March Notes

It’s been a summer that’s tested gardeners and gardens alike – cool start, blasts of extreme heat, low rainfall. But finally, our tomatoes and other crops are getting into full production. Fingers crossed that March is benign and there is enough warmth for all those heritage tomatoestoms from julia (and everything else) to ripen! Keeping the water up and a feed or two of worm/seaweed/compost tea will help things along. Our autumn raspberries were really challenged over the summer despite mulching, deep watering and shade protection – will they bear fruit?

Time to prepare beds for planting – this month will be vital to plant those caulis and broccolis and other autumn/winter crops. Get your brussels in! Dig in well prepared compost, rockdust, lime. Water in. Replace mulch if you aren’t planting straight away (and a bit of the old shredded/light mulch dug through the soil will help add organic matter, but don’t overdo it, or it will tie up all the available soil nitrogen and the plants will suffer) If planting parsnip or carrot seed, remember these crops will take a while to germinate – up to 3 weeks – and over that time you need to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out at all – one way is to place wet hessian on top of the soil and then a light plank of wood, until the seeds sprout. Or you can presprout by soaking (see earlier post), plant and continue to keep moist. Putting in a quick growing leafy mix of salad greens and herbs is a great idea before we head into autumn.

broadiesLater in the month, start thinking about garlic and broadies – our two staple crops (and fundraisers) at the garden. We are running out of beds to plant, taking into consideration crop rotation, because garlic (or other alliums) shouldn’t be replanted in the same spot for another three seasons and at least one season, preferably two, before putting broadies (or other vicias; beans, peas, legumes) in the same spot.  It’s a constant challenge for community gardens to monitor and maintain crop rotations to benefit the soil and prevent potential pest or disease problems.

It’s not too late for pruning – prune for fruit production on your pome fruit trees (apple, pear, quince, nashi etc) and stonefruit (peach, plum, nectarine, apricot, etc). Berries can also get the chop when they have finished fruiting. Autumn berries get everything cut down to the base, others get this years canes cut back to the base and the new growth that’s come through needs to be tied up and trimmed where needed – this will be where next years’ crop forms.

Think about your first application of BD500 for the year if it gets coolish and moist. And there are two moon opposite Saturn events this month – the best time for planting/transplanting. Enjoy the better March weather for gardening – and don’t beware the Ides, just plant your root and fruit crops!*

Gardening Dates for temperate areas of SE Australia:

Leaf Days: 2-4, 12-14, 21-23, 30-31amaranth, bok choi, brussel sprouts,  cabbage, kale, celery, endive, mibuna, mizuna, orach, rocket, tat soi, lettuce, mustard, silverbeet, chard, spinach, chives, garlic chives, coriander, dill, parsley,

Fruit Days:4-7, 14-17, 23-25: broad beans, mustard, peas, snopeas, lentils, lupins, chickpeas, wheat, oats, barley, spelt, triticale (green manure plants)

Root Days:7-9, 17-19, 26-29: beetroot, carrots, celeriac, fennel, bunching onion, kohlrabi, leek, parsnip, radish, daikon radish, swede, turnip

Flower Days:1-2, 9-12, 19-21, 25-28 : broccoli, borage, cauliflower, all flowers (poppies, lupins, calendula, etc)

Moon Opposite Saturn (considered a good date for sowing seeds, applying preps and planting, or 48hrs either side): 1, 29   

Node Days (avoid planting if you can): 5, 19

Apogee (moon furthest from earth; less lunar influence): 12

Perigee (moon clostest to eath; more lunar influence): 28

New Moon/Full Moon: 1, 31/17

Moon descending: 1-9, 23-31

Moon ascending: 9-23 

Apply soil fertilisers, compost, take cuttings, plant seedlings: 26-28 best, then  23, 30-31 or 7-9

Prune, harvest for storage: 23-31 best, then 4-9,

Apply foliar fertilisers: 9-15, 19-23

Graft: 9-12, 19-21

Dates are a guide for these particular crops. Timing will vary from region to region (particularly with climate change) and even within a garden’s own microclimates. Of course, rainfall, weather conditions and your own schedule will influence when you garden.

*The Ides of March come from the Roman Calendar which was based on the phases of the moon. The start of their year was actually March and the ides was the first full moon of the year. It occured around the 13th – 15th of the month (in 2014 it will be on 17th) and was the time of religious celebrations – as well as the assassination of Julius Caeser (and entered the lexicon c/o Shakespeare)  A gardening aside!

4 thoughts on “March Notes

  1. Megan W says:

    Great notes Janet thank you
    Thinking about what to get going in garden vs seedling trays this season. I seem to remember there used to be a guide on your blog that indicated whether it was best to put in as seed or seedling. Is there a general rule about which are best to go into the garden as seed or seedling?

    • janet barker says:

      Hi Megan
      Yes, I must have slipped up there, however have done so for April – this month most things can go in as either version, though in the community garden we are still having an issue with slaters/snails/slugs so the copper bands and protection are a good idea, especially for seeds (many of my bean seeds disappeared without trace, as did lettuce seedlings, though I suspect the blackbirds had a play in the destruction too) I find large seeds and root veges do best direct sown in the garden, but in Newstead it is a good ploy to start things off early as seeds and plant around frosts and bugs as hardier plants. Maybe try both!

  2. Megan W says:

    So at moment in community garden we are looking for places for garlic and preparing beds for broadbeans. Any other thoughts on upcoming planting biz Janet? I think it would be great to raise some seeds for some herby companion plants to get bang for our buck out of the spaces…….

    • janet barker says:

      Hi Megan
      We have solved our garlic planting dilemma with offers of plots further afield. But yes, more broadies in the garden! Totally support the idea of companion plants and herbs. Go for it! We have room in the igloo for cuttings and seeds. If you have requests for seeds or plants let us know.

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