Gardening jobs for March
By March the garden seems to be finally waking up again after its long winter sleep, so now is a great time to start thinking about your gardening jobs for the month.
There are always flowers if you want to find them. But for many, the first days of spring are signalled by the arrival of daffodils. March can sometimes be even colder than December, but the green shoots of spring are there, just waiting to burst.
Gardening jobs in your veg garden
Harvest purple sprouting Broccoli
After making it through the winter your sprouting broccoli plants will be keen to start flowering now. The tender shoots are a welcome treat after weeks of root vegetables with few greens other than kale to enjoy. Pick them regularly to ensure a constant supply through the spring.
Sow peas in gutter
Peas are one of the first crops you can sow in the spring. Get them off to an early start indoors. Fill a length of guttering with compost and sow them in two rows, about 5cm between each seed. When the seedlings are about 5cm tall they can be hardened off outside for a few days before planting. All you have to do is slide the strip of plants out of the guttering into a wide drill drawn out with the end of the hoe.
Plant early potatoes
By the end of March it’s time to start planting the first early potatoes. Plant them 20cm deep, 30cm apart in rows 60cm apart. If they start to show above ground before the threat of frost is past, then just cover them with a few layers of horticultural fleece to protect their tender tops.
Plant onion sets
It’s a good time to start planting onion sets. Make sure you get heat treated ones so they are ready to start growing as soon as they are planted. Plant them 10cm apart, in rows 30cm apart. Plant them so that the tip of the onion is just below ground level. Make sure you use a trowel to dig the hole. Pushing them in damages the bulbs and compacts the soil underneath.
By using cloches and low growing tunnels it is easy to extend the growing season. Sow salads like lettuce, rocket and radish if you can work the soil into a fine tilth. Covering them will help warm the soil and retain moisture, improving germination.
Gardening jobs: Ornamentals
As the weather warms, plants will soon be bursting into life. If you want to give them a helping hand, this is the ideal time to apply fertiliser to the beds. Use a well-balanced, general-purpose fertiliser with trace elements, such as seaweed meal.
This month, you can still divide later flowering perennials like sedums, rudbeckia and echinacea. If you have a large plant, that is floppy or bare in the centre, it is time to refresh it. Lift the whole clump and divide into smaller sections. Dig plenty of well-rotted compost into the soil and replant a few smaller sections. Pot up leftovers to plant in other areas, or swap with neighbours for other choice specimens.
Winter-flowering heather can now have a little trim to keep it neat. Cut off the old flowered growth back to where green shoots are appearing. Don’t cut back too hard into them, as heather can be reluctant to regrow from old wood.
Deadhead spring bedding
Pansies and violas will flower almost all winter and they will start to put on a show as the weather improves in spring. Make sure you remove any seed pods as they start to form and the plants can continue to give a good show of flowers right the way into summer.
If you have snowdrops, now is a great time to lift and divide them. Be careful lifting them as they have very thin skins and delicate root plates that can easily be damaged. Split big groups up into clumps of 10 or more bulbs and spread them out to increase their spread. Before long your spring garden will be carpeted with millions of these dainty white flowers and will command admiration even from the most hardened of gardeners.
Gardening jobs: Lawn
Start mowing again
If the temperature is above 6 degrees, the grass will start to grow again. You probably won’t need to be out every week with the mower just yet, but it’s a good opportunity to give the lawn a quick cut on a high setting and neaten it up again after the winter.
Re-sow damaged patches
There are probably a few patches of lawn that are starting to show the effects of wear and tear. Scatter seed and rake it into the loosened top soil, or alternatively replace with fresh turf. Make sure it gets well watered as March can be a changeable month.
Cutting the edges of the lawn is a quick and easy way to make it look a lot neater. Trim any long feathery bits the mower missed with the shears, then use a half moon iron to redefine the edge.
Gardening jobs in the Greenhouse
Even in March the greenhouse can heat up quickly on a sunny day. Make sure you open the windows to allow good air circulation. It will reduce the chance of fungal diseases and a light breeze can strengthen the stems of young seedlings. Just remember to close it in the evening though.
If kept indoors, peaches will start to flower this month. This does mean there may not be many bees around to pollinate them, so to ensure you get a good crop, you will have to pollinate them yourself. Use a paintbrush to transfer pollen between the flowers and get a good set of fruit. Once you can see how many fruit you have, you can thin them to just one or two per branch.
Gardening jobs: Pests and diseases
This pesky beetle easily damages the beautiful flowers of snakes-head fritillaries, and their grander cousins the crown imperial. They are usually a bit sluggish in the colder weather, so they can be easily spotted and picked off the plants for disposal, before they do too much damage.
Gardening jobs: Pruning
Prune late summer flowering shrubs
Buddleia and Fuchsias flower on wood produced during the spring and early summer. As they start back into growth this month they can be cut back quite hard to stimulate lots of vigorous new stems. Hydrangeas will require more careful treatment. Some of the older stems which flowered strongly last year should be cut back hard to promote a succession of strong young growth. The majority of stems should only have a light cut back as flowering is often best on the side shoots of stems that grew and ripened during the previous summer.