In this post, you will learn about what to plant and how to garden in zone 8B in the early spring outdoors.
Gardening in Early Spring
March is upon us and it is feeling like spring in Southern Alabama. I am sorry to my northern zones, but don’t worry… it will be too hot to be outside here mid summer while you are all enjoying your gardens and mine will be a desolate wasteland of dried sad vegetables.
Anyways… last month my husband and I created our first ever raised garden bed. We even included free building plans, so I would highly recommend checking that out. Now it is time to fill them!
Our last frost date in Zone 8B is April 1st, so I will still be waiting to plant several things for about a month or so. To find your zone and frost date to learn when you can start planting, check out my garden planning post.
Watch Along on Youtube!
How to Fill A Raised Bed
Before we can think about planting, we must fill our newly built raised beds. We need dirt, right? Oh wait… there are about 1000 options here! Dirt is a very basic term. We need to make sure that we are giving our little plant babies the appropriate nutrients to thrive.
What Kind of Dirt Do I Use For My Raised Bed?
For my purposes, I just went to my local home and garden store to purchase dirt. If you plan on filling multiple beds or a very large bed, you should look into options of bulk soil, as it will be much cheaper.
I tried to find a local source of organic soil, but came up dry… Plus we don’t have a truck and didn’t really need enough to pay for a delivery. Therefore, we opted for this mixture:
- 1/3 Compost
- 2/3 Organic Raised Bed Soil
- A Sprinkling of Organic Fertilizer if your soil does not have any in it
- Straw for Mulching on Top (you may want to use wood chips if you live in a drier climate)
My organic soil is already mixed with fertilizer and additives for aeration. If yours does not, you might want to add lava rock, perlite, pumice, or rice hulls to add appropriate drainage.
Where Should I Buy My Garden Seeds?
As a beginner, I decided I wanted to buy packs of seeds that were already chosen for me. I didn’t want the added stress of figuring out exactly what to plant. There are a ton of places you can get seed. In the gardening world, it is very popular to order online from Baker Creek or Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Where you buy seeds honestly depends on your budget and if you want organic or not. It seems that the consensus is that you should probably buy nicer seeds than the kind you can get at the dollar store in order to yield the best results.
This year I found a different company and decided to order on Black Friday. Every seed I am using this year is from Sustainable Seed Co . All of the seeds I will need (plus many, many more) only cost $60, including indoor seed starter kits. I purchased way too many seeds and they should honestly last me the next four years or so (then I will have some room to buy new things each year too!).
What to Plant in the Garden in Early Spring
I have already started my peppers and tomatoes indoors, and I plan to direct sow the rest of my vegetables, herbs, and flowers. It would be ideal for me to start more plants indoors, but my house does not have the space or light. I think I should convince hubby to build me a mini greenhouse outside… what do we think?
Planting in March (Zone 8B)
Remember here… I am no expert! One can research all day long, but a lot more learning will come from experience. I want to give you a few tips on what I have learned (even if I am technically not following all of the guidelines).
I think the fun part about gardening from seed is that you don’t have a ton to loose. If some don’t sprout, it’s not usually a huge monetary set back, but can provide a lot of hands on knowledge!
Below I will list what I planted this March. This is definitely not everything I will be planting this year, but just where I started.
Early Spring Vegetables
There are several vegetables that you can get started outside before your last frost date. Your safest options are any root vegetables (vegetables where you eat the root, and it grows underground like carrots, beets, etc.. Here is what I planted:
- White Bunching Onions
- Cucumbers (probably not the safest choice to plant this early)
Early Spring Herbs
Some herbs are tougher than others. I think I would have been better off starting pretty much all of these indoors, but I didn’t. So here’s what I decided would be safest trying directly from seed outdoors:
Early Spring Flowers
I purchased a mix pack of pollinator cut flowers that said to plant them in early spring. It mentioned that they actually like to get cold first, so I went for it! I am honestly so excited to see if these produce and cannot wait to have fresh flowers to cut, right outside my door!
It may not look like much yet, but I have a feeling this little garden bed is going to provide a lot for my family this year in terms of food, fun, and learning.