March 2007
Featured Articles



PLANT

• If you haven’t already planned your season’s plantings, do it now. Take advantage of companion planting that can strengthen and reinforce plant vigor while repelling pests. For example, nasturtiums and marigolds repel white flies and aphids.

• Do not rush the warm season annuals. Sow seeds of summer blooming annuals indoors. Seeds that were started indoors last month may be transplanted from the flats into peat pots and given diluted fertilizer.

• Plant cool-season vegetable plants and seeds in March: potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, peas, cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach, radishes, carrots, lettuces.

• Continue planting trees and shrubs .

• Transplant shrubs and trees when soil becomes workable and before buds are swelled or broken open.

• If you have a greenhouse, it is time to take cuttings of ‘wintered over’ plants such as coleus, chrysanthemums, geraniums, and other perennials.

• Plant thyme, mint, and oregano now so they can get a good start for the season.

• Divide and transplant summer blooming perennials and fertilize established ones as soon as new growth appears.

• Dahlia tubers stored last fall can be started late in the month.

• Plant Bermuda, zoysia and centipede in South Alabama. Seed grass mixtures in North Alabama.

• Plant aquatics. Add 1" of pea or aquarium gravel on surface and thoroughly water before putting in pond.

• (In warmer areas) Divide hardy water lilies every year or two, can start six weeks before the last expected freeze.


FERTILIZE

• Have your soil tested prior to planting your vegetable seeds or transplants. The pH and the nutrient content of the soil is an important factor in production of vegetables.

• Prepare soil for planting warm-season flowers and vegetables. For every 100 square feet of bed area, work in a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic material such as compost, pine bark, or sphagnum peat moss. Add 4 to 5 pounds of balanced fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed area, and till or spade to a depth of 8 to 10 inches.

• As camellia and azalea plants finish blooming, fertilize them with three pounds of azalea-camellia fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed area. Check mulch on azalea and camellia beds and add where needed.

• Rake dead grass to allow new grass to grow in lawns. This will increase the effectiveness of fertilizers and pesticides applied to the lawn.

• Fertilize all blooming ornamentals such as forsythia, quince, spirea, climbing roses, etc, only after they bloom.

• Fertilize any bulbs as they finish blooming with bone meal or bulb booster.

• Fertilize roses every 4 to 6 weeks from now until September.

• Wait until April to fertilize warm season lawn grasses and until May for Centipede. If grass needs to be mowed then it is ready to fertilize (thru April). Do that after about the 2nd mowing.

• Fertilize pecan trees with a high nitrogen formula such as 16-4-8.

• Use a slow-release fertilizer according to soil test on perennials.

• Feed roses after pruning and before they leaf out.

• Attend to your indoor plants. They’ve just come through a long winter and need a bit of fertilizer.

• Use gypsum in clay soils to help break up compacted soils. It will make the particles of clay clump together, opening up spaces for water to penetrate and allowing easier growth for roots.

• Feed houseplants with a diluted solution of soluble houseplant food after new growth appears.


PRUNE

• Pruning of evergreens and summer flowering trees and shrubs should be completed in early March. Prune spring flowering trees and shrubs as soon as they finish blooming.

• Make sure your younger trees maintain a straight trunk as new growth begins. Remove or prune (called a drop crotch cut) all limbs that may be competing with the central leader.

• Finish pruning fruit trees this month - before the buds swell.

• To keep pines as a dense hedge, trim new growth or "candles." Trim when new needles are about half the length of the old needles.

• Pinch off tips of Sweet Pea seedlings and Mums, when they are 4 inches tall.

• Cut ornamental grasses down to new shoots.

• DO NOT remove leaves from daffodils and jonquils until AFTER they yellow but remove all dead blooms.

• Remove winterkilled leaves from plants around water gardens before and when new growth appears and compost trimmings.

• Houseplants will react to longer days and brighter light at this time by putting out new growth. The end of this month is a good time to pinch them back to generate new growth and to thicken them.


WATER

• Soak bare-root plants before planting.

• Keep newly planted perennials moist.

• Water newly planted roses often enough to keep roots moist during first few weeks. Gradually reduce the frequency but not the depth of watering.

• Hydrate newly planted shrubs every few weeks in dry weather.

• Water lawn well if you want it to spread faster to fill in dead areas.

• Observe areas of poor drainage, fill in low spots or create a channel for drainage.


PEST CONTROL

• Remain vigilant in watching for insects and pests. It is much easier to win a ‘bug war’ if you are aware of the infestation in its early stages.

• The most dreaded task of all is weeding, but it is one that really needs to be accomplished before the weeds have a chance to flower and go to seed. When you weed your flowerbeds, make sure not to pull any desirable plants

• Get a head start on snails and slugs. Apply baits in your garden, under pots and edges of walks and foundations.

• Spray fruit trees beginning with three swelling buds, bloom petal drop and shuck drop.  The Co-op has sprays especially designed for fruit trees.

• Begin to spray roses for black spot.

• Keep an eye out for aphids and cutworms.

• If you did not apply emergent weed control in February, do so now.  Pre- emergent agents are ineffective against post-emerged weeds. If you have existing weeds in your yard the Co-op has post-emergent weed killers available.


ODD JOBS

• Check with your local county agent for the average last killing freeze date for your area. Killing freezes can and do occur after this date, but it will be a good indication.

• There is often a strong temptation to start removing winter mulches from your flowerbeds.... WAIT!!! Pull the mulch off gradually as the plants show signs of new growth. It is much better to remove the mulch a little later than to remove it to early. Mulch all bare soil.

• Take a little time to prepare the vegetable garden soil for planting. Well-rotted manure, processed manure, peat moss or compost are good additives for building compost humus in the soil.

• If you haven’t been monitoring it, turn your compost pile now. Dampen it and begin turning it regularly to get it to heat up so you can enjoy the production of good compost faster. If you haven’t started a compost pile, start one this month.

• Plan flowerbeds, gardens and herb gardens in your journal.

• Clean out all of your birdhouses now, so that they will be ready when the birds return.

• Most lawns will need a spring feeding; but if thatching or liming needs to be done, do those jobs first.

• Remove winter coverings from roses when forsythia is in full bloom (still watch weather for cool nights).

• Maintain your coldframe. Keep it open on warm, sunny days to prevent plants from overheating.

• Check your lawn mower, especially sharpening the blades, before starting to mow.

• Check any overwintered bulbs and plants (including aquatics) to insure they are still healthy and haven’t dried out.

• Mist or spray your houseplants to clean away the winter’s dust, prevent spider mites and add a little humidity.

• Repair any fencing, arbors, or trelliswork that is weak or has broken over the winter ... before you get too busy!

• Consider using raised beds for landscaping and vegetable gardening to avoid problems of poor drainage and poor soil quality. The soil in raised beds drains better and warms up sooner in spring for planting. Or consider vegetable gardening in containers if you are limited on space or time to garden.