Onward March!

March has come in like a lamb. It distinctly feels like spring and I’m in full on gardening mode. If this is the new weather pattern, I’m wondering if all seasonal chores should accordingly be brought forward. How soon should one direct sow seeds? Is it okay to move the tender perennials out of the greenhouse earlier by a month? What if the temperatures plummet or we get hit by fierce storms snow or rain? It is worrisome for sure.

Perhaps, for now, I must rein my impatience and work with caution. I’ll direct sow some seeds and reserve others for a bit later. The plants being sheltered in the greenhouse can wait a while longer. But some tasks like the spraying of dormant oil on the fruit trees to smother the egg of pests like aphids and coddling moth before the emergence of buds, giving a feed of compost to all the plants, Epsom salts to the roses etc., will be done this week. One must use sound judgment based on science and common sense.

Here’s the To-Do list for March

Cut some forsythia and pussy willow branches for indoor forcing. Place in water and keep in a cool place until the buds are swollen. Then move them to a location where they can be viewed as the blooms burst forth. A lovely prelude to spring.

  1. As snow melts, start clean up process. Twigs and other debris can be removed. Protect the still wet areas of grass and beds by first placing cardboard or wood planks and stepping on those instead. They help distribute the weight better.
  2. Later in the month, remove protective burlap and/or plastic wrappings and wind breaks.
  3. Get tools sharpened. This includes the mower blades.
  4. Commence indoor seed sowing. Begin with the early, cool weather crops. Read seed packet instructions and calculate dates for planting out.
  5. Order plants that will be required for the garden as soon as the ground has warmed up. Let your local nursery know your needs – they will inform you know when shipments arrive.
  6. As soon as possible, once snow is all gone and soil has thawed, spread compost on all the beds including the vegetable plot.
  7. Finish pruning fruit trees, grape vines and roses early in the month.
  8. Take an inventory and stock up on whatever is lacking. Soil, gloves, mulch, tools, water crystals, grass seed, pots, hoses etc.,
  9. Survey the garden and see what needs replacing, repairing or painting. Schedule and do the needful.
  10. Start bringing out or uncovering outdoor furniture. It’ll soon be time to linger outdoors!
  11. Get Open Days directory from Garden Conservancy – www.gardenconservancy.org. Mark your calendars to visit beautiful gardens in your area.
  12. Come to my Garden Open Day on May 11 between 10 am and 4 pm. I’m looking forward to seeing you! Registration has begun – https://www.gardenconservancy.org/open-days/garden-directory/the-little-garden-that-could

Here are some images from the bulb display at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens to get you in the vernal mood!

(c_ 2024 Shobha Vanchiswar

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