Spring usually arrives by mid-March but as we know it can be a funny month and some years we enjoy unusually warm temperatures and then at the other end of the scale we can have the icy cold weather and snow like last year! This year the end of February was a treat but apparently, we still have some cold weather returning so beware of frosts on tender plants and blossom on apricots, peaches and nectarines. Keep your fleece handy.
So, if and when, the sun and warm temperatures show their face again March is the month to start sowing seeds, cut back shrubs and generally have a tidy up in preparation for the gardening year ahead.
- The flower garden will appreciate some well-rotted manure or a general fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone.
- Brighten up borders and patios with primroses or potted tubs of spring bulbs from the garden centre if you were too late planting your own.
- Plant summer-flowering bulbs like dahlias, lilies, gladiolus, alliums and agapanthus, begonias.
- Buy plug plants to grow on as they are a cost-effective way of filling summer pots & containers.
- Look out for the first sign of slugs enjoying the new spring shoots of your perennials.
- Finish pruning bush and climbing roses and plant bare root ones. Feed with a special rose feed as growth appears.
- Deciduous trees and shrubs can be moved now provided the ground is not waterlogged or frozen but give them a feed with slow release fertiliser.
- Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials and plant new ones.
- Cut back Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow) grown for their colourful winter stems.
- Pick off any developing seedheads on daffodils and other spring bulbs, but leave the foliage to die back naturally.
- Tidy up alpines as they start to flower, removing dead foliage, then mulch with grit to keep the foliage off damp soil.
- Lift and divide snowdrops after flowering but while they are still in the green.
- Start sowing annuals now, half-hardy annuals such as cosmos , ( ), , , , and can be sown in the heated greenhouse or indoors. Hardy ones such as calendula, clarkia, larkspur and nigella can be sown where they are to flower.
- Prune early flowering clematis once they have flowered and summer flowering ones before growth starts.
- If the ground is workable treat your vegetable beds by digging in some well-rotted manure, compost or green waste for the growing season ahead.
- Begin chitting seed potatoes – for some tips pick up our free pocket guide. Plant out towards the end of the month but if you don’t have room in the ground try one of our vegetable planters.
- Early planting of onion sets and shallots will lengthen the growing season resulting in larger individual bulbs. Garlic can also be planted now
- Protect cabbage plants from caterpillars with Enviromesh.
- Plant asparagus beds from crowns.
- Vegetable seedlings such as broad beans, peas, perpetual spinach, cabbage, and cauliflower can go outside now but have some protection ready i.e. cloches or fleece. Directly sow seeds for carrots, radishes and lettuce under cloches. Hold back on tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, and runner beans till all the frosts have gone.
- Plant raspberry canes and cut autumn fruiting canes to the ground to stimulate new canes.
- Protect the blossom of apricots, nectarines and peaches with fleece.
- Plant rhubarb crowns.
- If the ground is not frozen or water-logged plant apple, cherry, plum and pear trees and also mulch your existing fruit trees with well-rotted manure or compost
Other jobs around the garden
- Buy fresh compost for the season ahead – ideally store it in a greenhouse to warm up before you start sowing seeds.
- Start using feed, weed and moss killer on your lawn. (subject to the weather)
- Place plant supports above tall-growing or floppy plants so plants grow through them before getting too tall.
- Top dress containers by replacing the top 2” of soil with fresh compost and top up raised beds.
- If you don’t already have them buy a compost bin and a water butt.
- Finally, as we all know the weather warming up means the weeds will rear their heads so keep weeding and weeding as soon as you see them.