What To Do In March

Most of the time in the month of March we will have some days that are warm enough that we can begin to work a little in our gardens. It has not been that way this March to work on our “to do list” but there have been a few days that we could go out and play in the dirt.

March is a great time to do some clean up in the beds whether they are our flower beds or the vegetable beds. Start to rake out those dead leaves that fell last fall and generally clean up the area. It is also a great time to be making final plans for just what new things you will plant and where they will go.

As I write this to do list for March it is snowing and is just too darn cold to be out there working the soil. If it were warmer, I could in theory be planting some new perennials but they would need to be the hardiest ones available. Although the guys over at GardenEaze will tell us that we can begin to plant the seedlings that we grew indoors over the winter, I don’t necessarily agree with them. The premise is that if there is a chance of frost we must go out and cover them so that they don’t get their little feet burned with the evils of Mr. Frost. I’m sorry, that is a lot of work and it has been my experience that those plants that I have tried to put out in March just never do well, if they survive at all.

Even though the calendar tells us that it is officially Spring, here in my neck of the woods it is still cold and will be for a while. Oh sure, we actually had some days that got up to around 60 degrees but our weather is not going to sustain those kind of temps on a regular basis.

It is a good month to add some fertilizer to our old beds. You want a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of garden area. That would work out to be around 1 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer to a 10 square foot area (10 feet by 10 feet). Have any 1 pound coffee cans sitting around with nothing to do? Take one of those to help you measure. The can will hold 2 pounds of fertilizer.

March is a good time to get out there and cut back the plants from last fall. You know those sorry dead looking stalks that we didn’t get to before the snow started to fall. Cut them back now before they start to grow again. Not only will the area look better but the plants won’t be trying to “heal” the dead stuff and will use their energy to help the new shoots to grow.

Books will also tell you that this is the month to pull back the mulch that you put down to protect the plants over the winter. You can do that, but a word of caution. Don’t take it too far away, you will probably need to put it back if the weather turns nasty. If you have lived in Indiana for any length of time at all, you know it will still get nasty with cold for another month or so. Personally, I leave the mulch right where it is until the chances of frost are just about gone.

From my own experience in gardening here in the great state of Indiana, March is still a planning month for the most part. It is an exercise in patience for me because I want so badly to get out there and get my hands dirty but I hold myself back. I’ll do clean up but I do not set any plants out yet. I’ll fertilize but that is about the extent of my gardening in March.

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