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What Vegetables to Plant in March + Early Spring Garden Chores

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Wondering what vegetables to plant in March in zone 5b? You might not think there are any vegetables you can plant in March, but depending on the weather – it might be possible.

boots in a muddy garden

While it might not be possible to do much outside except wait for mud to dry up, there are many chores you can be doing inside in March. Here’s a list of garden chores for zone 5 so you can do more than dream of gardening!

Early Spring Zone 5 Gardening Chores

March is really still winter in Iowa. Basically in March, we’re waiting for the ground to thaw out, warm up, and dry up. When that’s happened, we’re ready to start planting a few things, but until then, here’s what you can do!

1. Plant cool season vegetables and annuals.

Which vegetables to plant in March depends substantially on your hardiness zone. My cold growing zone, 5b will be a lot different from someone else’s more temperate zone.  If you don’t know your hardiness zone, make sure to click here to learn! 

Which Vegetables to Plant in March

Make sure you have your seeds ready, because you can so fast growing cold weather crops directly in the ground in March In March in Zone 5, you can start sowing seeds outdoors once the ground is workable and the temperature has warmed up to about 40F. 

These crops can be planted directly in the ground as soon as the soil has warmed up and is dry enough to work. You can also plant cool season annuals as soon as the ground is warm and dry, like pansies, if you can find them at the garden center. Make sure you include these top 10 early spring plants in your garden plan so can enjoy the earliest harvest possible.

Here is a list of plants to plant in March in your vegetable garden:

  • Peas
  • Carrot 
  • Radish
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes

Plant Cold Frame

If it’s too cold to direct sow, you may be able to use a cold frame! If you have a cold frame, it’s time now to start easy-to- grow lettuce and spinach outside in the cold frame, even if the weather isn’t conducive to growing uncovered just yet! Soon you’ll be harvesting yummy greens. I love those first greens!

Here are a few delicious spring greens to grow this year!

2. Make new garden beds.

If you garden in beds, or would like to start, now is the perfect time to make new garden beds while you still have time. This is something you could have been working on all winter, too. You might also want to cover a couple of your garden beds to keep pests out and extend the growing season. This tutorial will help you easily cover your garden beds.

The nice thing about gardening in beds is they are usually ready to go before the ground. You don’t have till garden beds and you can put down plastic to help warm up the soil. If you don’t garden in beds, I recommend trying one out this year!

3. Prep the garden beds

Hopefully, the ground will have thawed and begin to warm very soon. Once it’s dry, usually by the middle to end of the month, go ahead and remove winter mulch and add a layer of leaf compost to your beds. Mix everything up nicely and as soon as the outside temps are warm enough, go ahead and plant those peas! 

Peas do best when the temperature is in the 55 – 70 degree range, as early as 12 weeks before the last frost date. Germinating peas can tolerate temperatures as low as high 20s, but temperatures in the teens are to much for them and will kill them. Watch your forecast closely when planting those first early crops! Learn more about peas at The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

4. Test the soil

Now’s also the time to test your garden soil so you know what nutrients need to be added before the growing season starts. You can send a soil sample to a university extension office for a fee – or you can buy a kit and test your own.

covered garden bed in a country garden

5. Organize your garden seeds

If you haven’t already done this, now is the perfect time to inventory and organize your garden seeds. Make sure you have everything you need to get going and order whatever else you might need. You can read all about my favorite garden seed organizer here. I love it so much!

baby seeds in a seed starting tray

6. Start your seedlings

March is time to start most of your garden seeds, if that’s something you like to do. Most seedlings need 6-8 weeks before the last frost date to grow big enough for planing, and with an average lost frost date of May 15, that’s right around the corner. Get my best tips and seed starting supply list here. And here are tips for starting broccoli and other pesky brassicas – which can be a tricky type of seedling to start.

March is time to start the following seedlings:

  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • tomatoes
  • eggplant
  • peppers
  • flowers

7. Plan your garden!

If you haven’t planned out your garden, this is also the time to finalize your garden plan and draw it out. It’s important to draw it out so you can remember from year to year what you plant where.

Remember that you need to rotate crops so keeping track is pretty important. Here are my best garden planning tips to help you out. Grab my free garden planting guide here so you know exactly when to plant what!

How to Grow Garden Vegetables Series

What to learn how to grow all the garden vegetables? Check out my How to Grow Series and learn to garden like a champ! More posts coming soon!

What are you working in your garden this month? I’d love to hear what you’re up to. Happy gardening!

simplifylivelove garden planner free printable

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About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long time green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.


  1. blankPatti says

    Hi Michelle,

    Over here in SW PA we’re in a similar boat. Still getting snow and cold temps but a few nice days in the 50s and 60s throughout the month. Still, I can’t wait to get out and clean up and start the season. Looking forward to sharing garden ideas with the group this season.

  2. blankShelly says

    I’m so behind on my planting this year it’s been so wet. But our garden is covered and I’m hoping it will dry out soon. I’m hoping to get my seedlings started soon.

  3. blankDiane Williams says

    Dave just planted broccoli and kale last weekend out under his cold frames. We hope it warms up and dries out so they make it. We are so far behind this year. Even the grass and weeds are behind and that never happens!

  4. blankJami says

    Yep, and interesting start to the gardening year everywhere I think – early warmth in some areas, blizzard in the east and more rain than we know what to do with (and that’s saying something!) in the west. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration – here’s to a great season!

  5. blankAngie Rose says

    Hey Michelle! This is such a great list you have compiled. We are still dealing with snow in NE as well. It’s making me antsy to get outside! I always say I’m going to test my soil, but I never do. This will change, thank you for the small push! You & I have similar seed organization methods. This is the perfect time to get everything in order! I’m planning out everything as we speak with the storm raging outside. Nothing like a few seed catalogs to keep me dreaming!

  6. blankLinda Kinsman says

    Great tips to get us ready for another gardening season. Like Angie said in her comment, I always say I’m going to get my soil tested and have yet to do it. I really need to do that pronto!

  7. blankMike Anderson says

    Hello Michelle, I love gardening very much because it’s gives fresh fruits to eat, air to breath. I always spend my spare time in the garden. Thanks for sharing suc a great tips for my lovely garden.

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