March Gardening Tips
I write this in the aftermath of storm Ciara and storm Dennis. What a difference from February last year, when we enjoyed some glorious early spring sunshine, and the year before when we were just about to experience the Beast from the East! I do hope that you escaped the storms without too much damage to your home and garden.
It can be difficult to resist the temptation to get out in the garden on the rare dry days, but walking on waterlogged lawns and working in sodden borders can do more damage than good so a spot more armchair gardening may be on the cards until the soil dries out a little. Or indulge in some anticipatory shopping for the garden for seeds, seed potatoes and all sorts of new season’s plants which arrive in the garden centres from now on. At this time of year I am invariably tempted by summer flowering bulbs, corms and tubers, such as Gladioli, Dahlias, Begonias, Crocosmia and Lilies. Gladioli can be planted in the second half of the month.
- If you want to grow your own delicious potatoes then it is time to put Seed Potatoes in a cool, light position to chit (sprout). Plant early varieties towards the end of the month. Growing veg from seed is also really rewarding. Sow hardy annuals outside towards the end of March. Sow half hardy annuals in the greenhouse, on a window sill, in a conservatory or buy young plants to grow on. Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Parsnips, Peas, Radishes and Spinach can soon be sown outside and then covered with cloches. Plant Onion sets and Shallots. There is still time to plant bare root fruit trees into well prepared soil.
- Later in the month it may be time to cut the lawn again. Set the mower blades high to avoid scalping. Rake (scarify) the lawn to get rid of debris, dead grass and moss and aerate badly drained areas of the lawn with a hollow tined fork.
- Herbaceous plants (cottage garden plants) will start to grow. Fork a general-purpose plant food around them then apply a mulch such as garden compost, composted bark or bark chips to keep the moisture in and the weeds down.
- Mulch trees and bushes to keep the soil moist and weed free. As Rhubarb pushes through cover with an up-turned bucket to exclude the light to encourage the plant to produce pink shoots. For an early crop, bring potted Strawberries into the greenhouse, water and feed
Surely warmer weather is just around the corner and soon we can get out and enjoy the sight of leaf buds appearing, the growing warmth of the sun and that unmistakable scent of spring.