Calendar of Garden Work for March

THE momentum of work increases as the month advances. Weather conditions are important, because if the soil remains saturated the tilth required for sowing seeds cannot be obtained and the soil will remain too cold for successful germination.

DECORATIVE GARDEN

Complete the planting of deciduous shrubs and climbers.

Fork over flower beds to freshen them for the spring, but be careful not to damage the roots of shrubs and other permanent plants.

Hardy perennials are best lifted, divided and replanted in March, especially on newly cultivated ground, although many of them are just as successful when this work is carried out in the autumn. Heleniums, monardas and phlox are usually the most forward, and need attention first. Do not disturb plants like oriental poppies and paeonies.

In the southern half of the British Isles plant ranunculus and anemone corms in a sheltered spot. Gladioli can also be put out in favourable positions.

Prune established bush and climbing roses. Cut away any dead or diseased wood first, then continue the work in accordance with the instructions contained in Roses. Renew ties on climbing kinds and fork over the soil of the beds afterwards to remove footmarks.

Roll the lawn and trim the edges. Where moss has grown, rake well a few days after rolling, once the soil is dry enough, and treat with a proprietary mercury dressing if necessary. Where a new lawn is to be grown from seed, give the soil a final raking so that it is ready for sowing. In mild springs the first lawn mowing can be done if the grass has grown. The blades of the machine must be set high.

Replace pansies, wallflowers, forget-me-nots or Siberian wallflowers if they have failed during the winter and gaps have therefore appeared in the spring bedding schemes.

Prune jasminium nudiflorum, chimonanthus and hamamelis after they have finished flowering.

Feed hedges with farmyard manure or fertilizer.

Inspect the shoots of shrubs and, if hard weather has damaged them, prune them back to sound wood.

In warmer parts of the country, and only if conditions are suitable, start to sow seeds of hardy annuals about the middle of the month in well-prepared soil worked to a fine tilth.

VEGETABLE GARDEN

Sow the early varieties of most vegetables. By a careful selection of varieties and restraint in the quantity of seed sown, a good succession of vegetables can be arranged and a glut avoided. Continue fortnightly sowings of early varieties of peas. Regular sowings of lettuces, carrots and radishes can begin in all but the very coldest districts.

Lightly fork and rake the soil to prepare good seed beds. Top dress, a few days before sowing, where required.

Collect pea sticks from the hedgerows now, before the leaves grow and the job gets too difficult. Erect supports for runner beans.

Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers 1 ft. apart in rows and allow 3 ft. between the rows.

Jerusalem artichoke

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Sow parsnips as soon as the ground is ready, as they like a long season. Sow radish or lettuce at the same time in the drill as a catch crop. Parsnip seed is slow to germinate and the catch crop will mark the rows for hoeing.

Sow broad beans and onions out-of-doors. If these are sown thinly the seedlings can be left until the stems begin to swell. The thinnings can then be used for salads.

If conditions are favourable, plant the first early potatoes 4 in. deep and l ft. apart, leaving 1-1/2ft. between the rows.

Prepare an asparagus bed by deep digging and by making generous additions of really old manure or compost. Buy one-year-old crowns and cover them with 6 in. of good soil after planting according to the instructions in Vegetables.

Old asparagus beds should be over-hauled before the shoots begin to show. Fork over the soil to a depth of 3 or 4 in. and add a fish fertilizer.

Prepare new beds for herbs.

Hoe between rows of all crops regularly to keep down weeds and conserve moisture.

Cut savoys, Brussels sprout tops and turnip tops.

Give a top dressing of nitrate of soda, sulphate of ammonia or dried blood to spring cabbage and winter lettuce.

Plant out the seedlings of broad beans sown in boxes in December or January.

Thin out autumn-sown onions.

Make a sowing of Crimson Globe beetroot under cloches.

FRUIT GARDEN

Give black currants a lime sulphur or thiram spray. Use Karathane on gooseberries to prevent American gooseberry mildew.

A captan spray will prevent the spread of cane spot on raspberries, loganberries and blackberries.

This is the last opportunity to plant soft fruit or young fruit trees. Stake the latter well, and check over old stakes and ties. Where necessary, renew them before the top growth increases in weight.

At the very end of the month, remove and burn grease bands that have been on fruit trees all winter.

If the season is mild, plant out young strawberry plants that were not put into permanent beds the previous autumn. Where the action of frost has lifted existing plants, firm them in with the heel. Put cloches over a few selected strawberry plants to encourage early flowering and fruiting. Start hoeing between the rows.

Start grafting apples and pears.

Protect the blossoms of wall-grown peaches and nectarines, when threatened by frost damage, by covering them with hessian or other suitable material.

Lightly prune cobnuts and filberts.

GREENHOUSE

Start dahlia tubers by putting them in boxes of moist soil or peat in a warm greenhouse to encourage them to sprout and form shoots from which cuttings can be made. Spray them with water as needed in order to keep the soil moist.

Repot decorative plants in fresh compost similar to that in which they have been growing; sometimes they will need to be put into a pot a size larger. Plants that benefit particularly from this attention are Asparagus sprengeri, codiaeums, palms, smilax, begonias and all ferns.

For summer display sow more seeds of half-hardy annuals, such as ageratum, nicotiana, nemesia, zinnias and ten-week stocks. These can be pricked off, hardened off and planted out later.

Sow melon seeds singly about 1 in. deep in thumb pots. Keep them in a close atmosphere in a temperature up to 65 to 70° F. (18 to 20° C). Encourage the seedlings into growth by plunging the pots up to their rims in peat or moss in a propagating frame. Keep the peat or moss moist.

Pot on the January and February-sown tomatoes into pots, or into rings if ring culture is being undertaken. Keep the plants growing steadily but not too quickly, otherwise soft and easily breakable growth is produced, which is prone to disease and insect attack.

Harden off seedlings of outdoor varieties of tomato for planting out in June.

In the fern house, the growing period will be beginning, so give more air whenever the temperature allows.

Harden off the seedlings of cauliflowers, onions and leeks sown under glass in January for planting out in early April.

Air layering of greenhouse plants suitable for this type of propagation can begin now.

Sow seeds of Coltness Hybrid dahlias — temperature 60 to 65° F. (16 to 1S° C.) — for bedding out in the summer.

Pay particular attention to pest control now that growth is starting.

Watch the water requirements of plants carefully now that the heat of the sun is increasing.

Provide seedlings with shade if necessary, and damp down and ventilate as experience dictates.

Ventilate plants in frames as necessary and make sure they do not lack water.

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26. September 2013 by admin
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