Monday, February 28th, 2011...12:00 am

Some Gardening Tips for March

compost by zen

March is more the month for getting ready for gardening if you reside in the colder Hardy Temperature Zones areas such as zones 5 or 6.

You can prune all dead and broken wood on trees, shrubs and vines now or any time of the year.

This winter of our discontent the snow and ice did a lot of tree and branch damage.

Start cleaning up your gardens and lawns.

I hope you have been adding organics (garbage) to your compost bin all winter. Keep adding it.  See here.

If the snow is gone, you can begin taking soil for a soil test. Remember that you need separate tests for lawns, vegetable or flower gardens and shrub borders. Soil mailing kits are available from your state Cooperative Extension Office. For a list of all the offices in the US and Canada go on this link.

Contact the extension offices for the mail packet. Then follow directions for how to put in the soil and how to fill out the form. Remember when you dig up soil for mailing to let it dry out. You don’t want to pay for any water in the soil when mailed. You will get back detailed information about your soil and if it needs amendments, what kind and how much. They will happily talk you through the results if you need.

You can start ordering the seeds you want to grow in your garden. Also, this is a good time to read your gardening books.

Get organized for the season by collecting pots and jars you will be using and disinfecting any pots or equipment you will be using in the garden.

You may be eager to get started in the garden but do NOT dig garden beds when the soil is too wet. Wet soil will compact easily and the plant roots will have difficulty becoming established.

When the grass starts to grow, that’s a good sign that the soil is around 41 degrees to 43 degrees Fahrenheit ( 5-6°C) – warm enough to allow the earliest vegetable seeds to germinate and grow. If you have a heavy clay soil that is slow to warm, wait a few weeks. Seeds sown in too cold or wet a soil are unlikely to thrive. Some early seeds are parsnips (wait till March if you are planting in an exposed or really northern area), garlic, shallots, Jerusalem artichokes.

Saint Patricks Day is generally considered the date to plant peas in Hardiness Temperature zones like 5 or 6. But if you plant them earlier to get a head start, plant the peas under a cover such as a garden cloche or in a polytunnel.

The following crops are suitable to sow under cover

* Lettuce – loose-leaf or seedling varieties are best

* Carrots

* Radish

* Rocket

* Baby beetroot – use an early variety, resistant to bolting

* Spinach

* Salad onions

* Potatoes – compact early varieties

* Turnips

Spring will soon be here.

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