Spring has arrived early in all its glory and has given gardeners a chance to start work earlier than usual. Our bodies are one year older and may still be in “winter” mode, so pace yourselves when starting out.
The To-Do List for March:
Bulbs: Mark the location of early-spring bulbs. Fill the empty spots by planting more in the fall. Mark the calendar for fall purchase as a reminder. After the flowers fade, fertilize with an ultra-bloom fertilizer. Start bulbs and tubers inside that flower in the summer, i.e., dahlias, begonias, cannas.
Perennials: Divide and replant perennials when they show some growth. New gardeners appreciate a gift of a divided plant as long as it is not invasive and causing problems for them later. Prune summer-blooming clematis, which is usually the large-flowering ones.
Seeds: Start tomato, pepper, annual and perennial flower seeds inside under warm conditions. IF the ground is warm and the vegetable plot has been readied, plant peas, chard, and spinach early in the month and lettuce, radishes, turnips and onion sets planted later in March.
Trees and Shrubs: Spray fruit trees with dormant oil before bud break. Prune dead and crossing branches while still dormant to prevent knocking off new buds.
Gardening Questions and Answers:
Are moles eating my spring bulbs? Since moles eat worms and grubs they probably are not the culprits. Mice and voles will use the mole tunnels to get to the bulbs and ruin a planned spring show of colour.
Why are the buds on my clematis disappearing? The buds are being eaten by an early emerging caterpillar and slugs or snails. Safer’s Slug and Snail Killer, which is ferric sodium and safe for pets and birds, can be used successfully for snails and slugs. If not eaten, iron is added to the soil! To treat the caterpillars, homemade safe insecticide solutions can be found on the Internet or let them run their short course and have lower flowers on the stem!
Can I stop slugs from eating my lupines and delphiniums? Slug damage can be reduced by the purchased product mentioned and also to some extent by crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, and copper rings. I find copper tape to be less work because it is a one-time treatment and will still be in place the next year. It emits a small electrical charge disliked by slugs and snails.
What is the advantage of raised bed gardening? It is easier to control the quality of the soil. Four parts good topsoil and one part well-rotted organic matter is ideal for most crops. Making the beds no more than 1.2M wide provides easier access from each side without standing on the bed. They can bring the vegetables to a convenient height, saving the back. Raised beds warm up faster in the spring and allow better water drainage, needed in our climate.
How should I prune my shrub roses? A desired vase or urn shape can be achieved by leaving just a few canes leaning out from the graft. To start the pruning remove dead and damaged canes, spindly or weak down to the graft and canes that cross over and interfere with the vase shape. Then the remaining canes can be pruned down to the desired height depending on where the shrub is located in the garden bed. For instance, if the shrub is located next to a walkway, it may be pruned shorter. More detailed information can be obtained from the Internet, Rose Societies and the Library. Happy rose growing!
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