Sunday, 9 March 2014

March Ramblings

Holy smokes, March sure did come in roaring like a lion in most parts of Canada!

As March is a big month for gardeners in the PNW, fingers are crossed that all snow melts quickly, rains slow down, and gardens begin to dry up a bit...

So, as ever, optimistically planning for a great gardening season ahead ...

A chitted potato

What to order and buy this month ...

- Regardless of the snow, rain and cold, buy your seed potatoes this month and put them out to chit.
(I usually plant out my potatoes early to mid-April so try to get your spuds out to chit sometime between mid to late March.) It is not essential to chit your spuds, so if you do not get to it, do not fret, they will grow fine nevertheless!

Chitting is simply setting out your spuds to sprout a few weeks before planting for an earlier harvest.
Take your seed potatoes out of the bag or box and place on a tray, or in a low shoe box, or in an egg carton. Set out in a warm and bright place (though not in direct sunlight) for two or three weeks. The eyes will soon begin to grow little nubs. Once these nubs or sprouts are about an inch long, carefully plant the potatoes out in the garden.
See HERE for a link on how to grow really great potatoes.

Summer Bulbs

Garden centres will now have boxed or bagged summer bulbs for sale...  like dahlia's (above), canna lilies, calla lilies, eucomis (pineapple lilies), glads, begonias, etc... Buy now and pop into pots for earlier blooms this summer.

Do these things this month if the snow melts, the rains stop or slow down, the beds dry up, and it warms up a bit. 

Please note *  Do not muck about in wet soil! You will cause all kinds of soil compaction problems, and besides, your seeds/plants will not thrive if planted in soggy soil. 

Buy and plant asparagus roots.
- Asparagus from seed will take 5 to 6 years till first harvest, roots will only take two years. The bigger and older your roots are, the sooner you will harvest asparagus.  How to plant asparagus can be found HERE.

Buy and plant your horseradish roots as soon as you can get into the garden.
- Be careful when planting the horseradish as it grows quite vigorously. This perennial will need it's own contained space.

Garlic - if you did not get your garlic in last fall, you can plant it this spring ... plant as early as you can get into your garden.

Fruiting shrubs and canes (raspberries, blueberries, currants, gooseberries, etc... ) can be bought and planted this month.
- Often if you buy them at this time of year, you will be buying shrubs or canes just breaking out of dormancy. They will not yet have foliage on them.

Rhubarb- plant out once garden is drier and warmer. If you buy bare root rhubarb, pot it up now and transplant to garden when drier.

Onions - plant your transplants, seeds or sets in the garden.

What else to do in the garden/yard during this merry month of March?

Top dress garden beds with compost or manure, do not dig or turn in.

Test your soil and top dress your beds with amendments accordingly (bone meal, blood meal, lime, etc..)

Gently rake the dead foliage away from your perennials, trees, and shrubs.

Move winter mulch away from the crown of your plants, including your garlic if you mulched it in!

Prune roses.

Cut back ornamental grasses.

Top dress lawn with lime and compost.

When the snow melts, you can start warming up the soil for your tomatoes and peppers. Lay down black or clear plastic in your tomato planting beds. It soaks up the heat and helps to dry the beds out.

To help you feel like spring...

Buy some potted up, blooming tulips, daffs, primulas, etc... and pop into your tired winter planters for a quick pop of colour.
Or a pre-made spring planter! Pop them in your urns or planters for instant spring.

Love these cute little peppers ... start your pepper seeds this month.

Growing and Seeding...
What to start indoors this month...
- Peppers
- Eggplants
- Tomatoes (mid to end month)

If you have not yet started them you still have time to start these guys, too... but do it quick!
- Broccoli and Broccoli Raab ( my fave!)
- Cabbage
- Cauliflower
- Celery
- Onions and leeks

- Chives
- Parsley
- Borage
- Chamomile

- Marigolds
- Zinnias
- Columbine
- Campanula
- Gaillardia
- Asters
- Sweet Peas

Be careful if you are starting Zinnia's indoors to grow on as transplants. They are difficult to grow as they often get root rot, stem rot, or mould. They must be kept on the dry side and grow in an area with good air flow.
I always direct sow my zinnia seeds straight into the garden beds.

Move these guys out into the cold frame or unheated greenhouse now to grow on for another month or so ...
- Onions
- Broccoli
- Cauliflower
- Cabbage

Sow seeds outside this month ...
- Swiss chard
- Turnips and Rutabagas
- Radishes
- Lettuces and Spinach
- Peas 
- Carrots
- Beets
- Onion seeds

- Sweet Peas
- Poppies
- Larkspur

Greenhouse Ramblings

Finally, greenhouse is up and running again ... Yay! So here are just a few bits of Greenhouse Ramblings for this month ...
Sadly, I lost most all of my mother plants during the cold snap in November  ..  my mother plants were plants that I had been saving for ever, that I loved and adored. I always planted these guys up in my own planters, to enjoy on the deck, either for fragrance or flavour, depending on the plant.
I would also take cuttings off of these plants and grow them on. Was thus able to offer up these great treasured plants to you all at a lesser price.. plants like the Waspinator! So very hard to find anywhere else! I think that I have sourced out a new Waspinator though, so rest assured!

Roses came in at the middle of Feb and have all been planted up. They are starting to leaf out now and will look amazing by May. My goal is always to have buds and/or blooms for Mother's Day!
When my kids were younger and asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day, I would always ask for a rose bush. Therefore, it remains important to me to have blooming or near blooming roses ready for when your kids bring you that perfect rose bush on Mother's Day! 

Pepper seedlings are forming their second set of leaves, their 'true' leaves. 

Some seeds have been sown and are sprouting up nicely. Early March is still pretty quiet but come mid to late March and both greenhouse and garden time goes crazy busy. Hot weather seeds are being planted this month, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants.

The interior of the garden shop is being readied for workshops and seed and seed potato sales. It will be ready for set up in a weeks time. Yay!
We had to start this room from scratch... put on a new roof, new electrical everything, poly, insulate and dry-wall, heating, and a new floor.... but is starting to look spectacular!

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