March in the Garden
Get Ready for Spring
— Nan Sterman
March is such a busy month for gardeners. There’s so much to see, so much to learn, and so much to do. Where to begin? Here’s my list for getting your garden ready for the months ahead.
- Start your home vegetable garden from seed. Start tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and more in containers, and then plant seedlings in the garden once the soil warms up, in about six weeks. Not sure what or how to plant? Join one of my seed starting workshops to learn how to start a spring and summer vegetable garden.
- Cut down cover crops and turn them into the soil. They’ll compost by the time you plant spring vegetables.
- Fertilize established (not newly planted) citrus and avocado trees. Use a granular organic citrus and avocado food and follow label directions.
Natives and drought tolerant plants
- Continue planting California native perennials, shrubs, trees, and vines.
- Continue planting perennials, shrubs, trees, and vines from South Africa, Australia, the Mediterranean, and Chile.
- The last frost dates are past in most areas of the country so put away any frost protection and cut away damaged leaves and branches.
- Plant a meadow. This is the time to start planting grass alternatives like Carex praegracilis, Lippia nodiflora (aka Kurapia), and others. Toss in some wildflower seeds and add a few perennials to brighten things up. Irrigate with overhead spray using matched precipitation heads like MP Rotators.
- What’s blooming now? Watch for poppies, flowering sweet peas, pincushions (Leucospermum), cone bushes (Leucadendron), sages (Salvia), manzanita (Arctostaphylos), California lilac (Ceanothus), iris, desert mallow (Sphaeralcea), giant Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) and many more. These are all great waterwise plants. Take photos, make note of their names, and then make a plan for where to add them to your waterwise garden.
- Cut sweet pea flowers weekly to keep the bloom going. Bring flowers indoors to enjoy their luscious colors and incredible perfume.
- Enjoy the spring bulb bloom. California natives like mariposa lilies (Calochortus sp) and South African natives like baboon flowers (Babiana) brighten the spring garden.
- Feed orchid cacti (Epiphyllum) with all-purpose organic plant food.
- Move container plants to the next larger size pot before spring growth starts. As you dig out each plant, shake the old potting soil off the roots and discard. Replant with fresh potting soil, some organic, time-release fertilizer, and a few handfuls of worm castings. Top the potting soil with two inches of small, round gravel for a finished look and to help conserve moisture.
- Mulch now while there is lots of moisture in the soil. Inorganic mulch (rock, DG, etc.) for succulent gardens, organic (plant-based) mulch for all others. Maintain a layer three inches thick.
- Flush your irrigation system now. Check for leaks and broken parts, too as we prepare to turn it back on next month.