Your Garden in MARCH
YOUR GARDEN IN MARCH
For keen gardeners, March is a special month. Spring bulbs are flowering, buds are swelling on trees and shrubs, and herbaceous borders are coming back to life. Weather-wise, we're never sure what March will bring, so please bear in mind the conditions when it comes to sowing or planting.
Let's start with those borders. Divide congested clumps of perennials now, before they put on too much growth. Discard or compost the older, central part of the plant, and replant the outer sections in new positions, keeping one for the original spot.
Pull out any annual weeds as you go along, as this could save you hours of work in months to come. If there are gaps in your borders, there are plenty of summer flowering bulbs and corms you can plant now – Gladioli, Crocosmia and Dahlia, to name just a few.
Once snowdrops have finished flowering, lift and divide crowded clumps. Moving them 'in the green', with the leaves still on the bulbs, helps them to re-establish well and flower again next year. Another good idea is to label clumps of bulbs, so you don't stick your spade through them later in the year.
As always, once you've finished working in your beds and borders, a good mulch of organic matter applied to the soil will help keep weeds down and moisture in.
It's the ideal time to clean your greenhouse, using a very weak bleach solution. This is good hygiene and the benefits in terms of increased light are obvious. You can get the place tidied up too, ready for the busy season ahead.
Prune roses in late March, reducing the stems on bush roses by at least a third, cutting above a strong growing, outward-facing bud. Buddleia, too, can be pruned now to encourage new growth and larger flowers. Cut back all last year's growth to 2 or 3 healthy shoots from the base of the branch. Take care not to cut back into older wood as the new shoots may not re-grow.
How about planting some lilies in a container? Use multi-purpose compost over a 5cm layer of gravel and plant bulbs, pointing upwards, to a depth of two and a half times their height. Keep compost moist and move to a warm, sunny site when shoots appear. Once the lilies have flowered, let the foliage die back naturally and then bulbs can be planted in the garden or stored for next year. If storing, keep the container in a cool, frost free place in good light, such as a cold greenhouse, and do not water overwinter.
If you mow your grass, keep the mower blades fairly high at first. You can lower them after a few cuts, but you'll get better results by mowing more frequently with the blades higher. If the lawn looks yellow and bald after cutting, then you're cutting too close. After the first cut, use a half moon to redefine the edges of your lawn.
My feature plant is Magnolia stellata. Ideal for smaller gardens, this compact shrub or small tree is covered in pure white, star-shaped flowers, before the leaves, and is a real showstopper in a March garden.
MARCH ON THE VEG PLOT
Whether you have an allotment, a veggie patch in your garden or just a few containers for growing your own, Ruth McNamee from our Plant Area can guide you through the edible gardening year.
Things are warming up and the days are getting longer, so it's time to get busy.
Place cloches out, or cover beds with plastic/fleece, to warm and dry the soil ready for planting and sowing in a week or so. If you use clear plastic, this can encourage weeds to grow which can then be easily removed before you start planting.
Sow early peas and broad beans under cloches; these will germinate in two to three weeks. Remember to water under the cloche as the seedlings emerge. Start tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers on a warm windowsill.
Plant out first early potatoes towards the end of March but have some fleece handy to cover emerging foliage if frost is forecast. Plant shallot and onion sets, 15cm apart in rows 20cm apart.
Plant up a herb pot with three or four of your favourite herbs and, as they grow, cut them to use in the kitchen. If you fancy mint, grow this alone in a pot as it's quite a thug and will outgrow the others!
https://www.bartongrange.co.uk/plants-and-gardening/gardening-advice/ Thanks to WILL