4 March 2015

What's in season in March

March heralds the beginning of spring. Not that it necessarily brings milder weather; apparently in England we are more likely to get snow in March than in December. The days are definitely getting longer, and that in itself springs many plants into action. For those excited about eating a plethora of exciting UK-grown spring produce, March can be something of a disappointment. Early spring is what used to be known as the hungry gap – a hiatus between the disappearance of winter staples and the appearance of the first spring produce. If you have a veg plot, March is a good time to start sowing seeds, and thinking of all the produce you will be harvesting later in the year, rather than a time when much can actually be harvested.


 As in the winter months, there are plenty of brassicas about: cabbages, kale and cavolo nero. Purple sprouting broccoli comes into season – and this is usually the most productive plant on the veg plot in March. Kale and cavolo nero start to go to flower in March, and will produce small, broccoli-like stems. I have never seen these for sale, but if you have a veg plot, they are worth harvesting. Another broccoli-like vegetable you might find for sale in March, usually imported from Italy, is cime di rapa, which are turnip tops as they start to bud. They are usually more bitter in taste than broccoli. Spring greens should also be available in March. These are a sort of open-headed cabbage; usually with a pleasant sweet flavour. March begins with St David’s day; St David being the patron saint of Wales, and this is a reminder that leeks, the national vegetable of Wales, are in season in March. Over-wintered chard plants should have put on enough new growth in March to be harvested, and the small leaves provide a good salad leaf. Alliums put on plenty of growth in early spring, and chive plants that have been over-wintered start to put on new growth which can be harvested in March.


When it comes to fruit, March is really all about rhubarb. If it is from the UK, it will have been forced (which means the crowns have been dug up and taken into dark sheds). This gives it a great flavour and texture; much softer than the field-grown rhubarb that is available in late spring and early summer. In early March you might still find some citrus fruits around. I have still seen blood oranges for sale in the last week, but it really is the last knockings. English apples should still be available, which either have been stored over-winter, or which are from a very late harvested cultivar.

In the woods and hedgerows…

Out and about in the countryside, there are plenty of plants starting to put on growth. The foraging highlight of early spring is wild garlic. Their distinctive pointy leaves can sometimes already been seen at the beginning of March, and by the end of the of the month the season should be in full swing. Wild garlic has become very popular on restaurant menus in the last few years, so you might face stiff foraging competition from all those young hipster chefs. Less popular, but also worth picking at this time of year are ground elder, alexander buds and lesser celandine. The young shoots of ground elder have a pleasant mild flavour, somewhere between celery and parsley, and can be eaten raw or cooked.


Most game is now out of season and off the plate until autumn. There are a number of deer species that are still in season, so you should be able to get hold of venison throughout March.


  1. "Kale and cavolo nero start to go to flower in March, and will produce small, broccoli-like stems". I'm sure that I've recently seen these for sale at Brockley markets. The hipsters are onto it!

    1. Damn those hipsters, they get onto all the new stuff!