If you didn’t get your garden prepped in the fall, it’s not too late to get it ready for spring planting

March is the sweet spot for gardening, a time when you can start a lot of cold hardy crops outside once the soil is workable, and when you can start your seedlings indoors for summer transplanting. There’s so much we can plant in the garden at this time of year, so let’s see what needs to happen in our plots before we get started.

Preparing your garden for spring planting

  1. Clean up: If you have a garden plot already, you’ll want to give it a good spring cleaning by removing any dried up plants and composting them (in a hot compost so that you don’t spread disease). Pull out any weeds you see and give everything a nice rake over. If you haven’t created your garden beds yet, you can check out this article on how to start your garden and this article to see which type of “bed” is right for your area.
  2. Resist digging or tilling your garden: As alternative as this may seem, tilling your garden actually stirs up weed seeds and brings them to your surface. It also disturbs the soil life and insects who are working hard to make an ecosystem in your garden. Leaving your soil intact will serve you for the long haul and will help your soil adapt better to your climate. You can also read more about how to establish a no-dig garden here.
  3. Amend your garden: Add compost and organic matter to the top of your garden bed. This will give the soil life a little nutrient boost before adding your plants and will help your veggies become more resilient to pests. It’s also a great time to add some organic mulch to keep plants insulated in the colder weather, and to help your soil retain water in the hotter months. When planting, just move the mulch out of the way for transplants and keep direct seeds (carrots, beets, etc) uncovered by the mulch until you see the sprouts are well-developed (they’re sensitive to things covering them).
  4. Purchase your seeds: If you want to have full control over which seeds you’d like to have in your garden, your best bet is to purchase them from reputable seed savers and companies (you can find a list here). Avoid buying seeds in the grocery store or supermarket unless they are non-GMO, organic and/or open-pollinated. You can also find your local farmer or seedling starter and purchase seeds/seedlings from them to transplant into your garden.
  5. Create a plan: Make a plan of what you’d like to plant, especially if you’re working with a small garden space. There’s a lot you can pack in, but not all at once. Greens and roots like radishes prefer the cooler spring or fall temperatures, whereas tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squashes prefer the heat of summer. With a good plan, you'll be eating a variety of veggies from your garden all year long.
  6. Establish a rainwater system: The most sustainable way to water your garden is to collect rainwater through the spring (rainiest months) and to save it to use in the middle of the hot (and dry) season. With the proper amendments and mulching, watering can be minimal, but won’t be eliminated completely. Collecting rainwater will help you save money and resources, but make sure to check with your city/state/province’s regulations on collecting rainwater as in some areas it is illegal or limited.
  7. Build fences and trellises: This is important for anyone living near a forest or living with and around animals. Building a little netting or fence around the garden will keep critters out (as much as possible). If putting netting around your garden, make sure the holes are big enough for pollinators to enter and pollinate your veggies. As for trellises, these are helpful to build when wanting to save space with those sprawling veggies like cucumbers, squash, melons, beans and peas. For heavier veggies, make sure your trellises are secure and sturdy.

gardenPhoto by Neslihan Gunaydin on UnsplashNow that your garden is prepped for spring, here’s what you can plant in March

You’ll first want to check frost dates, as many of the planting days will depend on the last frost date for your area. You can find out your plant hardiness zone and frost dates through these links. Keep an eye on the weather, and when planting cold-hardy crops in March, have some cover handy if the temperatures drop back into the negatives for a bit.

Onions and leeks

Zone 7+: Start seedlings in January/February, direct seed in March

Zone 5-6: Start seedlings in February, direct seed in March

Zone 3-4: Start seedlings in early March

Lettuces and greens

Zone 7+: Transplant or direct seed outside early March

Zone 5-6: Transplant or direct seed outside mid or early March

Zone 3-4: Start seedlings indoors

Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, collards

Zone 7 +: Transplant outside early March

Zone 5-6: Transplant or direct seed outside mid or early March

Zone 3-4: Start seedlings indoors

Beets, turnips, radishes, carrots (can seed up to 8 weeks before last frost, but warm the soil first

Zone 7+: Direct sow seeds mid to early March

Zone 5-6: Direct sow mid- to late March

Zone 3-4: Too early!


Zone 7+: Start seedlings or direct seed in early to mid-March

Zone 5-6: Start seedlings or direct seed in mid to late March

Zone 3-4: Too early!


Zone 7+: If not started in February, as early as possible in March

Zone 5-6: If not started in February, early to mid March

Zone 3-4: Too early!

Tomatoes and eggplant

Zone 7+: Start seedlings indoors mid- to end of March

Zone 5-6: Start seedlings end of March

Zone 3-4: Too early!


Zone 7+ Start seedlings indoors throughout March

Zone 5-6: Start seedlings mid- to end of March

Zone 3-4: Start herbs like oregano, mint, rosemary, thyme and other herbs that require 10 to 12 weeks to start before frost.

It’s amazing how much we can already seed, both indoors and outdoors, throughout most of the growing zones in Canada in March. Remember not to stress if you haven’t started already—start what you can (when you can)—it’s never too late!