We are in the final countdown for the start of spring, which happens to be my favorite season. Yes, Spring Equinox hits at 5:37 AM on Saturday, March 20, 2021- not that I am counting the minutes! With longer days and milder weather this is a season of rapid growth in the garden both in the form of weeds and plants that you adore.
I often find myself feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to be done through the month of March. As much as I try to write lists and check off the tasks, it seems the garden is always a few steps ahead of me. In my twenty years as a professional I have tried to strike a balance between “work” and “play” when it comes to my gardening strategy, and that is what I aim to share with all of you.
Awesome Plants for March - Flowers & Fragrance
Before we dive into my March to-do list, let's talk plants! There are so many wonderful varieties that are flowering in the southeast at this time of year, including many that provide intoxicating fragrance.
Here are a few of my favorites to grow in zones 6-9. I have all of these (apart from the Daphne) in my home garden in central North Carolina zone 7. Each has been planted directly in Soil3 humus compost.
- Hamamelis × intermedia (witch hazel)
- Salix gracilistyla ‘Mt. Aso’ (pink pussy willow)
- Prunus mume (flowering apricot)
Hamamelis × intermedia (witch hazel)
Prunus mume (flowering apricot)
- Camellia japonica (winter camellia)
- Daphne odora (fragrant daphne) - IF YOU CAN KEEP IT ALIVE WITH ALL THE RAIN!
- Edgeworthia chrysantha (fragrant paperbush)
Daphne odora (fragrant daphne)
Edgeworthia chrysantha (fragrant paperbush)
- Carex oshimensis (EverColor® Carex varieties)
- Helleborus × hybridus (lenten roses)
- Primula vulgaris (hybrid primroses)
Carex oshimensis EverColor
Helleborus × hybridus (lenten rose)
- Allium sativum (garlic)
- Brassica oleracea var. italica (broccoli)
- Eruca sativa (arugula)
Brassica oleracea var. italica (broccoli)
Eruca sativa (arugula)
March Garden To-Do List
Try as I might to never use the “w” word (work), March is consistently the month that I start to have garden related freak outs. It starts from a rogue patch of weeds that get forgotten, and then snowballs into a massive list of “get done right now” chores. Often my social media posts read as frantic, but 2021 is the year that I will conquer this feeling of always being “behind”.
No, I am not setting the unreasonable goal of getting everything accomplished. Instead I am shifting my mindset, adjusting my goals, and reminding myself to first and foremost enjoy the little moments this spring. Yes, this control freak is trying to exercise some restraint and remembering to take time to stroll through my garden and see beyond the to-do list.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t stay busy in the garden! So what is on my list for the month of March?
- Order more Soil³ compost. I can’t garden without it, so I need to have a few bags on hand to use through the spring season.
- Cut the hellebore foliage off to reveal the flowers. I was taught not to discard the hellebore leaves in my compost pile as they can vector diseases.
- Plant everything that I buy! No more stashing plants in my greenhouse for months and months while they slowly suffer. This will be the year I plant what I purchase in a timely manner. Yes, this will be the hardest resolution to follow through on.
- Weed, weed, weed, and then weed more. Winter weeds need to get removed asap to prevent another generation from setting seed. This will be on every month’s to-do list, so just accept reality.
- Direct sow leafy greens in the beds that have been weeded. This will help prevent new weeds from taking over the space. Plus, you will get a tasty harvest!
Kale growing in my foodscape.
- Mulch, if it dries out. I am anxious to apply a light layer of triple shred hardwood mulch, but it is currently too wet to retrieve my trailer and I’m sure the mulch is also super soggy, heavy, and generally not in the best condition to spread. This task will have to wait until this record-breaking rain slows down.
- Plant potatoes - either in a cool grow bag like the Soil³ Mini Garden Kit or in the ground. March is the ideal time for potato planting in the southeast.
Here's an article about foodscaping with potatoes as an edible bed edge.
These potatoes (the green mass on the bottom left) are an edible bed edge for poppies and larkspurs that were planted in the fall.
- Sow more veggie seeds for transplanting, both cool and warm season. You still have time for one last round of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. And March is the time to get pepper seed started as they take a long time to germinate. But hold off on the fast-growing crops, such as tomatoes - those can be sown after the threat of frost in April.
- Fertilize, but only if you need to. Not sure if you need to? Look around your garden for signs of yellowing foliage, distorted new growth, and lack of vigor. Then, get your soil tested! Once you get your results you can make better decisions about what fertilizer to use and how much to apply. This is why “get a soil test” was on the February to-do list!
ENJOY! Be sure to take a few minutes as often as possible to simply step back and celebrate all that your garden provides: Beauty, bounty, habitat, humility, creativity, and chaos. Remember, your garden needs YOU to thrive.
Focus on One Area and Get it Completed
The biggest change I am making this month is to really focus my energy in specific areas of my garden where renovations are needed. Instead of running all over my property I am challenging myself to complete projects before starting a new one.
“Complete” may not be the right word, as we all know gardens aren’t static, they change over time. But I am taking on all the half-started projects from 2020 and getting them to the “finish line” by removing overgrown specimens, weeding, top dressing with Soil3, and planting an herbaceous layer to cover the ground which will reduce future weed infestations. By approaching these spots one at a time I feel like I have accomplished something meaningful without being overwhelmed.
March is a month of rejuvenation, so aim to make it a time to reflect with gratitude for all the garden offers. Be sure to smell that fresh spring air and listen for the frog symphonies. Soak in the warm sunshine and embrace the longer days as an opportunity to explore your space with fresh eyes and an achievable set of goals. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it should be to enjoy the moment, because time is precious.
Many of my ideas from February are still appropriate, so here's a link back to Gardening Ideas for February.
Until next month, I am wishing you all the best in your garden and beyond!
Did this help you out? Have any questions for clarity? Leave a comment below!