Gardening In March…‘On Your ‘March’ Get Set, Go’!

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I have been gazing longingly out of the window wishing the weather to improve and the temperature to rise so I can get out in the garden, and as the days lengthen the occasional glimmer of sunshine brings a tingle to my heart. The lighter mornings help me wake earlier but it’s the lighter nights that really excite me, yes more time to spend in the garden. As I recall the seasons over the years I quickly realise that no year is the same, but every year holds a promise of new challenges and more importantly successes.
Many of our early flowering shrubs and bulbs have been tricked into growth by the rather strange weather patterns, there seem to be more storms or is it just that they now have names? Plants are fairly resilient and adaptable, and the fact that they may be flowering earlier this won’t adversely affect them in the long term.
It’s a great time of year to get out and about too, Easter is early this year offering a great opportunity to get the garden in shape, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit local parks and gardens they are an incredible source of ideas and a place where the family can enjoy some quality time together. Many of our parks and gardens start their seasonal events and activities in early spring, another good reason to pop along and see what’s on offer.
If you are keen to crack on in the garden then a trip to the local garden centre or nursery will whet your appetite and provide some great early colour with spring bedding and flowering bulbs for your containers. It’s not too late to plant them up and they will last until the more tender summer bedding plants are available in May.
So what’s on the shopping list, well for me it will be a few bags of compost to start off early sowings of vegetables, herbs and annual flowers? I usually pick up a few packets of seed too, some organic fertilizer for the garden, I tend to use organic chicken or sheep pellets, they are fairly cheap and can be used on most plants, vegetables, flowers, shrubs and hedges. For the lawn use a spring and summer fertilizer specially formulated to encourage strong growth and good colour. I don’t tend to buy pesticides unless I have a problem, much better to keep an eye out in the garden for pests and deal with them as soon as you see them. There are many products that are what we call ‘Biological’ this means that they are not only safe in the garden but are generally a natural predator or use pests as a host. A word of warning regarding seeds, don’t sow more than you can handle, it’s a critical time of year regarding space in the greenhouse and hastily sown seed can lead to a mountain of seedlings with nowhere for them to go. If space is limited stagger your sowing and don’t be tempted to keep more than you need.
Spring is a good time to mulch beds and borders of shrubs and perennials; this will help keep the soil moist and supress weeds. You can use any well-rotted organic matter, garden compost, stable or farm yard manure. For small areas pulverised bark is great and gives a nice finish too. I like to apply a dressing of fertilizer to beds and borders this month, just a handful per square metre (or yard) is fine and gives plants a boost to get them going.
Next Month, Propagating herbs, check your strawberry beds, prepare areas for summer displays.
Happy gardening,
Martin S Walker ‘A Yorkshire Gardener’

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