Your garden in MARCH
YOUR GARDEN IN MARCH
Keen gardeners enjoy spending time outdoors every month of the year, even during the winter which is hopefully behind us now. When March arrives though, it brings a real sense of anticipation and you can't help but smile at the thought of what lies ahead.
There are sure signs that spring is on its way: those determined spring bulbs have forced themselves upwards and, all around the garden, you'll see plants coming back to life. If the plants are springing into action then so must we, because if we want to get the best from our gardens, we need to start ticking off the jobs now.
You'll no doubt be enjoying the spring bulbs in your garden, with daffodils looking especially cheerful. Whilst your bulbs are on display like this, it's a good time to assess them and check that all is well. If you have clumps of daffodils which are blind (not flowering), then pop a marker next to them so you can deal with them later.
Once the foliage starts to fade, dig up any blind clumps and check they are not too congested. If they are, divide the clumps and replant in more space. Always make sure the bulbs are planted at least three times their own depth, as being planted too shallow is another reason why bulbs fail to produce flowers.
Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of snowdrops once they've finished flowering, replanting them around the garden. Snowdrops like to be planted 'in the green', with the leaves still on the bulbs, as it helps them re-establish and flower again next year.
If you left the old growth on border perennials last year, cut back now before too much new growth appears. Large clumps should be lifted and divided, with the healthy outer sections being replanted and older central parts added to the compost. If you'd like to brighten up a shady corner, you might like to consider Pulmonaria, my feature plant for this month. A low growing perennial, Pulmonaria produces masses of pretty flowers in spring and there are several varieties available producing blooms of blue, pink, purple, red or white.
There are some pruning jobs to do this month. Reduce the stems of bush and shrub roses by at least a third, cutting above a strong growing, outward-facing bud. Late summer flowering Clematis can also be pruned, by cutting stems back to a healthy bud, and the bright red stems of Cornus should be cut down to just above ground level to encourage them to produce more vibrant colour next winter.
Put supports in place now for tall growing perennials and, if you mow your grass, keep the mower blades high at first, lowering them after the first few cuts.
MARCH ON THE VEG PLOT
In early March, cover your prepared beds with cloches to warm and dry the soil, ready to sow and plant out in a couple of weeks. Weeds will be encouraged to grow in these warmer conditions and can be easily removed.
Sprinkle general purpose fertiliser or blood fish and bone around fruit trees and bushes. The plants will get off to a good start with the fertiliser slowly being released to the roots over the coming months.
Plant up a container of herbs. Garden centres will have a good selection of fresh plants for you to choose your favourites. I would try parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage. All useful in the kitchen and giving an instant display in the garden.
Weather permitting by the middle of the month, direct sow chard, spinach, peas, broad beans, carrots, lettuce, spring onion, turnips and beetroot. Cover with cloches or fleece to improve conditions or start off in the greenhouse in pots to plant out when it feels warmer.
Towards the end of March, plant out first early potatoes. These may be through before the last frosts, so you will have to have some fleece handy to cover the emerging foliage if it is forecast.
Enjoy your time on the plot as the days lengthen. Make time to listen to the birds, and to enjoy the peace, fresh air and hopefully some spring sunshine.