March garden jobs including seeds to sow, crops to harvest, garden projects, and early spring tasks for the vegetable garden.
March is the month when things really start to happen in the vegetable garden. The days get longer, buds burst, wildlife comes out of hibernation, and daffodils take over from snowdrops. Spring’s sense of urgency is contagious, and we gardeners cannot wait to finally get our first early potatoes planted and get on with the rest of our March garden jobs.
This selection of early spring garden tasks will help you decide what seeds to sow and when, what crops to harvest now, and what plants to prune and divide. They will help you maximize your plot’s potential for the forthcoming season and keep you on top of your gardening game. Just watch out for the weather, and don’t be too hasty to plant out as warm sun can be quickly replaced by frost or gales. March always holds a few unexpected surprises for us gardeners.
March Garden Jobs Checklist
- Seeds to sow in March: early peas, beetroot, celeriac, tomatoes, spinach, radishes, lettuce, turnips, leafy herbs, broad beans, celery, green onions, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, calabrese, and brussels sprouts
- Plant onion & shallot sets
- Plant early potatoes (called first earlies in Britain)
- Prune apple trees
- Install plant supports
- Get on top of weeding
- Divide summer-blooming perennials
- Cover strawberry plants with cloches to warm the soil and encourage an early crop
- Install plant supports now so foliage can grow up around them
- Begin weeding as it warms up and they go to seed
- Clean pots, containers, trays, and watering cans with soapy water.
What to harvest in March
Harvesting — now here’s one of those March garden jobs that none of us minds doing. We may have just come out of winter, but March can bring a surprisingly fruitful harvest. It is time to pull the last of the overwintered veg. Harvest leeks before they begin to bolt, and also parsnips, kale, Brussels sprouts, swiss chard, hardy herbs, winter radishes, beetroot, and carrots.
Early purple sprouting broccoli is a delicacy, and although these little spears take a long time to mature, I’m sure you will agree they are worth the wait. Spring cabbage, winter salad, and early perennial alliums such as chives and welsh onions will all be lovely greens on the dinner table.
Enjoy delicious crumbles with the vibrant pink sweet stems of forced rhubarb, or use them to make pink rhubarb gin. Rhubarb is a prolific grower, so if you have a glut, it’s great to share it with friends or freeze your excess. Always remember to pull the stems from the base rather than cutting, which can cause the crown to rot.
In places that have temperate climates, all of this veg can grow outdoors all winter without much protection. In colder climates, you’ll need to keep crops protected from cold temperatures and snow by using cold-frames, fleece, and other materials. You may also need to keep them netted to deter birds and other wildlife.
Seeds to sow undercover in March
One of the most exhilarating March garden jobs is seed sowing. It may still be too cold to direct sow many things outdoors, but you can get a head start by sowing seeds in trays and modules and growing them in a greenhouse or inside the house. Once the seedlings have reached a good size and the risk of frost has passed, you can then plant them outside. Some plants, like tomatoes and peppers, only germinate at warm temperatures and are susceptible to cold. With them, it’s best to sow their seed undercover and with added heat and light at this time of year.
So what can be sown inside? Microgreens, leafy herbs, and lettuce will give you an early cut and come again crop. Now is the time to sow seeds for tomatoes, chilies, eggplant, and sweet peppers, as they need a good long season to allow time for the fruit to ripen. Beetroot, globe artichokes, Brussels sprouts, calabrese, celeriac, cucumber, and celery can all also be sown inside the house or greenhouse now with no additional heat.
If you have space available undercover, start early peas such as ‘Avola’ undercover in root trainers or guttering. Guttering makes a great recycled planter. Fill your guttering halfway with compost, space your seeds about 1-2 inches (3-5cm) apart, top up with more compost and gently firm down. Easy! When it’s time to plant them outside, they will slide out and into a shallow trench that you have prepared for them.
March brings warm days, so you should keep an eye on the temperature inside your greenhouse or polytunnel. Ventilate if necessary but don’t forget to close windows or doors at night to prevent the cold and frost from killing young plants.
Seeds to Direct Sow in March
Some seeds can be sown directly in the soil in March, but only if the weather and temperature are optimal. Hold back if your plot is covered in snow or if you know that cold or stormy weather is on the way. Sowing direct simply means you put your seed directly in the soil, in its final home, where it is to grow, without starting it off undercover in a pot. Some of the more tender crops could be direct sown outside if you use cloches.
Hardy vegetables that you can sow direct in March include spinach, lettuce, and radish. There are actually quite a few others that you can get started with now too, including broad beans. Broad beans ‘The Sutton’ and ‘De Monica’ are good early varieties but watch out for blackfly and pinch out the tips where they grow.
For some beautiful leafy greens, grow perpetual spinach, swiss chard, kale ‘Scarlet’ ‘Cavolo Nero’ and ‘Ragged Jack.’ As well as being nutritious and delicious, the rich hues of their foliage make a statement on the plot. Other seeds to sow directly are green onions, cabbage such as ‘Greyhound’ or ‘Red Jewel,’ cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, parsnips, turnips, and leeks. Sowing carrots outside under cloches not only gives you an early crop but also avoids carrot root fly. Also, it’s time to get your onion & shallot sets in. Nothing beats homegrown.
Plant Early Potatoes
Early potatoes (called ‘First Earlies’ in the UK) are one of the earliest garden crops to mature. Plant them outside from St Patrick’s Day to late-March and dig them up around 10-12 weeks later from June to July. If you’re unsure, there are more ways to know when potatoes are ready to dig up.
First Early potatoes are easy to grow, taste tender and delicious, rarely suffer blight, and are fun to dig up in early summer. Try Red Duke of York, Lady Christl, Arran Pilot, or slightly later cropper Pentland Javelin.
March is the Month of Mulching
If you haven’t mulched the garden already, make it a top March garden jobs priority and get on top of covering every square inch of soil with compost mulch. Plants will be filling beds soon, so it’s much easier to get mulching done now to avoid covering new seedlings. It is also an excellent opportunity to use all the lovely homemade compost you have been making in your bins.
Mulching is essential if you want to save time in the garden and have a bountiful harvest. Mulch suppresses spring weeds, feeds the soil, keeps the soil moist, and protects it from erosion. It’s beneficial for all of your growing spaces, including garden beds, around fruit trees (but don’t pile it up around the trunk), at the base of soft-fruit, around (but not covering) rhubarb crowns, and on asparagus beds.
The way that you do it is to spread about an inch of garden compost over the soil. Cover it entirely but do not dig it in. If you’ve grown green manure on that land over the winter, make sure that you dig it in before you add mulch.
You can mulch containers too. First, remove the top 1-2 inches of potting mix from them, then top it up with fresh compost, then a thin layer of grit or fine gravel. Use the spent container compost as mulch in the veg patch or borders, or small amounts can go in the compost pile.
March Garden Jobs
Early spring is a great time to complete hardscaping and garden projects before time gets swamped with looking after plants. There are plenty of March garden jobs you could be doing right now but one is to install a rain barrel/water butt to collect rainwater. It’s a simple way to save water, and you will be very grateful in the height of summer when water may be scarce.
Build raised beds. You can use anything from wooden planks to logs, metal panels, bricks to purpose-made plastic. The ideal build size is four feet (1.2m) by eight feet (2.4m), so you can maintain the bed from all sides without stepping on the soil. Choose a sunny spot away from trees and hedges, line with cardboard to suppress weeds, and fill with compost, manure, and/or topsoil, then let the soil settle for a couple of weeks before planting up.
Collect garden waste to make compost. Use brown materials like cardboard, dried grass, toilet paper rolls, and sawdust and green materials such as vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds, seaweed, and green leaves and prunings. It’s a great way to make your own natural fertilizer, and it’s free.
Top up garden paths with woodchip. A bit of maintenance now will see you through the year by suppressing weeds and creating a non-slip walkway on your plot.
Creative Garden Projects for March
March garden jobs don’t have to be purely practical — they can be a load of fun too! Support wildlife in your garden by making birdhouses, insect hotels, or by building a small pond. See what you can construct from recycled materials around your home and garden before buying any materials. Wildlife projects are great for getting the kids involved in the garden, and they can benefit your crops too. Frogs eat slugs and other pests, as do garden birds, hedgehogs, and beneficial insects.
You can also use pruned dogwood (Cornus), and willow stems that you cut down in winter and put them to good use as homemade trellises for sweet peas and peas to climb up. You could also use them to make garden decorations, a stick fence, or weave a hurdle to edge your border. Making and installing supports now will save time later on.
Other great projects include using a pallet to create a strawberry pallet planter, using stones or bricks to build one of these herb spiral planters, or you can also collect recycled materials for seed starting. Get creative! Have fun experimenting and see what you can build.
Spring Clean the Greenhouse
Start the season as you mean to go on and get organized so use this time to give your greenhouse a good spring clean. Get a bucket of warm soapy water and wash the glass and fixtures inside and out. This is will ensure you get rid of any overwintering pests or diseases and let the light shine through the panes ready for seeds to grow.
One trick that I have for cleaning the gunk out from between panes of glass is to insert a white plant label between them. Slide it around a few times, and you’ll be able to tidy it up pretty quickly. Also, take all of your tools, products, and pots outdoors for a tidy. Give the pots a once-over for pests, and wash their sides and bottoms down. You’ll be amazed by how many slugs and muck you’ll be able to remove.
March Plant Maintenance
The warmer weather brings a burst of enthusiasm to get out in the garden, and there is certainly plenty to do. If you haven’t already then another March garden job is to prune your apple and pear trees; this is the last chance before they wake from dormancy. Cut out any dead, diseased, or damaged stems, remove crossing branches and create a well-ventilated open goblet in the center of the tree. This will reduce the risk of fungal diseases and help concentrate the tree’s energies into producing a bumper crop.
Divide summer-blooming perennials. Over time plants can lose their vigor and seem to run out of steam. Dividing them wakes them up, and best of all, by dividing the clumps, you instantly produce new plants for free. You can plant them elsewhere in the garden or give them away to friends or at a seed swap. Plants to divide include echinacea, phlox, Symphyotrichum (formerly asters), Hylotelephium spectabile (formerly sedum spectabile), and geum. Avoid dividing Japanese anemones and hellebores; they do not respond well.
Garden Jobs for April
As we move from March to April garden jobs, we continue to sow and grow. Be cautious of planting out too early, as April can bring frost in many regions. If you’re expecting a cold snap, there are ways to protect spring crops from the cold.
Spring has a lot in store for us, including April Garden Jobs such as direct sowing more crops outdoors and starting off our beans, squash, pumpkins, and leeks. You’ll also be able to plant out your second-early potatoes and begin seeing much more green growth and signs of summer harvests to come. It’s an all systems go in the vegetable garden!
If you need more inspiration, try these seasonal ideas for the vegetable garden:
- Tips on Starting Seeds Undercover
- Don’t make these common gardening mistakes
- Ways to Use Sustainable Garden Design in the Veg Patch
- How to grow a Wildflower Cottage Garden