March may be starting with a cold snap but, on an optimistic note, spring is just a bud burst away and by the end of the month the clocks will have bounced forward and we can enjoy longer, lighter evenings perfect for an ad hoc potter in the garden.
Whilst my garden is still in the grip of winter chill, putting growth on hold for a little while, there really is a lot to look forward to this month as the temperature rises. In the meantime keep off frosted lawns if you can. But, believe it or not, by the end of the month it will be time to give the lawn the first cut of the year. Set the blades high. 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.
Thinking of food, as one does on a cold day, it is time to put Seed Potatoes in a cool, light position to chit (sprout). Plant early varieties towards the end of the month. 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 grown 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. 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
Turning to ever brighter, more colourful, thoughts, buy 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. 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
Prune Hybrid Tea (large flowered) and Floribunda (cluster flowered) Roses and then give them a feed. Shrub Roses and Ramblers should not be pruned in the spring as they flower on the previous years’ wood. However, they still benefit from a feed.
I am so looking forward to the garden waking up and bouncing back from a long winter slumber. I hope you enjoy every new leaf and every breaking bud this month.