March is roaring in like an angry lion, it seems. Snow, sleet, hail, flooded gardens, wind and freezing temperatures all make it a bit difficult to get out into the garden to work. But the days are getting longer, primroses are blooming and soon the weather will calm down. It always does. Here is what you can do between storms to make your garden healthy and productive.
Feed: Now is the time to begin feeding roses, blueberries, rhododendrons, perennials, spring flowering bulbs and the lawn. Using fertilizer mixes composed of natural materials like alfalfa meal, bone meal, blood meal, soybean meal, manure and the like encourages beneficial bacteria and microbes to flourish. You end up feeding the soil as well as the plants.
Prune: Grab the pruners, sharpen them up and begin cutting this month. Fruit trees, roses, blueberries and ragged perennials can be trimmed early this month.
Plant food: This is the month to set out starts of cool season vegetables like lettuce, spinach, kale, Asian greens, chard, potatoes and the like. Hardy herbs include parsley, chives, rosemary, oregano and thyme. Right now, local nurseries are filling up with fresh vegetable and herb starts.
Sow: When the soil begins to warm up in your garden, begin to sow seeds of peas, spinach, chard and onions. It is still too cold and wet to start carrots. If you do sow carrots early expect a long and erratic germination time. One way to warm up the soil after sowing seeds is to cover the seed bed with a blanket of row cover. This will warm up the soil a bit and keep it from drying out on those sunny, windy days.
Clean up: Weeding, mulching, pruning back spent perennials top the cleanup list this month. Clearing the garden of useless clutter will not inspire happiness for overwintering pests, slugs and snails.
Beware: Yes, organic slugs baits containing iron phosphate are effective. However, they should be applied a week or so before planting out those tender, yummy vegetable and flower transplants.
Terry Kramer is the site manager for the Humboldt Botanical Garden and a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has been writing a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.