How to stay sane in mad March

<span>‘First thing to sow? For us it’s probably poppies.’</span><span>Photograph: Allan Jenkins</span>
‘First thing to sow? For us it’s probably poppies.’Photograph: Allan Jenkins

The third of the third today. Mad March: the month that exposes the north-south split. When temperatures in the south of the UK will likely be a few degrees warmer than in, say, Scotland.

Southerners may start to take risks with planting and sowing that would be inadvisable further north. That said, first-early potatoes should be good to go into ground most anywhere by the end of the month. Just keep an eye on your most-trusted local forecast.

March is the last chance to plant bare-root pear and apple trees, currant and berry bushes

We should have sorted seeds by now. I may tell myself I am sowing in March to test the soil (7C is the sweet spot) but garlic, onion and shallot sets should be fine to plant this month. Still safest, though, to sow summer crops indoors or under cover.

March is the last chance this year to plant bare-root pear and apple trees, currant and berry bushes and complete any winter pruning. Remember to keep an eye out for aphids. Slugs and snails will also soon be on the move.

It is time, too, to feed overwintering crops. We will be dosing liquid seaweed to boost our chards, Italian and Asian leaves, ready for a late last pick. Wherever you grow, though, it is the month to clear winter away, to tidy flower and vegetable beds.

Allotment irregulars will return to the site as the days warm and lengthen (BST begins on 31 March). It will soon be time to think about planning working parties.

So, the growing year starts here. But maybe remember as spring and early-summer work quickens, to take a moment to look around. Soak it in. To perhaps appreciate the joy of growing wherever you are.

Now, what’s the first seed you’ll sow this year? For us, it’s poppies and nasturtiums. Perhaps soon to be followed by peas.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from