This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
Just in case you forgot, the first week of every month I will give you a list of chores for the month. Be forewarned. I expect you to get out and accomplish these things. Trust me, in the end you will be glad you did. Here we go…………
FROST PROTECTION: get out those frost blankets and have them ready this month for what is sure to come—below freezing temps. This is especially critical considering how mild it was in January and February. If the mercury is going to drop below 30 degrees then cover your plants before you go to bed and remove the fabric in the morning after the sun is out for a couple of hours.
LAWNS: kill the moss early in the month with iron sulfate and later in the month do all the renovation stuff when the soils are a bit warmer. I will have more details on renovation later in the month.
PRUNING: March is the month to finish up our fruit trees, tidy up our hedges, cut back our ornamental grasses, massacre the roses and shape up the wisteria and clematis. As early blooming plants like Forsythia, candy tuft and heather fade it is time to prune them back aggressively.
PERENNIALS: Be very careful this month when you are tromping through the flower beds. The tender new shoots of perennials are starting to pop through the surface and the last thing you want to do is squash them. Get some organic food and compost on the soil to get them off to a good start.
VEGGIE GARDENS: It’s time to get the veggie garden in shape. Remove any weeds and spread some lime, organic fertilizer and compost and till it all together and you will be ready to plant all the cool season crops like potatoes, carrots, peas, radishes, onions, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower to name just a few.
SMALL FRUITS AND BERRIES: Blue berries, raspberries, black berries and strawberries are all itching to be planted this month. Grapes and Kiwis, currants and gooseberries can also be planted now. Always use some compost and organic starter fertilizer when you are planting new plants.
FRUIT TREES: Like I mentioned above, this is the consummate month to prune and spray your fruit trees with copper and oil. It is also a perfect time to plant a few new ones as well. Most trees these days are on dwarf or mini-dwarf root stocks that keep them 10-12 feet tall. Buy them while they are still at bareroot sale prices.
BULBS: Summer blooming bulbs are now in stock such as dahlias and gladiolas and lilies and should be purchased this month for the best selection even though I would recommend holding off until April to plant them.
WEEDS: Don’t let those weeds get ahead of you and go to seed. My favorite weeding tool is the Hula-Hoe and the Cape Cod Weeder. They are both quick and efficient. Remove the weeds and get the ground covered immediately with a layer of compost and some Preen or equivalent weed preventer and you will be miles ahead of the weeding game.
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITES: We’ve got a great line up of classes this month as do most local garden centers. Check out everyone’s websites for details. You can also come see me at the Everett Home and Garden Show this Friday through Sunday, March 6th – 8th. I will be speaking at 2pm each day about what is new for 2015.
Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at email@example.com.