March 2012
Home Grown Tomatoes

Going Green… It’s about time!

These blue rosemary blooms provide an early-season food source for honeybees on warm days.

 

HOT dog! It’s finally March! Twenty days until spring! Green things are springing up everywhere! I am excited, to say the least, because I have survived yet another winter and so has the garden!

It’s so much fun watching everything outdoors go from gray or brown to green, watching the daffodils and tulips teasing us with their vibrant green foliage for weeks finally open their petals with an explosion of color or watching the evergreens show blooms you forgot they are capable of doing all winter.

Rosemary (Rosemary officinalis) serves us well all season long, especially during the wintertime when it is used in stews, soups and roast rubs. But, in the last few weeks of winter, this plant really stands out in the garden. With the stalks of gentle lavender-colored blooms, on a warm March day honeybees rush to these flowers to get an early taste of nectar.

 

Fields of henbit flowers are beautiful! Here is a close-up of a flower bud.

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) is a common wildflower this time of year. In fact, it is so common some folks refer to this flower as an introduced weed, but I prefer to admire this naturalized plant as a wildflower. If you have never seen these plants growing en masse, along roadways or in meadows, you probably haven’t been able to appreciate the true beauty of this biennial mint. The tiny, purple flowers really stand out against the lush green foliage.

March is all about going green and we have a lot of exciting things to look forward to this month! To begin, I am hoping for clear skies on March 8th, because that is the date of the full moon this month. One of the things I enjoy this time of year is to go out into the garden at night during the last full moon of winter and observe all of the landscape under almost monochromatic lighting. This gives me a different perspective on how I want to plant certain things and how the colors of the plants might look against a plain background.

Leaves are budding out on old growth of hydrangea.

Fort Laramie strawberries already blooming and fruiting.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ poking up through the pine straw cover.

The buds on the apple trees are swelling and so are the ones on the hydrangeas. Leaves are popping out and there are baby strawberries on the Fort Laramie and Quinault plants. Baby Autumn Joy sedum are pushing their way up through the pine straw blanket and that means it’s time to remove their winter cover and take the straw to the compost heap.

 

There’s nothing quite like the green color of parsley in March.

The parsley (Petroselinum hortense) plants never cease to produce tasty, lush green foliage all winter long. Here, it is a four-season plant since it does not go dormant in the winter. It is a biennial; therefore, I plant fresh plants each year in order to have parsley growing all the time.

Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 11, this year. (Didn’t that used to happen in April?) So, we spring forward in time and that means what? For all of you morning gardeners who begin at 0600, it means you will actually begin at 0500 and it will still be dark for a few days. For you evening gardeners though, you have a bonus hour of daylight. For we all-the-time gardeners, Daylight Saving Time doesn’t mean much of anything except that it’s a seasonal sign that spring is almost here.

Ah, "The Ides of March" – March 15. Some farmers and gardeners in the southern part of Alabama sow seed on that date. I may actually do that this year, especially since the USDA has changed the Plant Hardiness Zone Map. It now reflects about a five degree warmer change over the last update in 1990. Go to www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov to see if your zone has changed.

Green plants, green beer! March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. Yes. Saint Patrick is certainly the most celebrated patron saint in history. It is said he was responsible for running all of the snakes out of fifth century Ireland. However, I believe that is just a metaphor for "converting all of the Pagans to Christianity." Thank goodness, because I happen to have an affinity for creatures of the herpetological persuasion. And, while I don’t fit the profiles belonging to the roots of this celebration, I participate in the seasonal regalia by wearing green clothing as a reminder that plants are coming to their seasonal life’s beginning and spring is near!

Spring! The Vernal Equinox officially arrives at 0014 CDT (12:14 a.m.) on Tuesday, March 20, and I plan to be awake to ring in the spring season, as I always do, by drinking a toast to Mother Nature and all of the things representing her wonders.

March is all about going green! Cheers to Mother Nature and cheers to spring!

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