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  • Louise Mills

March Heralds the Start of Spring

March Gardening Jobs

Spring has finally arrived, and our gardens are starting to come alive after the winter. Be sure to make the most of those lengthening days and bright spells of sunshine but remember to keep an eye on the weather forecasts - hard frosts are still likely and March winds can be bitterly cold. March is a time for mulching, pruning, taking cuttings and re-seeding lawns.

Perennials, Shrubs and Trees

● Mulch bare soil with organic matter (e.g. well-rotted farmyard manure, garden compost or chipped bark). This will help to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

● Move evergreen shrubs; they will soon be starting into growth and will be able to re-establish themselves more easily than was possible in winter.

● Cut back any remaining growth of herbaceous perennials left over winter to make way for this year’s new growth. Resist cutting back any growth affected by frost unless it seems soggy or mouldy. This ‘frosted’ growth is probably still providing vital protection for underlying growth. Wait until the weather is reliably warmer before pruning it out.

● And don’t forget to put all that lovely material from cutting back plants and clearing borders in your compost bin to rot down for use next year. Cutting material into small chunks will aid the process.

● Plant new hardy perennials. Apply feed and mulch at the time of planting and keep them well watered until they are established.

● Prune bush and shrub roses. (Climbers are usually pruned in autumn to avoid wind rock.) Pruning helps to build a healthy framework of shoots that will produce a good display of flowers. Thinning overcrowded growth will also help to reduce problems with pests and diseases.

● Lift and divide overgrown clumps of summer-flowering perennials. If the divisions are of a substantial size, they should still produce flowers this year.

● Plant summer-flowering bulbs throughout March and April for a summer-long display.

● Finish pruning late-flowering deciduous shrubs including Buddleia, hardy Fuchsias, Ceratostigma, Hydrangea and Ceanothus if weather permits.

● Direct sow hardy annuals and harden off those previously sown undercover by placing in a cold frame or outside during warm days.

Kitchen Garden

● Continue to prepare seed beds for direct sowing. Break larger clumps of soil and use a rake to create a fine tilth to a depth of approximately 2.5cm. If you haven’t already mulched your beds finish this before planting.

● Begin to harden off early sowings of vegetables using a cold frame.

● Start sowing outside regularly. Sowings of lettuce, onions, peas, broad beans, spinach, cabbage, turnips and beetroot can all be succession sown at short intervals so that vegetables will be ready to harvest throughout the summer. Better to sow smaller quantities and repeat sow every two weeks.

● It’s not too late to sow tomatoes or chilli peppers from seed. If you can start them out in the house so much the better.

● Plant early potatoes approximately 30cm apart and 15cm deep. Keep fleece handy in case frost is forecast, as the young shoots are susceptible to frost damage.

● Plant onion sets. Plant each set with a trowel or large dibber; avoid just pushing them into the soil otherwise the set will be pushed upwards again as the roots begin to grow.

● Water all your transplants in well and allow the soil to settle back around the plant.

● Apply 5-8cm thick mulch around the base of your fruit trees, raspberry canes and any fruit bushes, leaving a gap around the plant’s stem.

Other Jobs

● Depending on weather, you may wish to start mowing the lawn regularly. Now is also a good time to scarify to remove thatch.

● Keep an eye out for pests and diseases. Slugs and snails can be baited and disposed of, nets can keep birds away from gooseberries and brassicas and check soft fruit bushes for aphids regularly. It’s also worth inspecting brassicas for caterpillars, which can appear as early as March after a mild winter.

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Katherine Tuck
Katherine Tuck

Thank you! Always good to have a handy list of things to do

.and to be sure it's the right time to do it!

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