March in the Garden
March is a busy maintenance month in the garden. Prepare beds for autumn annual planting. You should work in about 3 to 5cm of compost into the soil. This will ensure that plants have the nutrition they require to get off to a great start.
Give your soil nutrients so that the plants in your garden have the ability to become strong and healthy. Use a general fertiliser like a 2:3:2 which has a lot of phosphate in it and a good balance of nitrogen and potassium, (also known as potash), and can be used in addition to the compost at the recommended rate. One could also use a fertiliser such as 8:1:5 at this time of year with the compost.
Autumn means it’s time to start sowing winter and spring flowering annual seeds. Some of our favourites to sow now are :
- Sweet Peas – Sweet peas have a large strong root system that develops quite deep, so when planting them you need to prepare the soil much deeper than what you normally woul). Use a pencil-like stick to make 3 to 5cm deep holes and drop the soaked seeds in, cover the holes and water well. Keep the area well-watered.
- Pansies – Are a winter and spring flowering favourite for the sun. Their colourful blooms are available in a wide range of single and bi-colours. Tip: Pansy and viola flowers can be used as a garnish or as edible flowers in salads.
- Primulas – Fairy primroses, (Primula malacoides), are still a favourite for winter and spring flowering colour in the shade or semi-shade. They have dainty, tiered flowers and are available in white, lavender, rose, pink and a darker pink/purple. White primulas will brighten up shady patches the most and show up well in the evening. A plus is that fairy primroses are self-seeding.
- Calendulas – (Calendula officinalis) have edible “petals” that look super sprinkled on winter soups.
- Iceland poppies – are available in stunning mixed colours – choose cultivars with strong stems for windy gardens. Tip: Before buying seed always check the sowing time on the back of the seed packets for your region’s best sowing months, sowing depths and final spacing.
- Garlic:There is nothing better than cooking with fresh produce from the garden and Garlic bulbs are available in garden centres at this time of year. Simply prepare a sunny bed with compost, and either bonemeal or superphosphate at the recommended rate. Plant the individual cloves about 10 to 15cm apart and about 3 to 5 cm deep, making sure that the pointy side faces upwards. If your soil has poor drainage then plant them in raised beds or even containers. Garlic wards off many pests with its pungent smell and is, therefore, a great addition to any veggie garden. (Garlic is not well suited to very humid, hot areas of the country).
- Pelargoniums:Bush geraniums, (Pelargonium x hortorum), and ivy or cascading geraniums, (Pelargonium peltatum), are still some of the “jewels in the crown” of our indigenous plants even though they have been heavily hybridized. Geraniums are one of the most rewarding garden plants and are ideally planted in containers on your patio in a sunny to semi-shade position. Geraniums love to be planted in a well-drained soils that should be moist but not wet. Give them a weak but regular, (preferably weekly), liquid feeding.
- Amaryllis caterpillar/worm:Keep a lookout for wilting leaves or flowers on any of the lilies like arum lilies, amaryllis, agapanthus and clivias. Inspect the plants by pulling the leaves open to reveal the “middle” of the plant above the bulb – the Amaryllis worm is normally easily spotted in this area if they are the culprit. They may be between the epidermal layers of the leaves or openly chewing close to the base of the leaves and flower stalks. The base of the leaves will also become slimy, smelly and pulpy. Ask your local garden centre for a recommended spray.
- White grubs:The adult chafer beetles sometimes lay their eggs in the lawn and the grubs that hatch feed on mostly decaying organic matter but also the lawn roots and underground lawn stems. The lawn or leaf blades start to wither and die in patches. If you want to confirm your suspicions, you should be able to easily pull up pieces of lawn and see the large, fat white grubs curled up in a c-shape. Ask for advice at your garden centre and treat as recommended.
One of the best ways to save water in the garden is to hydro-zone the plants in your garden. Hydro-zoning means that you position plants in the garden, or in containers, according to their water requirements so that we do not use any more water in any hydro-zone than the plants positioned there require. We, therefore, group all plants that like the most water together and these are commonly known by your garden centre staff as 3 drop plants, those that require a medium amount of water 2 drop plants and the water-wise, low water requirement plants as 1 drop plants. Where possible keep the 3 drop zone to a minimum – perhaps around a swimming pool or entertainment area, and in the same way make the 1 drop zone the largest area of your planted garden, (since paved areas effectively constitute a 0 drop zone). There is no better time to start than today – have fun and save our precious water.
Source: Life is a Garden