March Blog - Ellen Mary

March Blog - Ellen Mary

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When the storms have finally passed and everyone can get outside in the garden again, there will be so much joy at spotting spring bulbs and other new growth. From buds on fruit trees to hedgerows sowing green leaves, spring is well on the way. Proceeding with caution is always my advice because late frosts and wintery weather can show up but enjoying the blue skies and early spring days is such a tonic after a long blustery winter. While I spotted a fair few greenhouses lifted off their feet and polytunnel covers blown away, my Rhino remains as sturdy as it ever has been since I’ve had it for some years now.

I moved some Rhubarb crowns in autumn over to a spot where I could grow a bunch of the together with more room. The crowns were mulched not so long ago and are looking really healthy and raring to go. Usually I harvest them from late spring all the way through to mid summer but for earlier, tender stems forcing them works well and extends the harvesting time.

Forcing Rhubarb is an age old practice of omitting light from the plant which forces the stems to grow faster meaning you can harvest them earlier, some years from March onwards. I don’t recommend doing this on newly planted crowns, or forcing the same crowns each year. I have noticed even crowns that have been moved can suffer from forcing in the first year. So pick a crown you’ve had growing for more than two years and less than five (at which point I recommend dividing them) and cover it over with a bucket or a rhubarb forcing pot and if needed, place a brick on top to keep it in place. The resulting stems will be lighter but still deliciously tasty.

I’ve finally planned what I will be growing for the year ahead and now cautiously sowing. I am never in a rush but it is still exciting each year to get the first seeds sown. Although, as ever, what I have planned to grow has already gone a little awry because some seeds are just too tempting not to try. What I do know for sure is that my Rhino Greenhouse is about to be filled to the brim.

Ellen Mary

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