March

March is the first month of autumn, where the temperatures start to cool off a little.

In March, temperatures start to cool, marking the time to preserve and store the last of the summer harvest from the vege garden and fruit trees. Save and store seed from favourite healthy edible plants to sow and enjoy again next year. Try this with tomatoes, capsicums, beans, pumpkins and squash.

Autumn is the main season for planting trees and shrubs as the soils are still warm, and they can establish over the wet winter months to follow. It is also an excellent time for planting frost-hardy perennials and winter annuals and vegetables.

What to plant

Edible garden

  • Sow seeds in trays, such as cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, pak choy and parsley.
  • Sow directly into the garden broad beans, peas, coriander, lettuce, parsnip, radish, rocket, spinach, pak choy, carrots, beetroot and silverbeet.
  • Add lots of organic matter like compost, manure, general fertiliser and/or blood and bone and work into the soil before planting seedlings.

Flower garden

  • Remove summer annuals when they finish flowering and prepare the beds for autumn planting.
  • In the flower garden directly sow alyssum, Californian poppy, cornflower, stock, calendulas and sweet peas.
  • Small seeds, such as lobelia, pansies and snapdragons, can be sown now in trays.
  • Plant bulbs at the right depth as shown on their labels to ensure they flower and are safe from pests. It is not too late to continue planting spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils, jonquils, freesias, irises, lachenalias, Sparaxis, babianas and ixias.

What to harvest

  • There is usually a glut of ripe edibles at the beginning of autumn. Carry on harvesting beans, chillies, capsicum, celery, courgettes, cucumber, leeks, lettuce, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, eggplants and sweetcorn.
  • Jerusalem artichokes will be ready to be dug up and roasted through autumn.
  • Continue to harvest late varieties of apples, pears, feijoas, figs, guava, passionfruit and blackberries as they ripen.
  • Collect ripe seed from crops such as peas, beans and other vegetables (except for F1 hybrids which do not come true from seed).
  • Collect seeds from annuals such as marigolds, sunflowers and sweet peas to save for next year.
  • Pick any late flowering asters, Helenium, daisies and roses for the vase.

Shrubs & Perennials

  • Prepare beds for autumn planting by working compost and lime into the soil.
  • Continue removing spent blooms from perennials as they finish flowering.

Trees

  • Autumn through winter is the best time to plant trees and fruit trees, as the soil is still warm. They will then establish roots over the winter and spring months: a tree planted in the right season with mulch around it will need less water come the summer months.  For more information about planting trees, click here.

Lawn

  • Lawns will establish well if sown now and regularly watered, as the soil is still warm and relatively few weeds germinate compared to spring.
  • Turf can also be laid in autumn. Make sure it is kept well-watered through the drier months.