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Spring is here and it's time to start planting. Here are the 18 vegetables to plant in March (Zone 9), either directly in the garden or by starting the seeds indoors. Includes recommended varieties, planting tips, and recipes for your harvest.
The first step in starting your Spring garden (after you've picked out your vegetable seeds) is to make sure your soil is warm enough for the seeds or plants to survive.
Are you new to gardening? Don't Panic!
Learn my best tips from 20+ years in the garden right here:
Different plants like different temperatures, but most need a soil temperature of at least 60F to grow and thrive. A compost thermometer is the easiest way to measure your soil temperature. If the soil isn’t warm enough when you plant, the seeds will either rot or sit there until the soil is warm enough for them to grow.
Next, prepare your soil and add any amendments (compost, natural fertilizer, etc) of your choice. You're ready to get started!
Peppers love hot summers, and there are so many fun varieties of both sweet peppers and hot peppers that you can try many different types every year.
Varieties: Oh my goodness...there are so many types of peppers to plant! I’ve started growing some in the front yard because we ran out of room in the backyard.
California Wonder is my favorite type of sweet pepper. They grow into a large, uniform shape that’s great for making stuffed peppers. When unripe, they’re green and when fully ripe, they turn red.
There are about a million types of hot pepper, and we like to try them all. The best way to do this is to get the Chile Pepper Collection from my friends at Botanical Interests. You’ll get an assortment that goes from really hot to scorching!
Planting: Whether you’re growing sweet peppers or hot peppers, March is the time to get those seedlings in the ground.
Zucchini and summer squash are the easiest vegetables to grow from seed. A couple of plants will produce more squash than most families can eat! This is probably why there’s a gardeners’ holiday called “Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day”.
Planting: Most winter squash have long vines and don't like to be transplanted. Start the seeds directly in the garden, giving them plenty of space to spread out. Not sure when to harvest? Here's how to tell when your spaghetti squash are ready to pick.
Snow peas are a great vegetable to grow with your kids, because they’re mild in flavor and fun to eat. Our kids sit in the garden and eat them right off the plant!
Varieties: Our favorite variety is Oregon Sugar Pod II. It produces giant, tender snow peas and often sets doubles--two pea pods from each node. Another fun type to grow is the purple-podded Sugar Magnolia snap pea.
Planting: Snow peas need consistent water, and fertile, loose soil with plenty of phosphorus and potassium. Here’s lots more information on planting and growing snow peas.
Recipes: If you end up getting any peas indoors before the kids eat them all, add them to a stir-fry or Homemade Orange Chicken.
Whether you’re growing watermelon, cantaloupe (also called muskmelon), honeydew, or other melons, you’ll be thrilled with their delicious flavor fresh from the garden. We grow several varieties of melon each year, and harvested a 21-pound watermelon a few years back!
Varieties: Ahhh, where to begin? We love cantaloupe, and Hale’s Best Jumbo cantaloupe is our favorite. The fruit is sweet and thick, with a small seed cavity. Cantaloupe grows on a vine, so you may want to support it with a trellis to save space.
Planting: Melons of all types like to be planted outdoors in warm soil. They’re heavy feeders, and appreciate soil that’s mixed with your homemade compost. Here are some tips on when to harvest your watermelon for the best, sweetest fruit.
Eggplant (also called aubergine) is a veggie that likes hot weather, just like tomatoes and peppers. All three of these plants are part of the Nightshade family.
Varieties: Listada de Gandia is a beautiful French heirloom eggplant. Black Beauty is another favorite for its large size and thin skin that you don't have to peel.
Planting: Plant seedlings 18 inches apart--happy eggplants grow into bushes nearly 2 feet tall and 16 inches wide. Stake them shortly after planting, or the weight of the eggplants will cause the plant to fall over.
Recipe:Eggplant is delicious when sliced, brushed with olive oil, and grilled until just soft.
Okra, like eggplant, is a vegetable that likes hot weather. It’s tough to start them from seed (they only have a 50% germination rate), so get seedlings from the garden center if you can.
Varieties: Clemson Spineless 80 is a reliable variety. It’s called “spineless” because okra plants have tiny hairs (spines) all over them that can cause an allergic reaction. You may want to wear gloves when harvesting them.
Planting: Okra plants can get big and bushy, so give them about 2 feet of space to spread out.
Planting: Start your cucumbers from seed in March. They're vining plants, so you’ll need a trellis or something similar for them to climb on. I grow mine at an angle against the back fence, so the cucumbers hang down for easier picking. Learn more about growing vegetables vertically.
Recipes: We love eating cucumbers as a salad topping or sliced and dipped in ranch dressing. If you want to try something different, saute sliced cucumbers briefly in butter and serve hot with salt and pepper. I learned that recipe from The Frugal Gourmet and it’s surprisingly delicious!
If you never can seem to use up an entire head of celery from the store, you might think that growing it doesn’t make sense. Au contraire! If you grow celery in your garden, you can harvest individual stalks as needed for amazing flavor and no more wasted heads of celery.
Varieties: Our favorite variety is Utah Celery, which is your classic standard celery type.
Planting: You need to start celery seeds indoors at least 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date for your area. If you've missed that date, grab some seedlings from your local garden center.
I always get carried away when planting green beans. There are so many different varieties to try! Calling them “green” beans is not completely correct--there are yellow beans and even purple beans.
Beans grow on two different types of plants. Bush beans, as you can guess, grow on a bushy plant that doesn’t need a support. They produce earlier and have a shorter harvest period. Pole beans grow on a vine, and need a trellis or some other support. They produce later but produce beans over a longer period of time.
My favorite yellow bean (sometimes called wax bean) is Gold Rush bush bean. The slender beans grow in clusters and are easy to see and pick.
Who doesn’t love a purple bean? I like Royal Burgundy bush beans because of their beautiful color and great flavor. Kids love them, and they turn green when cooked!
Planting: Beans are usually direct sowed in the garden. Pole beans will climb, so they need a pole or trellis. Bush beans are great in containers or in raised beds. Both varieties appreciate a scoop of your homemade compost mixed in with the soil when planting.
Recipes: It's easy to have some huge harvests of beans from the garden. Here's my super easy technique for freezing green beans so you can enjoy the harvest all year long.
Fresh beets are so much better than those awful canned things we had as kids. And did you know that beets are full of fiber, potassium, folic acid, and vitamin C?
Varieties: I like this Gourmet Blend because it includes 3 different types of beets: Detroit Dark Red with deep red roots and delicious dark green tops, Chioggia with interior rings of bright pink and white, and Golden with bright yellow flesh.
If you prefer traditional red beets, Detroit Dark Red is the way to go. Introduced in 1892, it’s the standard for what beets should be. They’re a deep crimson red, and don’t get woody if they grow too large.
Planting: Start seeds in the garden this month, and harvest in about 60 days when roots are between 1-3 inches in diameter.
Parsley is a beautiful plant and a popular culinary herb for your kitchen and recipes.
Varieties: There are two types of parsley--flat leaf and curly leaf (I’m sure you can figure out the difference). I’m firmly on Team Flat Leaf Parsley, but if you prefer a milder flavor then Moss Curled Parsley is the variety for you.
Planting: In March, start parsley seeds directly in the garden.
Going out to the garden to pick a salad for dinner is the best! And, of course, the foundation for a delicious salad is great lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is pretty blah, so I like to grow different types of Romaine in my garden.
Planting: Lettuce is a cool-weather crop, so plant it in a shady area. Space your seeds or seedlings about 1 foot apart and ¼” deep. Keep the soil moist and watch for garden pests. Learn more about growing romaine lettuce.
Recipe: When you've picked all the vegetables for your salad, top it off with some homemade croutons.