Tips for your Garden in March
as recommended by Mike Vidrine,
Brazos Valley Gardener, Orchardist and Apiarist
It’s March in the Brazos valley and despite the cold weather blowing through on occasion, our brief Spring is pretty much here to be quickly followed by the long hot summer.
The vegetable garden is yielding the last of the hardy winter vegetables we planted in the fall – leafy greens, cabbage family crops, carrots and beets. The freezes this winter were hard enough to take out our English and Sugar Snap peas but in milder winters we would also be harvesting them now.
Early plantings of cool season vegetables for Spring harvest started in February and will continue through the early part of this month. Lettuce, mustard family leafy greens, cabbage family plants and peas can be planted and will be ready before it gets too hot and they go to seed. February to early March is also the time to plant potatoes – Red Lasoda has been the best producer in our garden. Final plantings of cool season root crops can also go in early this month including carrots, beets, turnips and radishes.
About mid March, if the weather gets consistently warm, it will be possible to put out tomato plants and start an early planting of beans and corn from seed. Protection from late frosts may still be needed for these vegetables until April. Plantings of cucurbits, eggplant, peppers, okra and southern peas should wait until the soil is truly warm – perhaps late March to early April.
Any dormant pruning not completed during the colder months should be completed this month. Winter damage should be apparent at this point as the hard freezes get behind us. Perennial plants will be breaking dormancy soon, and therefore will be able to quickly heal any pruning wounds. Pruning of early Spring blooming ornamentals should wait until after they flower.
Late Fall through Winter is the best time to plant trees and shrubs in our area. The cool and generally moist conditions allow the plants to get some roots established before the tougher conditions of Summer set in. Bare root plants should have been set already but plants in pots can still be set out. Plants just getting started this season will require frequent watering especially as our days go from warm to hot.
Insect problems start to increase along with warmer temperatures in March. Most of our insect problems can be controlled with relatively mild organic solutions – especially if caught early. Fungal issues will be popping up so keep a sharp eye out and be prepared to apply appropriate controls. Note that fungal control products generally only stop the spread of fungal diseases and don’t cure them so early detection and control are very important. For fruits and nuts it is often advisable to apply fungal controls routinely even in advance of signs of disease. Final applications of dormant or horticultural oil for scale insects on fruits and nuts will generally be complete by early this month.
The cool weather season is a great time to get the mulching done before the hot weather makes this a rather miserable task. A couple of inches of mulch helps to reduce weeds, retains moisture, cools the soil from the blistering summer heat and ultimately breaks down to a rich humus – plus it looks nice.
Master Gardener instructor and Messina Hof VIP