Garden tasks for March 2015

F_MR_15-gardentasksFlower garden

Prune shrubs when they finish flowering so they can put on fresh winter growth.

As your watsonias and cannas die back, cut off old stems to allow the new growth to push through.

Take semi-ripe cuttings (not too soft or too woody, just at that in-between stage) of native shrubs like hebes, corokias and coprosmas, as well as ornamentals such as cistus, viburnums, vireya rhododendrons and ceanothus.

March is traditional spring bulb planting time – daffodils, tulips, ranunculus, anemone, grape hyacinth, iris, hyacinths, freesias, spring flowering gladioli, babiana, crocus and lachenalias can be planted in the garden or containers.

Sow seeds of alyssum, stock, dianthus, hollyhock, snapdragon, candytuft, lobelia, scabiosa, cornflower, godetia, linaria, pansy, cyclamen, aquilegia, carnation and calendula.

Plant out poppies, nemesia, polythanus, primula, stock and many more!

If you haven’t already done so, lift gladioli bulbs when they’ve finished flowering, and store in a cool place.

Plant climbers when your soil is wet from autumn rain, except for clematis which is best planted in spring. Plant in rich soil and provide strong support.

Plan your winter rose planting, and place orders for new season’s roses.

Fruit and vegetable garden

Early autumn is a good time to feed citrus. You can do this organically by mulching generously with high quality compost, aged animal manure or perhaps a mixture of both. It’s also a good idea to add fish or seaweed based organic fertilisers, or comfrey tea. Look for a slow release product as the most environmentally friendly inorganic option.

Powdery mildew can be a problem for fruit trees at this time of year. Infected leaves become distorted and covered with a whitish powder – apply a fungicide at the first sign of a problem.

Harvest your kumara, pumpkins and any other vegetables intended for winter storage, and store in a dark, airy place.

March is an important month for planting your winter garden – plant out seedlings of beetroot, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, spinach and silver-beet.

Sow seeds of carrot, turnip, swede, radish, lettuce, silver-beet and parsnips. Seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are best sown in trays for planting out later.

Lawns

Complete preparation for re-sowing lawn.

After sowing (most mixes are sown at 30 grams per square metre), water daily until fully germinated.

Mow carefully on a high cut to encourage a thick, strong turf.

Second thoughts

Let your best beans, rocket, coriander, dill and Florence fennel plants go to seed. Store the seed in paper bags for next year.

Vivienne Bailey