What do I do for my garden in March? Well, if the ground is frozen and covered with a foot of snow, I simply mix up a double martini and wait for better weather. Otherwise, I get down and dirty with the following chores:
Winter-Sowing. No matter how frigid the weather or how deep the snow, you can sow perennials and hardy annuals (including spinach) outdoors in make-shift greenhouses. Wait until late this month or early April to sow tender annuals and vegetables.
Need some gorgeous flowering plants to winter-sow? Check out this recent post.
Raised Beds. Top them off with either compost or shredded leaves, as above. Give the leaves a light sprinkling of alfalfa meal, cottonseed-meal, or another organic source of nitrogen to help hasten their decay. More details.
Save Your Newspapers! I rely on the New York Times to keep my garden beds weed-free for an entire season. Here’s the how-to.
Lawns. When the ground is dry enough not to damage grass, rake up the accumulation of twigs and branches.
Arborvitae. If heavy, wet snow has flattened branches, lash them back into place with twine. Stems should regain their upright habit over the course of spring and summer. More details.
Roses. Wait until the end of the month to uncover shrubs (you remembered to mulch them, right?). Prune the shrubs at your convenience but before the leaf buds break. (I prune my David Austin roses back by half; I do not prune my climbing roses, except to relieve them of dead wood.) Don’t try to prepare new beds until the ground is well thawed and the soil is workable.
Pruning. Cut out all dead wood from trees and shrubs. Also, prune for shapeliness Peegee hydrangeas, Rose of Sharon, and other shrubs that bloom in late summer. Cut Buddleja (the common “Butterfly Bush”) back to ground-level now, unless you want a monster-size shrub (like mine, pictured above).
Spring-Flowering Trees & Shrubs. Any time now you can cut stems of forsythia, pussy willow, crab apple (above), witch hazel and quince. Give the stems water, light, and warmth (65°F max), and they will bloom for you in only two weeks time. More ideas.
Houseplants. These are growing rapidly now, due to lengthening hours of daylight. Reward them with extra food and water. My collection of indoor plants, and how I care for them.
African Violets. Are yours refusing to bloom? Better read this post.
Forced Tulips & Other Dutch Bulbs. If forced in soil, continue to water and fertilize these hardy bulbs after their flowers fade. Once the foliage withers, withhold all moisture. Then remove the bulbs, and store them someplace cool and dry. In autumn, give them permanent positions in the outdoor garden. Pictured above is Tulipa ‘Quebec,’ now in bloom in my music room window garden. And be sure to read this helpful post — Forced Bulbs: What to Keep, and What to Toss.
Go to a Show! Want to find good-sized plants at bargain prices? Visit your local garden-show. This year, New York’s Capital District Flower & Garden Show is March 27-29. On the final show-day, exhibiting landscapers offer beautiful, in-bloom rhododendrons, lilacs, and other flowering shrubs as well as evergreens for a fraction of the retail price. Why? Because they obtained these plants purely for design purposes. They have little interest in keeping them once showtime is over. The rhododendrons in my Woodland Garden were all acquired this way.
Now, if my monthly gardening chores are helpful to you in some small way, by all means speak up. Hearing from you always brightens my day.
Don’t miss anything at A Garden for the House…sign up for Kevin’s email updates.