March has arrived in your garden! This March Planting Guide will give those of you that live in gardening zones 5 and 6 a good idea of what to plant in March, both seeds planted directly in the garden and what seedlings you need to be planting indoors!
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This post is meant for those of you living mainly in Garden Zones 5 to 6.
Not in zones 5 or 6?
Here’s a video I did this year about what to plant in March if you live in Zones 5 and 6:
What can you plant in March?
As the weather starts to slowly warm up in March it is time to get serious about your garden in Zones 5 and 6. Crops that you can plant in March include the following:
Vegetables to Plant in March
|Indoors (Start Seedlings)||Outdoors (Direct seeding)|
|Swiss Chard||Swish Card|
|Chinese Cabbages||Bok Choy|
Read on for more instructions and rough planting times for each of these crops!
Getting Started in the Garden
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 this summer’s 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 5 and 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
Keep in mind that last frost dates are everything in early spring planting. To plant at the correct time you have to know when your last frost date is and then you count backward from there to get your March Planting Dates.
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.
The best way to know your average last frost date is to keep track of it yourself and to ask seasoned pros in your area what their experience has been. But I have also found a few websites that will estimate your first and last frost dates for you based on your zip code. The site that has been the most accurate for my garden is Morning Chores – You can access their frost date calculator here.
Seedlings to Start Indoors in March
March is the perfect time for starting seedlings of both Cool Season and Warm Season Crop.
Cool Season Crops
You can get seedlings started indoors in March for the following cabbage family (Brassica) Plants:
- Brussels Sprouts
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 and frost resistant. 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. This gives these cool weather-loving plants plenty of time to mature before the heat starts showing up in June.
You can also still start just about any leafy green you would like indoors. I’m thinking here about plants like:
- Swiss Chard
- Chinese Cabbages
- Bok Choy (Pak Choy)
Starting greens indoors may seem like overkill to some because they do so well when planted outdoors. But I have found that starting greens indoors this early in the year will get you a head start on the season.
Greens planted indoors now will be moved out to the garden in 4 to 6 weeks. If it is still really cold then they may need some protection from a fabric row cover or a hoop house. But in 4 to 6 weeks the weather will be warming quickly and these starts will do really well when moved outside.
Warm-season Seedlings for March
March is the perfect time to get your warm-season seedlings started indoors. Plant crops like:
You should start these indoors 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. Tomatoes do particularly well when planted in Walls of Water so consider getting a few going early this year.
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 because smaller seedlings with only 2 true leaves transplant much more successfully.
What can I plant outside in March?
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. Make sure you amend your soil with some compost before planting and 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!!!
If you are looking for seeds check out Honest Seed Company! You can find their website here.
I live in zone 5 and we planted our potatoes last weekend. The weather here has been very warm in Central Il. However, this coming weekend it is supposed to get down to 16 on Saturday night. Am I going to have to replant?
Well this is why I plant my early spring potatoes in a Cold Frame. If they haven’t started to come up yet they will probably be OK. But if you have some thing you could put over the beds to help keep the temperatures up that would help. Maybe cover with straw or leaves???
Gail, or on old sheet for nightimes when it gets nippy.
This is fantastic information! Thank you so much. I am looking forward to this years garden.
Hi there! I live in zone 6. It’s March 26, but nighttime temps are still in the 20s. I started seeds about four or five weeks ago and I bought what I needed to build hoop frames in my raised beds. Is it too soon to move my plants outside? (I’m really new to this.)
This completely depends on what plants we are talking about. Cool season crops would do well in a hoop house, but warm season crops will need to wait until after frost.
I’ve planted on or near St Patrick’s Day forever. I’m in zone 6. It freezes many times before our last frost date, which is mid April or later. If the plants freeze off, they come back. It can slow the plants growth but they survive. I hill them when they get about a foot tall. My harvest date is usually the third week of June. I don’t cover my potato plants at all.