March is soil- building month. Whenever it is dry enough, work compost into your vegetable and flower beds. And get those seeds started indoors this month for the flowers and vegetables you’ll want to plant outdoors next month.
When the soil dries out enough (and NOT before), work your garden beds deeply.
Plant transplants of broccoli, collards, kale, arugula and strawberries this month as soon as you can get into the garden. These crops can grow in cool soil. Plant lettuces, too, but be ready with some floating row cover for the last frosts that are sure to come before spring really sets in.
Test the soil where you want to grow tomatoes, peppers and the like to make sure it is not too acid. Tomatoes love sweet soil, and lime must be added at least a few weeks before setting out plants to give the lime a chance to break down into a usable form. Tomatoes don’t go in until ALL danger of frost is past, April 15 or later for zone 6.
Start seeds indoors for tomatoes, peppers, basil, squash, cucumbers and other warm-season crops that don’t resent transplanting. Use grow lights if you have them, or a sunny, south-facing windowsill. Plan to sow beans, corn, okra and field peas directly in the garden the soil warms up to 50 degrees F or more.
Plant sugar snap or snow peas directly in the garden or containers now. You may also plant seeds for carrots, beets, turnips and other cool season crops.
You can start planting potatoes this month if you can find the seed. Dig a trench four to six inches deep in rich, slightly acid soil. Place the seed potatoes in the trench and cover with a couple of inches of soil. When leaves appear, put in more soil and so on until you have a hill. Mulch heavily to keep the soil soft and conserve moisture. Put out potatoes in a series of plantings to have them maturing throughout the summer.
Snails and slugs will become active during mild weather and will go right for your young hostas just popping out of the ground. Get an early start in controlling them with snail baits available at your local Home Depot. Another option is to hand pick them.
Pre-emergent weed control aids can be applied to flower beds now. Do not use products rated for your lawn. They are too strong for the flowers.
Pruning this late will not hurt roses, though it will cause them to bloom later. Remove all weak and diseased wood. Roses should be fertilized and sprayed for black spot when new growth begins
You can divide most perennials this month as soon as you see new growth.
Trees and Shrubs
Keep the area two feet from the trunks of newly planted trees free of grass and weeds. The tree will establish more quickly without the competing with the roots of others. This space will also protect the trees from lawn equipment damage. Mulch three inches deep to the drip line.
Resist planting a flower bed around a newly planted tree. It is best to not disturb it by digging the ground up every few months.
You can fertilize trees past their first year in the ground this month with time released fertilizer or fertilizer stakes.
Continue to spray trees that have scale.
Aphids show up on the new growth of bushes and various trees. A good rain, or strong spray from your garden hose can be helpful. Use a light soapy spray if the problem continues. (Lady bugs and praying mantis also help with aphid control.)
Magnolias will have yellowing leaves that drop this time of year. This is not a problem or disease. It is a natural pruning process where they shed their older leaves. (Remove large accumulations of magnolia leaves from your turf.)
The performance of your turf throughout the summer depends on what you do now.
The root systems of warm season grasses decline in the late winter and early spring. As spring progresses, the roots become stronger. March is a critical time in the process. Do not disturb or stress the grass this month. Do not aerate or dethatch your lawn.
Though many cool season weeds flourish in mild weather, exercise caution when applying broadleaf weed killers. Do not use them in flower beds or the vegetable garden.
Brown patch thrives in cool, moist weather. Watch for green grass turning brown with a tint of orange. It can be treated with a fungicide approved to treat brown patch. Follow manufacturers’ directions.