March Gardening Chores

March is the beginning of daffodil days in my garden, a wonderful almost daily parade of new flowers that distract me from getting things done. The weather can be a little challenging in USDA Hardiness zone 5b so March is a hit and miss month in terms of getting much done but I still have must do chores.

Under the category of garden maintenance:

1. Prune and fertilize roses. On the first warm day, I remove all dead branches so the new growth will have room and add coffee grounds, banana peels, Epsom salts and crushed egg shells mixed into the soil around the base of the plants. Gently, you don’t want to tear up the roots. Also a good time to mulch.

2. Plant onion sets around roses to keep bugs at bay. Three for miniature roses, 5-6 for the larger roses.

3. Prune fruit trees. Nothing elaborate, I make sure the branches don’t cross and are open in the center. Also mulch. Make a tire around the base leaving the space up at the tree trunk open.

4. My hellebores and “Autumn Joy” Sedum get the old greenery cut off so any new growth gets to shine. The Sedum starts look like tiny green roses.

5. If I haven’t already painted and repaired birdhouses and native bee houses, those get finished and installed this month. If I put this off much longer, possible renters, especially birds tend to pop into the garage to check out the real estate before it’s moved out into the garden.

6. Mulch. My over-wintering mulch pile is ready to spread over new areas that need cover for the season and areas that lost cover over winter. Good time to load up the wheelbarrow and keep a supply at hand.

In the category of planting:

7. If you didn’t get your lettuce and spinach out in February, get them planted this month. I started a crop in my pot garden mid-February.

8. March and St. Patrick’s Day is the time to plant potatoes, radishes and carrots.

9. The last frost day for this zone is Mother’s Day in May so it’s a little too early to get much else planted and much too early to move tropical plants outside, even if you are ready to toss them out on their aggravating dropping leaves. Give them a little rainwater and that will help tide them over another month or so.

10. Check inside plants for bugs. Look under leaves and if you see white bugs, clean off with a damp cloth wet with water and dishwashing liquid. Also spray soil with a few drops of dishwashing liquid in water in a spray bottle to get rid of eggs in soil. Start watering with 1⁄4 strength fertilizer since days are getting longer. They are as anxious to get outside as you want them to be outside, I am sure. Mine seem to blossom within a week of hitting my deck.

Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a beekeeper, gardener and sometimes cook. Published by El Dorado Springs Sun once in print and online with author’s permission. Copyright 2017, all rights reserved. This column may not be reprinted, republished or otherwise distributed without author’s permission. Contact Charlotte at gardeningcharlotte at gmail dot com.

SPRING CROPS – Early-spring growing crops include lettuce, spinach, radishes, peas and carrots. Potatoes should be planted around St. Patrick’s day. (Photos by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins).

MANUAL WORKS – A hand weeder is a good tool to quickly make a hole to plant onions around roses. I like red onions for salads and yellow onions for soups; both onions work well as bug deterrents.

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