March – The Sleepy Month

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March – Autumn approaches.

Soon, the fullness of our trees will be laid bare, our flowers will whither and die. The earth will be set to cold. March is the time before our part of the earth falls asleep. Hibernates for three months.

March is the third month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. It is the second month to have a length of 31 days. In the Northern Hemisphere, the meteorological beginning of spring occurs on the first day of March. The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, where September is the seasonal equivalent of the Northern Hemisphere’s March.

The name of March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named for Mars, the Roman god of war who was also regarded as a guardian of agriculture and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus. His month Martius was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare, and the festivals held in his honor during the month were mirrored by others in October, when the season for these activities came to a close. Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year perhaps as late as 153 BC, and several religious observances in the first half of the month were originally new year‘s celebrations. Even in late antiquity, Roman mosaics picturing the months sometimes still placed March first.

Other names

In Finnish, the month is called maaliskuu, which is believed to originate from maallinen kuu, during March, earth finally becomes visible under the snow (other etymological theories have however been put forward). In Ukrainian, the month is called березень/berezenʹ, meaning birch tree, and březen in Czech. Historical names for March include the Saxon Lentmonat, named after the March equinox and gradual lengthening of days, and the eventual namesake of Lent. Saxons also called March Rhed-monat or Hreth-monath (deriving from their goddess Rhedam/Hreth), and Angles called it Hyld-monath.

In Slovene, the traditional name is sušec, meaning the month when the earth becomes dry enough so that it is possible to cultivate it. The name was first written in 1466 in the Škofja Loka manuscript. Other names were used too, for example brezen and breznik, “the month of birches”. The Turkish word Mart is given after the name of Mars the god.

March symbols

The Daffodil, the floral emblem of March

March Planting Diary

Beetroot (also Beets) Plant in garden.
Brussels sprouts Plant out (transplant) seedlings.
Cabbage Plant in garden.
Carrot Plant in garden.
Cauliflower Plant in garden.
Celery Plant in garden.
Chives (also Garden chives) Plant in garden.
Collards (also Collard greens, Borekale) Plant in garden.
Coriander (also Cilantro, Chinese parsley) Plant in garden.
Daikon (also Japanese radish, Lo Bok) Plant in garden.
Endive Plant in garden.
Garlic Plant in garden.
Horseradish Plant in garden.
Kohlrabi Plant in garden.
Mint (also Garden mint) Plant in garden.
Mizuna (also Japanese Greens, Mitzuna, Mibuna) Plant in garden.
Mustard greens (also gai choy) Plant in garden.
Onion Plant in garden.
Oregano (also Pot Marjoram) Plant in garden.
Pak Choy (also Pak choi) Plant in garden.
Parsley (also curly leaf parsley or flat leaf (Italian) parsley) Plant in garden.
Parsnip Plant in garden.
Peas Plant in garden.
Radish Plant in garden.
Rutabaga (also Swedes) Plant in garden.
Salsify (also Vegetable oyster) Plant in garden.
Shallots (also Eschalots) Plant out (transplant) seedlings.
Snow Peas (also Sugar Peas, Mangetout, Chinese Peas) Plant in garden.
Spinach (also English spinach) Plant in garden.
Spring onions (also Scallions, Bunching onions, Welsh onion) Plant in garden.
Sunflower Plant out (transplant) seedlings.
Sweet Marjoram (also Knotted marjoram) Plant in garden.
Thyme (also Common thyme) Plant in garden.
Tomato Plant out (transplant) seedlings.
Turnip Plant in garden.
Yacon (also Sunroot) Plant in garden.

This month is perfect for planting winter and spring flowers. Prepare beds for winter annuals by working in generous amounts of compost and superphosphate.

Sweet peas, African daisies, bokbaaivygies and virginian stocks are some of the more significant flowers to plant.

Poppies, primula, foxgloves, hollyhock and larkspur can also be sown during this time. In colder areas, plant out early seedlings of stocks, calendulas and snapdragons. Use a good seedling mix when sowing your seeds.

 Plant out seedlings of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, stagger plantings at three to four week intervals to ensure continuity of supply.A variety of vegetable seeds can also be planted now, including peas, broad beans, carrots, parsnips, turnips and radishes. These vegetables grow exceptionally well during the cooler season.

Sow nasturtium seeds between veggies to prevent aphids. Plant out seedlings of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, stagger plantings at three to four week intervals to ensure continuity of supply.

If you have a herb garden you can sow seeds of parsley, mustard and rocket.

If you are growing a new lawn, sow seeds for grass, especially in colder areas where Shade Over and All Seasons Evergreen grow well. For established lawns, feed with a balanced garden fertiliser like 2:3:2 to encourage root growth before winter.

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