March heralds the first signs of spring, and depending on your zone you may be able to start preparing your beds and planting cold tolerant crops such as Kale, Radish and overwintering Greens. Here in Northern California, USDA zone 8-9, we can get into the garden and start our gardening activities. If you live in a colder zone, you will have to wait until the ground is workable, or in milder zones, you may have already started some of these activities.
It Always Starts with the Soil
As soon as the soil is workable, you can test your soil. You have a few options for testing your soil. You can buy a kit and test the soil yourself, or you can collect your soil and send it to us by mail and we will ship it off to the lab and send you the results
within a few weeks. If you would like more information on how to collect soil for soil testing, watch our video Soil Tests
. For all of you DIY folks, you can watch the video How to Test Soil
where Tricia shows how to use the La Motte Soil Test Kit
You can also test just the pH of your soil with a variety of products
found on our website and adjust your pH according to the results. Work in an inch or two of compost to your garden as well. If you’ve planted a nitrogen fixing cover crop
, turn it under a month before you plant so it has time to break down the roots and release the fixed nitrogen in the soil. Turn it under before it goes to seed when it is beginning to bloom. To learn more about cover crops See our video Cover Crops for the Garden
Get Rid of Weeds Early
Watch out for early weeds to sprout, and pull them as soon as you see them, before they have time to get established. If they are already established watch our video Organic Weed Control
which offers tips on preventing weed germination, weed flaming and suggests some great weeding tools.
Insects Are Starting to "Wake Up"
Some insects and other pests are also waking up for the spring, so it’s time to start monitoring with sticky traps and trapping out pests. Look closely for aphids, slugs and snails, which love the early spring damp, cool weather. Check out the great products to prevent and control these pests such as Sluggo, Slug Saloon and Slug Shield
. Watch your apple trees this spring. As soon as they start to bloom you should put out a codling moth trap
to monitor for activity of the male moths. We have several great products for keeping those pesky worms out of your apples. Its also time to put out gopher
and other pesky animal traps
. They will be looking for places to build their nests and you don’t want them doing that near the garden. It could also be time to prevent mosquito and fly infestations before the height of the season is upon you. Check out our biological controls targeting mosquitos
and our beneficial fly parasites
on our website. Prevention and early control will pay off later in the season! Watch our relevant Fly and Mosquito Control
video for more information.
Start Your Cold Hardy Seeds Direct
March is not too early to begin planting in most zones. This is a great time to plant potatoes, and also cold hardy spring crops such as beets, kohlrabi, radishes and kale. If you live in a mild winter climate, you can also plant greens and other semi-hardy plants now. Refer to our Seed Planting Calculator
which includes 1st and last frost dates and suggests what to plant and when. Be sure and buy your soil thermometer
if you don’t have one. Soil thermometers are really handy for telling you when to plant your seeds and transplants (based on individual needs of the seed/transplant type). Keep some frost blankets or Agribon row cover
on hand for when a spring cold front moves through! These are very effective and easy to install on most any plant.
Start Your Seeds Indoors for Tender Summer Veggies
If you are like me I want to get a jump start on my summer garden by starting some seeds indoors now. Seeds like peppers, tomatoes and eggplant which tend to grow slowly, can be started in seed trays or soil blocks. You can then move them up into larger pots for growing up until they are ready to transplant out in the garden. Start your lettuce, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and peas now to set out as soon as they are big enough. These are a more cold hardy than your tender summer plants and will enjoy some cool weather to grow in. Head out to the garden and get started on the gardening season, and grow organic for life!