Posts Tagged ‘allotment’


March is when pace of growing on the allotment really picks up. You should check all your planning is finished, and that you have a clear idea of what to plant where and when. March can be used for growing crops early in heated propagators, or planting crops that are usually planted then.

Plants such as chillies and tomatoes can be planted in March, as well as whatever else you may have that says it can be on the seed packet.


Pricking Out

When you have seedlings which are too large to stay in the seed tray or pots anymore, and are large enough to handle, you should prick them out into larger pots. Make sure you prepare enough pots first, as plants with uncovered roots often wilt. Poke a hole in the soil surface with your finger for the new seedling.


  1. Using the tip of a pencil, lift the plant’s roots out carefully from under the soil, while supporting the leaves with your fingers.
  2. Once the roots are loose, lift the plant by a leaf and place it into the new pot. Make sure it is not too deep.
  3. Gently push down the soil around the plant to firm it down, and water well.

Potting On

After your plants have grown, they may need to be potted on. This should be done when the plants are too large for their current pot. I use biodegradable pots so I do not have to struggle to remove plants, but if you are using normal pots, hold the plant by a leaf (if it is small) or a branch/stem if it is larger. Get help if the plant is very large.

Firstly, you should fill your chosen new pot about half full with good quality soil or compost, and then water slightly. You then place your plant on the compost and fill around the edges. If your plant is too large to be potted on this way, you should put less soil in to start with.

Then, check that the plant is watered regularly, but not allowed to flood.

Growing Seeds

When growing seeds, whether in a heated propagator, or outdoors, there are a few important guidelines that you need to follow to ensure that the growing process runs as smoothly as possible.

  1. You should always label the seeds so you know what they are. It is best to put plant, variety, planting date and expected germination date on the label. This means that you will not get plants mixed up, and you will know to dispose of those which have not grown after about two weeks after the expected germination date.
  2. Do not over-water the seeds. If they have too much water in their soil, they will rot. This means that seed is wasted and if the rotting is fungal, it may spread to other plants nearby. Just moist soil is best.
  3. Do not forget to water. Seeds need water to germinate, so without any, nothing will happen. Keep soil moist by spraying with a water spray, standing in shallow water so it is absorbed (remember to remove it), or watering the pot or seed tray with a watering can with a fine rose.


A sunflower

A fully grown, flowering sunflower.

Although sunflowers are not strictly allotment plants, they can be nice to have planted around an allotment, and will help to attract a large range of creatures such as birds. This is good unless you have a cat or foxes around. There are many varieties of sunflowers, ranging from ones that look like giant marigolds to the normal, text book type. You can also get short sunflowers which are useful for raised beds and small pots.

Sunflowers should be planted outdoors in their flowering position from March to May. I have had success doing this, but it is possible to start plants indoors. This is harder, as they have a tendency to become spindly due to extra warmth. This year, I have planted them in February to experiment. I have started them in a heated propagator.

Make sure that, at all stages throughout their growth, they are protected from pests such as slugs. If they have aphids living on them, try to brush them off. Sunflowers will need support during their life as they grow extremely tall. They should be leant against a fence or tied to canes. They are liable to be damaged in windy weather, click here for an article on what to do if they are.

Sunflowers grow best in sunny positions where they are well watered.

Companion Planting

Companion Planting is when you plant plants together so that they repel pests or diseases. The most common of these is planting carrots with marigolds in order to repel carrot fly. Although more space is used, the efficiency and quality of the crop is increased. Check the seed packets or labels for more information on companion planting.

Growing Crops in Heated Propagators

A seedling germinating.

Heated propagators are the most common way of starting crops off early, especially in cold rooms that require more heat. When choosing a heated propagator, make sure it is large enough. It should easily accommodate a seed tray, or more if you grow more. I have two small propagators, which means that I am able to have them on at different times for different plants. Whatever you go for, make sure you know where it will be put, so you can ensure that you have power there.

Normally, you plant at the same times or slightly later in heated propagators as the seeds often germinate faster, but you may be able to plant early to get quicker and earlier crops. You should never plant more than a month early, but remember to use common sense depending on your climate.

When planting early, keep the plants indoors in good sized pots until they can be planted out. Be careful with heavy pots.

Although heated propagators are useful, you must check that the vents are left open during the day, or mould will develop. This is a common problem when not ventilated correctly, as a warm, humid environment is perfect for fungal growth.

You should also check that you have no condensation on the glass / lid, as it may drop down on plants, and often indicated that they are over watered. You should aim to wipe it off in the morning and evening, and, as with all electrical devices, ensure it is safe, not wet, and the instructions are followed.

If a lot of condensation forms, open the vents slightly, and water less. The plants should not be soaked, just slightly wet.

When the plants have germinated, remove them from the propagator, or switch it off. This helps to make sure that the plants grow sturdily, not rushed on by overheating. Follow the instructions on the pack for ideal propagator and aftercare temperatures.