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Garden Help Desk: Getting ready for spring planting

By USU Extension - | Mar 11, 2023

Courtesy Meredith Seaver

Pansies are a popular spring flower that looks great when grown along with spring-blooming bulbs.

What flowers and vegetables can I plant in my gardens this month?

There are several popular vegetables that can be planted in the early spring. Radishes and spinach are cold-hardy vegetables and can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked in the early spring. Mache, a salad green that is also called corn salad, lamb’s lettuce, or Rapunzel, is also very cold hardy.

Transplants of cabbage, broccoli and kale can be moved into the garden from mid-March through mid-April.

Garden peas are another vegetable that prefer cooler temperatures. Just like mache, radishes, turnips and spinach, peas should be direct seeded in the garden beginning in mid-March through mid- April.

Beginning in late March through end of April you can direct seed lettuce, beets, chard, and carrots. Cauliflower transplants can be set out in the garden, as well. Potatoes are also started in the spring but do best if planting is delayed until late spring, about two to three weeks before the last frost.

Courtesy Meredith Seaver

Lettuce likes cooler temperatures. There are varieties that tolerate some heat, but lettuce has the best flavor and color when grown in spring and very early summer.

There are several different flowers that you can plant in March. Pansies, violas, snapdragons, primrose like the cooler weather. You can start these flowers from seed, but you’ll have no trouble finding transplants at a local garden center, too. Sweet peas are also cool-season flowers. They should be direct seeded after soaking the seeds for 24 hours.

No need to rush with your spring planting, though. The soil in your vegetable and flower gardens should be loose and crumbly, not wet, so you may need to wait a little longer for your soil to dry this year than you’re used to waiting. It’s always better to wait a few extra days instead of pushing the limits. Each kind of vegetable or flower has its own germination needs.

Always read your seed packets for specific information and follow the recommendations on the packets. Also check the weather forecast. Once your soil is workable and the weather looks right, you’ll be ready to plant.

I have a backyard greenhouse. I didn’t use it last year, but I want to start some tomatoes in there this year. What should I do to get the greenhouse ready to use again?

You may need to do a little extra work to get your greenhouse back into shape again.

Courtesy Meredith Seaver

Garden peas do well in our area when planted during the last half of March. Peas that are planted in very late spring and early summer don't do as well because they aren't heat tolerant.

The first things you’ll want to do in your greenhouse is get it clean (and keep it clean). The floor and shelving or benches should be clean- no dead plants, no old potting mix, no clutter or debris of any kind. If you had any disease problems in your greenhouse last time you used it, you’ll want to sanitize all the surfaces. Purchase a disinfectant/algicide made for greenhouse use instead of using bleach or any other household cleaning product, as they may damage surfaces in your greenhouse or even have some residual activity that can damage your plants later.

Pay special attention to the floor. Remove any weeds and clean up any moss or algae that has grown while you haven’t been using the greenhouse. Avoid the temptation to use a weed killer in the confined space of your greenhouse. Pull or dig out the weeds instead.

Does your hobby greenhouse have any vents, automatic openers, fans, or lights? If so, you’ll want to test everything and make sure each part is working properly before you bring in your plants. Testing everything now will give you extra time to order any parts you might need.

Some hobby greenhouses have screens over vents, or even screen doors. Make sure any screens are in good condition. Repair any tears or gaps in or around the screens so that insects can’t get into your greenhouse as easily.

The main reason we use greenhouses is to take advantage of natural sunlight while we protect our plants from cold weather. Wash off the exterior and roof of your greenhouse so that you’ll be getting the maximum amount of sunlight available.

Courtesy photo

Sweet peas make lovely cut flowers. Most varieties are fragrant, too.

If you plan to use your greenhouse into the late spring and summer, consider getting shade cloth to reduce the amount of sun and heat during sunny days. Greenhouses can heat up very quickly on sunny days and temperatures can rise high enough to damage plants. If you decide you’re going to use shade cloth, decide how you’ll attach the cloth before you need it.


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