March is citrus month. Almost every kind of citrus tastes good in March in Southern California. While some are still ripe, others are just starting to taste sweet. What I mean is, some are wrapping up their seasons now, like navel oranges and blood oranges and Kishu mandarins, while others are in the early part of their seasons, like Valencia oranges and Gold Nugget mandarins.

Here is what we should all do: Go to a farmers market and taste every different kind of local citrus available. Do any knock your socks off? If you can get the variety name from the farmer, then go and buy a tree of that variety from a local nursery.

I did something similar a decade ago with a tour of the Citrus Variety Collection at UC Riverside, after which I planted some of the trees whose fruit tasted best to me, including: Cara Cara navel orange, Kishu mandarin, and Gold Nugget mandarin.

About vegetables, March is a month of transition. We can still plant some vegetables that like to grow in cool weather (think lettuce), but we can also start planting some vegetables that like to grow in warm weather (think corn).

To be specific about it, plant lettuce and its ilk as soon as possible, but be in no rush to plant corn and friends. I have always found most success sowing or planting those warm guys toward the end of March.

With all of those ideas in mind, in March we can:

Sow and plant

– Sow or plant some cool-season vegetables: beets, carrots, cilantro, greens, lettuce, green onions, peas, potatoes

– Sow or plant some warm-season vegetables: tomatoes, squash, corn, beans (some beans, but not all)

– Sow only: peppers (need heat mat or indoors warmth)

My seedling cart / greenhouse on March 1, 2024. This is where I grow out my veg seedlings and some other plants. It’s not sophisticated or expensive, but it works!

– Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage? It’s questionable now; if you live near the beach you’ll probably have success, but if you live inland (where warm weather arrives earlier in the year) your best chance of success comes by planting fast-maturing and heat-tolerant varieties and doing so early in the month; (more in my post, “Growing broccoli and cauliflower in Southern California”)

‘Cheddar’ cauliflower and various broccolis ready for harvest in May, planted in early March, 2021.

Harvest and eat

– Eat (had you planted them): asparagus, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, beets, lettuce, parsley, cilantro, spinach, celery, greens

Carrots coming out of the yard in March 2020.

– Eat (if you have the trees): avocados (Hass, Fuerte, Sharwil, Pinkerton); citrus (almost all kinds, including Cocktail grapefruit and Sumo/Shiranui mandarin); strawberries; a few early blueberries


– Add some laying hens to your food garden

A pullet we added to our yard’s little flock in March 2020.

– Collect or redirect any rain we get so it sinks into your yard near your plants and isn’t lost into the street

– Gophers are active in March, especially young ones; if gophers like your yard, consider planting vegetables in raised boxes with hardware cloth underneath and new trees in baskets if you can’t keep up on trapping; I plant vegetables and trees in the ground, unprotected, and just trap: my favorite trap is the Cinch

– Change irrigation on fruit trees as necessary (e.g. from drip lines to micro-sprinklers); do it now before the trees start depending on irrigation because the current mild weather and thoroughly moist soil from winter rains allow the tree roots to most easily adjust to new patterns of soil moisture; (see my posts on using drip on fruit trees and micro-sprinklers on fruit trees)

– Put in plants that are native to your neighborhood, especially in parts of your yard that are difficult to irrigate; I put wild lilac (Ceanothus) and monkey flowers in a couple of Marches ago, watered them by hand a couple of times their first summer and haven’t watered them since; (my other posts on Southern California native plants)

Ceanothus in my yard, unirrigated, in bloom at end of March.

– Graft deciduous fruit trees in early March if scions still dormant (rootstock can be actively growing); watch February grafts break buds

Graft done February 11, 2024, growing in early March. O’Henry peach on Nemaguard rootstock.

– Observe your deciduous fruit trees as they bloom and leaf out; notice if they flower mostly on short branches (apples, cherries, apricots) or on long branches (peaches, nectarines), for this can guide your pruning next year — or now, because it’s never too late to prune; (see my post, “Where do fruit trees flower?”)

‘Fanstil’ pear flowers in early March 2022.

– Graft avocados (see my post “Grafting avocados”)

– Plant avocado trees (see my post about that); and prune them, if necessary (see my posts about pruning avocados and pruning them to keep them small)

This is the result of planting an avocado tree INCORRECTLY (into compacted clay soil without enhancing drainage).
This is the result of planting an avocado tree CORRECTLY (into clay soil after having enhanced drainage with a large mound and French drain below).

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