Late February and early March may still be chilly, but it’s not (usually) too cold to sow arugula, mâche, fava beans, radishes, eating peas, and fragrant flowering sweet peas. You can also plant spring garlic, shallots, and potatoes, as well as onion sets (clumps of young onion seedlings). As March progresses, whip out that handy soil thermometer: once soil temperatures stay above 40 degrees, it’s time for greens: sow kale, lettuce, chard, and spinach seed (or get a jump start with young plants). In mid-to-late March, find a dry week, when the soil isn’t too mucky, and sow the next round of cool-weather veggies: carrots and beets are especially easy.


This month, local nurseries should have their peak selection of berries, bare-root or freshly potted, including caneberries, blueberries (pick an early, midseason, and late for summer-long fresh eating), currants, gooseberries, grapes, kiwis, and strawberries.


Don’t despair if you find yourself gazing covetously at your neighbors’ sunny, bright daffodils. If you don’t have enough of your own for luxurious spring bouquets, find last fall’s bulb catalogs (paper or virtual) and jot down notes on the ones you like best. Then, order more than you think you’ll need come September, when the bulbs hit the market. Act now, so planting these cheerful harbingers of warmer times to come doesn’t get lost in next fall’s harvest frenzy.

For more gardening tips, see Kate Bryant’s blog at

This article appeared in the March 2012 issue of Portland Monthly.
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