March 28, 2021

The Garden in March

Peach tree blooming in mid-March.

March. A totally unpredictable month in terms of weather. Some years it's warm, some years it's cold, but always, it seems to be windy and it rains. Our anticipated last frost isn't until mid-April, so, weather permitting, March is the month I finish the winter garden harvest, plant spring veggies, and work on preparing the beds for the summer garden.

Newly trellised asparagus and blackberry bed

The asparagus bed above was plagued for years with volunteer wild blackberries. Last year, I finally gave up and let them grow. I harvested quite a few, so it was a good decision. But since they sprawled, I thought a trellis would be useful. The first garden project of March was to put up the t-post and cattle panel trellis you see in the photo above.

My next project was to tackle the hoop house.

Weeding the hoop house

I have mixed feelings about the hoop house. I found that covered with greenhouse plastic, it would get too warm when we had mild, sunny winter days. But it didn't stay warm enough to protect tender warm weather plants. Plus, it added an additional watering chore. In summer, the raised beds dry out pretty quickly.

Working my way down the beds.

This year I've decided to try planting squash or melons in the hoop house beds. Another experiment.

In most of my winter garden beds, some of the plants are allowed to go to seed for collecting. In the photo below, turnips are blooming. 

Turnips blooming (for seed).

These are Tokinashi turnips, a new variety for me.

According to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, this was the variety that Fukuoka Masanobu grew. We really like them! The turnips are mild even when large, and the greens were tasty even as they were bolting. The greens had an interesting flavor. Almost honey flavored, but not sweet. No other way to explain it! It's a keeper.

Snow peas are coming up in the turnip bed.

Chickweed grows in that bed too, a favorite for salads and my homegrown goat mineral mix

Foraged chickweed.

Chickweed salad with kefir dressing and chopped pecans.

Other winter garden hangers-on include fava beans.

The favas had no problem with our freezing cold spells.

Last year, I started harvesting these in April. This year, I tried a different variety, Sweet Lorane. 

Loads of fava bean flower buds.

It's said to be lower in tannin, so there isn't a need to remove the inner pod. We'll see!

My strawberries are also starting to bloom. I don't have many plants left, so every berry is a treat.

Strawberry, garlic, and teeny baby lettuce.

I thought my Savoy cabbages would make it. Half of them survived the winter and started to grow, but then we got a streak of days topping 70°F (21°C) and they thought it was time to bolt!

Bolting savoy cabbages. Multiplier onions in this bed too.

I cut them down and sauteed them for dinner. Mild and tasty. They will likely send up seed shoots, so I'll collect some seed then.

Early spring planting includes trays of broccoli, more collards, some herbs, and lettuce, which will already be transplanted by the time this blog post publishes.

Jericho lettuce seedlings.

I also got an early start on my tomatoes, although I'm not impressed with the germination.

Tomato seedlings.

More experimental (for me) varieties: Black Krim and Eva Purple Ball. Both were described as being heat tolerant. I know it's said that tomatoes like heat, but they don't like too much heat, as evidenced by a drop in production in my garden every year when our heat cranks up to sweltering. 

So that's it for March. I'm happy to have gotten so much done. Next weekend, we're forecast to drop back down into freezing overnight temperatures! The weather has been so nice that I was tempted to get an early start on my warm weather veggies. I'll have to wait until mid-April when were out of danger of frost. I'm looking forward to that. 

End of month parting shot - 1st asparagus!

How about you? What going on in your garden?


wyomingheart said...

We are getting the new beds in, with out of 6, we only have two to go. We have also been watching the weather for next week, and looks like after Tuesday and Wednesday, we are clear of any frost. We have cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and celery ready to go in the ground. We also picked up 10 new fruit trees for the orchard, and two new pecan trees, but we will wait until Friday to plant them, also. Strawberries are up, but not blooming yet. The garlic and onions look really good after bedded in straw all winter. Your asparagus bed being taken over is sad, but I really think you are smart to let the berries grow where they want to. We haven’t decided where to plant the asparagus bed yet, but will probably figure that out this summer. We had the biggest, best bed when we lived in Florida, and I really miss having a good bed of asparagus to pick every morning to mix in the scrambled eggs. How are those turnips in heat? They look great! How are those precious little kids doing? Have a perfect day, Leigh!

Boud said...

This is a treasury of a food garden. I used to have a long asparagus bed, planted by a previous owner. It grew so abundantly I'd invite neighbors to come pick. I had all I could use and freeze. It used to grow wild around here before land got "developed" meaning covered in housing. Not my idea of developed.

Rosalea said...

What a breath of spring all your photos are Leigh! Our turn is coming, in a month or more... Looking out at sodden dead grass, and watching the raindrops dimple the 'duck ponds' forming on the lawn. The only shoots I see are reddish tulip leaves just starting to unfurl, and some tiny day lily shoots. We would normally still have a fair bit of snow. It is a very odd spring this year.

Mama Pea said...

What's going on in my garden? You can guess. Two inches of new snow with mud and then frozen soil underneath! The gorgeous picture of your fruit tree in full blossom makes me very nervous knowing your last predicted frost date is mid-April. Eeeep. Everything that's green and growing looks wonderful and I love reading your posts and seeing the pictures of what's going on in your garden at different times of the year.

Leigh said...

Wyomingheart, wow, you guys have been busy! Such productive news. You've made a lot of progress.

The kids are doing great! Finally finished the dreaded job of disbudding, and some of them have even forgiven me, lol.

Boud, I have to agree about "development." Destructivment, more like. It's a shame about your wild asparagus. I've never seen it in the wild, and I've never been able to get a super productive bed going either.

Rosalea, hopefully, you won't get any more snow! Definitely sounds like spring is right around the corner for you.

Mama Pea, I can always count on you for an interesting contrast!

Every year there's a threat of losing all our peaches due to late frosts. Not only on our place, but all over the southeast. We actually lose more peaches to pests than to freezing, though. It's a battle we have yet to win.

Ed said...

What a difference a bunch of miles make. Up here we have nothing that survives the winter except for our asparagus which is a long ways from poking up. We were going to try tilling the new farm garden this weekend but it rained all weekend and was very cold and windy. Perhaps next weekend we can start sticking some cold weather crops in the ground.

Leigh said...

Ed, it's amazing what a difference a bunch of miles make! Of course, if we were having a really cold March I wouldn't have as much done. I hope your garden and the farm goes well.

Donna said...

So, so jealous!!! It is hailing here and no hope of planting anything outside. We do have some seeds started in the greenhouse which might survive if the hail allows. Our seed warming pad for the tomatoes started flaming so was tossed it out so I doubt all of those seeds I planted will germinate. Sucks to be north sometimes.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, we are just starting to get back to planting temperatures. The asparagus is coming up and the onions and garlic survived the snow and ice. I am debating on doing a larger yard remodel which could encompass some additional beds.

Leigh said...

Donna, how nice you have a greenhouse! I never thought of a warming pad for seedlings, but to hear yours burst into flame isn't very encouraging! We're lucky here to have milder winters and earlier springs, but our summer heat can be a killer - literally to things in the garden. Always trade-offs no matter where you live.

TB, sounds like your winter garden is doing well. I guess whether or not to expand your garden depends on how many seeds you ordered! (I always go overboard. :)

Sharon Kwilter said...

Your gardens are so lovely. Thanks for sharing photos.

tpals said...

Our temps are flipping around wildly from day to day so not much happening. Volunteer lettuce has sprouted but April snowstorms aren't unusual.

Can you take the plastic off your hoop tunnel for the summer and put it on late fall?

Leigh said...

Thank you Sharon!

Tpals, we're dipping back into colder weather as well. Not expecting snow, though!

The hoop house overheating problem happens in winter! If we get a few balmy days in the 60s (not uncommon) then the hoop house gets too hot. I would open both ends to let air circulate, but unless the wind was blowing from the right direction, it was still too warm. It made me wonder if I shouldn't just adjust what I grow to match the season.

daisy g said...

Wow, you've got a lot going on! It looks like you are in good shape for the coming season.

I'm wondering if you've grown Jericho before. I've heard it tolerates the heat well.

Have you considered irrigating the hoop house? I put in drip when I moved the garden last year and it is one of the best things I did. Makes watering so easy. Just put in a timer, and the watering is done for you.

Enjoy the continued progress!

Leigh said...

Daisy, I have found that the Jericho lettuce does extremely well in summer as long as it gets plenty of water. Last summer I planted some in my African Keyhole Garden and was pleased that it didn't get bitter nor bolt until well into summer.

We have talked about irrigating the hoop house, but the project never seems to make it to the top of the to-do list. Part of the reason for that is because of the over-heating problem due to the plastic. So it's really multiple factors behind all of that.

Nina said...

We will be planting our potatoes Friday. We wanted to plant today due to a full moon but with 2 nights of below freezing coming along with rain we decided to hold off Indeed, March is always an iffy month. Checked my hotbox today and am cutting a bunch of chickweed. We're grilling burgers tonight and a nice salad on the side sounds terrific, doesn't it? I love Spring. It's a lot of work but I think it's the joy and anticipation of the beautiful crops to come!! We also did some fishing the last couple weeks and so our garden is full of transplanted fish leftovers and our freezer has several meals awaiting us! Pear tree is budding and about to burst with blooms, berry bushes are leafing and some are blooming and the nettle is coming up with constant goodies. It's potato and nettle soup soon! I planted a huge variety of tomato seeds and everyone of them sprouted. I'm tickled but I've way too many and now I've got to find someone to take them!! It's a wonderful problem to have. Happy Spring to you and yours!!

Leigh said...

Nina, it sounds like things are going wonderfully for you! Such good news to hear.

Nancy In Boise said...

Looks great! We have such heavy clay soil (even after 12+ years composting) I don't have much luck with roots veggies. I bought strawberries though, under a grow light til it warms up, 28 yesterday!

Leigh said...

Thanks, Nancy! Those clay soils are really tough to deal with, aren't they? It's a slow go to lighten them up. That's why I've taken to making hugelkultur swale beds! It seems to help. I hope your strawberries do well!