|Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
|March Lawn and Garden Maintenance Checklist|
· Most types of onions do quite well when they are planted directly in the garden as onion sets in mid-March.
· Radishes can be a great fix for the gardener who is so anxious to get the season started. Planted as seeds in a shallow furrow, radishes love the cool weather. Radishes are harvested so soon after they’re planted, they will be out of the way before it’s time to work with the warm weather plants.
· Leaf lettuce is a wonderful cool weather garden crop that can be seed-planted now. You may want to consider staggering the planting of the leaf lettuce rows by several days, so the entire crop doesn’t mature on the same weekend.
· Spinach is another garden crop that can be planted from seeds and grows well in the cool weather. A fresh salad with a mixture of spinach leaves and some leaf lettuce from the next row can be a real treat when those early garden crops are ready to harvest.
· Wait until the latter part of March for planting carrots, but direct seeding about three to four weeks before the last frost will provide a wonderful homegrown treat in about 80 days after planting.
· Peas are tolerant of the occasional frost and extended periods of cooler weather typical for the season. Assuming the seeds will reach maturity after about 60 days of growth, the gardener may wish to set out several sections of peas, a week or so apart, in order to have more than one harvest when the time comes.
· Bonnie broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and, for the adventurous gardener and if given proper protection, even some early-maturing tomatoes can be transplanted to the backyard garden bed when the weather is more favorable.
· Transplant shrubs and trees when soil becomes workable and before buds are swelled or broken open.
· Do not rush the warm-season annuals. Our last killing frost can happen in late April in North Alabama. That is commonly referred to by old folks as "the Easter spell."
· Sow seeds of summer-blooming annuals indoors. Seeds which were started indoors last month may be transplanted from the flats into peat pots and given diluted fertilizer.
· If you have a greenhouse, it is time to take cuttings of ‘wintered-over’ plants like coleus, chrysanthemums, geraniums and other perennials.
· Divide and transplant summer-blooming perennials and fertilize established ones as soon as new growth appears.
· Plant tender bulbs and tubers (gladiola, lilies and dahlias). You may continue planting additional bulbs every two weeks until mid-June to ensure a continuous source of bloom.
· Transplant pot-bound houseplants.
· Good time to start hanging baskets of annuals.
· Sink aquatics in nursery pots, laundry baskets, shallow pans and large tubs. Add 1" of pea or aquarium gravel on surface and thoroughly water before putting in pond.
· In warmer areas, divide hardy water lilies every year or two. You can start six weeks before the last expected freeze.
· Get your soil tested!
· Prepare soil for planting warm-season flowers and vegetables. For every 100 square-feet of bed area, work in a two to three-inch layer of organic material like compost, pine bark or sphagnum peat moss. Add four to five pounds of balanced fertilizer per 100 square-feet of bed area, and till or spade to a depth of eight to 10 inches.
· As camellia and azalea plants finish blooming, fertilize them with three pounds of azalea-camellia fertilizer per 100 square-feet of bed area.
· Fertilize all blooming ornamentals like forsythia, quince, spirea, climbing roses, etc., only after they bloom.
· Fertilize any bulbs as they finish blooming with bone meal or bulb booster.
· Fertilize roses every four to six weeks from now until September.
· Wait until April to fertilize warm-season lawn grasses and until May for Centipede. If grass needs to be mowed, then it is ready to fertilize (thru April).
· Fertilize pecan trees with a high nitrogen formula like 16-4-8.
· Start to dig in overwintered green manures.
· ‘Top dress’ overwintered crops like autumn-planted onions and cole crops to give spring growth a boost. Use a good quality fertilizer.
· Feed houseplants with a diluted solution of soluble houseplant food after new growth appears.
· Always read and follow label direction on pesticides.
· Remain vigilant in watching for insects and pests. It is much easier to win a ’bug war’ if you are aware of the infestation in its early stages.
· The most dreaded tasks of all is weeding, but it is one that really needs to be accomplished before the weeds have a chance to flower and go to seed. Remember, once the weeds go to seed, you can be fighting that weed’s seed for up to seven years or more. Most weeds can simply be pulled or cultivated out of the garden while they are young.
· Dandelions will begin to make themselves known in your lawn this month, so get them now while it’s early.
· Get a head start on snails and slugs. Apply baits in your garden, under pots and edges of walks and foundations. These pests can devour a sizable plant overnight. Most snails are presently fat, having feasted on your pansies and kale all winter. You will find them in moist, shady places in summer when they feed at night and anywhere, anytime brazenly in broad daylight in winter.
· Dig up any ‘volunteer’ potato plants growing from tubers left in last year, as soon as you see them. They could be carrying diseases.
· Begin to spray roses for blackspot.
· Keep an eye out for aphids and cutworms.
· If you did not apply emergent weed control in February, do so now. Pre-emergent agents are ineffective against post-emerged weeds. If you have existing weeds in your yard, the Co-op has post-emergent weed killers available. It would be helpful if you could bring in a sample of your weed so we can make a proper choice of herbicides.
· Remove bagworm bags from evergreens and discard.
· Check fleece, netting and other crop covers for holes and buy more if they are in tatters.
· Scrub seed trays and pots with a 10 to 1 water/Clorox mixture.
· Prune bush roses. Use good shears that will make clean cuts. Remove dead, dying and weak canes.
· Climbing roses should be trained but not pruned. Weave long canes through openings in trellises or arbors and tie them with jute twine or plastic/wire plant ties.
· Only light pruning should be done on trees, in order to clean up dead or damaged limbs. Remember, major pruning of large limbs is better for the trees in January or February.
· Prune azaleas after the blooming season. Try not to prune more than one-third of the bush.
· If you haven’t already planned your season’s plantings, do it now. Take advantage of companion planting that can strengthen and reinforce plant vigor while repelling pests. For example, nasturtiums and marigolds repel white flies and aphids.
· Do not remove the foliage from daffodils or other perennial spring-blooming bulbs. The foliage should be left for at least six weeks in order to store enough energy in the bulb, before dormancy, to insure next spring’s bloom. This is why tulips are poor perennial performers in Southern gardens. Winter turns to summer quickly and the foliage dies before the bulb can store enough energy to produce next year’s bloom.
· Avoid walking on wet soil in the garden.
· Collect plastic bottles and make bottle cloches.
· Buy or make plant labels, gather together supports like bamboo for climbing plants.
· Broken or weak arbors, fences and trellises should be repaired this month as you will only be getting busier in the coming months.
· Buy your seed potatoes at the Co-op now if you haven’t already gotten them.
· If you had strawberries and mulched them this past fall be sure to remove the mulch when growth begins. If you don’t have established strawberries, this is the month to start a new bed.
· Rake dead grass to allow new grass to grow in lawns. This will increase the effectiveness of fertilizers and pesticides applied to the lawn.
· Ventilate your cold frame whenever the temperature is above 45°F.
· If you choose to mulch trees and shrubs, do so at a depth of between two to four inches, but keep the mulch away from the trunks. If you have younger trees that were wrapped for the winter remove the wraps for summer growing.
· Houseplants will react to longer days and brighter light at this time by putting out new growth. The end of this month is a good time to pinch them back to generate new growth and to thicken them. You can then begin fertilizing again with a dilute solution of soluble houseplant food.
· Clean out your birdhouses now, so they will be ready when birds return from their migrations.