March Gardening Tips

March is the month that spring starts to peek its welcome presence out into the open; even the calendar declares that spring is coming!  However, just because the dates indicate warmer weather approaching doesn’t mean that there isn’t danger.  In fact, in Oregon, there is still danger of frost into May, so tread carefully with your planting and gardening activities.

If you live outside of the Oregon area, we recommend you contact your local extension service to help with specific plant or garden issues.  For Oregon residents, the OSU Extension offers great March gardening tips.

Looking for what blooms this month?  Download our monthly plant bloom calendar to help you decide!

What to Plant in March

By the time March appears, you should have begun seed starting in full force. The best home garden tips indicate that even warm loving plants should be started by March.

If your frost date is mid-May, things like tomato and pepper seedlings should be planted at the first of this month, giving them a full six weeks to grow strong enough for transplanting.  Transplant to larger containers if they have already been planted and are getting big.

March is also the ideal month to plant out the cold loving crops.  You should be able to direct seed the following plants towards the end of the month:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Radishes

Some of your most sturdy seedlings are also ready to plant in your garden area. These include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Cabbage

The Best Home Garden Tips.  Be Wise, Be Careful

Don’t overdo it. There is still a high likelihood that frost will occur.  While cold crops can handle some frost, a deep freeze can still wipe out your first plantings. Stagger your plant-out dates for these items, to ensure that you have options in case of damage.  Also, use a cold-frame, or keep a floating row cover on hand to provide last minute protection from hard frost.

Potatoes should be planted towards the end of March. Unlike other plants, they can be placed in the ground as soon as it is workable.  The soil will insulate them from frost damage and they won’t begin to grow until conditions are ideal.

Garden Jobs in March

  • Once you start to see your perennials peek out of the snow, you should remove the mulch that has protected them over the winter. You can also take the time to divide the ones that need it.
  • Prune all berry bushes, as well as evergreen trees during this month.
  • March lends itself well to extensive soil preparation. Be cautious that you don’t till or cultivate when the soil is too wet. This can hurt aeration and texture when you get ready to plant.
  • Broadcasting a basic fertilizer, and adding amendments such as compost or manure, is a good idea before many of your seedlings are planted out.
  • Raised beds should be thoroughly cleaned, and you should take the time to turn and mix your compost pile, preparing it for your plantings.

Pest Control

March marks the month when your pest control should begin in full force.  This month brings the appearance of slugs in Oregon soil, so now is the time to nip this pest in the bud. Using an organic slug bait is the best way to keep them at bay.

Begin measures to attract beneficial predatory insects, such as ladybugs and beneficial beetles. You might, however, want to wait for warmer temperatures to introduce these into your garden manually.  Also, consider predatory nematodes for pest control; home garden tips tout this measure as ideal for soil borne pests.

With any pest control, it’s best to use the safest and least invasive methods possible. While chemical spraying can be effective, it can harm the surrounding environment.  Attempt to control pests with organic solutions first, such as insecticidal soaps and natural baits.

Fertilizing

Add compost to all raised growing beds to refresh the nutrient content. It can also be beneficial to add a manure side dressing to berry bushes.  For plants that are already in the ground, you may be able to reduce transplant shock by applying a diluted application of a mild fertilizer, such as fish emulsion.