March Garden Chores For The North

When March comes, spring isn’t too far off. So plan your weekend activities ahead. The more you can get done before the season changes, the farther along you will be with your gardening when the warm weather really comes.

Get your equipment lined up and ready. Clean out the tool shed or garage and discard old and unusable material. This is especially true of old chemicals, many of which can change with time. Clean up around where you have been feeding birds if possible, before waste seed has a chance to sprout. When the temperature rises, wash the winter’s grime off your garden bird baths, gates, figures, etc., with a good detergent and a stiff brush.

Clean up the entire yard and garden as soon as weather permits. Rake out the leaves from among the shrubs and remove the old mulch from the flower beds. If you are afraid of a cold snap, return a little covering to the tender plants.

Lawns ask for special attention this month. They should be raked to flatten irregularities. Feed with a good complete fertilizer. Try one of the newer formulations which contains slowly available nitrogen in the form of urea-formaldehyde.

Garden paths – Weed, line up, or rake over, depending on what they are made of. I like gravel paths and use a double concentration of weed killer to keep mine clean and to save work. If this is done at once it will save a lot of work later on.

Compost needs to be turned as soon as possible. Any that is ready can be spread over the soil to be incorporated into the planting beds whenever the soil is workable. Any that is not can be returned to the pile. Activators like fertilizer speed decomposition.

Woody plants, like evergreens, trees and shrubs, may be planted now. Order early from the nursery and set the plants out as soon as they arrive. This is also a good time to add some dwarf apples and other fruit trees either to be trained as espaliers or grown in more natural form.

Start planting seeds as soon as the days begin to lengthen, for early transplanting outdoors later. Petunias and snapdragons should come first, followed by others which require less time to germinate and grow faster, like marigolds and zinnias. If possible, grow them in pots or flats in a coldframe. The new plastic materials like polyethylene and sisal-glaze work out wonderfully as sash to replace the conventional heavy glass coverings. You might even like to try a plastic greenhouse this spring, if you want to produce a lot of plants for your garden. This new garden accessory has almost unlimited possibilities.

Soil – A good soil test, arranged by your county agricultural agent or done yourself with one of the test kits readily available, will prove of great value in correcting conditions inimical to the growth of special plants.

St. Patrick’s Day, the 17th of March, is a great moment for gardeners. Plant a couple of early crops, sweet peas and gladiolus, if you can work your soil without its getting sticky. Carrot seed can also go in this early. Get to know your climate and you will be surprised how early you can plant some things.

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