March News from the Vegie Patch

MarchgardenMarch – it sure feels like it – a march that is… against time. What is this peaceful occupation they call food gardening?! Autumn is here and in a couple of months time the air and soil temps will be cooling off. I for one am so looking forward to it. Those cooler temps slow growth right down. May plantings will take much longer to mature than April plantings, taking longer again than March plantings.

The moral of this long wind is plant some winter stuff today. (Tomorrow is ok but don’t leave it longer than next week or you’ll have a food gap.) At this late stage, who cares if it’s the right moon or not; we’re in last-ditched-effort-country right about now. You’ve got about 4 or 6 weeks produce left on your summer crops and then what?

March garden jobs

(Bringing to mind the lovely lady who unsubscribed because I gave out too many jobs!)

Get planting! Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. I plant a mix of brassicas out once every 2-3 weeks: 2 or 3 cabbages, 4 or so broccoli, a kale and a cauli or two and this way our harvests have variety. Mix it up to suit your household.

Plant salads under the brassicas. They’ll grow fast in the rich soil, appreciate the shade and be well finished before the brassicas even begin. In your heavy feeder bed plant out some perpetual spinach and lots of parsley for a steady supply of fresh greens right through till it heats up again next summer.

  • Tray sow more brassicas for mid March plantings and some celery too.
  • Direct sow winter greencrops as your light feeders finish – oats, wheat, barley, mustard.
  • Direct sow carrots, beetroot, parsnip and radish.

This highlights the biggest challenge of March – keeping seed and seedlings moist in our driest time of year. If young brassicas dry out they’ll bolt to small heads or rice (where the head separates out into a loose flower instead of a lovely tight one); if saladings dry out they’ll be bitter and grow slowly; if seed dries out it won’t sprout … whatever way you look at it drying out is bad news.

Make March your month for keeping everything watered

I’m sure you know by now how to garden smart and minimise your water use. If we were in a workshop I’d get you to call the solutions out to me, alas its hard to hear down the ethernet, so here they are:

  • lovely, humus rich compost
  • moisten the ground and soak your seedlings before planting out
  • give a lovely puddle to drink at planting time
  • pile up a mixed garden mulch on top.

Broccoli under cover

Go the cloche hoops – they make protecting young seedlings a breeze. Birdnet over the cloches will stop cabbage whites getting to your crop and a bit of shadecloth will stop them baking to a crisp.

Move with the weather – once the sting goes out of the heat you can forget the shadecloth and oh the relief the watering will slow down too.

Speaking of slowing down

Deep Breath. Take some time to sit, or lie if it’s been a long hard day, in your beautiful autumn garden. Adore the zinnias, cleome and gaillardia, the monarchs, the hoverflies, the bees and parasitic wasps, all the abundance sprung from your hands. Oh yes, all is well.

Autumn garden learning

Autumn in the Vegie Patch is coming up on 15th March. It will be a treat to have a small group of gardeners over. Not to belittle the Summer Gathering at all, (what a magic day!) but a big crowd is impossible to meet one on one, so here’s to a small group. Here’s to the eating of cake and talking of food gardening. It’s easily possible in our microclimate to eat year round from our gardens – it’s not all about summer and tomatoes you know!