A Gardening Checklist for March
Get ready for spring!
Spring is nearly here! With March comes the spring equinox, more birds singing in the bushes, and the stirrings of flower bulbs poking up through the leaf litter. For us gardeners, this month is jam-packed with to-dos: ordering seeds and bare-root trees, setting up for indoor sowing, prepping garden beds for early crops, and creating a sowing schedule. To keep things manageable, we've divided our March Checklist into indoor-focused activities and outdoor-focused activities. This way, rain or shine, you can still move toward your garden goals. Read on for tips!
- Germ test old seeds. Before you throw out last year's seeds, perform an informal germination test at home. Just follow these easy instructions from our archives.
- Order seeds that need to be started indoors. Don't delay: Order Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplants, and other varieties with a long growing season now.
- Order seed starting supplies. Get young plants off to a good start with our Organic Mechanics Seed-Starting Blend, biodegradable pots, and plant labels.
- Time your sowings. Calculate your final frost-free date and count backwards to determine the best time to sow. To calculate the average last frost in our area, visit this page over at The Farmer's Almanac. But remember: the average last frost is not a guaranteed last frost. To be on the safe side, add 3 weeks to this date and keep row cover handy for when temperatures dip. For our handy Northeast sowing guide, click here.
Fall-planted Snowdrops are among the first flowers to emerge in early spring.
- Sterilize planting containers and sharpen tools. Before sowing and planting in containers, clean your containers and tools in a 10% bleach solution (one part bleach and nine parts water). This will lessen the spread of "damping-off" and other plant pathogens. Sharpen hand tools with a file or have them professionally sharpened by a local service.
- Direct sow these cool-loving crops as soon as soil can be worked: Spinach, Peas, Arugula, Radishes, and Scallions. If you're growing peas, don't forget to order trellis netting.
- Pre-order seasonal items like Dahlias, Potatoes, and Spring-Planted Bulbs.
- Order Row Cover and Hoops! Protect your seedlings from fickle weather and garden pests by using row cover early. Read more here.
- Care for your soil. Before digging, wait until your soil is workable, i.e., not frozen, wet, or soggy. When it's time to plant, avoid compacting soil by using a wooden plank to walk or kneel on. Suffocate weeds with cardboard, newspapers, or landscaping fabric before they take over. And, finally, boost soil fertility ahead of spring plantings by sowing field peas or adding compost.
If this list doesn't keep you busy enough, you can also empty bird-boxes for new inhabitants, prune deciduous trees and shrubs, and feed spring bulbs when they emerge. Or, if you need to pare back on tasks, choose just one or two goals that fit your schedule (maybe it's just ordering seeds or sketching garden map!). Gardening can be as simple as sowing a few pots of herbs or as complex as a 5-acre homestead; so, create a plan that works for you. Happy March!