March Gardening: Planting, Pruning and Pest Control
The soil is warming up, the buds are sprouting, spring is just around the corner, and it's time to start thinking about the three "P's"! Planting, Pruning, and Pest control!
Wait to dig until the soil has warmed and isn't too wet. Watch maple trees to know when soil is warm enough for planting. When leaves start to emerge, soil should be good to go.
- Get cole crops into the ground: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi. Look for seedlings at local nurseries.
- Tuck bare-root asparagus and rhubarb, as well as onion sets and potatoes, into soil.
- Sow seeds of leafy salad favorites (lettuce, spinach) and onion-family plants (leeks, onions, shallots). Beets, carrots, and radishes can also be planted now.
- Start warm-season seeds indoors so you'll have healthy seedlings for planting when all danger of frost has passed. This includes basil, eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.
- Look for bare-root and potted perennials at garden centers. If you want to add early-spring perennials, such as creeping phlox, purchase plants while they're in bloom to ensure you're getting the color you want.
- Nurseries have a great selection of bare-root plants. Buying bare-root plants is a great way to stretch your gardening dollars.
- You can also plant potted or balled-and-burlapped landscape plants.
Test Garden Tip: Begin planting Gladiola and Begonia bulbs this month. If you're a big glad fan and want a season-long show, tuck bulbs into soil every two weeks until mid-July -- then sit back and enjoy the floral fireworks.
Roses: Early in the month, remove old, thin, and unproductive rose canes. Cut back bush roses to 12-18 inches tall and shrub roses to 3 feet. Thin climbing roses if canes are thick and tangled.
Shrubs: Wait to prune spring-flowering shrubs after blossoms fade. It's OK to remove dead or storm-damaged branches prior to bloom; they may detract from the show.
Clematis: Along the coast, cut summer and fall bloomers back to the strongest stems. Scratch fertilizer into soil around the base of vines and water in. Refresh mulch around vines. Inland, wait to prune until all danger of a hard frost has passed. In all areas, prune spring-blooming clematis immediately after flowering.
As soon as bulbs begin to poke through soil, slugs start feeding. To get a jump on controlling these voracious chewers, put out slug bait when you see bulb shoots. Slugs are most active during mild, rainy weather.