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March Garden Tips

Garden work for March 2018

Flower garden

Hopefully we will get some drying weather this month, and the lawn will need a trim with the mower set high for the first cut. Towards the end of the month most lawns will benefit from a moss raking using a scarifier if you have a larger area to do. These can be hired from Hire Shops (one in Dorking) but you may well have to book it in advance as the weekends are popular.

Roses will need pruning towards the middle to end of the month, depending on the weather and if there are still severe frosts around. The earlier you do it, the earlier the first blooms will appear, but you can also lose all the flower buds if you do not leave at least 3 from the base stem. Give them a feed with a special rose fertiliser and they will reward you later for this generosity.

You can multiply your snowdrops by lifting and dividing them as soon as possible after flowering, they are best transplanted when green. It also helps encourage flowering as the clumps may become overcrowded if they are not split every 3 –4 years.

Half-hardy annuals like marigold, sweet alyssum, annual phlox, ten-week stocks, aster and zinnias should be sown in seed trays and kept under cover towards the end of the month. They will benefit from a bit of gentle heat (around 10ºC) to start them off.

Later in the month, watch out for slug and snail damage on emerging plants. This can be particularly damaging as the creatures are very hungry after the winter and are attracted to plants like delphiniums and hostas. Cuttings of delphinium can be taken and rooted in potting compost under glass to have them flowering much later than the usual June burst.

 

Vegetables

Get sets of onions for planting out as soon as the soil condition is right. When you do plant them out, protect them from Jackdaws who take delight in pulling them out and throwing them around. Field mice can also be a problem. I often use weld mesh ‘cloches’ that can be made up at home and are effective at keeping birds, and rodents (to a lesser extent) off young crops.

Start leeks under glass for pricking out and transplanting at the end of the month. Salad crops such as lettuce can be started for transplanting once they have established themselves. Put them into the soil that you have warmed up under cloches or fleece.

For an early spring crop of rhubarb, chose the strongest plant and force them with a suitable container such as a bucket, bin or large pots. Forcing does have a weakening effect on the crowns so do not force the same plants again for at least two years.

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