In the garden with Shobha Vanchiswar
Spring (real spring, after a spring-like winter) begins soon!
Monday, March 5, 2012
Things to Do in March
1. If you haven’t already, purchase the seeds you hope to grow. At the same time, be sure you
have all the necessary requirements for growing from seed. This includes pots, seed starter mix,
compost, Gro-lights (if needed), seed flats etc.
2. Start those seeds! Begin with the cool weather plants such as lettuce, mesclun, arugula, spinach,
Swiss chard, radish and so forth. Then move on to those that will be planted out later but take a
bit longer to germinate. I often start seeds directly as soon as the soil is workable. They seem to
do very well. The one down side is that I must be very alert for imminent frost and immediately
protect the seedlings with cloches or fleece covers.
3. Seedlings are great gifts! Consider starting seeds for someone who cannot. Seed packets often
have more seeds than you might use so its not a big effort to share. And it’ll be much appreciated for sure.
4. Get ready to direct sow sweet-peas on March 17/St. Patrick’s Day. It is tradition to do so and
who am I to argue with the happy ritual of planting anything?
5. Put up bird houses as this is the start of the avian house hunting season. Clean existing ones.
I also put up a ‘nesting wreath’ which is a simple grapevine wreath to which I loosely attach
things a bird would find useful for nest building. Cotton, hemp or wool string, narrow strips of
paper, raffia and natural ribbons, pieces of twig, feathers and such. Its such fun watching the
birds pick and choose from this selection.
6. Start cleaning up the garden. On those pleasant, sunny days, pick up winter debris and cut back
plants that you didn’t get to in the fall.
7. If your snowdrops are done, now is the time to lift and divide them if they are congested.
8. Tidy up roses and hydrangea by removing any dead, damaged or diseased limbs.
9. Inspect stored tubers, corms and bulbs for signs of rot.
10. Begin repair or repainting of items so everything is ready for that first perfect day for an
impromptu al fresco gathering.
11. Continue filling bird feeders and bird baths.
12. Low growing bulbs make their debut now. Be on the lookout for this treat.
13. Towards the end of the month, remove burlap and other protective material from boxwood,
roses and such.
14. Ensure tools, water hoses and other necessaries are in good condition and ready for use.
15. Give compost heap a proper stir and start using the healthy stuff ! Compost that is ready will
be a rich, dark color and resemble good, friable soil. It will have a fresh, earthy smell and there
will be no sign of the stuff that went in to produce it. Truly marvelous.
16. Visit the Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden. It on from March 3 to April 22.
Check the website www.nybg.org for details. I’m very excited to see this year’s exhibit as it has
been designed by Patrick Blanc of Vertical Gardens fame:
Blanc’s exterior wall of the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris
I have been familiar and mightily impressed with his work for a number of years.