Welcome to March! Can you feel spring in the air where you live? Are you ready to start digging in the dirt? In this March Garden Guide, I share what you need to know to have a great spring garden.
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In the February Garden Guide, I discussed planning your garden, collecting seed supplies, starting seeds in a cold frame, and a few maintenance tasks to help you get a jumpstart on spring.
March is when the gardening season increases in intensity, and deadlines loom: Seeds are started indoors and out, fruit trees are planted and pruned, and procrastination for building new garden beds has reached its limit. Yet the crisp, fresh air holds a steady hopefulness and excitement for a bountiful garden season.
This is a sample March calendar based on my gardening in USDA hardiness zone 6a. You may need to make adjustments for your climate. See below under ‘Garden Planning’ for more ways to adjust this schedule for your needs.
1. March Harvest (from under Protection Outdoors)
Crops that were sown in early fall, covered by row cover, cold frame, hoop house, greenhouse, or some other kind of protection, can be harvested throughout the winter and early spring. Here is what I harvest in March:
- Beet family: beets, spinach, Swiss chard
- Cabbage family: collards, kale
2. March Garden Planning
Weather dictates actions more than annual calendars. Some years I’m waiting until the snow melts to do a lot of these items, while other years Mother Nature gives me the green light early. Whether you want to start seeds indoors or sow seeds outdoors, this spring guide covers planting times for 30 popular crops. Don’t forget I’m gardening in USDA hardiness zone 6a – you may need to make adjustments for your climate.
Start Seeds Under Grow Lights
The following seeds can be started indoors. For details about starting seeds indoors, see my step-by-step guide. If you need to purchase seed starting materials, check out my reviews and recommendations for seed starting supplies.
- Alliums: leek, onion
- Cabbage Family: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard, kale
- Try Di Cicco broccoli from Botanical Interests. It is an heirloom variety that will continue producing side shoots all season, long after the main head has been harvested.
- I couldn’t grow a garden without kale, and I love all varieties. But my garden wouldn’t be complete without Nero Toscana kale from Botanical Interests. AKA dinosaur kale, this heirloom variety has flat leaves that are easy to clean.
- Herbs: basil, chives, echinacea, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sweet alyssum
- I am a big fan of Parris Island romaine from Botanical Interests. This is a common variety, but I love that romaine leaves are firm enough to handle a good washing, and I love that the heads are upright and don’t get caked with dirt like leaf lettuces can.
- Nightshade vegetables: eggplant, pepper, tomato
- Swiss chard
Would you like to yield delicious harvests while partnering with nature? Check out my mini guide, The Permaculture Inspired Vegetable Garden.
Start Seeds in a Cold Frame
If you’ve got a cold frame, this is the month to get stuff growing! (Please see my note above about hardiness zones.)
- Beet family: beet, spinach
- Why not try Botanical Interests’ colorful Gourmet Beet Seed Blend of ‘Chioggia’, ‘Detroit Dark Red’, and ‘Golden Boy’?
- Cabbage family: broccoli, kohlrabi, radish, turnip
Sow Seeds Outside
Sow the following seeds, which can handle the early spring weather.
- Peas (Try Sugar Ann, the super early sugar snap pea!)
- Sweet Alyssum
- Fruit trees & Berry bushes
- Strawberry plants
3. March Garden Maintenance
Here are a few things to make time for this month.
- Build new garden beds (Are raised beds right for you?)
- Construct garden infrastructure like rainwater harvesting systems, fences, compost systems, etc.
- Prune existing fruit trees, bushes, and brambles.
Improve Soil Fertility
- It’s the perfect time of year to improve soil.
- Add soil amendments like finished compost, worm castings, fresh or dried herbs, or aged manure to inactive gardens with a digging fork. See my article 9 Organic Amendments that Improve Soil for more ideas. Apply responsibly: Never apply soil amendments to frozen ground, over-saturated ground, or right before a large rain event.
I find it super easy to get overwhelmed in March but knowing what I want to accomplish, and planning for it, definitely helps. Instead of trying to do everything, I focus on what’s important to me to ensure a bountiful garden season.
Are you having a good start to the gardening season? What do you have going on in March?