Regional Gardening Guide - Zone 7-8
March 1 to March 30-- Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.
Here’s what’s happening in your gardening region:
Well, we’ve had a pretty mild winter in most zone 7-8 areas. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a late freeze or ice storm, though. March is often the worst month, weather-wise for many zone 7-8 gardeners. Heavy rains, ice, late season cold. Nothing is off the table, so be prepared with frost cloth. If you get an ice storm don’t knock the ice off the plants. Let it melt naturally. Avoid working in the garden for a few days after heavy rains so that you don’t compact the soil. It’s going to be a busy month. Here’s what to do in your garden this March.
Your Regional reporter
Katie Elzer-Peters is the author of Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Gardening, Carolinas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, Southern Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, and many other vegetable gardening books. She lives in coastal North Carolina, where she enjoys four-season gardening.
To see what Katie's doing in her garden. Click Here!
1. Learn how to grow plants from seed.
If you want to grow unusual varieties of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and other warm-season vegetables you’ll need to start them from seed indoors so they’re ready to plant outside in mid-April to early May. There are many plants that you can still direct-sow outside, especially the cool-season greens—if you act fast. Learn how to grow healthy seedlings indoors and how to harden them off so they grow well when you move them outside. Brush up on direct-sowing techniques while you’re at it.
2. Grow new and unusual edibles
Of course you’ll want to plant your favorites. What garden is complete without a few tomatoes? If you have the space, make room for these unusual edibles, new in 2017. Sesame is actually simple to grow from seeds out in the flowerbed. Sprinkle some among your zinnias and other cut flowers. Hops plants make good conversation starters. Provide strong support and plant in a sunny spot near your deck or patio. Ruby Ann strawberry plants are the perfect container berry, but their flowers are pretty too.
3. Learn about building great soil
Great gardens start with great soil. Learn how to build garden soil that supports lush, healthy plant growth. If you’ve thought about getting into worm composting, perhaps this year is the year! Worm castings are some of the most nutrient-rich soil amendments you can add to the garden. Finally, it isn’t just the physical structure of the soil that matters, the chemical properties, such as the pH matter too—more than you might think. Learn how to test the pH, and what to do if it is too high or too low to support ideal plant growth.
4. Enjoy spring root vegetables.
It isn’t too late for spring vegetables! In fact, now’s a great time to plant early-maturing carrot, radishes, turnips, and beets to enjoy in spring salads. Sow directly outside in early March. You can plant another row of each in Mid-march to extend your harvest a bit. Don’t throw out the seedlings that you thin as the plants start growing—toss them in salads or use as garnishes for sandwiches or soups.
5. What you need for frost protection.What you need for starting seeds.
Planning to start seeds indoors? Invest in a grow light, heat mat, and seed starting kit. These three pieces of equipment makes it easy to grow your own transplants. A grow light is essential—light from the window won’t cut it. You’ll end up with spindly, stretched-out, weak seedlings. Using a heat mat encourages quick germination and growth, which gets plants up and out of danger of contracting damping off or other fungal pathogens that attack new seedlings. Our self-watering kit contains everything you need to grow your first round of transplants, ensuring they’re always watered at the perfect moisture level.