I’m not a natural list maker, I have to fight the urge to just get on & do things, but, when I’ve made one, I immediately feel organised. They’ve become essential for gardening because it’s so maddening when you forget something … & have to wait until next year.
Realistically, more than one list is necessary right now, vegetable seeds to sow, flower seeds to sow, dahlias to order, the latter needs swift action before all the choice ones are gone, but let’s just concentrate for now on what to do in the garden in March. There are exciting times ahead!
It’s the perfect time to prune roses:
First remove stems that are crossing other, so they don’t rub each other & wound the stem, then cut out dead, diseased & dying stems, they’re darker in colour. a mulch of well rotted compost around the base of the plant will help, keep it away from the stem though.
I spent a satisfying half hour in the garden last week pulling up weeds, I find the monotony has a nice, calming effect. Weeds are relatively small, at this stage, making the job easier. Leave it a few weeks & they’ll spread rapidly, grow bigger & take twice as long to remove.
This is the month to sow seeds of hardy annuals under cover, greenhouse or windowsill will do nicely, or outside in sheltered places. Then sit back & imagine all these little specks of promise turning into food & flowers!
Plant lilies now, can I recommend the sweetly scented Madonna ones, & gladioli, I’m a big fan of the lime-green ones, now.
Cut back the colourful stems to a couple of inches above ground, new growth of more vividly coloured new stems will shoot up. I cut half the stems on my Cornus as they’re only a couple of years old, bit you can be more ruthless with older shrubs & cut them all down.
Cut back deciduous grasses, e.g. Calamagrostis Karl Foerster, to just above the base, where fresh, new growth is probably starting now. Grasses are such great plants for adding texture & movement to perennial planting.
Feeding your garden:
spread poultry manure pellets around shrubs & permanent planting, use them in your allotment or vegetable patch too. Their big advantage is they don’t contain chemicals & they release their nutrients slowly, so growth is steady, rather than rapid, soft growth produced by chemical fertiliser, that’s loved by slugs & snails.
Mulching with well-rotted manure, home-made compost or similar, will repay dividends ovrr the next few months. Four inches thick on damp soil is the ideal.
In The Vegetable Garden
It’s still cold at night for most seeds to be sown, but these are ones that will germinate at low temperatures. Cover the soil to warm it a few days before sowing, to make things easier for them:
Sow just a few & see how they go.
I had a delivery of plants in a huge cardboard box, so I’ve used that to cover 2 of my raised beds. The cardboard will get ripped up for the compost bin when it’s done its job warming beds.
Plant bare-root fruit trees & bushes:
They won’t be dormant next month, so it’ll be too late
Plant first early potatoes:
Many gardeners start them off indoors, encouraging shoots to grow, but don’t give up if you haven’t got round to this, plant some this month & they’ll soon catch up.
Prune gooseberries, blackcurrants & autumn raspberries:
This is to encourage more fruit & less disease. Cut out any dead, diseased or dying stems, then cut back half the stems by a quarter of their length, shorten the remaining stems leaving 4 buds.
The last chance for planting to harvest this year. It’s on my list for this month, I know home grown will be organic & there’s choice of different types. Although it’s easy to buy in the supermarket, a lot is imported from China & that’s a lot of air miles.
Enjoy your garden or allotment in March, there’s lots to do but you’re accompanied by birdsong now.
all photos: Jill Anderson.