The Maritime Northwest Edition
The winter finally comes to an official close later this month. Time to start putting all of your winter dreaming and planning into practice. In general, it is still too early to plant many species of garden vegetables, but with protective measures and scoping out micro-climate zones in your yard, experimenting is always fun.
In the Vegetable Garden
- Now is a good time to germination test any leftover seeds from prior years that you have saved.
- It is also a good time to order your seeds. We generally ship orders quickly, within 1 to 3 days. But if you are ordering seeds from other companies, keep in mind that they get busy in March; so ask them about expected shipping delays. You can also check out their customer reviewed reputations at the "Garden Watchdog."
- As weather permits, begin the process of preparing your garden soil for sowing. Mow and work in cover crops, compost, and other planned soil amendments. The goal is for the nutrients to be freely available to developing plants during the gardening season.
- Using the garden plan you developed over the winter, and as soon as your soil can be worked, sow beets, carrots, chard, parsley, parsnips, peas, radishes, salsify, and spinach.
- Potatoes can be planted as soon as the soil has drained and can be worked.
- Late cabbage and cauliflower can be started from seed in a cold frame, or in areas that have warmed up, directly in a seedbed.
- Fertilize your asparagus beds.
- If you didn’t start them last month, now is the time to start sowing your eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes indoors. The rule of thumb is to sow eggplant and pepper seeds about eight weeks prior to your last expected frost date, and tomato seeds at about six weeks prior.
- Inspect your gardening tools. You probably serviced them last fall before storing them for the winter, but look for damage and purchase replacements before the season gets into full swing. Choose quality over price, keep them maintained, and they should last a lifetime or more.
- Don’t get too excited on nice days and uncover your protected perennial plants too early.
- About mid-month, many annuals can be started indoors.
- Before your perennial beds break their winter nap, now is a good time to broadcast fertilize.
- If you mulched your crocuses, now is the time to remove it. Keep tulips and daffodils lightly covered.
- Plant any remaining bare root plants or trees that you have purchased.
- Early spring is also a good time to plant dormant roses.
- Finish pruning your grapes; get the task done sooner rather than later. Wait too long and they will bleed.
- Finish up pruning your fruit trees focusing on removing dead or broken limbs, as well as those that are rubbing on each other.
- Now that the days are getting longer, re-pot houseplants that need room to keep grow.
NOTE: If you live in a warmer or colder climate, adjust your schedule accordingly. The tasks that we do here in the Pacific Northwest in March may be more appropriate to perform in January or February in parts of the South, or late April in the far North.
Mike Dunton is a farmer, lifelong gardener, and seed saver interested in “old-timey” ways, historical agriculture and biodiversity preservation. From his ancestral farm in Liberal, Oregon, he focused all of these interests and founded the mission-driven Victory Seed Company in 1998 which works to locate, grow, document and preserve rare, threatened, heirloom seed varieties keeping them available to gardeners. You can find them online at www.VictorySeeds.com or email him at [email protected]. Your support is greatly needed and appreciated. [This article was originally published in the Green Living Journal.]