Hooray for March! My favorite bipolar season. In the past week we’ve had powder days at the ski resorts, hot days of rock climbing in shorts and a t-shirt, rain, sleet, and a foot of snow in my front yard. We have been lucky and mother nature has been giving us some moisture in the past couple of months, so the garden is starting to awaken. After the snow melted away this weekend, we discovered the garlic I planted in November is starting to poke out some green shoots. This means it’s time to start thinking about planting.
I almost don’t need to even mention the health benefits of gardening. Aside from getting the freshest, most nutrient packed foods that are grown exactly to your standards, gardening deepens our awareness of what’s in season (and consequently what foods are best for our bodies). Having the kids help also encourages them to eat more fresh fruits and veggies and teaches them about where our food comes from.
If you haven’t done a lot of gardening, you live in a place with limited space, or you don’t have a lot of free time to spend in the dirt, here’s a quick list of things to try to optimize your production this year, plus a reminder of what you should be doing right now:
Plants with the best effort/output ratio:
Cherry tomatoes–these can be successful from indoor sprouting, buying a plant from the store, or direct seeding to a pot or garden. Sun Golds are our family favorite for flavor and abundance.
radishes–Very satisfying for the impatient gardener. Generally you can go from seed to salad in about 3 weeks
zucchini–if you have some room in the garden and a good water supply, zucchini wins for easy to grow and maximum poundage.
peas–if you have a place to trellis, peas are my kids’ favorite for direct snacking from the garden.
kale–One or two kale plants usually keeps my family eating greens (and kale chips!) from late may to late November.
Plants that are best for limited space:
potherbs: Plant a large pot on the back deck with oregano, basil, cilantro and thyme for added flavor to summer dinners. Lavender and chives are also wonderful in pots because they come back year after year.
Cherry tomatoes–Especially if you get a “bush” variety, these are a great choice for pots.
strawberries–You can buy a hanging strawberry garden that will provide treats right from the patio.
baby greens–Many seed companies make a “garden mix” seed packet that you can harvest as they grow, or replant throughout the warm months for salads all season long.
Fun perennials that will come back each year: These are all nice because with a bit of effort at the outset, you will have garden treats for years to come.
And here’s what you should be thinking about for your garden in March:
What to plant outdoors now:
What to sprout now:
Happy Solstice! Enjoy!