It is all about picking, preserving and planting in the latest gardening advice for March. Here are four things to do in the garden before April and Easter arrives. For more great gardening advice, starring Trudi from fresh.co.nz, simply click on tuitime.co.nz and press the Autumn how-to guide.

1. Pick and preserve! Even if your enthusiasm is waning for tired tomatoes and self-seeding basil, don’t let any of your last autumn crops go to waste. Schedule in a spot of pickling and preserving to make the most use of those summer flavours in winter. Why not bottle your own tomato sauce? This homemade tomato sauce recipe is tops!

2. Sow or plant spinach. Spinach is easy to grow, has a sweeter flavour than silverbeet and doesn’t seem to get as large and tough. Try growing native spinach, ‘Winter Queen’, plus a punnet or two of ‘Perpetual’ spinach. It’s a brilliant variety that lasts for months and is easily harvested, leaf by leaf, for salads, stir-fries or simply to steam. You could also try ‘Red Stem’ spinach. It is a beauty, with arrow-shaped leaves and bright red stems. Dot it through your vege patch for winter colour.

3. Fill in the gaps. It’s getting on in the season, but you’ve still got time to squeeze in another round of fast-growing Chinese greens like bok choy and pak choi. Sow broad beans, either as a cover crop to dig over in early spring to add nitrogen-rich organic material to your soil, or for eating. Pop in a punnet of spring onions for potato salads, and another batch of brassicas: cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips and swedes.

4. Thin leeks and carrots to give them plenty of elbow room. Leeks should be at least finger-thick by now. If you sowed yours direct, it’s worth thinning them out to about 4-5cm apart now. Eat the unwanted baby leeks whole, ever-so-lightly steamed. Mound up the soil around leeks and keep them well-watered.

~NZG

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