Plant cool-season Bonnie vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, greens, lettuce, etc.
Set out Bonnie broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower transplants.
Also in midmonth, sow other hardy vegetables such as carrots, beets, kohlrabi, radishes, leaf lettuces and turnips.
Caladium bulbs require warm soil temperatures, and setting them out in early spring can cause them to rot. Go ahead and purchase them as soon as they are available, but wait until the soil temperature reaches 70 degrees to plant them.
Direct-sow leaf lettuce and spinach as soon as soil is ready and workable. Make weekly plantings this month and next to ensure a long harvest season.
Dormant mail-order plants should be unwrapped immediately. Keep the roots from drying out, store in a cool protected spot and plant as soon as conditions allow.
During the first few days of March, sow the last plantings of spinach, turnips, mustard, beets, carrots and broccoli.
If you didn’t get it done in February, asparagus roots should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked.
If you started any vegetables indoors to get a head start on the season, harden them off by slowly acclimating them to the outdoors before planting them.
In mid-to-late March, plant corn, tomatoes, squash, peppers and cucumbers. Be prepared to use covers … snow in April isn’t unheard of. The last frost date in 2014 in Ardmore was April 27. In Orange Beach it was March 22. Be ready to use covers.
In the middle of the month, plant a row of Swiss chard. Tender stalks will be ready to harvest in mid-May – and the plants will keep producing all summer.
Plant radishes, peas, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower as soon as you can work the ground – they’ll survive frosty weather.
Pull mulch away from perennials, shrubs and trees to allow the soil to warm around them.
Set out herbs such as rosemary, chives and thyme, but not tender basil!
Shop now for summer – and fall-flowering perennials. Eye-catching bloomers include purple coneflower, coreopsis and hardy hibiscus for summer color. Try Mexican bush sage, autumn sedums and asters for fall blooms.
Sow sugar snap peas before the necessary cool weather disappears. Remember to provide support for vines.
Transplant onions, shallots, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards and asparagus crowns to the garden.
Tuck tender bulbs such as dahlias, tuberous begonias and gladiolas into the garden this month. If you love glads, plant some weekly until mid-June to ensure a season-long show.
Wait to plant warm-season annuals such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra, sweet potatoes and watermelons until after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to about 60 degrees (a temperature in which you can comfortably walk on soil in bare feet).
It is best to get a soil test before fertilizing to determine needs. Your local Co-op store has the testing material needed.
Apply a balanced fertilizer such as 6-12-12 to perennial beds when new growth appears.
Consider applying sulfur to the soil around acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, hollies and dogwoods. Use a granular formulation at the rate of 0.5 pound per 100 square feet.
Don’t jump the gun and feed your warm-season lawn too early. It’s best to wait until the grass starts actively growing.
After bloom, fertilize bulbs with a "bulb booster" formulation broadcast over the planting beds. Hose off any granules that stick to the foliage.
Fertilize shrubs and trees if this wasn’t done in February.
Fertilize the garden as the soil is being prepared for planting. Unless directed otherwise by a soil test, 1-2 pounds of 12-12-12 or an equivalent fertilizer per 100 square feet is usually sufficient.
Fertilize pecan trees with 1 pound of 10-10-10 for every inch of trunk thickness.
Finish pruning evergreens early in the month. Cut to shape and control plant size.
Early spring is also an ideal time to prune summer-blooming trees and shrubs.
Finish pruning summer-flowering plants that form blooms on new growth such as butterfly bush and rose of Sharon.
If any of your spring-blooming shrubs or trees (including dogwood, lilac, forsythia, flowering quince or saucer magnolia) need a cut back, take out the trimmers right after the flowers fade. This helps ensure that you get plenty of blooms next year.
Cut English ivy back hard. When new growth emerges in spring, it will be strong and healthy.
It sounds harsh, but deadheading annuals and perennials is simply the act of cutting spent flowers from your plants. It will make your plants look better, help reduce problems with pests and diseases, and usually encourage your plants to bloom more.
Pinch growing tips of sweet peas and garden mums when seedlings reach 4 inches high. This pinch increases branching, which ultimately increases flower number.
Ornamental grasses should be cut to the ground just as the new growth begins.
You can cut tulip foliage down as soon as it is unattractive because they probably won’t come back anyway. On daffodils, Dutch iris and other low-chill bulbs, however, leave the foliage until it turns brown. The green leaves are replenishing the bulbs for next year’s blooms.
A severe pruning now of overgrown beds of groundcovers will remove woody stems and induce new, compact growth from the base whereas later pruning will retard growth.
Remove winter damaged plants once you can distinguish the dead wood from the greenwood.
When peaches are the size of your thumb, thin them to one fruit every 4-6 inches of stem. If you don’t thin, you will have a tree full of small fruit and broken branches.
Prune jasmine after flowering.
Prune boxwood – but not with shears. Use a hand pruner to make foliage "holes" in the greenery so light can penetrate to the trunk.
Now is the time to prune giant holly shrubs back to a manageable size. Don’t be shy – you can cut them to 18 inches tall and they will come back.
Trim over-wintered houseplants to remove lanky growth before moving them outdoors.
March is a good time to note areas of poor drainage. If there are pools of water in your yard that do not drain, fill in the low spot or scoop out a channel for the water to drain away.
Check the plants under the eaves of the house and under tall evergreens to see if they have sufficient moisture.
Check out the automatic lawn sprinkler system for leaks, broken pipes or heads, or wasteful misting.
Water all bulbs during times of growth and especially during foliage and bloom development.
March watering may not be necessary for established lawns. However, lawns started within the last year are especially susceptible to winter desiccation injury and need supplemental cool-weather irrigation.
Follow instructions on pesticide labels carefully.
Apples, pears and other plants infected with fire blight should have had diseased wood pruned out by the end of February. If this was not completed by then, wait until dry weather in mid-summer. Pruning wounds made at this time of year may provide entry points for the bacteria that caused the disease.
Apply controls for wild garlic. It will take several years of annual applications for complete control.
Get the jump on crabgrass by applying a pre-emergent herbicide. Time applications to coincide with forsythia flowering.
Grubs become active this month and feast on grass before molting. Check with your local Co-op store to learn which treatments work best in your area.
If not already done, remove and dispose of the foliage of plants such as roses, peonies, iris, daylilies, apples and horse chestnut that are subject to annual fungal leaf diseases.
If you haven’t already, gather and dispose of fallen camellia blooms to prevent blight from developing and spreading.
Spray peach trees with a fungicide for the control of peach leaf curl disease.
To control iris borer, clean up and destroy the old foliage before new growth begins.
We’ve all heard about filling a tuna or cat food tin with beer and snails and slugs getting in and drowning … and this really, really works by the way. But, if you normally don’t have beer around or don’t like the idea of anyone seeing you buying it, another very effective alternative is mixing two cups of warm water, a packet of dry yeast, and one teaspoon each of salt and sugar. The salt will help ensure the slugs and snails die before they have a chance to escape. If you’re going to dump the slugs and/or mixture in your garden or compost pile, skip the salt; it’ll make your soil too salty. Empty and refill daily.
You can spray fungicides while the trees are in bloom, but not insecticides. The bees are still pollinating your fruit trees and are susceptible to the sprays.
Be careful not to get lawn herbicides too close to trees. Weed-and-feed-type fertilizers are notorious for killing young shade trees.
Keep up the spray regimen with roses. Orthene and Funginex are the favorites.
Go through old chemicals. Properly dispose of anything that is outdated and ineffectual. Many waste companies have select days when residential chemicals can be disposed of at their facility or at weekly pick up. Check with your local waste management company or landfill for details.
Start a garden journal.
Remember to rotate the vegetables in the garden to reduce insect and disease problems.
Pick a permanent spot for Bonnie herbs in the garden. You’ll be amazed at the variety offered and many of them will come back year after year.
If you haven’t done it already, check stored tools and outdoor furniture for signs of rust. Remove any surface rust with steel wool and paint with rust inhibitive paint.
Turn the compost pile.
Mow lawns low to remove old growth before new growth begins.
Remove tree wraps from young trees for summer growth.
Divide overgrown clumps of hosta now that you can see the leaves unfurling aboveground.
Tune up the lawnmower and be sure the blade is very sharp. Dull blades tear the grass, sharp ones cut it.
Save money by growing your own food. It may be easier than you think to grow fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Folks at your local Co-op store can help with advice and/or you can visit Bonnieplants.com for guidance.
Allow any flowers that self-seed such as bachelor’s button, cleome or zinnia or bulbs you want to naturalize to form and drop seeds. That way you can be sure they’ll come back next year.
As day lengths increase, houseplants begin new growth. Repot root-bound plants, moving them to containers 2 inches larger in diameter than their current pot.
Clean debris and muck from the water garden, adding it to your compost pile.
Clean up rose beds, removing any fallen leaves from last season and refreshing mulch around plants.
Consider a perennial cutting garden.
Convert garden paths to weed-free zones by covering paths with newspaper or cardboard topped with pine straw, grass clippings or chopped leaves.
Cultivate weeds and remove the old, dead stalks of last year’s growth from the asparagus bed before the new spears emerge.
Delay planting if the garden soil is too wet. When a ball of soil crumbles easily after being squeezed together in your hand, it is dry enough to be safely worked.
Feed your pond fish when the water temperature hits 50 degrees.
Fill bird feeders and clean birdhouses to offer room and board to returning migratory species. Feeders can stage a fascinating show as birds wing their way back to summer breeding grounds!
Gradually remove mulch from strawberries as the weather begins to warm.
If you have a greenhouse, it is time to take cuttings of wintered-over plants
Keep your perennials healthy and looking good by dividing them every few years. Divide most perennials in spring once their new foliage has grown a couple of inches tall. Plant the divisions in your garden to fill in bare spots – or use them to trade for different varieties with gardening friends, family or neighbors. Wait to divide spring-blooming varieties until after they’ve finished blooming.
Make maintaining your new garden easier with a raised bed. You can add high-quality soil to solve any problems with clay or sand. And you don’t have to bend down as far to weed, plant or tend to your plants.
March winds are also notorious for their ferocity so make sure exposed plants are well supported.
Mulch blackberries and other bramble fruits for weed control.
Open the greenhouse or conservatory doors and vents on warm days
Raise purple martin houses as soon as you can.
Repair any fencing, arbors or trellis work that is weak or has broken over the winter.
Set up nesting boxes for bluebirds.
Take a little time to prepare the vegetable garden soil for planting. The addition of well-rotted manure, processed manure, peat moss or compost are good additives
The single best thing you can do to save time and energy in the garden is spread mulch. A 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch will stop many weeds from growing. It also helps your soil stay moist during hot, dry periods this summer. Look for inexpensive or free mulch materials in your area. For example, many municipalities offer a free compost pile for city residents.
There is often a strong temptation to start removing winter mulches from your flower beds ... WAIT!!! Pull the mulch off gradually as the plants show signs of new growth. The purpose of winter mulch is to act as a protector from sudden changes of temperature and chilling winds, so keep in mind that it is still winter! It is much better to remove the mulch a little later than to remove it too early.