• Patty McHugh

“To a gardener there is nothing more exasperating than a hose that just isn’t long enough.” Cecil Roberts

THIS MONTH IN THE GARDEN

March – the month that straddles the seasons. Often there are equal number of days that just shout “Spring” and the same number of days that are cold, wet and windy, cautioning “Winter”. As is always the case with gardens and for gardeners, there is much to be done in our yards this month. Perhaps some of it has already been started but you’re taking a break before finishing. I get it, I’m notorious for stopping and starting. Enthusiasm for the less satisfying garden work needs a kick start. This is your reminder – get back out there! The list of chores is long, take your pick:

• Complete winter pruning of deciduous shrubs and trees. Add a little fertilizer to the soil to ensure that the plant has the nutrients on hand to heal the pruning wounds quickly.
• Plant bare-root plants purchased but not yet planted.
• Plant summer flowering bulbs.
• Prepare garden beds and vegetable garden by clean-up, loosening compacted soil, and digging in compost.
• You may plant seeds of beets, carrots, chard, lettuce and peas outdoors now.
• After blooming, remove faded blossoms of camellias and rhododendrons (which includes azaleas) and fertilize with an acid-type fertilizer. Fertilize blueberries at the same time with the same fertilizer.
• Perennials and shrubs will appreciate a boost of nitrogen late in the month as spring growth starts; feed with an all-purpose fertilizer.
• Top dress containers with fresh compost.
• Test run your irrigation system. Flush drip systems. Complete repairs. Don’t turn on the system for automatic watering before April – remember the water you use this month still counts as your sewer usage which you’ll pay for all year. Hand water if necessary but test the soil first.
• Pray for more rain, do a rain dance, or anything else you think could have some effect. We need more rain to avoid an even earlier fire season. Need I say again, “get rid of the ‘fuel’ in your yard”?
• Continue to watch out and cover for frost – particularly damaging to new growth that has already begun.
• Pollen is in the air. If you suffer from allergies, wear your mask while gardening. We should all be used to wearing them by now!
• And, as always and forever, weed, weed, weed. As the saying goes: ‘No life is without difficulties – No garden is without weeds.’ After weeding, apply a thick layer of mulch around the plant. Don’t wait too long after weeding to apply mulch; the minute you loosen the soil by weeding, other weeds take that as an invitation to pop up.

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