It may not feel (or look) like it yet, but spring is approaching! March is a GREAT month to start preparing your garden for spring and summer. March weather can be a bit touch and go here on Long Island, so we’ve put together this list of action items—review it and stock up on supplies now so that you’re ready to go if and when the weather cooperates.
- Prepare your soil. If your soil is workable and the ground isn’t frozen, you can work in a layer of compost, manure, or a general-purpose fertilizer. We also recommend working in some slow-release fertilizer around trees, shrubs, and hedges. This can be a pretty quick and easy task, as you can just lightly fork the fertilizer into the surface of your soil near the base of the trees and shrubs. But please note that you should tread lightly on your soil at this time of year to prevent compacting soil and damaging roots. Do not work soil if it is very wet.
- Are you a rose gardener? March is the ideal time to plant bare-root roses, feed your current rose bushes with a special rose feed, and prune the rose bushes to encourage healthy new growth. Espoma RoseTone is our rose fertilizer of choice. Rose gardeners also can prune out any dead canes or canes with signs of canker. Use clean, sharp pruners and disinfect tools when you’re done pruning. We have Corona and Felco pruners, gardening gloves, hats, and gardening clogs.
- March can be a good time to move certain deciduous trees or shrubs, but not all trees can be moved this time of year and remain healthy. If you have some trees or shrubs you’d like to move, please consult with our knowledgeable staff.
- If you didn’t cut back the dead foliage on your perennials or prune your ornamental grasses yet, do so in March to make way for new growth. Grasses can be cut down to a height of 6” or less.
- If you keep a vegetable garden, March can be a busy month, especially if you start many of your vegetables and herbs from seed. Here are a few things you can start doing now:
- Mid-March is a great time to plant Swiss chard and other hardy vegetables such as carrots, radishes, and turnips; seeds for peas can be planted outdoors starting near St. Patrick’s Day (easy to remember as peas are green!). Planting now will give you fresh vegetables ready for harvest by mid-May – and Swiss chard will continue to produce all summer, so you’ll really get a lot of bang for your buck.
- Leaf lettuces, arugula, and kale also can be started from seed outdoors in March, but we recommend using a cold frame for these plants.
- Now is a great time to start seeds indoors for vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, beets, celery, and kohlrabi, as well as herbs. We have everything you need for seed starting: Seeds by Botanical Interests – flowers, herbs, and vegetables including a wide selection of USDA Certified Organic seeds. We also have Jiffy seed starting soil and Jiffy seed starting peat pots and kits.
- Wait to start your tomato and pepper seeds indoors until end of March or early April.
- March also is a lovely time to plant some herbs. Rosemary, chives, and thyme are herbs that do great when planted outdoors in March. But don’t plant basil – it’s too tender to survive if planted outdoors this early in the season.
- If flowers are more your thing, you can start those from seed indoors now, too! We have Encap Seed Combination Mixes for Wildflowers (sun or shade), Flowers for Pollinators, and Flowers for Butterflies and Hummingbirds.
- And finally, don’t forget about the birds. I’ve noticed more birdsong in the morning this last week already! Hopefully you’re waking up to this lovely sound, too. Provide birds with food, shelter, and water. High-fat nuts and seeds help feathered friends weather the still-chilly temperatures. Keep your birdfeeder clean to prevent fungus that can harm birds. Birds need water to drink and bathe in year round. We have a full line of Droll Yankee feeders and Lyric and D&D seed mixes for all varieties of birds. We also have a terrific new selection of birdbaths and fountains, which not only provide water for birds but are lovely accent decorations in any garden.
Tackling these tasks always makes us excited for the coming spring! Plus, getting them out of the way now means our spring gardening will be less hectic. Your garden will be ready and able to take full advantage of the coming rain and sunshine! As always, please don’t hesitate to ask any of our knowledgeable staff if you have specific questions about early-spring garden prep work