Today’s tips are meant for gardeners in Southern California, but will apply to those of you in cooler climates in a month or so.
We’ve been having a spell of wet, cool weather. Normally things are growing at a rapid pace by now, but because the night-time (and even the day) temps have been unseasonably cool our gardens are a bit behind where they would normally be. Still, that’s ok because it gives us a chance to catch up if we’ve fallen behind.
March Garden Maintenance
- Fertilize lawns. I use GroPower Plus and it seems to work well. It has humic acid which is really good for conditioning the heavy clay soil in our area.
- Fertilize roses. This year I’m trying Dr. Earth Organic 3 Rose and Flower Fertilizer. It’s got lots of great ingredients, like fish bone meal and kelp meal, that should help my roses be strong and healthy.
- Check new growth for pests. Staying on top of pests in your garden is key to keeping plants healthy. Succulent new growth attracts sucking insects like aphids.
- My roses have aphids. I washed them off with a stream of water and I’m going to pick up a container or two of ladybugs to help keep them under control.
- Snails and slugs. We’re likely to notice a big increase in their numbers because of all the rain we’ve had. If you garden organically, you’ll have help in controlling snails and slugs. Lizards will eat them, as will opossums and birds. You can lay down barriers of diatomaceous earth, sand or crushed eggshells to keep them from your plants. Copper barriers on tree trunks will keep them from climbing up and eating fruit (they love citrus). You can capture them by watering an area they frequent and laying down a board or a piece of old carpet. You can also use dampened tubes of rolled newspapers. — anything that creates a dark, damp space. Wait a day or so and pick it up in the morning to capture these pests. Seal them in a plastic bag and throw them in the trash. You can also put some beer in a shallow pan or can. They’ll come for a drink and fall in and drown.
- Pinch back fuchsias. Cut them back by two-thirds or so, leaving 2-5 leaf buds for new growth.
- Divide perennials like agapanthus, callas, day lilies, rudbeckia and daisies.
- Pruning – many books will tell you it’s time to prune ornamentals, but it’s best to wait a while until the spring nesting season is over. Otherwise you might inadvertently prune away a nest with eggs or baby birds. (Speaking of which, check out Thursday’s Garden Journal for an exciting surprise!)
- Stay on top of weeding. The rains will make weeds pop up, so get them out of your beds while the damp soil makes it easy and before they disperse seeds for a whole new round of weeds.
- Finish cleaning up storm debris in your flower beds. Put down some compost or other organic fertilizer (see last week’s tips on improving your soil) and mulch.
We’ve noticed in our search terms that a number of people are looking for information about digging fresh manure into soil. Be careful. Some manures must be aged before you use them. If you are preparing new beds and will be able to leave it to mature for at least couple of weeks, you can dig in fresh horse or cow manure. However, don’t dig these manures into soil near plants. It will heat up as it decomposes and it will burn your plants’ roots, possibly killing them. Chicken manure also needs to be aged – at lease three months.
Once these “hot” manures have been aged for three months, you can use them as you would other fertilizers. Other manures like rabbit or llama poo are ok to use straight, both for digging into new beds and as top dressing on established beds. Just be sure you find out how much to use. Too much of anything will cause big problems.