Monthly Garden Calendar for Northeastern United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Amy Goldman

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MARCH
Soon the snows will melt, birds will nest, and apple trees will blossom. The safe planting-out date (Memorial Day - for tender annuals and perennials) is only weeks away, and there is work to be done. Seed starting, pruning, and renewal of life begins in earnest now.

Do You Have a Passion for Peas? The tradition of planting out pea seeds on or about St. Patrick's Day is extreme gardening, in my opinion. If you insist, however, you'll do better to start transplants inside in a wooden flat two weeks in advance.

Cool Crucifers. Start seeds of cool season vegetables such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli indoors under grow lights.

Starting Seasonal Veggies and Flowers. Towards the end of March or early April, you can also start peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes from seed. You've got the go-ahead to start seeds of cool season flowers such as larkspur, snapdragons, coleus, statice, and verbenas indoors under grow lights. Cool season vegetables like peas, radishes, mustard greens and spinach can be planted in cold or warm frames (cold frames with heat cables or another heat source).

Prepare Your Beds. If the soil is dry enough, and only under that condition, prepare garden beds for planting. Does the soil crumble in your hand? Turn under winter cover crops and add compost.

Herb Garden. I'm putting in an herb garden this year, a pharmacopeia of culinary and medicinal herbs, and I encourage you to do the same. Many herbs—including parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme—can be started from seed now.

Over Amaryllis? If you've had your fill of amaryllis in pots by now, add a touch of spring to your home by forcing forsythia and pussywillow into bloom.

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