March has arrived in your garden! This March Planting Guide will give those of you that live in Zones 4-6 a good idea of what seeds can be planted directly in the garden and what seedlings you need to be planting indoors during the month of March!
This is my garden on March 1st! It’s not looking very promising right now! But by month end we will see the beginnings of our 2017 garden. March is the month when gardening starts in earnest in the colder northern climates.
March Planting Guide
This March Planting Guide is meant to give those of you in Zones 4-6 some ideas of what you should be planting. Like last month’s guide this advice will apply as follows:
Zone 6 – You can start these planting instructions in early March
Zone 5 – You will begin most of this planting around the 15th through the 30th
Zone 4 – These planting instructions will apply to you right at the end of March
Keep in mind that last frost dates are everything in early spring planting. This March Planting Guide assumes you know your average last frost date and that you will be starting these planting suggestions roughly 60 days prior to that date.
March Planting Guide – Seedlings Indoors
It’s not too late to get seedlings going indoors, in fact you still have plenty of time for indoor seed starting.
Cool Season Crops
You can get seedlings started indoors for plants like cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, collards and cauliflower. Seedlings for these plants will be ready to move outdoors in about 6 weeks, so if started early they can still be ready to plant in the garden by mid April. All of these plants are pretty hardy. I like to have mine out in the garden with a little protection from a light fabric row cover about 30 days before my last frost.
You can also still start just about any leafy green you would like indoors. Starting greens indoors may seem like over kill to some because they do so well when planted outdoors. But I have found that starting greens indoors this early in the year gets you a head start on the season.
Plant lettuce , spinach, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbages and any other greens indoors now and plan on moving them out to the garden in 4 to 6 weeks.
Warm season crops
March is the perfect time to get your warm season seedlings started indoors. Plant crops like tomatoes and peppers roughly 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost. Or if you are feeling adventurous, plant them sooner and plan on setting the plants out under the protection of walls of water.
March is too soon to plant seedlings for any squash family plants. Plants like cucumbers, pumpkins and zucchini don’t transplant well. You should wait until only about 3 weeks before your last frost date to get these started.
March is the time to start thinking about planting outdoors in the garden. As soon as the soil is dry enough to work you can get some of the following seeds directly sown outdoors in the soil. I would recommend warming your soil first. To learn more about this trick read this post.
Peas are very hardy plants, especially when they are smaller. I try to get my peas planted at least 8 weeks before my last frost date. For us that means mid March. I get the soil warmed up for a week or two first and plant as soon as I can work the soil!
Onions and Leeks
Many people don’t realize how hardy onions are! You can plant onions by seedling or by sets as early as 6 weeks before your last frost. Mine usually go in the last week of March. Planting them this early gives them plenty of cool weather to get a big head start on the growing season.
You can direct sow seeds for plants like beets, turnips, radishes and carrots as early as 8 weeks before your first frost. Warming the soil first helps. Once they have germinated a little protection from frost on really cold nights will help them thrive. Try using some fabric row cover for protection.
Once your soil is dry enough to work you can start sowing your first succession plantings on all your leafy greens. Lettuces, spinach, chard and more. Again warming the soil first and then protecting with a light row fabric will help these early plantings to flourish.
If you have the protection of a cold frame or a hoop house you can also get an extra early crop of potatoes planted. I try to get my first potatoes planted 8 weeks before the first frost but please note that you must protect the plants from frost! Learn more about this process by reading this post.
Well that’s it for this March planting guide. I hope it helps you get an extra early start this year on your spring garden. Planting many seeds now in March will lead you to a wonderful harvest this spring starting in late April!!!