March is a month of new buds waiting to burst into life, the stirrings of past dormant plants starting to really show growth. It’s a time for sowing, preparing, the last pruning, and also enjoying the clarity of a fresh spring day, and all the promise of what’s to come..
Clear and Prepare…
Now is a great time to tackle those tasks that you’ve been wanting to do over Winter, but that the weather has just not allowed.
Clear paths and edging of unsightly debris, cut back dead hellebore leaves and weed borders as the weather warms – it’s easier to stay on top of whilst they’re still young. Install supports now so that plants can grow into them, and why not invest in a new or second hand water butt to take advantage of the wet weather now for a supply in the Summer ? It’s also a great idea to scrub watering cans so they’re free from fungal diseases and ventilate greenhouses and coldframes on warm sunny days.
Prepare beds for growing.. dig in peat free compost to borders and vegetable beds, adding organic fertilisers to the soil in the form of homemade compost or stable manure. You can also make your own nettle tea by filling a bucket with water, filling with nettle tips and covering and putting in a warm place, for example the shed or greenhouse. When the odour of the concoction gets overwhelming you know it’s ready! Use to feed the soil, and microbes living within it, nettles are high in nitrogen and calcium- your plants and the worms will thank you for it. You can also top up raised beds and containers with compost now too, which has probably been depleted over the winter.
Prune and Cut Back…
You can now start to finish pruning roses, by making sure that any crossing stems or overcrowding is cut away to promote good light and air circulation. Aim for an open goblet shape- roses are very tough plants so don’t be shy with the seceteurs. Cut back salix and cornus cultivars, including other shrubs grown for their bright winter colours, right down to back to their bases.
Cut back dead foliage from perennials and ornamental grasses to make way for new growth. Simply cut brown stems of grasses right back to the base so now greenery can appear and replace the old. Prune overwintered fuschias back to one or two buds on each shoot, and deadhead hydrangeas to make way for new growth. Now is a great time to prune winter flowering jasmine also, cut back new growth ,after flowering, to 5cm from the old wood.
If you are lucky enough to have raspberry plants, cut Autumn fruiting canes right back to the ground now to make room for new canes which will fruit in the autumn. Keep on top of dead heading daffodils and winter flowering pansies to prolong flowering throughout the spring.
Sow and Plant…
Now is a great time to get free plants by lifting and dividing established perennials. Also plant any forced bulbs that have finished flowering in borders now, for example hyacinth or muscari.
Ready, set, sow… March is peak sowing month, and a great way to ensure a supply of fresh organic veg, fruit and flowers throughout the year. Ensure that the seeds you buy aren’t treated with neonicitinoids however, as these are responsible for the decline in bee populations- check your seed suppliers Pesticide Statement for more information… the bees will thank you.