It’s late reporting the monthly review for March 2021, but the weather has been so gorgeous that it seemed justifiable to actually GARDEN rather than write about it! Here in north central Indiana, March was warmer than normal, despite some nights in the teens, but more worrying one of the driest months of March on record in our area. I recall as a kid that March was kite flying weather, but one would need super-strong string to keep a kite in some of the winds we experienced this month. A lovely 22 days were sunny, two days with some very light drizzle, one day of actual rain but with more thunder than rainfall, one day of snow, and the rest were just cloudy. Actually, the cloudy days were welcome, allowing more time to seed, transplant, and tend the plant babies in the basement. And, extra basketball viewing…I’m a Hoosier after all and basketball is in our blood.
The March photo varies little from the February photo. The plastic-covered berry box that was over the leeks and carrots was moved so they wouldn’t get too hot. Sunny days, the boxes over the spinach, kale, and lettuces had to be opened as well. And, you can see (if your eyes are excellent) that the garlic has grown quite a bit and the bunching onions are ready to use. Happily, the snow peas emerged along their trellis although you can’t see them in the photo. By March 19th, the first daffodils opened, signaling time to plant the peas, shallots, onion sets, radishes, etc.
March is the month of crocuses and swelling buds. The lilacs and black currant buds were nearly to open, and the gooseberries are already leafing out. It’s a time for walking around the gardens to see what is emerging, the chives come early on, and rhubarb and most perennials. It’s the month that the first flats of baby plants are moved into the greenhouse. It’s a month for tidying and preparing the beds for planting. The dahlias that have been stored in a tub in the basement were potted, and the first batch of ranunculus bulbs were soaked and planted as well. A few more seeds were scattered, and the winter-sown jugs began showing green seedlings that grew quickly once they got started.
Mid-month the hellebores, more crocuses, the Dutch dwarf iris, aconites and tiny, tiny snowdrops joined the party. The hardiest of the plants in flats were moved to the benches outside the greenhouse to begin hardening off. By month’s end the big pots of tender plants were moved onto the patio during the day to begin adjusting to living outdoors again.
By month’s end about half of the gardens had been cleaned and edged. The usual debate began on whether to get mulch, but since none of the poppy seeds that were sprinkled in the Addition or Deck Garden have sprouted (probably due to lack of rain) and few of the larkspur or other self-seeding annuals have emerged, it was deemed wise to wait. Last year’s mulch looks fairly well, except in the potager’s paths, so there’s no real rush.
In March, 70 additional varieties were seeded in the basement, bringing the total to 118. One thousand, two hundred and eighteen seedlings were transplanted into pots. In addition, the first 95 plants were potted up for our local garden club’s plant sale in late May.
Harvest wise, the numbers are small because we are really trying to use up “older” food in the freezer and from the pantry shelves. There were still turnips, winter squash, pumpkins, onions, garlic, shallots, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage and leeks in the cool garage that needed to be used as well before the garage was no longer cool. One row of carrots were dug, yielding 6.75 lbs. There were already carrots in the refrigerator, carrots in the garage, and some carrots given away, but as the carrots suddenly put on a lot of new beautiful green growth, I worried that the quality of the carrots themselves would deteriorate as the plants began planning to produce a bloom stalk, so one row was dug. Two more to go, no doubt in early April. In addition, the first dandelions, that abundant “freebie” crop that is gathered as beds are weeded, made their way into the kitchen as salad or as the old European dish combining wilted dandelion greens, boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs and bacon with a bit of cider vinegar and pepper. Plus, trying to use the cabbage in a variety of slaws made the need for salad ingredients from the potager redundant. Therefore, the only thing harvested in March was spinach, parsley, lettuce, chives, bunching onions, and a bit of kale totaling 2 lbs. Total March harvest: 8.75 lbs. No preserving was done.
There were two bouquets of daffodils given to “needy” folks in March, so the goal of spreading cheer and beauty is underway.