March-ing into spring | Squamish Chief

March-ing into spring

As I sit here writing this, the snow is tumbling down fast and piling up everywhere. March is generally a time when gardeners want to spring into action, but my best advice is to cool our jets for a bit. I have a sneaking suspicion that spring is still weeks away.

If you need to console yourself about the snow and slush, consider that the snowpack will help with drought problems and water shortages in summer.

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There are jobs to be done in March, particularly if you start your own seeds. Even if you don't have any fancy grow lights or a warming mat, you can successfully start kale, leeks, shallots, spinach and beets.

Brassicas are also easy and grow well in our coastal conditions. Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are all reliable producers and worth a try from seed. Try branching out with Romanesco cauliflower varieties, broccoli raab or Broccolini.

Pak choi and mustard greens are incredibly hardy. Once the snow is gone and your soil is workable, you can direct sow these right into the garden with plastic covering for frost protection. Broad beans can also go directly into the ground in March.

If you are serious about seed starting, kohlrabi, artichoke, asparagus, onion, tomato and peppers can be started, too. These will have longer germination times and you will have to transplant the seedlings several times into larger containers. They take a bit more fiddling but are well worth your effort.

Don't forget about flower seeds. In March you can start nasturtiums, sweet peas and sunflowers. These are super easy and they can be transplanted out into the garden by the end of April. These seeds are also large in size and easy to handle, so if you have any young garden helpers in the house, this is a great job for them.

If you are really keen and have spare time to do thinning and transplanting, you can forge ahead with lettuce, radish, arugula and peas. Time always seems in demand at our household, so I usually skip starting these inside and wait until the end of the month to direct seed them into the ground.

If you never got around to planting your garlic in the fall, don't fear. You can plant it now. Just make sure to use an organic garlic from local sources, not the type from China you see in grocery stores.

So it turns out that a snowy March can still keep a gardener on their toes. Happy planting!

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