Garden tasks for March 2016

Flower garden

MR16_F_march16-ranunculus-bulbsMarch is bulb time — plant daffodils, tulips, ranunculus, anemone — pointy ends up, grape hyacinth, iris, hyacinth, freesias, spring flowering gladioli and other spring flowering bulbs in the garden or containers — they’ll need to be planted before the end of autumn.

Feed dahlias and chrysanthemums and deadhead to prolong flowering.

Start autumn shrub and hardy perennial planting once the weather begins to cool, and rain makes the ground moist — soil can stay hot and dry for another month, depending on the weather.

MR16_march16-dahliaSow cold-weather tolerant winter and spring flowering annuals. Garden favourites are pansies, primulas, polyanthus, primroses, and Iceland poppies, but you can also sow seeds of alyssum, calendula, linaria, hollyhock, sweet william, carnation, cyclamen, godetia, nigella, lobelia, honesty, cornflowers, candytuft, scabiosa, aquilegia, snapdragon and early-flowering sweet peas.

It’s also time to plan winter rose planting — place your orders for a June delivery.

Fruit and vegetable garden

Earth up leeks and celery.

Lift and store onions and potatoes. If you’re planning to store potatoes, it’s best to delay digging until their tops have completely died off. Store in a dry place, as cool as practical (but not freezing).

Pumpkins are also maturing now — ‘Buttercup’ pumpkins can be progressively harvested and used when they reach a good size. They don’t need the long maturing time of many larger pumpkins, but they taste best if left to mature as long as possible so don’t pick until you intend to use them. Pumpkins you plan to keep for winter use, such as ‘Triamble’ and ‘Crown Prince,’ are best left until their vines are dying off, and stems snap off easily.

Sow seeds of carrots, parsnips, radish, lettuce, spinach, silver beet, beetroot, swede and turnip directly into the garden. Seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are best sown in trays for planting out later.

Plant seedlings of beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach and silver beet, but watch out for white butterfly caterpillar — use Derris Dust.

Cut out old canes of loganberries and raspberries, and thin out outside growth of gooseberries and currants.

Feed citrus trees.

Gather up all your fallen fruit – March is the main month for harvest of pip and stone fruit.


Complete preparation for re-sowing lawns.

If you have clover in your lawn and want to get rid of it you can use Kiwicare Buster, but remember clover is a nitrogen-fixing plant and a natural, no-fuss source of the nitrogen grasses need — which is why farmers sow it in new pasture mixes. Clover is also fairly drought-resistant once established.

Second thoughts

Perennial herbs such as chives, mint, thyme, rosemary, sage and marjoram can be divided and replanted. Basil, a summer annual, should be harvested before the cold weather — it can be dried or frozen.