March is by far the busiest month in the garden. Spring officially starts today so now is the best time to get the garden back into shape after winters slumber.
I’m excited to announce a new series that I am starting here on HBB, namely a monthly gardening series. The Garden in …. will showcase each months progress and development in our little garden. We recently finished building 8 beds for vegetables, herbs and flowers so there is a lot of space for growing different types of plants. I am by no means a pro gardener, I’d still call myself an amateur gardener. While I have spent the winter reading a lot of gardening books and researching different gardening methods, most of my knowledge is still theoretical. So this series is not a tutorial of any kind it is simply a visual journal of what I am trying out in the garden and my successes and fails. I will also be sharing lots of tips and what vegetables to grow in what season so stay tuned if you are looking for some helpful tips. I hope this series will inspire you to garden as well, whether you have a garden, terrace or balcony.
As I already mentioned, March is a very busy month in the garden. But not just for us as gardeners, also for all the perennials that are starting to grow again. If you look carefully you will see frost resistant herbs like mint and chives pop out from the ground again. It’s a beautiful time to watch the plants regenerate and create new blossoms. I bought a small bush of mint last year in the late summer that grew to quite a size before the winter started. Since mint grows fast it has a tendency to take up a whole bed if you do not cut it back. My tip is to plant it in the corner of the bed so you can keep it under control.
Not all plants like a moist environment though, and since we get a lot of rain, I decided to pot the herbs that prefer a drier soil and keep them under a sun awning. I planted a bush of rosemary and oregano in a large pot. The rosemary grows tall while the oregano hangs elegantly over the side of my pot. A beautiful combination!
The garden can look a bit bare in March since things are just starting to grow and most of the action is happening beneath the soil. To add some instant green I bought a tray of turnip cabbage which is frost resistant. When buying plants, you should not just examine the stems but also the roots. These will give you a bit more information on the health of the plant. If they have some rot on them or seem too dark it’s best not to buy the plant.
If you haven’t planted them in autumn, now is also the time you can plant blackberry and raspberry bushes. I bought two small blackberry bush stems and planted them in a large pot, making sure to space them far apart. Blackberries need a rich and fertile soil with good drainage so planting them in pots as opposed to directly into the soil in your garden is easier. This way you have better control of the soil and can easily enrich it with organic fertilisers such as horn shavings.
Another thing you can plant in autumn or spring, are flower bulbs. When planted in autumn they stay underneath the soil during the winter and as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer they start popping up from the ground. When planted in spring they soon grow out of the ground and bloom in the early or late summer. I planted a variety of tulips last autumn and used stones to mark where I had planted them. This makes a nice center for a bed.
The one addition I was probably most excited about in our garden this year is the compost. Even if you only have one or two raised beds, it is important to have a compost in your garden. This way you can make your own organic fertiliser for free which your plants will love! Just keep in mind to only add raw vegetables to avoid attracting any mice. Never add potatoes, cooked food or meat.
Now let’s take a look at what vegetables and plants you can grow in March. We live in a mild climate zone in Switzerland, so this list is for our climate zone here. (Our winters are mild, seldom any frost and negative temperatures while the summers can be quite hot with temperatures up to 30C or 86F. We get a lot of rain.)
March Growing and Sowing List
- turnip cabbage
- various flower bulbs
- rosemary (grown plant)
- sage (grown plant)
- thyme (grown plant)
- mint (grown plant)
- peppers (seeds, indoors)
- zucchini (seeds, indoors)
- basil (seeds, indoors)
- chili (seeds, indoors)
- bok choy (seeds, indoors)
Whether you are planting seeds or young plants from a nursery, it’s best to plant in rows. I like to use a string to ensure that my rows are straight. I simply tied a string around a small piece of wood on both ends and stretched it over the bed in a straight line.
The quality of soil is vital if you want healthy plants and a high yielding crop. The soil should be dark and not too light in weight. Since I don’t have any compost yet, I added organic horn shavings to soil I bought at a garden center.
Most herbs do not need a lot of nutrients in the soil and are happy as long as the soil has proper drainage. I planted these chives last summer, didn’t improve the quality of the soil and they are happily growing again. Adding too many nutrients to herbs can damage or even kill them so tread lightly with the fertiliser.
While this is a busy time I also like to stop what I am doing and just enjoy and appreciate the plants and garden around me. Never forget that your garden is an investment and should bring you as much joy as it brings you work.