chard, Iceberg lettuce and peas.

Carrots

Carrots

Keep sowing carrots, one row a month, to give you continuity through the summer and autumn. The carrots above are ready for thinning to about 3ins. The baby carrots taken out are wonderful in a salad or just lightly steamed with butter.


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Peas

Peas

The sugar snap peas I planted last month are up and ready for support. I use a plastic mesh net supported on sticks with a thick string ridge between the sticks. The peas are inside the net ‘tent’.

Onions planted last June as small plants and last September are just coming ready. I tend to start pulling them when the bulbs are a good size but before the foliage dies back. The onions taste the same and it extends the season. Picked like this the onion will only keep a few days in the larder though.


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Annual Herbs

If you have been following the plan over the last two months, you should now have a good framework for the herb garden with your permanent shrubby herbs and the perennials established. Hopefully, you have some pockets of ground left to sow the annual herbs. All can be grown from seed sown directly into the soil.
All do best in well prepared, composted, well-drained, soil. Keep the soil damp until the seedlings are well established. Parsley is everyone’s favourite herb. It will thrive for two years or longer but is often treated as an annual. Some gardeners maintain that the flavour is best in the first year. There are two types of parsley, flat leafed and curly. Some say that flat leaf is tastier than curly but then curly is more decorative on the plate. Grow both and decide which you prefer.

Italian Basil

Italian basil is the taste of summer. Slightly anise in flavour, it goes well with tomatoes, salads and in pesto. Italian basil is the broad-leafed kind. Greek basil has a similar taste but has small leaves. Basil originated in Africa and came to the Mediterranean via the Middle East and Asia. It likes it hot so sow in full sun towards the end of March and keep the roots moist. Other types, such as Thai or Asian basil, have a more clove-like taste, small leaves, and are suitable for all Asian recipes.

Garlic

Where would we be without garlic? Ideally, garlic cloves are planted in the autumn. They develop a strong root system over the winter that then supports the rapid leaf growth needed to form large bulbs. Cultivated bulbs are available in the autumn from garden centres. In spring though you will have to buy untreated bulbs from a market stall. Split the bulb into its separate cloves and plant them ten cms apart with the tip of the clove just showing. The bulbs will be ready in the autumn. They will not be as large as autumn sown garlic but will be perfectly acceptable. Split a few bulbs straight away and plant the cloves. You will now be in the garlic growing cycle. Just picked garlic is wonderfully soft and juicy. The juice is slightly sticky, with a robust yet sweet garlic flavour. Dry bulbs in the sun until the stem is withered and then string them together. If kept in a dry, dark, cool place they will keep until your next crop is ready. Check periodically that the bulbs are still firm. Discard any that go soft.

Coriander

Coriander is a member of the carrot family, essential in many Moroccan, Middle Eastern, Indian and Asian dishes. Sow the seeds thickly, as you would grass, and keep moist. Sow in succession every month until June for a supply from May to September. Get more value from your coriander by using the finely chopped stalks in cooking and the leaves in salads and as a garnish.

Dill

In the right ground, Dill will grow to one metre in height. It has attractive, feathery, foliage, very similar to fennel to which it is related. The slightly tangy leaves and stem are good with tomatoes, potatoes, fish and eggs. Dill will self-seed so, with an annual top dressing of compost, will look after itself.

Borage

Finally, Borage, but only if you have the space. This is another herb that will self-seed. The hairy leaves taste like cucumber, but its main value is its decorative, edible, flowers that are loved by bees and its efficacy as an accelerator on the compost heap.


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  • Wendy Shields - 16 Oct 2020
    I have just found your article about sowing root crops, very interesting. We moved to Almería (desert) from the west of Scotland (wet, rainy) and am struggling a bit with growing vegetables. Can you tell me the time of year to look out for cabbage butterflies, cabbage root fly and carrot root fly. I have just sown carrot seeds and have planted Cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts about a month ago. The brassicas, although fleeced, are all covered in holes. I have tried to pick off any caterpillars I see but I think they were infected at the seedling stage before I planted them. Any advice would be much appreciated.
    • Nick Nutter - 16 Oct 2020
      Hi Wendy, I can only comment for the Costa del Sol, which is where my allotment was. I have yet to experience a full growing season in Almeria. Of the three pests you mention, cabbage whites and carrot fly (very rare on my allotment) were pests through from the beginning of autumn to the end of spring. I found that plastic netting to cover the crop, tightly pegged to the ground and 1 metre high, kept both pests away. Unless you have a very good Viveros, it is best to grow brassicas from seed then you can keep an eye on them. Cabbage root fly I never came across here although it could be a pest back in Lancashire. Good luck with the plantings.
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