Between the Rows

  A Guide to Vegetable Gardening
Produced by Extension Master Gardeners in partnership with 

March in the Vegetable Garden

A Time for Planting

Welcome veggie gardeners! VCE and MGNV support local gardeners with a host of resources, including free classes, plant clinics and this newsletter.

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Garden Guide
March To Do List

  • Keep building healthy soil: test your garden soil and/or prep soil with compost and other amendments, as needed.
  • Before planting, make sure any plant material or debris from last season has been cleared from your growing beds.
  • Overwintering cover crops are best left in place until they start flowering, usually early May. But if you need the space or a warm spell is getting them to flower early, you can terminate them now. Learn how to do this by looking at pp. 15-17 of this four-part series on cover crops.
  • Direct sow seed outdoors: peas, beets, lettuce, arugula, spinach, kale, broccoli/raab, chard, radish, turnip, kohlrabi, carrot, potato (consider sprouting or "chitting" potatoes indoors before planting outdoors), dill and cilantro.
  • If you haven’t yet done so, plant asparagus and horseradish.
  • Harden off seedlings grown indoors, and transplant once they have at least two sets of true leaves: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, early cabbage, celery and celeriac, cauliflower, leek, onions, and scallions (seedlings grown through the winter sowing method do not usually need hardening). 
  • Start from seed indoors or via the winter sowing method various warmer weather vegetables and herbs: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, corn, basil, lavender, rosemary, fennel, lemon balm, oregano, lovage, sage, sorrel, parsley, and thyme (see February's post).


  • Divide perennial herbs.
  • Cover newly planted seeds or transplants with light straw or floating row covers.
  • Build or repair raised vegetable beds.
  • Put up trellises and structures for peas and other climbing crops.
  • Monitor any season extension structures. As the weather warms, make sure you do not “cook” your vegetables, but also remember that our area can see hard freezes in March and even into April.
  • Turn your compost pile.
  • Conduct tasks listed in February's post that may not have been completed due to unforeseen weather conditions.

Plant, Pest or Other Garden Questions?

Contact the Extension Master Gardener Help Desk 

Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers are available to answer questions every Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Sign up! for March 2020 VCE Public Education Programs
  • Microgreens
  • Grow What You Eat!
  • Plot Against Hunger 6th Annual Spring Garden Kick-Off
  • Winter Pruning for Woody Plants
  • Tomato Love
Dates & Registration Information


Now is the time to plant your cool weather garden.

It’s time to finish preparations and plant your spring garden. Many vegetables favor cool spring weather and allow you to start your garden early. But first, you need to examine your garden soil. It is generally recommended that soil tests be conducted every 3 years for vegetable gardens. Even without a formal soil test, it's important to prep your soil by removing any plant debris and adding organic matter and compost to your soil (see February's post for more information).

If you don't maintain compost piles at your home garden, leaf mulch, and sometimes compost, are available at county mulch centers in both Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. Other soil amendments available from most garden centers include vermiculite and coco coir (as an alternative to peat moss) among other amendments (e.g., manure, lime, gypsum). More tips for building healthy soil are available here.

Timing is everything as you prepare to plant, and gardeners have many references available to guide them in their decision-making regarding when to plant some plants and whether sow seeds directly or to start seedlings beforehand. Here are some planting guides for our area: If you need more direct assistance, VCE hosts a number of vegetable garden planning and seed starting talks and workshops in early Spring each year, along with demonstrations at local gardens (see VCE's website). The Arlington Central Library also hosts Garden Talks on Wednesday evenings starting early March.

If you want to grow potatoes, "chitting" refers to the process of preparing potatoes for planting by making what is known as “seed potatoes.” There are many online sources on how to grow potatoes (see, for example, these available instructions).

Consider building raised growing beds to improve drainage, soil health, and plant growth. Research has shown that raising beds yields more produce than other garden methods. More information on raised beds can be found here and here.  
Register for VCE Public Education Classes
Send us your gardening questions!
For more information on Vegetable Gardening, check out Select On-Line References for Kitchen Gardening on the Master Gardener of Northern Virginia (MGNV) site. MGNV volunteers support the work of Virginia Cooperative Extension's public education outreach.
Copyright © 2020 Virginia Cooperative Extension, Arlington County, All rights reserved.
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Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia
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Arlington, VA 22206-1904

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