Getting Garden Ready

DanFeatures, This Land of Ours

garden toolsWhat you can do now to get your garden ready for Spring. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.

Getting Garden Ready

From: P. Allen Smith “Garden Home” website

Garden To Do List March

gardenWe’ll soon know if March is going to come in like a lamb and go out like a lion or the reverse.  Time will tell. What I do know is that even though the weather can still be wintry, it’s time to start working in the garden.

  • In mild weather regions plant cool season annuals for early spring color such as pansies, violas, snapdragons, nemesia, sweet peas and alyssum.
  • It is important that your greenhouse is properly ventilated during early spring when fluctuating temperatures are common. Open the windows on mild days and close them before nightfall. My Riga greenhouse has automatic ventilators. This saves me from making 2 trips to the greenhouse every day.
  • Plant potatoes as soon as the grass begins to green up.
  • If you live north of the Mason Dixon line plant grapes as soon as the soil is workable. Southern gardeners should plant grapes in fall so they will have plenty of time to get established before summer heat sets in.
  • As temperatures begin to warm and plants emerge from dormancy, slowly remove protective mulches. Beware of removing mulches too soon since hard freezes are still possible.
  • Transplant roses, shrubs and ornamental trees before the leaf buds open.
  • Walking on wet soil will cause it to compact. So after the spring thaw wait until the ground dries to start working in your flower and vegetable beds. To test the moisture level squeeze a clump of dirt in your hand, if it breaks apart when you open you hand, it is dry enough to work.
  • Apply slow release fertilizer to shrubs and perennials.
  • Plant parsley in your herb garden.
  • Get your lawn mower ready for the growing season. Replace the spark plugs, clean the air filter, remove grass and debris clogging the fins of the engine cover, and take it in to a small engine repair shop to have the blade sharpened and balanced.
  • Feed peonies with a low nitrogen fertilizer when they are about 2 – 3 inches tall.
  • Most perennials bloom for a 2 to 4 week period. When adding new perennials to your garden go for those that have great foliage as well as blooms or extend the flowering time by choosing a mix of early, mid and late blooming varieties.
  • To repair bare spots in lawns combine 5 shovels of sand, 1 shovel of sterilized topsoil, 1 shovel of grass seed and 1 cup of slow release fertilizer. Cover bare spots with this mixture, tamp down and water.
  • Harvest horseradish while still dormant, but when the plant begins to show green around the crown. Wear gloves because the roots can cause skin irritation. After digging the roots you can replant any unused portions such as side shoots or the crown for more horseradish later!
  • Transplant and divide snowdrops (galanthus) and snowflakes (leucojum) after the flowers fade, but the foliage is still green.
  • Clean water features and fountains. Make sure pumps and lights are working properly. Remove leaf guards.
  • Hot house azaleas are popular gifts this time of year. To grow as a houseplant give your azalea consistent moisture and place it in indirect light away from sources of heat such as a fireplace or air vent. Sheet moss placed on top of the soil adds a finishing touch to the container and helps retain moisture. Feed with a liquid fertilizer, diluted to half strength every time you water. If you feel the need to prune your azalea, do this immediately after the flowers fade and before it sets buds for next year.
  • Check your compost pile. Turn it every two weeks and keep it moist, but not wet.
  • Order bulbs such as crocosmia, eucomis, gloriosa, kniphofia and lycoris for interesting summer blooms. Read more about summer bulbs.
  • Set up an outdoor thermometer and a rain gauge. Keep a journal of the weather and when plants start to bloom.

More from P. Allen Smith.

How to Prepare a Garden for Spring | At Home With P. Allen Smith

Allen feels the spring closing in as he explains why it’s good to get your garden started early. He’ll show you how he plants potatoes, and don’t miss farm manager Chris doing his “Go Organic” dance.

Learn more at