March in the garden
“To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds, and watch their renewal of life; – this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do.” – Charles Dudley Warner
March is the first month of autumn and the leaves will soon start to change to beautiful reds, purple, browns and yellows. It is now time to plan and plant your winter garden. Use this time to re-evaluate and consider any potential changes and perhaps work towards a more sustainable and manageable garden.
Summer seedlings will start to look straggly and die and will need to be pulled out to make space for the Winter and Spring colour. Those that are still looking good need to be dead headed and fed with a liquid fertiliser.
Prepare beds for winter planting by turning them over with a spade and digging in compost and either bone meal or superphosphate. Don’t be tempted to plant too early.
Add a splash of bright colour to your winter garden and plant Pansies, Violas, Calendulas, Stocks, Primulas and Primroses. All year round seedlings can still be planted now such as Dianthus, Alyssum and Gazanias.
Sowing seeds is inexpensive, fun and rewarding and can be started in the month of March. Sweet Peas are everyone’s favourite, particularly for their pretty colours and for being fabulous in a vase. Plant in early March in sun with good soil preparation. There are climbing and bush varieties. Pinch out the tips of the early new growth to encourage bushy growth. Other rewarding seeds are African Daisies which germinate easily with bright, hardy flowers, Virginian Stocks, Poppies, Primula, Nasturtiums, Viola, Pansies, Nemesias, Bellis Perennis, Snapdragons, Cineraria and sweet smelling Stocks.
Winter flowering bulbs can be purchased but planted when the weather is cooler. Daffodils, Renunculas, Sporaxis, Anenomes and Hyacinths will soon be available. These get sold out and are no longer available later in the month, so it’s best to jump in first.
VEGETABLES AND HERBS
Veggies and herbs prefer a sunny spot in the garden.
It’s time to harvest the last of your summer crops and pull out shabby or dead plants. Add these to your compost heap.
When cooler, plant seedlings of Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Winter Lettuce, Spinach and Artichokes. Stagger planting at 3 to 4 week intervals to ensure a continuous supply through the Winter months.
If you are sowing seeds, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Cabbage, Carrots, Leeks, and Spinach will be available. Fresh Garlic Seed has arrived. We have Spanish White, Egyptian Pink and Elephant Giant.
Winter herbs will soon be in to enjoy in your kitchen. Plant Rocket, Parsley, Perrenial Basil, Chives, Garlic Chives and all year round Sage and Mint. Look out for Oriental herbs such as Pok Choi and Tatsoi which are great in stir fries and salads.
Getting the children involved to grow and put veggies on your table is educational and an excellent past time to keep them occupied. Any containers will do. All you need is sunlight, water, good potting soil, suitable drainage and some T L C. Grow what you will use.
Feed vegetables with an organic 6.3.4 fertilier and water during dry spells.
Keep an eye out for pests and diseases and treat as required.
SHRUBS, PERENNIALS AND TREES
March is an ideal time to plant new shrubs and trees. Take a good look for any necessary pruning to be done and consider removing overgrown or alien species.
As Summer comes to an end and Autumn rolls in, many perennials begin to go dormant. This is the time when they should be lifted, split and replanted.
Herbaceous, deciduous perennials will begin to lose their leaves and disappear underground. Identify these, stake and mark them and lightly mulch.
Cut off and remove the dead flower heads of Hydrangea. Do not remove the leaves or stems. This will help protect the new buds that are forming.
Take soft wood cuttings of plants you might want to plant in large numbers such as Lavenders and Fuchsias.
Mulch your shrub and perennial beds well to protect roots against winter cold and help keep the moisture in.
Azaleas will start flowering now and Camellias will start to bud. Don’t forget to keep your Winter flowering shrubs like Azaleas and Camellias moist but not muddy to keep the roots from drying out. If they dry out, it will lead to bud and flower drop.They are acid loving plants and need an acid mulch. Do not dig around the base of Azaleas as they are very shallow rooted. This will result in root damage. Camellias do not like their roots built up on with soil or heavy compost. Azaleas and Camellias grow very happily in pots too.
Water flowerbeds in dry spells and keep your eyes open for any pests and diseases and treat with an organic pesticide.
Roses are already forming buds for their second flush of flowering in March and April.
Feed for the last time this season with a 5.1.5 or 3.1.5 organic fertilizer. Mulch and water deeply at least twice a week during dry periods. Spray regularly with a cocktail to prevent against pests and diseases.
We want our lawns looking good for as long as possible as they are the main feature of many of our homes.
With winter approaching, lift the blade a little higher so that the cold won’t damage the roots as growth slows down.
Feed lawn for the last time with a light fertilizing of 2.3.2 to keep in tip top condition and encourage stronger roots before winter.
Autumn/Winter is a good time to sow seeds of Shade Over and All Seasons Evergreen as they do well in a cooler climate.
Don’t forget the birds at this time of year.
Bird baths and millstones should still be filled up every day with fresh water for them to drink and bath in.
As Autumn/winter approaches, natural food becomes less so by feeding them, they will remain in the garden and you will still be able to enyoy their antics.
Feed with a good wild bird seed mix, peanuts, suet and fruit. This will cater for birds with different requirements.
Now that leaves are starting to drop, clean out your gutters regularly in case of unseasonal rain. Don’t rake up leaves, they are a natural mulch for the garden.
Clean out water features and ponds and remove dead leaves and flowers. Thin out and reduce overgrown bog and water plants. Ensure filtration is adequate, that pumps are working and that pond life is happy and in a balanced system.
This is a good time to sand down wooden fences and furniture and to repaint them before the summer rains.