Things to do in the garden in March
THE days have started to get longer and we start to look outside our windows with a longing for thatperfect bright March day, that will entice us into our gardens to sort, plant, mulch, prune and hoe.
But having just had one of the wettest winters on record this may very well have left our gardens waterlogged and for our plants this can be devastating, meaning the plants literally drown as oxygen cannot reach the root system.
Your plants may look like they need water because the roots are unable to act as the mouth of the plant and absorb water and nutrients as a healthy plant root system can. Plants may well wilt, their roots may turn black and soggy, plant growth may be stunted, shoots die back and fungal diseases can easily spread.
To help resolve these problems avoid walking on waterlogged soil as this will compact and worsen the situation. Dig up any affected plants, remove any rot from the roots and replant into free draining soil. Repot any waterlogged potted plants again into free draining soil, removing any dying shoots.
Waterlogged lawns can be spiked with a garden fork and lime-free sand can be added to improve drainage. When the water level has drop apply a well balanced fertiliser and mulch. Plants will be more susceptible to drought stress
so water regularly during dry periods.
Know your soil - with a clay soil add organic matter before planting to improve the structure and draining of the soil. For more free draining, warmer soils adding organic matter helps bulk up the soil and add beneficial nutrients which could well have been washed away.
So what else can we do at this wonderful time of year? Protect new shoots from slugs and top dress containers with fresh compost to give them a boost. Lawns can be mowed on dry days if needed. It’s also the last chance to plant bare-root fruit trees into the garden and the best time to plant container grown fruit trees too. Lift and divide large clumps of perennials, cut back dogwood and willow and prune bush and climbing roses.
Get “growing your own” this March, if you have a light, well drained warm soil you can sow broad beans, carrots, parsnips, beetroots, spinach, peas and chard to name a few, and of course plant out shallots, onions, early potatoes and all your summer-flowering bulbs. But only plant when conditions are suitable. Indoors you can sow sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, celery and salads.
Now is also the time to get on top of those weeds as they start to push through and look out for moulds, mildew and aphids.
To help future proof our gardens, against the current changes to our climate, we can think about changing our gardening habits which might bring greater rewards. We can build raised beds using well drained soil, or install drainage systems, soak aways or gravel ditches. We can also think about our planting habits and choose plants, shrubs and trees that thrive in wetter conditions such as
Willow, Hygrangeas, Hostas and Ferns.
Sally's garden tips for March
Avoid walking on Waterlogged soil / lawns
Protect new spring shoots from slugs
Top dress containers with fresh compost
Keeps weeds under control by early mulching
Life and divide overgrown clump of perennials
Plant summer-flowering bulbs