Kent Gardener Maggie L. Moor-Orth gives tips on how to get garden-ready in March.
Here’s your gardening calendar for March.
For the first half of March:Finish pruning shrubs and ornamental trees, except spring flowering shrubs, before growth starts. Prune spring flowering shrubs (lilac, forsythia, etc.) as soon as they finish flowering. Finish pruning home fruit trees. Do not leave stubs; they usually die and become great entryways for fungus. To prevent infection from fungal spores and bacteria, do not prune plants in damp or wet weather. Plan your vegetable garden on paper. Use spaces efficiently and rotate vegetables from last year’s plan to reduce insect and disease problems. Turn your compost pile or start one. Begin primary soil tillage if soil is dry enough. Add soil amendments based on results of soil test. Use flexible ties between rigid stakes to support newly transplanted trees and to protect them from spring winds. Pull weeds by hand to prevent disturbing the bulbs and roots if weeds are beginning to grow in flower bulb beds. Spray home fruit trees (apples and pears) with dormant oil before buds swell and when temperatures are not likely to drop below 40 degrees for 24 hours. Read label directions Spray peach trees with Ferbam or Lime Sulfur. No spray is needed for cherry or plum trees at this time. Fertilize trees, roses, shrubs and evergreens.
For the second half of March:Plant cool-season crops (peas, lettuce, cabbage, onions, kale, broccoli, radishes and turnips) if weather conditions permit. Harden-off young tender plants, even hardy varieties, before transplanting in the garden to reduce the chance of frost damage. Place them outdoors in a protected spot from the cool spring winds. Gradually reduce water and temperature to allow plants to toughen up so they will be able to tolerate their new living environment. Apply a pre-emergence weed control on the lawn now if you are going to use it. Read and follow all label directions. Leave mulch over strawberries until the plants begin to grow. At that time, the mulch must be removed to allow leaves to develop in the light. Prune hedges before new growth begins. Fertilize azaleas and rhododendrons with acid-type fertilizer.
To register for the Master Gardener workshops this spring, call 730-4000 in Kent County and 856-7303 in Sussex County.