Signs of Spring are all around us. It is still a bit early to put out things like tomatoes and squash, but there are lots of opportunities to get out and play in the dirt! Its also a great time to go outside and observe the beauty all around! My fruit trees are in bud, I’ve got daffodils blooming, there is delightful green grass everywhere, and vineyards and fallow fields are awash in yellow mustards.
The Northern California & Sonoma County March Checklist:
- Start seeds inside. If you haven’t seeded your tomatoes yet, do it now! Check out this post for my indoor seed starting setup. I start almost everything inside, so I’ll be starting squash, melons, cucumbers, and basil inside this month.
- Sow seeds outside. Cool weather plants like kale, radish, lettuce and peas can be seeded or transplanted outside. Many flowers, like cosmos and nasturtiums, can be seeded or transplanted out later in the month as well.
- Plant potatoes: If you haven’t bought your seed potatoes already, rush out to Harmony or do an online order today, because potatoes can go in the ground next week!
- Weed! As they say: “one year’s seeding makes seven year’s weeding”. Pull weeds as they appear, or at least before they flower and set seed. The somewhat soft ground from the meager rain we had in February have make this task a bit easier. Cover any bare ground with mulch to prevent a hostile take over.
- Check your drip system, or install a system. Watering by drip is one of the best ways to conserve water, and pretty soon we will be in the middle of watering season. Check your existing system for cracks or leaks, repair as necessary, or put in a new system. Cover with mulch to protect the line from sun damage and retain moisture. Plus, it makes your yard look better.
- Watch for aphids and other pests. Warmer weather means aphids are rapidly multiplying. Seemingly overnight I’ve got them clustered on my Cavolo Nero kale, artichokes and some of the remaining brassicas. Blast away with a stream of water, make up a soapy spray, leave for the ladybugs to take care of, or declare defeat and feed the plant to the chickens. Snails and slugs are also out in full force.
- Plant perennials and trees. Although it’s technically better to plant perennial shrubs and trees in the fall, there is a great selection entering the nurseries now. Green thumbs are itching to plant something, and perennials can meet that need.
- Fertilize citrus, roses and other blooming plants if you didn’t do it last month.
- Build new beds or amend current ones. March is a great time to get a garden started or expand a current one. Dry stack rocks to create a raised bed perfect for flowers, or find some cedar or redwood lumber to make a deeper bed for veggies. Fill with high quality amended soil, or double dig compost into your native soil. I use Sonoma Compost’s Hi-Test soil for my raised beds, then supplement with organic fertilizers to meet the needs of that crop. Even if you aren’t planning on growing lots of veggies, plant some low water flowers like zinnias, cosmos or sunflowers to help out bees and birds.
- Consider removing your lawn. Given our long hot summers, and the ever growing drought, lawns just don’t make sense for our climate. Consider removing your lawn by sheet mulching and planting low-water use landscaping plants or putting in an edible garden. Santa Rosa has a rebate program if you convert your lawn, and offer classes on how to do it. Keep an eye on Daily Acts‘s calendar, as they often holds work parties and workshops as well.
Personal homesteading tasks include getting more shelves up in the pantry, doing some hard core spring cleaning and de-cluttering, building new nesting boxes for the hens that are easier to clean, and painting the final bits of the house. Do you have any big March projects planned?
To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds and watch their renewal of life—this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do” –Charles Dudley Warner