Traditionally, the arrival of March marks the beginning of spring. Temperatures begin to rise and with the clocks changing at the end of the month, the amount of daytime suddenly becomes much greater. Gardeners still have to be careful as frost and snow are equally likely to occur.
Cloches and fleeces are much in demand keeping young seedlings warm in the vegetable patch, or even in the flower garden where hardy annuals have begun to sprout. Keep watch for the first slugs too – they love young seedlings. Clear any debris and dead leaves from around strawberry plants, and mulch thoroughly to encourage new growth.
Vegetables such as peas, lettuce and tomatoes can be planted in modules within the greenhouse this month. Using a propagator or giving the seeds extra warmth by planting in insulated modules and covering with cloches will ensure they get a good start.
Finish tidying up the flower beds and removing any dead wood from flowering shrubs. Leave any dead leaves and stalks from flowering bulbs such as crocuses, snowdrops and early daffodils. The bulbs need to take all the goodness they can from the green growth, to enable them to swell and prepare for next year’s growth.
Plant some primulas, primroses or pre-potted bulbs available from garden centres to fill any small gaps that have appeared over the winter period.
Towards the end of the month, you can begin thinking about the first cut of the year on the lawn. But make sure that the ground is fairly firm and not waterlogged. Avoid walking on any waterlogged areas of the lawn as this can make the soil underneath compact. Instead use the prongs of a digging fork to make small holes across the lawn and add a little sand into the holes. This will improve overall drainage.
Watch out for the first stirrings of wildlife activity particularly hedgehogs emerging from their winter sleep. If you see hedgehogs in your garden, have some food at hand – tins of cat or dog food are ideal. Just a little will help the hedgehogs gain weight and strength. Help them now, and they will return the compliment by dealing with all those nasty slugs and insects that damage your plants.
With the first tiny daffodils rearing their heads in the flower borders amid masses of purple, white and golden crocuses, it is clear hint that spring is on the way. The garden is beginning to wake up after the winter cold.
It is beautiful but also a reminder that there is much to do in the garden. March is one of the busiest times for any keen gardener. Any remaining dead growth needs to be cleared away quickly, the golden and red branches of dogwood need to be pruned down to enable new growth to take over.
Plant out some pot grown primulas and pansies to fill in corners of the flower beds. Add a little fertiliser in the planting hole and don’t forget to water in the plants to give them a good start.
If you haven’t already pruned your roses and buddelia this should be completed by the end of this month. The grey stems of Russian sage (sometimes known as Perovskia) should be cut back. Clear any debris around strawberry plants and mulch thoroughly.
In the greenhouse, start sowing vegetables such as peas and lettuce in modules. Tomatoes need a long growing period so this is an ideal time to start them off. Plant in propagators as they need some gentle heat to encourage germination. Hardy annual seedlings growing in trays should be repotted into individual modules and small pots so that they are ready to go out into the garden next month
Out in the vegetable garden, cover some areas with cloches. This will encourage the soil to warm up more quickly. Leave for a few days, then plant the first broad beans, carrots, radish and cabbage. These will grow quite happily under a cloche for the next few weeks and it will encourage the creation of strong plants. Hard work now will soon be rewarded with the first fresh salad crops!
Daytime temperatures in March rise quickly encouraging lots of new growth on trees and bushes to begin appearing. Spring has arrived. Daffodils and crocuses are in full bloom, as are the colourful blooms of primulas.
While wonderful to see, working in the garden is not so easy at the moment. The soil is sodden due to the amount of rain we have had over the past few weeks. This makes it very hard to cultivate as sodden soil can be extremely heavy to dig. Consequently, digging should only be undertaken in short spells otherwise it is easy to damage muscles and backs.
Take care walking on lawns, flower beds and vegetable areas. Too much walking on top of sodden soil can cause the soil to compact, making it much harder to drain during the months to come. Work only for short periods in each area thus reducing the amount of time you need to stand on the soil. Standing on boards especially in very muddy areas, will help spread the impact of your weight on the soil.
Covering the soil with fleece, cloches or plastic tunnels will help the soil to warm up more quickly ready for the first planting of seeds in the vegetable plot. Although the sun may feel quite warm towards the end of the month, the young seedlings will need overnight protection as frosts can still occur.
Check greenhouses regularly to ensure that mice and slugs have not eaten the seeds and new seedlings. Using covers over the top of seed trays will help prevent this while the plants are still small.
Aim to finish all remaining pruning as soon as possible. With the sap rising, leaves are appearing so if you need to remove branches or reduce the height of a bush it should be done quickly. Although pretty, the golden and red stems of dogwoods should be cut back now in order to create space for the new growth – and provide bright colours for next winter.