Horticulture Report – March 2016

“Come with me into the woods, where spring is advancing, as it does, no matter what, not being singular or particular, but one of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.”—Mary Oliver

It’s not hard to see the signs of spring all around. I’ve seen my first Robin. After Wednesday’s rains, worms were on the driveway. There are buds on the trees and tulip, sedum and daffodil greens are poking through the dirt. Your Hellebores might even be in bloom. But March is a guessing game in the Midwest garden. It is warm one day and snowing the next. We wonder when the rains will start. And when the rains start we wonder when they will stop. About the only thing we can count on is the unpredictability of March. So go ahead-get outside and check out what is happening in the garden-but keep this in mind: It’s tempting to take advantage of warm days, but remember spring gets the last word in the garden.
Spring to do list:
• Everyone should have their seeds started
• Everyone should be getting their garden tools in shape and ready for use
• Finish Pruning: Prune trees and late flowing shrubs before they break dormancy. Prune early flowering shrubs and flowers such as early Clematis after they bloom.
• Start spraying fruit trees with a dormant oil spray to help control insects. This should be done when the temperature is 40 degrees. Dormant oil, available at garden centers, prevents scale insects, spider mites and other pests later in the season. You can also spray dormant oil on roses and other shrubs that have been troubled in the past.
• Remove burlap coverings from around evergreens and roses.
• Till vegetable and flower beds. Never till the soil when it is wet! The soil should feel like a crumbly cake. If there is a question-take a handful of soil and press together. If the soil remains in a tight ball-it is too wet to till.
• Avoid walking on wet soil or grass-as it can pack it down and cause damage.
• Cool season annual edibles and perennial herbs started indoors such as broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, onions, radishes, parsley, cilantro and Brussels sprouts can be re-planted outside in early spring using plant protectors if necessary. Peas can be sown in the garden (after St. Patrick’s Day is the rule of thumb) now-as the seedlings can tolerate frost and snow.
• Cut back grasses and other winter interest plants.