This post will detail the garden tasks to tackle in March. We’ll focus on planting potatoes. There’s also a focus on starting seeds for the summer garden and getting your garden beds ready for the growing season.
March Garden Tasks | Plant Potatoes
It’s March and there’s a lot to do in the garden, but nothing more satisfying than planting potatoes! I have a full blog post on how to plant potatoes in garden beds and containers at this link. Use that information to plant the perfect potatoes from mid-March through early May. Potatoes planted in mid-March will be harvested on the 4th of July, just in time for picnics and potato salad.
There are more than 200 varieties of potatoes grown in the United States. They fall into one of seven categories. Read on to learn about each category and my pick for the best variety in the kitchen garden.
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March Garden Tasks | Selecting Potatoes
I’ve grown each of the seven categories of potatoes, and have my favorite varieties in each. Let’s learn more and then purchase the best potatoes for your kitchen garden.
The Russet Potato
The Russet potato is the french fry potato, the baked potato, the mashed potato. It is the potato of Thanksgiving, family meals, and iconic comfort food. The reason the Russet potato hold such a warm and cherished place in our hearts is that it is fluffy in texture when cooked. The texture of the Russet potato also makes it perfect for dressing up with everything from melted cheese to taco flavoring. For the Russet, there is one predominant organic variety, The Burbank. Named after Luther Burbank, an American botanist from the turn of the last century who made the Idaho Potato famous with this particular variety.
Gardeners should note that the Burbank is a good potato to grow for winter storage and it is resistant to potato scab. It needs consistent watering for a good growing season.
The Red Potato
Red potatoes have a skin that is waxy, making them hold up to boiling and roasting very well. That is why they are most popular for soup and potato salad recipes. Besides, the color adds a nice snap to those dishes, which can otherwise be bland. Red potatoes, with their consistent firmness, also roast well.
My favorite red potato is the Adirondack because both the skin and the ‘meat’ of the potato are red. This variety was released in 2004 from the labs at Cornell University. Nutritionally, the Adirondack is unique because of its low starch level and high amounts of anti-oxidants.
These thin-skinned potatoes are perfect for mashed potatoes and potato salad. They do not need to be skinned and hold the flavoring of various dressings very well. I do not grow white potatoes.
The Yukon Gold is by far the most popular potato I grow and sell. People love this potato for its creamy texture and flavor. Yukon Gold grills nicely and gets slightly caramelized as it crisps on the grill. The potato is round and medium in size. It is a very moist potato, so it doesn’t store well and isn’t good for some recipes. Yukon Gold is the potato everyone thinks of in the yellow potato variety.
Blue or Purple potatoes are nutty in flavor and have more starch than other varieties. I love both eating and growing these potatoes because they taste great when roasted, look great in tri-color potato salads, and grow beautiful blue-tinted vines. These blue vines make this potato great for growing in containers on the porch. I have grown the Adirondack Blue for years and am very happy with its consistency.
This potato tastes like butter and I love that. The fingerling varieties can be from any type of potato but are distinct because they are mature and ready for harvest when they are the size and shape of a finger. This is different than new potatoes, which are harvested early, before maturity. My favorite fingerling potatoes are the Russian Banana variety. I think they are best roasted and added to every meal when freshly harvested.
Just like fingerlings, Petit Potatoes are mature when harvested even though they are small. As a matter of fact, the only difference between the two as far as I can tell is the shape they take. Petit potatoes are more round in shape. I do not grow petits.
Choose Your Varieties and Plant Potatoes this March
So, now have fun researching potatoes and then get digging. I like to plant my first succession of potatoes on St, Patrick’s Day and have done this every year for as long as I can remember. Maybe this will become a spring garden tradition for you, too!
More March Garden Tasks
As the sun climbs in the sky and the days get longer, the pace picks up in the garden. Here are the tasks that will keep you grounded this March as you focus on building your gardens.
Start Seeds and Source Seedings
February Garden Tasks focused on how to start seeds, and my seed starting schedule is in the Seasonal Living Resouce Library so I won’t go too deep into the topic here. Keep seeding and potting up your seedlings to create the healthiest plants and the perfect selection for your gardens this year.
March is when we begin hardening plants off for April planting. Remember to give your seedlings the time they need outdoors to toughen up and be healthy in the open air. One trick to hardening plants off in March is to be aware of the wind. Young, tender seedlings are particularly susceptible to wind burn. Shelter your seedlings on windy days.
Even I don’t start seeds for all the varieties I wish to grow in my gardens each year. I have my favorite producers and I look forward to visiting them each spring and adding to the variety in my garden. These suppliers are also a great source of information and I go with a list of questions for them to up my garden game.
I recommend you do the same! Be sure to record the varieties and sources in your garden journal. It gets hard to remember everything and its nice to have the record for future reference.
Grow and Till Green Manures
Did you grow cover crops over the winter? March is the time to mow these green manures and till them into garden beds to add organic matter and loosen up the soil. My absolute favorite cover crop is crimson clover. It’s a great nitrogen fixer, is stunningly beautiful, and great for pollinators.
Use a Home Soil Test Kit
Pick up a soil test kit and get a decent snapshot of the Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) levels in your garden beds. Keep track of the information in your garden journal and use it when making choices for soil amendments, garden bed by garden bed.
Plant Asparagus and Rhubarb Crowns
The moist and warming soils of March are perfect for establishing asparagus and rhubarb beds. These perennial crops need time to get established, asparagus needs 3 years and rhubarb 1 year. They then provide years of early and tasty harvests from the kitchen garden.
Plant Onion Sets
Onions are one of those crops I both start from seed and grow from sets. Planting onions from seedlings is a lot like transplanting hair follicles, but it’s very gratifying to see these seedlings start in your flat. Onion sets come ready to go in the ground and are cold hardy. I always plant onions sets in March and harvest spring onions in late April. These were very popular when I had my farm stand.
Now get to work on your March Garden tasks, and start by planting potatoes!
Potatoes grown in a container on a patio.
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