Get Ready to Garden!

Friday, March 5th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Peach and plum trees are still available as bare-root trees, but only for a short while longer. Start your orchard now!
    • Pansies and violas will fill your spring flower beds with their bright faces in many shades of blue, yellow, red, pink and purple.
    • Deciduous Clematis vines can be cut back to about waist height, to encourage bushiness, more flowers and a nicer looking vine. Do this in late winter before the new growth starts.
    • Fragrant daphne bushes perfume the air this month. Find a place for this attractive, evergreen shrub.
    • Prune wisteria trees and vines by cutting out unwanted long runners and removing old seed pods. Don’t damage flower buds that are clustered at the end of short branches.

Get Ready to Garden!

After a long, wet winter, spring is in the air and it’s time to get out in the garden once again. It’s hard to beat the fresh flavor and high nutritional value of vegetables harvested directly from your own garden.

A good vegetable garden must have at least 6 hours of full sun each day. Eight to 10 hours a day is ideal. No amount of fertilizer, water, or care can replace needed sunshine. If you are limited for space or do not have a bright, sunny spot in the yard, then you can grow some vegetables in containers on a sunny patio or deck. Leaf-crops are about the only thing that will grow in limited sun.

March is the month when gardeners become eager to start planting. You can dig up and work your soil as soon as it is dry enough. When you turn your soil, add 1 to 2 inches of organic matter or compost, and mix it in as you dig the bed 8-12 inches deep.

The first things to go into the garden are perennial crops, like asparagus and strawberries. These plants are available at very reasonable prices during the “bare-root” season, when you can buy them without containers. This is very economical, and environmentally friendly as well.

Cool season plants like broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, Swiss chard and spinach can be set out now from young starts. They grow best in cool weather and can take a light frost. Onions can also be planted early from young, growing plants.

When the soil warms up a bit, you can sow beet and carrot seeds directly into the soil. Spinach, however, will germinate best at 50°F soil temperature, so you can plant it any time. Peas should be sprouted inside and then planted out. They are likely to rot in the cold soil if planted directly right now.

Later this month, it will be time to plant potatoes. Seed potatoes are available now and savvy gardeners are choosing from over a dozen varieties. Be sure to pick some up while the selection is still good.

It is a good idea to keep a garden diary. Draw a map of your garden layout, since you will want to rotate plantings in next year’s garden. Record the vegetable planting dates, noting the varieties that you planted. Keep notes about weather and any problems that occur, and record harvest dates and some idea of quantities harvested. All of this information will help you improve your garden from year to year.

It’s time to get ready to garden!