March has finally brought us some better weather with night time lows above 0C. I know, its about time. Now we can get started on our spring garden plans.
Pruning Shrubs and Trees:
Because February was a very cold and snowy month many of us may not have pruned our summer flowering shrubs yet. It’s time to think about pruning your Hydrangeas, Buddleia, Clematis, Roses, Wisteria and Trumpet Vine. These are your summer blooming shrubs so you need to prune now. For spring flowering shrubs such as Spirea and early Clematis don’t prune them back until after flowering. Clematis that bloom from June to September can be pruned back now.
Now is the time to start tomato and pepper seeds indoors for transplanting outside from mid to late May. You may see plants in the garden centres but refrain from buying them too early. Temperatures at night need to be around 9C consistently for your tomato plants to do well. Peppers can go outside in mid May once we have a bit more warmth. Wait until April to start fast growing vegetables such as cucumbers, beans and squash inside. Plants like cucumber, squash and beans love to be direct sown outside in early June. By direct sowing the seed grows easily and doesn’t suffer transplant shock that seedlings may experience.
Clean Your Tools:
Have you cleaned your garden tools yet? If not, this is a good time to give them a scrub using a wire brush to remove any soil. Be sure to oil them to get the joints moving again. If they need sharpening have it done by a professional if you are not sure how to do it yourself. It’s also time to drop the lawnmower blade off for sharpening.
Don’t mow your lawn yet, it’s too early. You can start a good maintenance routine now by adding lime and aerating your lawn towards the end of March. You won’t need to fertilize or over seed until April.
In the Flower Garden:
In the flower garden cut back stems left standing from last fall and compost them. Carefully remove some leaf cover so tiny bulbs such as Crocus can grow. If you see some winter damage don’t be surprised as it often take a few months to show up. I expect to see some browning on rosemary again this year. Prune away any winter damaged branches to promote new growth. With spring arriving late you may feel overwhelmed with everything to do in the garden. Take a moment to enjoy the garden and if you can’t get it done, relax. The garden will grow even if you don’t tend it. Nature has a way of taking care of itself.
Amending Your Soil:
Do you need soil every year? If you left the leaves on your garden you have already added nutrients to your existing soil. If your soil was left bare the rain could have washed away much of your topsoil. Get a soil test done before you add any nutrients to the soil. It’s been found that our soils are extremely high in phosphates. Its not recommended to use bone meal any more. Too much phosphate and it ends up in the groundwater and our streams and is harmful to marine life. If you are buying soil at the garden centre, ask them what’s in it. How much organic matter does it contain? Where does it come from? Has it got food waste in it? The best soil we have used came from West Creek Farms in Langley. If your gardens are still frozen sit back and relax, enjoy a seed catalogue, order seeds and plants and plan your soil delivery. Although we often complain about winter and how long it is spring brings much to do all at once. I know by fall I will be glad to put my feet up once again.