March Garden and Homestead Chores

It’s two days until spring (yay!) and we’ve been feeling it around here with both a warm false spring last week (temperatures in the 60s and 70s and sunshine, yay!) and the usual cool March rains, followed by actual periods of sunshine. I’m thankful that it hasn’t been as wet or warm of a winter as last year, and that our perennials and fruiting plants, such as our peaches and blackberries, are just now starting to bloom, rather than in the weirdness of the February/March cusp.

Anyway, with that being said, and with temperatures and weather cooperating to make garden chores possible and more comfortable, I bring you March chores. Yes, in the middle of March. Yes, I’m late. You can still do stuff. And as for sourcing, I refer to the same sites and resources as listed in my February Garden Chores post, so check back for cross-referencing, if you so desire.

Let’s go.

March Garden Chores

  • Add compost and other organic matter to your soil to improve drainage and fertility.
  • If your garden soil isn’t constantly wet or frozen, start turning it to prep for planting. Avoid stepping on garden beds and turning on wet days – this can cause compacted soil (especially if you have very clay-rich soil, which we do).
  • Turn your compost pile on nice days.
  • If you haven’t already done so, prune back your new raspberry and blackberry canes by 1/4, and cut last year’s fruiting canes to the ground.
  • Prune your peach trees before they blossom.
  • The bugs are back in town! Keep an eye out for aphids and slugs, as their warm-weather predators haven’t quite woken up yet, and protect your plants with a non-toxic, fast-metabolizing insecticide (like Pyrethrum).
  • Perennial “weeds” (many of the them delightfully edible, if you recall from this post) are coming back. Keep an eye on them and under control, especially in newly-established garden beds, lest they take over before you can plant.
  • Mulch your newly-planted trees, shrubs, and vegetables.
  • Clean your chicken coop.

Plants to start indoors this month:

  • Annual summer flowers, such as marigolds and moonflowers
  • Brassicas, such as broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, kale
  • Cantaloupes
  • Lettuces
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Swiss chard
  • Summer squash, such as zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Thyme
  • Watermelons
  • Winter squash, such as pumpkins, butternut, candy roaster, etc.

You can start the process of hardening off some indoor starts this month. Hardening off plants is how you get your seedlings, which are used to the very controlled climate and sunlight conditions of your indoor setup, ready for the more unpredictable but ultimately more beneficial conditions outdoors. You do this by gradually leaving plants outside on warm days (above 45 degrees Fahrenheit), away from direct sunlight and wind at first, for longer and longer periods of time (about an hour increase each day), about a week or two before you plant to put them into garden beds.

If you don’t harden off your indoor starts, you risk shocking your poor seedlings and killing them with sudden climate changes. At best, your plants won’t be as hardy or fruitful outside, so it’s important to do this process gradually for the best possible plants.

Plants to harden off this month:

  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Brassicas, such as cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi

Plants to start or transplant outdoors this month:

  • Start asparagus or strawberry beds
  • Carrots, beets, parsnips, and salsify
  • Parsley
  • Onions and garlic
  • Brassicas, such as kohlrabi and radishes
  • Spinach and other dark greens

Our own indoor seedlings are doing pretty great, which makes us very excited. The picture at the top of the post is an old one – all of our February starts have true leaves now, which may or may not make an appearance on Instagram later today. We also just bottled our first batch of mead, and look forward to toasting new baby homesteader any day now. Whee!

Know any other March chores I forgot? Have any cool things you’re planting this year? Leave ’em in the comments. Until then, happy homesteading!

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