March In The Vegie Patch + Greenhouse

Clear starry nights, cool, dewy mornings and that special golden hue in the evening sky are all signs that Autumn is moving in. The cooler mornings and nights slowly begin to cool the soil, which in turn slows soil life and eventually plant life.

Make the most of the warmer days to get autumn/ winter crops planted. Though you can still plant during the colder months, its the stuff you plant now that will carry on from your summer crops. Keep the flow of good food coming into your kitchen. Start today!

Finding Room

Lettuce seedlings planted beneath pruned tomatoes in the the greenhouse
Saladings planted beneath greenhouse tomatoes

Finding space to sow and plant winter crops takes lateral thinking when all the beds are full. With a bit of creativity you’ll be amazed at what you can fit in! Plant the new amongst the nearly finished, or at the very least right after harvest.

  • Make pockets amongst greencrops for hungry brassicas. Dollop a pile of of compost in the space and plant into it. Seedlings perform so well in this team environment, protected from the elements. As the new crop grows, make way for it by breaking off excess greencrop and laying it down as mulch around the young seedlings.
  • Use the space underneath or around finishing crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, flowers and squash. Prune older crops back as much as you can get away with to let enough light in, and sow or plant in the space.
  • Plant leafy greens and herbs beneath fruit trees and along the edges of flower beds.



  • Carrots, parsnips and radish, coriander and rocket.
  • Sow miners lettuce and cornsalad along the edges or in pots for easy picking. Sow decent sized patches quite thickly – they’re such sweet little things and are easily outcompeted. If you let them flower and go to seed they’ll come up every Autumn/ Spring year after year = solid gold!
  • Sow Mizuna with calendula or amongst saladings.
  • Winter greencrops. Mustard is a biofumigant: it does for soils what lemon juice does for livers – deep cleansing. Make best use of it after diseased crops. Its neat to sow beneath fruit trees for some high nectar winter flowers. Oats and wheat are magic for heavy soils in cooler regions. Those big root systems open soil up, and at the other end of their life they make the best mulch. They are prone to rust though, so if its is an issue at your place, stick to lupin. I really like kings seeds Autumn manure mix greencrop.
  • Companion flowers like calendula, cosmos, cornflower, bishops flower, honesty and poppy.


pricked on seedlings
  • Spring onions, red or brown onions.
  • Another lot of broccoli, cauli, cabbage for planting out next month.
  • Peas in toliet rolls or plug trays.
  • Companions flowers like snapdragon, chamomile, stock and heartsease.


Carrots beneath the sacking
  • Beetroot in plug trays or along the picking edge.
  • Broadbeans, saladings, endive, kale or spinach
  • Sweetpeas


Broccoli seedlings
  • Early garlic. If theres one thing we can do to beat rust its to get in early.
  • Another lot of broccoli, cabbage and cauli. Go for a mixture to create a diversity in the kitchen.
  • Lots of parsley and leafy greens like kale, chard and silverbeet. Humble but essential they are the backbone of my winter kitchen and our winter wellness.
  • Plant celery into a lovely pile of rotten organic matter or compost. I grow my winter celery in the greenhouse – not for the warmth but to avoid rust which it always gets when I grow it outside.
  • Leeks, spring onions, red or brown onions.
  • Landcress for winter supply
  • Saladings will need to be planted undercover (greenhouse/ cloche/ porch) when soil temps dip to 12°C and night temps to 10°C.
  • Companion flowers


pumpkin harvest
  • Harvest potatoes when the tops have died down (thats when they store best)
  • Keep up with daily harvests of berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinni and beans to keep plants productive and pests at bay. Even if the harvests are small, its worth it for plant health and to make the most of your gardens fertility.


Beautiful sunshine photo of Edible Backyard with a cloche net over the brassicas
  • Liquid feed brassicas, leeks and leafy greens weekly to speed their growth before the cold comes.
  • Keep up with watering. Its easy to forget once the weather cools off. Check your soil and water seed + new transplants as required. Don’t let them dry out at this pivotal time. Ease back on watering older crops.
  • Spray passionvine hoppers with Neem, weekly if the populations are overwhelming. It wont be long now before they slow down.
  • Take excellent care of all your new transplants and seedlings – they’re your future dinners!
  • Keep an eye on your soil: feel it, smell it, eyeball it.

Let there be light!

With shrinking daylight and dewy ground it’s good to improve airflow + light where you can. Grab your seceteurs and go for a slash and mulch mission to open everything up.

  • Help your pumpkins, squash, peppers, aubergines and tomatoes ripen up by trimming back that wild jungle of leaves. Remove ratty, old foliage. Two for one deal here, make space for new crops.
  • If your corn is blocking light/ air to other crops, cut down the finished stalks and the scrawny undeveloped ones.
  • Greencrops, seeding chards, marigolds, borage and other rambuctious things can be taken back as much as you need.

Use the trimmings as mulch or make an awesome compost pile.

In the Greenhouse

february in the greenhouse - tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers

Every autumn I sow a cleansing mustard greencrop in the greenhouse beneath the still growing tomatoes and peppers. The potential for problems when growing under plastic is high, so even if the season has been trouble free I still clean up with mustard. This combined with crop rotation, weekly biological feeds and a fresh layer of compost after the chickens leave late in winter will keep the soil hearty and well.

As things start to cool off, be mindful of not overwatering. At this time of year I often skip a day or two in the greenhouse – cooler days means there’s less evaporation. Water in the morning so soil dries by nightfall to prevent fungal disease. Milk and molasses poured on foliage and soil will slow any fungal problems if caught early enough.

Dilute milk 1:10 into your watering can and add I tablespoon of molasses (dissolved beforehand in a bit of hot water.) Keep up with pruning for airflow.

Two other useful Autumn reads


  1. hi Kath, thanks for the great list! What flowers do you recommend for this time of year? Thanks, nicky

  2. Sophie Campbell says

    Hi Kath

    Whats the name of the insect mesh that you use and where did you purchase it??


  3. Jo Clendon says

    Hi Kath. With Brassicas I seem to end up with a huge leafy plant that doesn’t develop a head of broccoli or broccoflower. I am guessing it is an imbalance in my soil. I use home-compost, sheep poo, lime and worm
    Castings. What would you suggest please? Thanks.

    • What you need for a good head is minerals – I like seaweed for this or use a full spectrum mineral fert like Fodda. Probably your over feeding Jo – homemade compost + minerals + a dollop of wormcastings per plant are plenty enough at planting, perhaps lime if you are on heavy clay soil. Use the manure as a side dressing when they are 30cm tall but only if its well rotted, never fresh. And if they are already growing great guns I wouldn’t bother with the side dress. Heres hoping for good broccoli heads 🙂

  4. Celia Grigg says

    Hi Kath, thanks so much for your blog, it’s helping me too, even though I’m a very experienced/old vege gardener.
    I watched your carrot planting video and wondered if/how much you water the carrot seeds in the first two weeks that they’re covered? (I thought I was too late for carrots now.)
    Many thanks.

  5. Kirstie Hill says

    Hi Kath. I grew the best corn ever this year. Any suggestions to make best use of finished stalks? Thanks, Kirstie

    • Well done you! Either chop and bash them up and add them to compost if feeling energetic or I chop them into big bits and pile them along with sunflower stalks and other big things on the edge of the vegie patch and leave them to rot down. In a years time they’ll be an awesome source of fertility or toss them as is beneath avocados or tamarillos who enjoy a rough deep mulch.

  6. Sheila Tippett says

    Hi Kath
    Our silk tree which is so beautiful and gives us wonderful shade has fusarium wilt – I think, the leaves are turning yellow and there are bare branches. I’ve googled it and there doesn’t seem to be much hope – do you have a magic cure? Failing that, what would be another quick growing graceful shade tree to plant that won’t be at risk of the wilt?
    Many thanks

    • Oh no! Sorry to say Shelia – I dont know much about silk trees. Instead of google, I’d go visit my nearest, best garden centre or if you dont have one contact a reputable nursery such as southern woods or appletons for advice. Its too hard on google to sort the sheeps from the goats. Infact the same nursery would be a fun place to find a replacement – there are many options. Dont be too seduced by speed – waiting a few more years can be worth it for the perfect specimen. Places like leafland sell larger grade trees which is another great option.

  7. Marylin Avery says

    Totally agree with you about the coriander. I bought a packet of seed many years ago and they’re the most prolific plant in my vege garden, and a favourite with the bees. It’s much the same story with chervil and dill, which isn’t quite so prolific. This year I’m experimenting with folding plants over my brassica seedlings to see if it keeps the white butterflies at bay. It’s working so far.

  8. Hi Kath,
    What’s your view on horse poo?
    Hubby bought me a whole heap of bags of it for my garden.

    • So sweet of your hubby – brownie points! I’m sad to say though that horse poohs pretty scary to me unless you know the pasture and how the horses are treated. Most horse paddocks are way over grazed and full of thistle and dock and inkweed as a result which comes right out in the poop. I’d tip it out, cover it and leave it a goodly long time before using it or even turn it into a liquid feed. If the horse poo came from a stables I’d throw it away itll be full or wormers and all sorts of anti life buisness. A good friend rotted down stable manure then spread it over his garden in autumn, the spring plantings grew very poorly and his summer planted tomatoes didn’t even get out of the starting blocks.

      • Ruth Offord says

        Oo, good to know thank you Kath.
        So glad I checked first.
        I’ve seen the paddock and it’s as dry and lifeless as can be.
        Would it harm my worm farm also?

        • The harm only comes from wormers and antibiotics. If these aren’t in the equation then its a matter of safe guarding yourself against weeds which go in one end and out the other in a horse – notice the weeds in the paddock – the dry isn’t the issue. To safeguard against them, either rot it down or put it through your wormfarm before using.

          • Thank you for the advice, I will investigate what they use. They keep horses for teaching disabled riders not for racing, so hoping they have good practices. Don’t see much in the way of weeds.
            Having owned a block once that had nothing but dry paddock and pines dotted with stinging nettle after being grazed by horses, I remember how long it took to get things growing there..
            All my veg and fruit here are in raised beds, everygrow bags, Flexi bins and vege pods as we have a small section with clay and rock below.

          • Sounds like safe poop then 🙂

  9. Juglans Nigra says

    Marylin Avery said
    “This year I’m experimenting with folding plants over my brassica seedlings to see if it keeps the white butterflies at bay. It’s working so far. ”

    Best I found so far for cabbage chompers has been to encourage nests of the paper wasps: both asian and Tasmanian varieties. They constantly search the veges for all sorts of caterpillars to feed to their youing grubs. From about April they slow down as it gets too cold for flying; and don’t start again until about September (Gisborne ) Queens try to over-winter in dry areas like firewood stacks to re-start colonies in spring. Not used derris dust now for about 15 years. CHeers, W

  10. Hello Kath
    Thank you for sharing your amazing knowledge with us all.
    We just moved into a new house. The old owners said the back garden is completely in the shade in winter. Is there anything i can plant in a spot that gets zero direct sunlight? We live in the thames cosst.

    • Hi Jane, First up have a go at making a basemap. It really is the very best start. Find out how much sun shines in the back garden all year round – there may be some seasons with good sun. At the same time, learn how the sun moves across your whole section, year round and learn the sunny spots. Can any of these spots be transformed to food garden? Like lawn or an existing ornamental garden or move the tool shed… Mean time in the shade grow leafy greens of all types, brassicas like collards and broccoli can work and give parsley a go. K x

  11. Hi Kath,
    Thanks so much for you advice on storing apples for the winter. Do you have any tips for pears? Can you treat them the same way or do you need to refrigerate them?
    Ka kite ano
    Caragh :o)

    • Pears are different, and can be tricky! They ripen from the inside. So come off the tree before perfectly ripe and yes either into the fridge or on the bench to finish off. If they go gritty theyve been on the tree too long. Took me a good few years to work out to harvest the pears!

  12. Genevieve says

    Hi Kath
    We unfortunately bought three trailer-loads of compost from a reputable landscape business, which has turned out to be contaminated with clopyralid. Beans and tomatoes did terribly., but I had started these very early in the season, so had time to re-sow, fortunately, Due to a health issue (advice was for me to avoid bending) , hubby put in raised beds, which we needed to fill, and as we did not have enough of our own compost to fill them, we bought stuff for the first time. I have researched and learned that some plants can help reduce the effects of this toxin, so rather than dig it all out, and replace it with homemade compost (which we are frantically making – but still won’t have enough) I am growing corn, celery, mustard and barley in the greenhouse, and barley and mustard in the outside beds. We have a good bucket of worm wees 1x a month, I’ve made a sea weed brew, we have a good supply of year -old rotted horse manure … is there anything else you can recommend for us to hasten the breakdown of the toxins in my raised beds?
    Thanks so much

    • Ahhhh – my heart goes out to you Gen. What a world we’ve made.
      Managing ‘pyralid is a grand experiment, sadly gardeners are at the forefront so not a lot of solid info. The best we can do is lean on plants to drive biology – it is of course the microbes in tag team with the plants that are doing the mahi. Thing is as we go along we realise that all plants are part of the process of cleansing and rebalancing the soil – as in everything you do create a mixture.
      I presume you’ve bumped into Charles Dowdling and his pyralid experiences – if not check him out. There is some interesting evidence to show sunlight and exposure to air as an assist – perhaps a period of fallow.
      EM will be more potent than food per se – the biology, as always, will be the big difference. I’d be adding that in with the worm wees. It would be interesting to ring the guys at EMNZ and chat with them. I’d also call Paul at the soil food web lab and see what he has to offer.
      All the best Gen

      • Thanks Kath – This is very helpful.
        Such a terrible waste of all of my hard work, and I echo your sentiments ‘What a world we have made’. What indeed.
        I have purchased EM, and I will have a chat with them. I’ll also look up Charles Dowling – I haven’t heard of him. Quite a bit on KillercompostNZ facebook page too.
        Thanks again

  13. Hi Kath,
    I loved your suggestion about starting the mustard beneath the tomatoes now while they’re still growing. I was wondering if once the the tomatoes are finished can I plant brassicas for winter amongst the mustard /cover crop or do I have to wait? It seems most places suggest waiting a period of time but I’d quite like to plant straight into the soil to help keep the food flowing through winter.
    Thankyou ☺️

    • Waiting schmaiting….yes Sarah your intuition is taking you there – plant it up! Give each seedling a fist of compost and off you go. You can get a bit zany and as the mustard thins out chuck in some crimson clover or other nitrogen fixer to hand the greencrop baton .. enjoy! K x

  14. Hi Kath. Could you please do an article about slug and snail bait? I’m very reluctant to use anything in case it soaks into the soil and kills the worms. We have a few snails and a few of the big leopard slugs (natives maybe?) and lots and lots of small slugs. Tiny seedlings get munched overnight and I suspect that my carrot germination rate is actually better than it appears.

    • I recommend regular night hunts with head torch and a bucket of limey water to toss the slugs into. Its the one and only very best way to reduce slugs. There after only plant out big sized seedlings and dont use mulch around them during high slug periods. Thrushes are awesome to have about for this reason and there are apparently various ground beetles that eat slugs so get your diversity going Sheryl! Carrots needing to be direct sown is tricky though. I’ve always used Tui Quash as its only bran and iron and can attest to a bountiful worm population.

  15. Hi Kath, I am a fan and the first te interacting. your monthly calender post is really so useful, thank you.

    I had a question re vines, I have 15 meters of trellis area. what other vines can I plant at this time of the year besides peas?

    • Climbing annual vegie ideas at this time of year have me a little stumped – and besides 15m of peas sounds like a super valuable meaningful crop! You could toss some sweet peas and nasturtium along the strings as well and underplant with leafy greens, cabbage, mizuna, gai lan et all. Enjoy!

  16. Hi Kath thanks for all that you share. what is the picking edge? I’ve read it in your book and now in this post. I’m a bit stumped.

    • Hey Helen. Great question! The picking edge is the outside edge of gardens, with easy access for harvesting. Use it for the things you pick regularly like salads, herbs and daily vegies like cucumbers. Leave the centre, harder to access area for things you don’t pick often like companion plants or longterm crops like pumpkin with one big pick at the end of the season. A useful concept for areas that are odd shapes and for fitting alot into a small space – less paths!

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