Tuesday, 1 March 2016

March Garden and Greenhouse Ramblings

Wow, March is finally here! The month that heralds spring and the potential for a glorious gardening season ahead....

Of course, March had to come in with a real bang! Pouring rain all day long and predicting more of the same for the entire week ahead. Le sigh!

However, should all this rain be followed by a few days of sunshine and warmth, gardens will explode with growth and colour!

Birdbaths are over-flowing with all this rain.

What to do this month in the yard...once it stops raining....

 It is a busy, busy month of weeding, pruning, soil testing and amending, sowing and growing.

 Princess Margareta English Rose

- If you have not yet pruned your roses, now is the time. Prune English David Austin, hybrid teas, and most all other roses to about half their current height to promote great flowering this year.

Winter leeks with bunny damage
- Amend your beds ... add a layer of manure or compost on them to start breaking down and feeding your garden in good time before you plant.

Should you happen to have bunnies nibbling at your veggies (as I do) sprinkle some blood meal around your remaining winter plants or newly emerging spring ones! Not too much or you will have a nitrogen palooza, but just enough to deter the little critters with the scent.

Do a soil test to check your pH and N-P-K

- Less than stellar results last year? Do a basic soil test to find out what other amendments you may need, such as blood meal, bonemeal or greensand.... or take a soil workshop here at the greenhouse and I will help you figure out how to get your organic garden ready to go. So much more fun to do this with like-minded peers. 

- Weed! The more you can do now before they go to seed, the easier the job will be. Hoe them out, torch them out, dig them out, or smother them... but deal with them now to save a whole lot of work later.

- These fall planted Brussels sprouts are starting to make some decent sized sprouts. a few days of sunshine after this rainfall, and we should have lots of lovely sprouts for Easter supper.

- Practice no till gardening.... Do not roto-till your beds... ever! No matter what!

Rototilling actually compacts soil as it destroys healthy soil structure. It also kills off earth worms, vital micro-organisms, and healthy bacteria, not to mention the enormous amount of weed seeds it brings to the surface of your soil to germinate! 

If you have 200 lb mastiffs walking around in your garden beds all winter, compacting the soil, simply use a broad fork or a garden fork to lift and gently loosen, plus aerate, the soil.

If you do not have a mastiff problem, you do not have to lift, loosen, or aerate your soil. Remember to top dress your beds with manure, compost, and/or organic matter once or twice a year, then let the earth worms and Mother Nature take care of the rest.

French Rocambole Garlic

- Garlic is coming up nicely... do not do anything, all is fine, let them grow. If you feel like yours need a boost, side dress with a bit of manure and bone meal.

What to do this month in the greenhouse...

- Seed, seed, seed! Check out the lists below for what to plant...

- Do not forget to vent out the humidity to prevent mould and fungal issues, plus pests! Best is to run your fan for a bit each day, with the door open to move the air around and get rid of any condensation.

- I keep the heater at about 7 to 8 C degrees at this time of year. Ensures that the air stays warm enough for the seedlings but not so hot that they get lanky.

 Cafe au Lait ... the perfect wedding dahlia...
Or just because you love it, as I do!

- Start your summer bulbs in pots, in the greenhouse, to get a head start on the season.. dahlias, cannas, callas, lilies, pineapple lilies...   

Heirloom Blue Podded Peas

What you can sow in the garden this month?
- Broad beans
- Green aka spring onions
- Spinach
- Lettuce, mustard, rocket, Oriental greens
- Radishes
- Turnips
- Peas (to have better, and bigger yields, don't forget to use inoculant)
- Swiss chard

For most all of the items listed above, I highly recommend succession sowing. Succession sowing is a method of staggering your crop sowing to extend your harvest.

Sow small amounts, just a row or two at a time, of each crop every 2 to 4 weeks, so that you have a new crop coming throughout the growing season.

Rooted in Walla Walla onion seedlings.

Mid to late month is the perfect time to sow ....

- Carrots 
- Beets
- Shallots or onions
- Horseradish
- Asparagus roots (for how-to plant, see HERE!
- Fruiting shrubs like blueberries, raspberries, currants, etc.. 
- Fruit trees
- Strawberries

 This chitted Blue Russian is ready to be planted.

I do not plant potatoes till the early to mid April, so another good month or so yet.

I do, however, start to chit them a few weeks ahead of time. Chitting is a term that means allowing your spuds to form wee sprouts.  

 Mrs Collier Sweet Peas... love white and creamy hues....
Planting this one this year!

 Flowers from seed to sow directly outdoors this month ...

- Calendula
- Cornflowers
- Poppies
- Cosmos
- Sweet Peas
- Marigolds

Seed your tomatoes this month!

 Plant up in pots, trays or in flats now, for planting out as seedlings later ...

- Broccoli, broccoli raab
- Cauliflower
- Cabbage
- Brussels sprouts
- Celery
- Tomatoes! Yes, finally! I know it has been killing you all to hold off... About mid to end month, start your tomatoes from seed so that they will be a good size, but not too big, to plant out at the end of May.

Arbequina olive tree is putting on wee olives : )

Happy sowing and growing and weeding! 

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...