English Country Gardener

Gardening Jobs for March

It’s officially spring! Already were itching to get out on the warmer days to sow our seeds, and cut back anything we couldn’t or didn’t do in autumn or winter. However just remember we still get frosts so don’t plant out anything tender, check your seed packets for the best time to sow indoors and outdoors.

Garden Jobs to do:

  1. Sow hardy annuals such as annual poppys my favourite California poppy or Eschscholzia californica, Ammi majus and Nigella damascena.
  2. Prune your Hydrangeas by cutting back the old flower heads right back to the strongest pair of new buds. Remove some of the oldest stems from the base, no more than a third. This is to help generate new growth.
    Pruning Hydrangea

    Picture Pruning Hydrangea

  3. Mulch your beds and borders with bulky organic matter, this is to aid water retention, insulates the soil, suppresses weeds (depends on the right kind of mulch that hasn’t got perennial weeds in, some horse manure does!), protects the surface from heavy rain and erosion. Also adds some nutrients to the soil. Be careful if you use horse manure as fresh manure will burn the plants it touches, only use really rotted manure. I tend to just use the compost I have created throughout the year that has completely rotten, just be careful again that you have been putting the right things into your compost bin, also be aware that your compost might alter the ph in your soil. In general organic matter decomposes at neutral to acidic so bare that in mind if you are putting a sensitive alkaline loving plant in. In small gardens it shouldn’t be too much of an issue unless you have an already neutral to acidic soil and you want alkaline loving plants.
  4. Protect new seedlings with cloches or horticultural fleece  (if you have already sown some seeds and they are currently outside). Its best to cover just for the night unless there is snow or very heavy rain predicted for the day. Also protect from slugs and snails, I’ve learnt that if you keep your garden healthy then it will look after itself in a natural balance. Doesn’t always work does it Mr Chafer Grub!
  5. Plant your roses now.
  6. Later on in the month when the daffodils have flowered deadhead them as it channels growth into the bulb ready for next years display.
  7. Prune Cornus,  Dog Wood and Salix, Willow right back to the stool or base. This is called coppicing, with these plants it encourages bushy growth, but also produces more vibrant colour stems when they are chopped right back.
  8. Rake your lawn with a thin wire rake that is ideal for scraping off the dead leaves and moss ready for your first cut of the year. Start mowing your lawn! Not when its wet and don’t cut the grass too high to start off. If you are laying turf finish it off this month before it become warm and dry.

Vegetable Patch Jobs:

  1. In a heated propagator you can start to germinate aubergines, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and chillies.
  2. You can direct plant shallots and onion sets at around 10cm apart in rows of 30cm, don’t forget to leave the tops just poking through.
  3. Prune your gooseberries and red and white currants, remember to WEAR GLOVES for gooseberries. Remove Dead, Diseased, Damaged stems (DDD), then cut back to all side shoots to one to three buds and shorten branch tips by one quarter.
  4. Later in the month I would start sowing lettuce, parsnip, turnip, beetroot, peas and beans outside.
  5. Start your brassicas, celery and celeriac indoors ready for planting out in early summer.
  6. Prune your blueberry bushes by removing up to a third of the oldest stems from ground level.
  7. If you are luckily enough to grow peaches, apricots and nectarines (i’m very jealous) then protect blossom from frosts with fleece.

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