University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
AND OTHER MARCH GARDENING TIPS
Leonard Perry, UVM Extension
your seeds and starting many, pruning young leeks, and forcing
into bloom indoors, are some of the gardening activities for this
seed packets by planting time. Some seeds are generally sown
directly in the
garden so should be set aside into one group.
These include ones such as corn, beans, and carrots. A few
flowers are often sown directly into
the soil, including sweet peas and nasturtium.
I like to sow most of my seeds, even ones such as squash that can
sown directly, into peat pots or cell packs prior to get a slight
jump on our
usually short growing season.
seeds to be started indoors, then arrange them by planting time.
start with seeds that should be planted indoors 8 weeks before the
frost, followed by those to be planted 6 weeks before, and so on.
haven’t tracked, or aren’t sure of, your average last frost date,
perhaps mid-May in USDA zone 5, late May in zone 4, and early June
or later in
zone 3. This date of course varies with
your own more specific climate and year.
of the flowers you may want to start about 8 weeks from setting
ageratum, coleus, dianthus, geranium, impatiens, ornamental
salvia, and annual vinca. Wait until
later to start most vegetables, although parsley might be started
8 weeks prior
to planting out. Many end up starting
tomatoes too early, ending up with spindly and leggy plants. Aim
for about 6 weeks prior to planting for
these. More details on sowing dates can
be found online (perrysperennials.info/pubs/oh89sowf.html and
starting your own plants, you'll save money and be able to grow
varieties not readily available in nurseries. Start seeds in flats
moistened seed-starting mix. Once the seeds germinate, place the
tube lights or grow lights (14 hours a day, 6 to 8 inches above
keep soil moist.
you started leeks indoors already, they are probably getting
pretty tall by
now. Trim them back to about 2 inches in height, so they don't get
fall over. Like grasses, leeks grow from near the soil line rather
the top, so you won't harm the growing point by trimming them
branches and bring them indoors to force into early bloom. Prune
shrubs such as forsythia, quince, mockorange, deutzia, and
honeysuckle. Tree branches easily forced include
crabapple, apple, cherries, serviceberry, and of course pussy
willow. Some like to soak branches in a bathtub
overnight. Trim the branches to a
reasonable size for your vase. Place in water,
and you should have flowers in 2 to 4 weeks for many of these.
also is a good time to prune fruit trees.
Choose a day above freezing if possible, as it is easier on you as
as on the tree. First, check for and
remove the 3 D’s—branches that are dead (usually a different
(look for scabs or spots), and damaged (as from ice damage or wind
breakage). Then check for and remove the
2 C’s—branches that are crowded or crossing (they’ll rub on each
off the bark where disease can enter). Finally, prune
selectively, shaping the tree
according to its age and type of fruit tree.
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).