Spring is the season of hope and growth. You begin dreaming of the beautiful blooms that are to come. You start to see those first signs of green after a long winter. During the first few weeks of spring, there are measures you can take to encourage a successful gardening season. March is the month of preparation and planning.
This week, we are expecting at least 18 inches of snow to fall in Massachusetts. It's hard to have patience when the ground is completely covered and you can't see all of your pretty spring bulbs. I'm focusing on the fact that this will all change very shortly. In the meantime, there are seeds to be planted, tools to be cleaned and visions to be mapped out. This is a great time to shop, beat the rush and start gathering your supplies. It's never fun to be looking for what you need when everything is picked over.
• Start Seeds Indoors: If you are planning to grow tomatoes, peppers or eggplants from seed, this is the time to get them planted! Place your seeds under a grow light and watch them begin to sprout. When It comes to flowers, I like to start snapdragons, impatiens and salvia. If you are looking to start your herb garden, sage and parsley are my favorites seeds to start in March.
Other Flowers You Can Sow: aster, calendula, cleome, coleus, coreopsis, geranium, pansy, petunia, sweet william, viola
Other Vegetables You Can Sow: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, leeks, head lettuce, melon, onions, spinach, winter squash
Other Herbs You Can Sow: basil, lemon balm, oregano, rosemary, thyme
• Clean Gardening Tools: Gather up all of your favorite gardening tools and give them a good cleaning! It is also important to sharpen pruning tools before you start to put them back to use. Trust me, this will make your everyday gardening tasks so much easier!
• Prune Shrubs & Trees: Now is the time to prune your fruit trees. It's best to do this on a dry day. Make sure to cut away any suckers, dead branches or diseased parts you can spot. Check on shrubs and do the same. Any damaged areas should be taken care of now. It is also important to get out there and prune any dead or diseased canes you see on your rose bushes. It's helpful to remember any everbearing fruit bushes should not be pruned now, but it is okay to prune raspberry bushes.
• Clean Up Around Spring Bulbs: Once the snow finally clears, it's time to remove any debris covering your bulbs. Cut back last year's perennials and ornamental grasses. Sometimes critters will move my bulbs around and loosen them a bit. I always take my hand shovel and lightly replant them in the ground if this is the case.
• Plan Out Spring Containers: Spring containers are like a breath of fresh air after the dismal winter season. I like to sit down and plan out what I am going to plant. Hanging planter and window boxes are so much fun to design and put together! I love how they provide a pop of color and bring life back to your yard. Now is a good time to go to the store and look for some containers that are on sale before the rush. I also keep an eye out for shepherds hooks being sold for a good price. I try to get everything in place and thriving before Easter!
Perfect For Spring Containers: pansies, violas, kale, lobelia, bacopa
• Amend & Prepare: Before your final frost date hits, it's the perfect time to plan out what you envision for future harvests. If you are going to plant different crops, make a list of the varieties you are looking to purchase. Map out where you want to plant them. If you plant the same crops year to year, this is the perfect time to rotate your crops. Some garden pests do overwinter in soil, and if you don't want any of the same problems, it's always best to change it up a bit. Once the soil thaws, you can start to amend your soil. Add nutrients like aged manure, worm castings or even bat guano. This step taken now will ensure healthy and happy crops all season!
• Begin Planting Outdoors: Depending in your location and weather conditions, the end of March can be the perfect time to get planting! In my area, my final frost date is late April. If you live in an area like this, cold frames and covered garden beds are necessary. Crops that can be planted in a cold frame include beets, collard greens, carrots, kale, parsnips, Swiss chard and turnips. Again, it's always better to wait, so I always hold off until I'm sure these crops can thrive.
What are you most excited about this spring? Are you starting a new garden project this year, or maybe even attending a fun home & garden show? Tell me all about it in the comment section below. Don't forget to check back on March 28 for a new edition of Tuesdays In The Garden. We will be talking all about spring crops! See you then!