March Gardening Tips

Thanks to our green fingered contributors Head Gardener Bob Davison, Hungerford Allotment Plot 7 Marsh Lane blogger Belinda Robinson, Linda Forrester in Great Shefford and Hilary Reem in East Garston for the following tips:

Wildlife

Butterflies, bees and other polinators over-winter in dead leaves and hollow stems – so please resist the urge to tidy them away until temperatures constantly reach 10 degrees C or 50 degrees F and the insects are safely up and out.

Borders

Divide and move around herbaceous plants such as Alchemillas and Hostas. Whilst the garden centres are eyeing up your wallets this time of year, think of the source of new planting stock which is free- ie the plants you already have in the garden.

Sew tender bedding plants on a warm window sill. Sow hardy annuals in a cold frame or greenhouse.

Spring Pruning 

Prune back hard your late summer flowering Clematis, such as ‘viticella’. This rule extends to many plants and shrubs that will flower on this season’s growth such as Buddleia, Spirea japonica, Lavatera, amongst others. When carrying out pruning it is good practise to apply a general fertilizer around the base of the plant. A good mulch with compost or leaf mould will also greatly benefit the plant over the coming months.

Mophead Hydrangeas can have their flower stems taken off now. Take them down about 30 cm to a pair of healthy green buds.

Finish off any rose pruning this month, cutting out dead stems, and mulch, keeping this away from the stems.

Mulching

Mulch beds & borders while the soil is moist to keep the moisture in and minimise future watering.

Veg Garden

Plant out onion sets and garlic (Bob’s choice is ‘Stuttgarter’ and ‘Red Baron’).

Sow broad beans and keep your second crop away from the first (if you planted one in November) so if you have a bad attack of rust it can’t spread rapidly to all the plants. Broad beans are hardy so they are one of the first crops to get started in your garden. You can even plant them in November and they will survive the winter. However you do have to protect them from hungry mice, squirrels and pigeons. See Hilly’s broadbean video here. To kick start them, you can germinate them indoors first

Start tomato and cucumber seeds under in a greenhouse or windowsill. Sow leeks now, either outdoors or under glass so that they will be ready to transplant to final positions .Those sown under glass will be ready to transplant in April.

Direct sowing (straight into the ground) during March and April it really is a matter of judging the weather conditions and soil temperature and making a decision. Those with cloches (low glass structures that are able to raise the temperature beneath), could sow carrots and salads crops earlier. 

Potatoes – time to be preparing the beds and chitting this year’s crop (chitting is when the seed potatoes start producing sprouts). Belinda recommends the great selection at Charlton Park Garden Centre in Wantage who also have stalls at markets in Hungerford and Newbury. See Hilly’s early potato planting video and protecting potatoes from frost.

Lawn

March is the start of the lawn programme. On a mild day this month Bob will give his grass its first cut. This will be a high cut just to take the top tips off and to collect debris that has made the lawns look untidy. Cold temperatures over winter may have lifted the soil in places so if you have a roller the lawn will benefit from a light rolling.

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