Rushlake Green Village Leaf

Gardening Diary - March 2012

" A peck of March dust is worth a king's ransom "

March is one of the busiest times of the year in the garden and it is as well to be kept busy during the long gloom of Lent. As always, the weather will dictate our activities, especially in the veg. patch. A sight of dust swirling on the garden path and green showing in the hedgerows signs that we can get on with final soil preparation. The soil, which was dug over in autumn and left in clumps, will now be friable enough to break down into the much desired and beloved tilth. Light treading of the soil will remove air pockets and ensure seed roots can get a grip. Any planting of deciduous trees, shrubs, fruits and roses should be completed to give the roots a chance to get a hold before heat and drought may punish them. As always, if in doubt plant shallow, many specimens will take a long time to get going or give up completely if planted too deep. This is especially true of Rhododendrons and Azaleas.

In the veg. patch, Parsnips and Broad beans should be the first sowings. If the weather is open I like to get some early potatoes in on the Ides of March. There is a chance of course that a 'Blackthorn Winter' and late frosts may cut them back, so always have a bale of straw about your person for giving them some protection. If the soil is sufficiently dry, Leeks may be now be sown. As previously mentioned, cloches placed last month will have helped to warm and dry the soil. Towards the end of the month onion sets may be planted, this is done better with a trowel, not a dibber, as compacted soil encourages the sets to wriggle free of the ground. Old manure, compost or straw may be laid as a mulch along raspberries, this will protect the roots and keep them moist.

From the Ides onwards we may be sowing hardy annuals. Soil preparation as for the veg. patch. I prefer to prune roses now, cutting back to five or six buds for the Hybrid teas. Climbing roses may have laterals or side branches, cut these back to two buds from the main stem. For newly planted Floribunda and Hybrid teas it is more important that they are cut back hard, to within six inches of the ground. All roses can now be fed with a Rose fertiliser and sprayed for fungal diseases. I find that knocking the fungus back every two weeks until June often keeps the plants looking good all season. Gladioli corms may be planted, this is best done in stages through spring to give a continuous supply and avoid major checks to the whole crop. Old tightly packed clumps of Snowdrops may fail to flower strongly. Unlike many bulbs, they may be divided as soon as the foliage has died down.

We may hope that fence mending, shed roofs repairs, mower overhauls and all the long list of maintenance about the garden has been seen to over winter, as the next three months will leave no room for pulling up arrears.

The Gardening Diary is kindly volunteered by Ross Atabey from Green & Great Gardens your local landscaping and garden specialists. For further advice contact Ross on 07941 315214 01435 812 153 or visit