Gardening in March

March is the month when we officially meet Spring again and oh, does that feel good! 

As winter begins to recede, us gardeners get busier and busier. It is important to remember that we garden and grow food because it makes us feel good and happy, so stress and overwhelm has no place here. Make time for deep breaths, long walks and just being in the garden too. 

If you’re ready to get busy in the garden, here are some suggestions of what you can do this month in your growing space. 

If you haven’t already…

  • Prune autumn fruiting raspberries to ground level and weed around the plants this month. Mulch too if you have any mulching material left over. It will help to feed the plants, suppress new weeds and keep moisture in. 
  • Bare root soft fruit bushes, cane fruit and fruit trees should be planted now if not already done. It is last minute so hurry up getting them in the ground!

What to do now…

Even if you have very little time, try to go outside and do something small. 

  • Now is the best time to tackle weeds emerging. When they are little they are easily disturbed and killed, by hoeing or raking the surface of your beds. Also dig out any perennial weeds like the dreaded bindweed and couch grass. It becomes more difficult the longer you wait!
  • Break up any lumps and clumps in your soil to make an even surface for sowing and planting. 
  • Overwintering vegetables like onions, garlic, kale, spring cabbages, cauliflowers and hardy lettuces may look a little sad at this time. Perk them up by treating them to a layer of mulch! 
  • Check on your chitted potatoes. You want short chubby shoots. If they are long the place is most likely too warm but if there’s no growth at all it’s probably too cold! 
  • Prick out February sown Pepper, Chilli and Aubergine seedlings into individual small pots. Loosen the soil around the roots and carefully lift the seedling by it’s seed leaves, not the stem. Water and place somewhere with lots of light and minimum 10C at night, preferably warmer. 
  • March can be very cold so keep an eye on the weather and protect early outdoor sowings with a horticultural fleece when needed. Your Harvst should keep your seedlings and plants warm and cosy but always keep an eye on the temperatures. Some plants are very sensitive to temperature drops, especially when young seedlings. 
  • Protect cherry, apricot, peach and nectarine blossoms from frost by covering them with a fleece. 
  • Hand pollinate apricot, peach and nectarine as there might not be enough insects around to do the job. Use a small soft brush to carefully move pollen from one flower to the next. 
  • Check perennial herbs growing in pots and repot them into new compost in a bigger pot if needed. 
  • Quickly check your forced rhubarb weekly and harvest as soon as you get some pale delicious sticks. 
  • Weed around your asparagus plants and apply a thick layer of mulch. Garden compost, well rotted manure or old mushroom compost is great. This will feed the plants, keep moisture in and suppress any weeds. Be careful when weeding as asparagus has shallow roots. 
  • Inspect fruit supports like stakes, wires and ties before new growth starts. 
  • Feed and mulch fruit trees and bushes 
  • Trim and tidy up perennial herbs like rosemary and sage. 
  • Propagate chive and mint by digging them up, dividing the clumps and replanting. 
  • Cover overwintering strawberry plants with a cloche to stimulate them into flowering for an earlier crop. Once flowers form, remove the cloche on warm days to allow insects to pollinate them. 
  • Prune blueberry bushes by taking out overcrowded, dead, damaged or diseased stems. 
  • Summer raspberries give fruit on last year’s growth and now is a great time to trim off any dead ends by snipping back to a strong healthy bud. 
  • If the soil is dry enough, prepare your beds by breaking up any lumps and clumps to create a fine tilth ready for sowing and planting.

Quick Jobs

Sometimes we only have five or ten minutes to spare but it is remarkable how much you can get done in those minutes! Also, imagine you did one of these jobs every day of the year. 365 small jobs creates miracles! 

  • Tidy up your brassica bed as they come to an end and put the plant material on the compost heap. 
  • As the soil warms, weeds will start to grow fast. Spend 10min whenever you can to hand weed or hoe them off to stop them taking over. 
  • Remove rhubarb cloches and harvest forced rhubarb
  • Go on a slug hunt! Look under things like pots, pieces of wood, clumps of soil and stones. Dispose of them and any eggs you find. One slug can lay 400 eggs so stop the exponential growth early! 
  • Spend 10 min in your garden looking at how things are. Make a plan by prioritising your jobs. 
  • Remove dead leaves from any overwintering vegetables.
  • Admire everything growing in your Harvst. There’s nothing like it for motivation! 
  • Check any produce left in storage. Make a plan to eat it all up before it starts going bad! 

What should I be sowing this month?

We are getting into the busy sowing month of March! It is getting to the last minute for plants that need an especially long time to mature, like Chilli, Aubergine and Peppers, so if you haven’t already sown those make it your priority.

Just as in February there are many plants that can be sown in your Harvst now. Pea shoots, Broadbean shoots, Lettuce, Asian greens such as Mizuna, Tatsoi, Pak choi, and Brassicas such as Kale, Broccoli, early Cabbage, Kohlrabi, and Turnips, various herbs such as Chive, Parsley, Coriander and Mint, as well as Radishes, Spring onions, Leek, Spinach, Beetroot, Celery, Celeriac, early Peas and Onions (from seed).

Tomatoes intended to grow in a greenhouse can be sown at the beginning of the month whilst tomatoes intended for outdoors should be sown at the end of the month.

As the weather is warming, by mid-March you can make outdoor sowings of lettuce, carrots, parsnips, spinach, onions, peas, broad beans, turnip and radish.

What should I be planting now?

Shallots are tough little things and can be planted in the ground now. Space them 15cm apart and only so deep that the tip is sticking out of the ground.

If you live in a mild area the early potato varieties can be planted now. If you live in the north you may need to wait till April. In any case as soon as there is growth above the ground you must protect it from frost.

Asparagus crowns can be planted in trenches this month.

What should I harvest this month?

Harvest your first rhubarb and the last of your brussel sprouts, celeriac, parsnips, leeks and swedes outside! This month is usually a little bare on the harvest front for many growers but with your Harvst there will be a lot to harvest just as it is every month!

Gardening with children

Gardening with children is wonderful and chaotic! It is the very best place for them to learn about and connect with nature, wildlife, biodiversity, sustainability and growing food. It is important to let them have a go and fail but it is also important to give them an opportunity to succeed! Here are some ideas that you can do with your children this month!

Chitting potatoes and then planting them with children is a great activity. Explain that they must be careful with the shoots by placing the potato in the hole with the shoots upwards. It is helpful to explain before that there is no throwing the potatoes in the hole! Let them cover the potatoes with the soil and water. If you have a spare seed potato consider letting your child grow it in a grow bag of their own. Children are very proud when having their own plants to care for.

Create an insect pool by taking a tray and filling it with small stones or pebbles that the insects can sit on to drink water. Fill it up with water and make it your child’s responsibility to keep it clean and topped up throughout spring and summer.

Gardening Ideas

Your garden is constantly evolving and here are some ideas of what you can add when you feel like something new! 

  • Create an insect hotel using free pallets. Stack them on top of each other to create spaces between them. Fill the gaps with various materials such as grass, straw, sticks, pine cones, bricks and stones. If you feel extra creative add a roof and sow grass or wildflowers on top!   
  • Add a wildflower patch to your garden. Prepare the ground by removing the grass/ weeds and rake to create a fine tilth. Scatter the seeds out, rake just a tiny bit and water. 
  • Make a hole in your garden fence big enough for hedgehogs to get into your garden. Make sure there is somewhere for them to have a drink of water. 

We hope that you feel inspired to enjoy this month in your garden to the full!