Things are finally starting to grow! Buds are forming on the trees and tiny flecks of green are appearing everywhere as the weeds start their conquest.
Yes that’s right! March is here (finally) and this month there is so much to get started with in the vegetable plot.
March is generally considered the start of the growing season and as the days slowly lengthen and the air begins to loose its chill, is the perfect time to sow the seeds of this years crops and get a racing start.
Not got a garden yet? Why not check out our course, ‘How To Start A Vegetable Garden’
So, What seeds can you start indoors in March?
These warm weather crops need a long growing season so it’s best to get them going now. You can start them as early as February but the light levels are low and can cause plants to become very spindly.
We start ours on a windowsill over a radiator so there is some warmth to start germination. The light from the window is enough to encourage strong growth although we do make sure to turn the pots slightly each day so the shoots down grow towards the light.
A good trick is to use a cereal box lined with white paper or tin foil. This helps the light to bounce around the plant from all side and can help them grow strong and straight.
• Chilli and Pepper Plants
These plants are similar to tomatoes. Sow the seeds early with a little warmth and soon they’ll be growing strong.
• Red celery.
Celery need a long growing season. Starting your seeds indoor gives them a head start.
• Cucumber and courgette.
These are hot weather crops that hate the cold so growing with some heat is essential with sowing the seed and after germination. They need to be grown in progressively larger pots until all risk of frost is past, (usually the last week in May here in Scotland) All squash seed is prone to rotting in wet soils so some growers prefer to plant the seed on its narrow edge so any water runs off easier. Sow 2 seeds in a pot and keep warm on a windowsill. The seed leaves will erupt in no time.
This is my nemesis. Every year we try celeriac and we always end up with tiny roots that don’t offer much eating. The key is to sow early, provide warmth and water these roots like there’s no tomorrow.
Another crop that hates the cold, this one needs a greenhouse or really warm temperatures to get the beat from it.
Kale can be grown outdoors as its a cold weather brassica. I find though that starting the seeds indoors has a better rate or germination and the seedlings get to a better size.
March can still be a little temperamental so starting a few trays of lettuce seedlings indoors to get them growing strongly is a good idea. They don’t need much heat so a cold frame would do.
Vegetable seeds to sow outdoors in March
There are many things you can grow straight into the ground in March. If the weather is mild you can start with these vegetables.
• Broad beans.
Broad beans are a very hardy crop. You can grow them in October to over winter them for an early crop in Spring.
We prefer to sow them in compost filled loo roll tubes in the cold frame where the mice can’t chomp them the plant out the whole thing once the bean has sprouted. It’s a welcome crop in spring when there isn’t much else to harvest.
This is one of our favourites. It germinates easily in low temperatures, so can be sown direct outdoors in March. If the weather is not so good I prefer to pop a plastic cloche other the seeds to stop them getting washed away.
• Swiss chard.
Swiss chard is a beautiful crop for a sunny or partially shaded spot. This crop is very useful in Spring, it over winters really well and puts on a new flush of leaves when there isn’t much else. This is an attractive plant related to beetroot. You can eat the leaves in salads or wilted like spinach and you can slice up the stems and boil them as a chunkier vegetable.
Salad leaves are quite hardy and germinate well outdoors. Small seedlings can be damaged by harsh spring rains when grown outdoors and be splashed by mud so it’s a good idea to cover with some fleece or a cloche.
• Pea shoots.
I do these indoors on the windowsill for a quick crop but it works the same outdoors. Soak pea seeds overnight In water the sow thickly in a pot or tray. In around 2 weeks you’ll have a thick flush of green crunchy pea shoots to add to salads.
I always grow a ton of carrots. When the soil is damp, simple draw a line down the soil where you want your carrots. It’s easier to sow these in rows so you know which is weeds and which is carrots at the beginning. Another tip is to cover the seeds with soil and then a piece of fleece. This helps prevent carrot fly getting to your crop.
• Cabbage, Brussel’s sprouts, and cauliflowers.
Brassicas can be sowed in a fine seed bed or pot. They are a good hardy crop and don’t usually need protection from the cold but you might want to protect them from pigeons and cabbage butterflies. These caterpillars will ruin any brassicas crop.
These grow well outdoors however, if you have problems with mice you may want to start them in guttering in the cold frame then simply slip them into a trench or in seed trays once the sprout.
• Kohl rabi.
This is a brassica and can be sown easy in prepared soil. This one doesn’t need to be sown in a seed bed as they will crop quickly. These need covering in some sort of net though as they are like candy for pigeons.
A winter crop that needs a long growing season. They don’t often suffer from pests so an almost trouble free crop.
Parsnips are easy to grow but can be tricky to germinate so make sure the soil is moist and its not too cold before you plant.
These are a quick growing crop and are an ideal filler crop. I like to use them when I sow my parsnips. They take a long time to germinate so sowing radish along with parsnips means the radish will grow and be harvested long before the parsnip need the room.
Spinach likes cool weather so sow this outdoors.
• Onion sets.
These can go straight outdoors and don’t need much attention except blackbirds like to pull them out of the soil thinking they are worms. These are easily popped back into the soil so it’s not a huge problem.
Check out this page for more help creating your dream vegetable garden
Mid March should also let you start planting out those potatoes you’ve had chitting. And you can also plant any Jerusalem artichokes you have into a permanent bed.
A crop that benefits from planting in march is fruit. Bare rooted fruit trees and bushes, especially raspberries and other cane fruits can be planted now and will romp away.
Fruit also needs to be pruned before the end of March. Apples and pear as well as plum currants, cherry and gooseberries.
Another good task in March is to spread some compost around the base as well as general purpose fertiliser like fish, blood & bone. If you have access to it they will appreciate some wood ash spreading under them too.
What To Harvest In March?
Remove any left over leeks now – you can freeze them for use in soups and stews.
Parsnips too should come up in early March before they start to re-grow.
Have a look around as you may have spinach ,chards, the last of the late Brussels sprouts, winter cauliflowers, kale, swedes and scorzonera hanging around to use up too.
March General Jobs In The Vegetable Garden.
- Have a good tidy up and finish those odd jobs because you are going to be busier still later in the year.
- Feed brassicas and fruit.
- Install your preferred method of protection and protect plants from pests.
- Order or buy young vegetable plants if your not keen on growing from seed.
- Sow your seeds.
- Cover beds with cloches or black plastic to warm the soil for early sowings.
- Get planting.
So, there you are, a plan for March to get you started on your first vegetable garden.
Remember if your not sure how to really get started, why not try out “How to start a vegetable garden” course