Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What To Do In Your Garden In March

Well it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I was busy enjoying February (yeah, that sounds like a good excuse!). Here it is March already and I haven’t posted a thing about what should be happening in your garden this month! So here goes….

What do to in your garden in March

SPRING IS COMING! SPRING IS COMING! GET READY! March is a great time of year for gardeners. The anticipation of spring, the tease of sunny days emerging and the rain that keeps out soil moist and helping our gardens to come out of their deep sleep are all things that gardeners look forward to this month. Since the first day of Spring is March 20, it’s time to hurry and get ready! Here’s what you should be taking care of in your garden this month:

First and foremost, get rid of those weeds while the ground is still soft and moist! This should be your first job in the garden this month. It’s extremely important you get those weeds out of your flower beds, lawns and food gardens, otherwise you’ll be fighting them all summer long. So get out there on a nice sunny and cool day and pull ‘em out.

You only need to water this month as needed. Fortunately for us in Southern California, we have had rain on and off for the last several weeks and it has really helped to keep our soil moist. However, as a lot of you know, I have a lot of plants in containers and I must continue to water them in between the rain. Plants in containers dry out quickly.

This is also the month to switch out your cool season plants to warm season plants. Plants such as annuals (pansies, etc) that love the cooler weather should be changed out for plants that like the warmer weather. Sunflowers, marigolds, petunias, etc. can be planted this month or started from seed. Keep an eye on your local nursery. They are usually good about putting out only seasonal plants, in other words plants that are for a particular season. I usually go by the idea that if they’re in the nursery, they’re ok to plant and if I have any doubts, I simply ask. This includes edible plants you are growing; switch out from the cool weather crops to the warm weather crops (corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes, etc).

You should also do some deadheading of your flowering plants and pinching back of plants such as fuchsias. Deadheading is where you simply remove the dead flower at the tip of the stem. This encourages more flowering. Pinching back plants such as fuchsias does the same thing; encouraging more flowers.

You may already have some bulbs you planted that year that are done with their bloom this month. Leave them in the ground and let the green foliage die back and turn brown. Once that happens, remove the brown foliage and leave the bulb in the ground for next year. If you have bulbs such as tulips, it’s best to dig up the bulbs and store for next year. In Southern California is does not get cold enough to support tulips until next year as they require a lot of cold weather to get themselves ready for the next blooming season.

Fertilize where needed. Plants that produce flowers or food will need fertilizer this month as will plants that are showing signs of stress (yellow leaves, spots, leaves falling off, etc). If your shrubs, trees and other ornamentals are showing signs of being healthy, you probably don’t need to fertilize this month. If in doubt about whether or not to fertilize, look up the plant type on the internet; you’ll find lots of information about when to fertilize, watering needs, etc.
And just a reminder for us folks here in San Diego, and all Californians; water is a tight commodity this year. This is the perfect time to adjust your sprinklers, check them for broken sprinkler heads and/or leaks, and make sure the watering area is appropriate and only covers the plants, not the sidewalk. For container plants, put a 5 gallon bucket in your shower next time you shower, and while the water is getting hot let it fill the bucket instead of just running down the drain. You can use that water to water your containers and any other plant.

And don’t forget; once you’re done with your work for the day, sit back, relax and take time to enjoy your garden and celebrate spring!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener