What’s Happening in Austin’s March Vegetable Garden

March Vegetable Garden Checklist Tips from Paula Wolfel

New transplants in the March vegetable garden.

New transplants added to ready, set, GROW!

The March vegetable garden is where the magic happens in my Austin yard! Every year, I plant the bulk of my spring garden the week after spring break—I have 3 elementary age children who are off of school 10-19 March. By late March, daytime temperatures are consistently warm enough for spring and summer vegetable (often reaching the 80s), and nighttime temperatures no longer drop below freezing. However, keep an eye out for a late-season cold front.  The last average frost date is 04 March but tomatoes and peppers need protection from the low 50s.  Lastly, one of my favorite things about this time of year is it is still cool enough to grow things like radishes, turnips, arugula and cool-season greens, but also warm enough to grow your summer veggies like summer squash, cucumbers, and melons!

The March Vegetable Garden Checklist

Here is what you can do in the garden this month:

  • Continue to feed vegetables with fish emulsion or other water-soluble fertilizers every two weeks.
  • For the early part of the month, irrigate vegetable beds so that the plantings do not dry out.  Irrigate only if the soil is dry a few inches below the surface or in newly established seedbeds.  Dry plants are more likely to freeze than well-watered ones.  But do not overwater; plants use water more slowly when temperatures are cool. And as temperatures begin to rise, and springs wins the fight against winter, be mindful of prolonged hot temperatures and plants needing a more consistent schedule.
PLANTING (with frost protection)
  • Seeds:
    • Beets (all month)
    • Carrots (early-month)
    • Corn (all month)
    • Peas, Southern (late month)
    • Radishes (all month)
    • Turnips (all month)
  • Transplants:
    • Asparagus-crowns (early month)
    • Eggplant (mid-late month)
    • Peppers (late-month if temperatures consistently 50 and above)
    • Tomatoes (late-month if temperatures consistently 50 and above)
  • Seeds or Transplants:
    • Arugula (early month)
    • Beans, pole, snap and lima (all month)
    • Cantaloupe (seed indoors early month, outside late month)
    • Chard, Swiss (all month)
    • Cucumbers (all month)
    • Fennel (all month)
    • Greens-cool season (all month)
    • Greens- warm season (all month)
    • Kale (all month.) I’ve had success with these varieties: ‘Nero Toscana’ or ‘Lacinato (Dinosaur)’
    • Lettuce, Leaf (all month)
    • Mustard (all month)
    • Pumpkin (mid-month)
    • Spinach (all month.) I’ve found that the varieties ‘Renegade’ and ‘Regiment’ do well for me.
    • Squash, summer (all month)
    • Squash, winter (all month)
    • Watermelon (late month)
  • Hold off on planting Okra and Black-eyed Peas until next month. They do much better with warmer temperatures.
  • Remove winter mulch and add fresh compost. Re apply mulch after vegetable seedlings become established – make sure not to cover the new plants with mulch!
With the warm weather come all the notorious pests and disease. Watch out for the following:

Harlequin Bugs are a March vegetable garden pest

Harlequin Bugs appear as the weather warms and cool-season plants start to suffer heat stress.

  • Aphids.  The best solutions are lady bugs and lacewings who come NATURALLY to the garden.  Other solutions include a blast of water from your hose but make sure the plant is strong enough to withstand that pressure. You can use your hands and take then off, just make sure to squish them thoroughly so they do not return. Whatever method, repeat every 3-5 days until you get control.
  • Whiteflies and Thrips. The damage caused from these two pests look very much alike. Whiteflies can kill plants and thrips can transfer diseases.  Whiteflies affect tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. Thrips like onions and chives, figs, and a few flowers. To control whiteflies, start early.  You can blast them with water, use insecticidal soap, or vacuum them up!  For thrips, you can use tape to remove them from the leaves, shake the leaves and catch them on a towel or sticky surface.
  • Flea Beetles and Harlequin Bugs especially love brassicas like kale and broccoli that get stressed in the heat. Knock these pests off of plants into soapy water until there are just too many to handle. Remove heavily infested plants and use it as an opportunity to plant something else.
  • Powdery Mildew. This fungal disease is prevalent in spring because of heavy morning dews or spring showers. Practice good gardening hygiene by placing fallen leaves or flowers into the trash.
  • Keep up with weeds while they are young and before they have a chance to put down roots.
  • Keep your tools clean and sharpened.
  • Keep up with the mulch (pine bark, hardwood mulch, pine straw, etc.)
If a freeze is expected:

  • Water plants beforehand.
  • Cover newly planted plants, and tender vegetables and landscape plants with row cover, sheets or blankets making sure to secure the fabric to the ground to prevent wind from blowing it up and to seal in heat from the ground.
  • Disconnect hoses and wrap faucets before the freezing night arrives.

Additional Resources

Watch the Vegetable Gardening in Central Texas Webinar

Recommended Vegetable Varieties for Travis County

Vegetable Seed Sources

Vegetable Gardening in Austin

Plant Rotations, Successions and Intercropping

Rootknot Nematode Management

Sustainable Food Center Farmers Markets

Texas Farmers Markets

Monthly Gardening Calendar for Austin and Central Texas

About Paula Wolfel

Paula Wolfel has been gardening in Austin, Texas since 2017. She grew up in the suburbs of Chicago learning how to garden from both her father—a Sicilian vegetable and fruit tree gardener—and both her grandmothers, and then spent years in Virginia gardening. Paula loves gardening because she finds it to be a grounding force- it gets her out of her head and into the present. She loves the pride that comes with cooking a meal for her family with every ingredient coming from her garden… and then the humility she feels when she loses an entire crop because of Mother Nature. She finds gardening to be wisdom, lessons, best practices passed down generation to generation, season to season and hopes to share that with you.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.