March is the beginning of the busy season, the job list lengthening with the daylight. It can be a month of contrasts, too. With wind and frost set to challenge the first of spring growth. Knuckle down and complete winter work to make way for the tasks that are targeted at the growing season. Gardening Jobs For March!
Plant Summer Bulbs
Look out for summer-flowering bulbs, such as galtonia, in the garden centre. They’re great for filling gaps in the border. If you don’t have a free spot at the moment, plant them in pots and temporarily place them in the border when they’re just about to flower. Then move them back out of sight when they’ve finished. Most should be planted at three times the depth of the bulb, but check the recommendations on the packaging.
Summer-flowering bulbs to try include: lilies, gladiolus, and dahlias. Most should be planted at three times the depth of the bulb, but check the recommendations on the packaging. Use slug and snail controls to catch any molluscs after the tender young shoots as they emerge from the soil.
Two handsome houseplants that provide fragrant blossoms indoors this month are the Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) and Japanese pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira). Both thrive in average home conditions and are easy plants to grow. Roses appreciate well-drained, rich earth, so pile in plenty of well-rotted manure or other soil improver before you plant.
As day lengths increase, plants begin new growth. Repot rootbound plants, moving them to containers 2 inches larger in diameter than their current pot. Check for insect activity and apply controls as needed. Leggy plants may be pruned now.
Time To Fix That Leek And Prune To Shape
I start leeks in a little nursery bed, for transplanting at better spacing later in spring. My favourite leek trick is to sow much more than I have space to plant out later with the aim of leaving plenty in the nursery bed and harvesting them as tiny tender baby leeks in the summer. These little ones – so much easier to process and use – are often the more eagerly harvested.
Pruning gooseberries is not the loveliest job on the plot, but a good shape and a thinning of growth will give you a better-quality crop. Prune to upwards-facing buds to encourage growth away from trailing on the ground.
Mulch Your Borders
March is a good time to mulch your borders, as long as the soil is wet. Mulch acts as a barrier against weeds, can provide nutrients, keeps the soil moist and insulates roots from the cold. Before you start, make sure you have thoroughly weeded the bed and that you have sufficient mulching material – this could be leaf mould, compost, well-rotted manure or bark chippings.
Always leave a gap around the stem of plants. A dark mulch is used at Cotehele. “It attracts the sun and therefore heats the plants,” explains Dave.
March is the latest you should plant bare-root roses. These are usually purchased by mail order and arrive, as the name suggests, not in a container but with their roots exposed, so it’s very important to get the plants into the ground as soon as possible.
Roses appreciate well-drained, rich earth, so pile in plenty of well-rotted manure or other soil improver before you plant.
Make My Dahlia
If you have overwintered dahlias inside, check that the tubers are hydrated and manure the ground that will take them next month. If the tubers are tired, pot up and start off in a glasshouse or frame with the aim of propagating from the first new growth. Cuttings are incredibly easy if taken when the shoots are just a few inches long, and with warmth they will be rooted and ready to plant out when the ground is frost-free.
Cuttings are incredibly easy if taken when the shoots are just a few inches long, and with warmth they will be rooted and ready to plant out when the ground is frost-free. Re-pot pelargoniums and fuchsias that were overwintered and gently up the watering to promote new shoots. Pot up begonias and lilies, and summer-flowering bulbs such as gladiolus.
Other Jobs About The Garden
Install a new pond or water feature. Remove any pond netting left over from the autumn/winter. Get rid of slimy patches on patios and paving by scrubbing with a broom or blasting with a pressure washer. Install water butts for the season ahead. Position them under a downpipe to make the most of rainfall. Scrub watering cans to prevent fungal diseases. Bring bags of compost into the greenhouse to warm up for a week or two before you start sowing.
Build a compost bin before the growing season gets underway. Create a comfrey bedto make your own organic fertiliser. Sow into a seedbed in an unused corner of the garden. Check compost bins to see if there is any compost ready to use. Bring bags of compost into the greenhouse to warm up for a week or two before you start sowing. Invest in a soil-testing kit if you don’t already know what type of soil you have. It will help you choose the right plants for your garden.