Autumn will arrive in the Southern Hemisphere–Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile–on March 20. Here’s a roundup of planting, harvesting, and things to do during March in the Southern Hemisphere.
Plant Autumn Crops
Cool-season crops should be planted as soon as possible: beetroot Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, endive, leek, parsley, parsnip, potatoes, silverbeet (chard), and Swede (rutabaga). Cool-weather crops require warm weather to germinate and begin growth. They will mature in the cool weather of autumn and be ready for harvest in autumn, winter, and early spring.
Plant onions. Onions should go into the garden now. Onions are day sensitive plants. They will begin their green growth in early autumn and as the days shorten into winter their shoot growth will slow and the plant will redirect its efforts to bulb formation. If you wait too long to plant onions, they will not be far enough along to establish bulb set when the shortest days of the year come.
Plant peas, lettuce, and spinach. Sugar snap and snow peas can be planted now as well as lettuce and spinach. Get these crops in the ground early this month and you will be able to enjoy tasty green salads before winter.
What to plant in cooler southern regions. Vegetables: broad beans, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cress, leeks, lettuce, onions, spring onions, radish, spinach, strawberry runners, turnips. Herbs: caraway, chervil, chicory, parsley, salad burnet.
What to plant in mid-temperate regions: Vegetables: artichoke suckers, broad beans, beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, cress, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions, spring onions, peas, radish, rhubarb crowns, rutabaga (Swede), silverbeet (Swiss chard), turnips. Herbs: angelica, caraway, chervil, chicory, coriander, dill, hyssop, lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, parsley, salad burnet thyme.
What to plant in tropical and subtropical northern regions: Vegetables: artichoke suckers, beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cape gooseberry, capsicum, carrots, celery, Chinese cabbage, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, marrow, mustard, onions, spring onions, parsnip, peas, potato tubers, radish, rhubarb crown, silverbeet (Swiss chard), tomato, turnip. Herbs: angelica, basil, borage, caraway, celeriac, chicory, chives, coriander, fennel, hyssop, marjoram, salad burnet.
The tomato and corn harvest should reach its peak this month.
Pumpkins harvested now should be allowed to “cure” in the sun–allowing their skins to harden. Be sure to harvest pumpkins with some of the stalk still attached so that they do not rot.
Apples and pears are ready for harvest. Harvest these fruits with a bit of leaf and stem still attached. Remember pears do not ripen on the tree. You need to pick them still firm and allow them to ripen on the kitchen counter. Pears that stay on the tree until they are soft will be mealy or woody inside.
Vegetables coming to harvest this month: beans, capsicum, carrots, chilies, Chinese cabbage, corn, cucumber, eggplant, kale, lettuce, melons, okra, peas, pumpkins, purslane, turnips, rutabaga (Swede), summer squash, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini.
Fruits and nuts coming to harvest this month: almonds, apples, avocadoes, brambleberries, grapes, figs, hazelnuts/filberts, kumquat, lemons, melons, mulberries, nectarines, oranges, passionfruit, banana passionfruit, peaches, pears, pecans, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tamarillos.
Things To Do Now
Raspberry canes can be cut back to the ground once the harvest is complete. The old woody canes should be cut back; the recent season green canes can be left. If your raspberries were out of control this year, now is the time to tie the new green canes to a trellis for easier harvesting next year.
When strawberries are harvested you can peg down new runners and they will set roots at the leaf nodes. Your strawberry patch should be refurbished with new plants every three years.
If you plan to leave your garden fallow over the winter, consider revitalizing your soil with a “green manure” or cool-weather cover crop. Green manure crops include oats, pod vetch, lupins, and broad beans. The roots of these plants add nitrogen to the soil. These plants grow quickly and can be cut back and spaded under to add organic compost to your garden before winter or in spring.
Get our season-by-season vegetable garden guide: