March in the Vegie Garden

20 March 2014
Written by Kath Irvine | Images by Kath Irvine
Print Email

As the cooler temps slow down the growing rate of the vege garden, Kath reminds us what to do and plant in March to ensure yours is a plentiful winter garden

March – 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 four or six weeks' produce left on your summer crops and then what?

Yours in the earth,

(Come and see me at the Kapiti Sustainable Home and Garden Show on March 22/23 - I'd love to see you)

(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 two-three weeks: two or three cabbages, four 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.

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 it's 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.

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.

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.

Bulb planting time is here

Buff up that spring under-storey with bulbs, bulbs and more bulbs! I have lots of beautiful Eerlicheer and King Alfred Daffs in bags of 10 for only $5.00. Come and see me at the Sustainable Home and Garden Show on March 22/23 and buy yourself some.

In the Orchard   |   In the Kitchen

  • Kath Irvine is a permaculture designer who has been designing and managing food gardens since the late 1990s. Passionate about growing food and good design, Kath runs workshops from her Edible Backyard, teaching people how to design and grow smart gardens. Edible Backyard:


Add comment

Security code

  • July in the Vegie Patch
    20 July, 2014
    Kath tackles the 'to prune or not to prune' question head on; advises on making good use of your July weeds and sets some mid-winter inspired garden m...
  • June in the Vegie Patch
    19 June, 2014
    Never one to let the icy frost settle on her garden tools, Kath Irvine sets a list of June jobs to give your vegie patch a wee boost during this chill...
  • May in the Vegie Patch
    20 May, 2014
    Enjoying the rewards of her toil during the summer months, Kath, forever with an eye on the seasons, discusses how to shelter your land from the winte...
  • April in the Vegie Patch
    20 April, 2014
    Are you scratching your head wondering what to plant in your Autumn vegie garden?  Well you're in luck as Kath lists 10 essential plants for a happy g...
  • March in the Vegie Garden
    20 March, 2014
    As the cooler temps slow down the growing rate of the vege garden, Kath reminds us what to do and plant in March to ensure yours is a plentiful winter...
  • November in the Vegie Patch
    20 November, 2013
    With only a few short weeks to go before summer is upon us, Kath Irvine guides us through the final preparations to ensure our summer crops are plenti...
  • October in the Vegie Patch
    19 October, 2013
    With the warm weather almost here,  Kath reminds us that October is get-ready-for-summer-abundance month, providing us with pointers to ensure a bount...
  • September in the Vegie Patch
    19 September, 2013
    This month in Kath Irvine's fabulous garden she welcomes spring, encouraging us to roll our gardens beds over and plant and sow like our lives depend ...
  • August in the vegie patch
    20 August, 2013
    Anticipating a spring in her step, Kath Irvine takes time to prepare, plan and look forward to the warmer months and all that means for the fresh-food...
  • Sleep in, light a fire, make a pudding!
    20 June, 2013
    Embracing winter, Kath Irvine shares some timely advice on creating good flow within the garden, plus preparing and planting your onion and garlic bed...
  • Prepare your soil
    15 April, 2013
    Kath Irvine likens the gardening journey so far to that of an elite sporting event where crossing the finish line is the reward for you & your garden ...
  • Autumn in the Vege Patch
    20 March, 2013
    It’s been a long hot summer but the first full days of autumn are here and as Kath Irvine points out that means preparing the garden for winter crops

  • Creating robust systems
    20 February, 2013
    Kath Irvine introduces 'robust gardening' as a smarter way of doing things - the more robust our gardens the better our crops, plants and animals cope
  • Green crops are fab
    20 January, 2013
    Our gardening guru Kath Irvine celebrates Jan and the New Year by preparing for the colder months ahead and organising her autumn and winter food supp...
  • The Colours of Summer
    20 December, 2012

    Welcome to the start of summer. Of course whether it actually is or not will remain to be seen, but it’s looking likely. This spring has been very rel...

MyMag this month...

...your magazine for inspiring stories, beautiful spaces, networking, sharing & celebrating community...

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New Zealand


MyMag is your Mag! Subscribe today - it's FREE.  
Subscribe and receive our monthly newsletter keeping you up to date with the latest edition.