March Madness

© Nancy J. BondA milky, but nonetheless pretty sky greeted us this morning.  Snow is on the way — nothing significant, thank goodness.  Let’s hope all the “significant snowfalls” are behind us now, but one never knows when you live on the Atlantic coast.

While Blotanical is still was hicupping, and the weather, though it hints of Spring, is still cold, you might like to go through this list of gardening chores as laid out in The Farmer’s Almanac.  In March, they suggest that you…

—–

Re-pot houseplants so they will grow well during spring and summer.

Water gloxinias and African violets from the bottom, avoiding getting any water on the leaves. Dust the leaves with a small, soft brush.

Consider ordering a few blueberry plants. Not only will they provide delicious fruit for jams, muffins, and pies, but they are also an excellent choice for landscaping plants, offering scarlet fall foliage and creamy white spring flowers. Blueberries serve neatly in a hedge or as specimen plants.

When choosing fruit trees, remember that apple, apricot, and pear trees need two varieties present to ensure pollination. If space is limited, try peach, nectarine, or sour cherry, which will bear fruit on a single tree.

Garden work should begin when a lump of soil squeezed in the hand is dry enough to fall apart slowly.

Uncover bulb beds and hardy borders near the middle of the month.

Plant deciduous trees and shrubs this month.

Trim out the old canes from the rows of berry bushes. The bramble fruits are borne on new wood of last year’s growth.

Prune fruit trees until spring buds swell. Maple and birch should not be pruned until they leaf out.

Sprinkle wood ashes around berries and fruit trees. The potash will enhance the sweetness of the fruit.

Remove mulches from snowdrops and crocuses so the shoots can come through.

Uncover mulched perennial and strawberry beds gradually, pressing into place any plants that have been heaved up.

Dig up over-wintered parsnips as soon as the soil is loose enough. They will not benefit from any additional time in the ground.

Set out pansies as soon as the ground is ready. They’ll happily withstand cold weather and will bloom steadily if the spent blossoms are kept picked.

Remove the mulch from your perennial beds gradually. Take it off as the season progresses and add it to your compost pile.

If your compost pile has been frozen all winter, add some manure now and turn it frequently.

Check trellises, latticework, and fences for winter damage. Repair before spring growth begins.

Dormant spraying for fruit trees should be done before spring growth begins.

Resist the temptation to uncover spring-flowering plants such as daffodils and tulips. Mulch may be loosened, but the shoots will still benefit from protection against cold, drying winds.

Manure can be spread over the garden now, especially on the asparagus and rhubarb beds.

Be sure that flats and pots used for starting seed are perfectly clean. Likewise, the soil should be clean and sterile.

Mark and label your sown seeds, indoors and out.

Water newly started seedlings carefully. A pitcher may let the water out too forcefully. A mist sprayer is gentle but can take a long time. Try using a meat basting syringe, which will dispense the water effectively without causing too much soil disruption.

Give peas a chance. The earlier they mature, the sweeter they’ll be. Sow them right under the snow, if necessary, but save some for a later planting as well.

Spread dark plastic intended for mulch out over the garden site to hasten the warming of the soil. This will provide for earlier and better germination.

Keep plastic milk jugs or other coverings on hand to protect the flowers of pansies, crocuses, and other early bloomers against the return of severe weather.

Start seedlings of annuals in flats — aster, larkspur, alyssum, and balsam should be started now (or 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date in your area). If summer season is short, zinnias should be started now. They will need to be potted up in individual pots after 4 to 5 weeks.

Start some vegetables in flats now: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and lettuce are good choices.

Seed alpine strawberries now to make attractive and bountiful hanging baskets for summer.

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Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

14 thoughts on “March Madness”

  1. Snow on the way? It sounds like you’re not getting that sunshine then.
    Blueberries haven’t done well for us. They’re tricky to grow. I guess we haven’t found the right spot for them yet.
    I’ll be starting some seeds today.

    Hi Kerri — sun this morning; snow by afternoon. But only a couple of inches. Good luck with your seeds. I’m going to start some tomato plants this weekend. :) Blueberries do exceptionally well in Nova Scotia, though I’ve never grown them myself.

  2. That list looks exhausting. I have put some wood ashes around the fruit trees and sown a few seeds, but looking at that list makes me feel as though my efforts have been rather inadequate!

  3. Hi Nancy .. I have a water logged back garden .. I have never seen it flooded like this before .. I have major things I want to do back there after the renos are done .. at least I know we have very good ground water levels ?
    Any minute now the geese are going to swoop in for a swim ! .. Hope your snow doesn’t make it and Spring is on the way : )

  4. Hi Nancy,
    We are under a flood warning here in No. Illinois. Our rivers are swollen again. Some corn fields are under water. I started to do a few things on the list, but it’s still too wet to do much in my yard. I have, however, worked on planting seeds indoors and repotting my houseplants. Before we know it we will be as busy as bees.

  5. Nancy…Another comment from me. I have tried to put you on my favorite blog list. I haven’t been able to get your address to “take.” Have you heard this from anyone else.

  6. Great advice! I learned the hard way about planting before the soil is workable. Outdoor gardening chores have been suspended for today & tomorrow at least, until it gets above freezing again. I just love needing to have my entire wardrobe available and something from each season worn in one week.

  7. I didn’t read the list (lists like that overwhelm me) but what an utterly beautiful picture…. it makes me feel just how looking at the moon does.

  8. Uh-oh, I’ve already broken one of these rules–I pulled the mulch back from my daffodils and tulips. I was just so excited to see them actually emerging from the ground that I want to check them everyday to see how fast they grow!
    Not much planting will get done here for awhile. While there’s no snow in the forecast right now, it looks like lots of rain–typical Illinois March weather.

  9. Hi Nancy, so sorry about more snow for you. Those are some good chores for your area. I think ours would be slightly different, especially about uncovering mulch from things. We just leave it on for the plants to grow through. Someone who would do all on that list has a mighty large garden! :-)
    Frances

  10. Sounds like a lot of hard work you’ve got there! I’m stuck inside and it’s raining buckets. And it’s getting cold tonight. But thankfully no snow like you have.
    Brenda

  11. I would love to give peas a chance! Someday I hope to have a raised bed garden in the meantime there are a few herbs and such that I will grow. My to do list is getting longer everyday! I hope the big snow events are over for you. Gail

  12. Or…sit down and have a cup of tea instead. I see that blotanical is running much faster. So glad it’s back but look at the amount of good blogs on there now–shew…so much to see.

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