Organic Home Garden

March in Your Garden

Spring has certainly sprung and with warmer soils theres plenty to be doing outside this month. To help you organise what you need to be doing check out out guid to this months gardening jobs.

Top essential jobs 

    1 - Protect new spring shoots from slugs using crushed, baked eggshells, or slug wool which can be ordered on-line.

    2 - Plant shallots, onion sets and early potatoes which can be ordered, try ‘Pink Fur Apple’ potato tubers which can be planted as a salad and maincrop.

    3 - Plant summer-flowering bulbs, Peter Nyssen and Farmer Gracy have some great bulbs available on-line.

    4 - Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials, see my "how to" video on instagram

    5 - Mow the lawn on a dry day.

    6 - Cut back Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow) grown for colourful winter stems next year.

    8 - Hoe and mulch weeds to keep weeds under control early and reduce watering in summer           months.

    9 - If you have pond start feeding fish and using the pond fountain; remove pond heaters

    10 - Prune bush and climbing roses now to get the best blooms in a couple of months time.

 

 

Sowing and planting

  • Hardy annuals can be sown in pots or modules to provide colour in the garden. In mild areas you can sow directly outside. Marking out irregularly shaped seedbeds and broadcasting drifts of different seed gives a more natural look.

 

  • Early spring is an ideal time to plant herbaceous perennials, including Geranium, Astrantia and Oriental poppies, order online or split your own.  If you have gardening friends arrange a Zoom call and a plant swap!

 

  • When space becomes available in the greenhouse, pot up cuttings of tender perennials taken last summer and at the beginning of this year. Bulk up plant numbers by taking more cuttings from the largest of the new plants.

 

  • Indoor forced bulbs that were in the house for winter displays, but which have now finished flowering, can now be planted into the garden, taking care not to disturb the roots.

 

Cutting back, pruning and dividing

  • Cut back ornamental grasses and other perennials left for winter interest, if you have not already done so. Even if they still look good, you need to make way for the new growth, large clumps can be easily cut back using your hedge trimmers.

 

  • Divide and/or plant bulbs-in-the-green, such as snowdrops (Galanthus) and winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis).

 

  • Divide hostas before they come into leaf.

 

  • Divide hellebores and polyanthus-type primulas after flowering.

 

Propagation

  • Propagate more dahlias from tubers. Pot them up in multi-purpose compost so that the old stalk is just above the surface. Water and place in a warm, light position or in a propagator. Once the fresh shoots have grown to 7.5-10cm (3-4in), cut them off carefully with a knife. Dust the ends with hormone rooting power and push them into a pot containing cuttings compost. Place back in a propagator or plastic bag until roots appear.

 

  • Perennials that are showing new shots from the crown can be propagated via basal stem cuttings. Shoots 7.5-10cm (3-4in) high are cut from the parent plant with a sharp knife. Sometimes a piece of root can be taken with the cutting (which speeds establishment), but stems can be cut without root, and then dipped in hormone rooting powder before striking into growing medium, as for softwood cuttings.

 

General work

  • Deadhead the flowers of Narcissus (daffodils) as they fade, but allow the foliage to die down naturally.

 

  • Herbaceous perennials infested with couch grass and other perennial weeds should be lifted so the roots of the weeds can be removed. Improve the soil by digging in organic matter before replanting.

 

  • Clear up weedy beds before mulching. Lighter soils can be mulched now, but heavier soils are best left until now, when the soil is warmer. Mulching with a deep layer of organic matter helps to condition the soil, suppress weed growth, insulate plant roots from temperature fluctuations, and conserve soil moisture during the summer.

 

  • Top dress spring-flowering alpines with grit or gravel to show off the plants and to help prevent stem rots. Mulch may need replacing after weed removal.

 

  • Improve the drainage of heavy soils by working in lots of organic matter and wood ash from woodturners and bonfires.

 

 

  • Check whether containers need watering. Even at this time of year, they can dry out. Pots that are sheltered by eaves or balconies can miss out on any rainfall. If in doubt, check the compost at a hand’s depth to see if it feels dry. Aim to keep pots moist, not wet, and don’t let them dry out.

 

  • Feed borders with a general-purpose fertiliser at the manufacturer's recommended rate.

 

  • It is best to get supports in early, so that the plants grow up through them, covering them discreetly. Adding rigid supports afterwards usually looks unattractive and results in bunched stems lacking sufficient ventilation. Criss-crossing strings from hidden or decorative posts work well, allowing stems to grow up in the gaps between strings.

 

  • In mild areas, you should remove winter coverings of fleece, straw, polythene etc, to prevent new shoots being damaged. In cold areas, you are best waiting until the risk of frost has passed.

Gardeners Digest by Brewin Dolphin with Paul Hervey-Brookes 2021