Al Krismer Plant Farm presents ........
   
 

MARCH 2018  GARDEN TIPS

   
  Tips  for a more beautiful garden

 

 Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs:
  • Divide daylilies, hostas, astilbe, and dahlias which need dividing.
     
  • In late March its not too early to put outdoors cool weather annuals such as pansies, violas, and dianthus. Or you might try the more unusual annuals such as linaria, calceolaria, mimulus, nemesia, and sunscape daises. These plants can withstand temperatures to around 30 or sometimes colder if acclimated to the frosty nights.
     
  • If cold frosty nights should bother your plants, never use plastic sheets as a frost protector. Use either cloth sheets or newspaper. Try if possible to prevent any of the covering touching the plants.
     
  • Its not a good idea to try to protect exposed and opened blooms of daffodils, tulips. or hyacinths from the cold since the weight of the covers will damage the flowers. Opened flowers can withstand a few degrees of frost, while buds should be able to cope with 20 degree temperatures.
     
  • Control iris borer by cleaning up and destroying the old foliage before new growth appears
     
  • Remove mulch from roses and perennial flowers if they begin to sprout.
     
  • Avoid mixing daffodils with tulips in your flower arrangements. Daffodils contain chemicals which may damage cut tulips in the same vase.
     
  • Lift and divide large clumps of herbaceous plants. Remove the old woody stalks and add them to the compost.
     
  • Alternating thawing and freezing can tear plant roots and even force the plant right out of its hole. If you notice any plants that have heaved, push them back into the earth, and tamp lightly with your foot
     

Vegetables and Herbs

  • Cool season vegetables can  be planted  in late March.
     

  • St. Patrick's Day is the traditional time to plant peas and potatoes, but you may have to wait a few weeks until the ground dries out unless you prepared the soil last fall. Rhubarb, asparagus, and onion sets can also be planted now.
     

  • Parsley is rich in vitamins A and C. Start some seeds indoors now for later transplanting to a sunny corner of the vegetable garden
     

  • Peas will tolerate light freezes. Early planting normally produces larger yields than later plantings. Successive spring plantings can be made every 10 days. Use a fence or string trellis for taller varieties. Dwarf peas will support themselves. Create a planting row 2 feet wide; then scatter the peas about 4 inches apart in all directions
     

  • Plant carrots, Swiss chard, peas, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, onions, parsley, parsnips, radishes, potatoes, and spinach when the weather permitting

For more info on starting seeds click here

  • Quality soil is the foundation for plants, have soil tested before planting new areas. Soil tests will give you important information like pH, % organic matter, soluble salts, and major nutrients in soil. Recommendations for amendments will also be provided

For soil testing info click here

 

Garden Maintenance:

  • Begin spring clean-up by clearing out dead leaves from gutters, planting beds and other planting areas
     
  • When your garden is dry enough (feels crumbly like chocolate cake, not squishy like Play-Doh), it's time to till and prepare it for planting.
     
  • Don't plow your garden when the soil is wet. It will form clods which are difficult to break up and interfere with cultivation during the summer.
     
  • Cut back ornamental grasses to about 4 to 6 inches. Try to do this before new growth starts. Remove any dead leaves or debris from the crown of the plant..
     
  • Set mole traps between 4 - 6 p.m. for best results, since this time coincides with active feeding time. Mole repellents, such as Mole-Med or Mole-Exit, both containing castor oil, also have shown some promise. Avoid other methods of mole control ... such as broken glass, chewing gum, poison peanuts, gassing, windmills, etc., since they do not work or are illegal.
     
  • Fertilize woody plants before new growth begins, but after soil temperatures have reached 40 F -- around early March in southern Ohio and late March in northern Ohio.
     

Shrubs and Trees:

  • Dormant oil can still be applied – Check our tip sheet    Applying dormant sprays tip sheet
     
  • Late March and early April is a ideal time to transplant shrubs and trees. You can move shrubs and trees as soon as the soil is workable, but before buds have swelled or broken open.
     
  • Trees which bleed such as birch and maple should not be pruned until after their leaves are fully developed
     
  • Fertilize established rhododendrons, azaleas, roses and other ornamental trees and shrubs, as well as fruit trees. Follow the recommendations on the fertilizer bag
     
  • Force branches of Pussy Willow, Cherry, Quince, and Forsythia to bloom indoors. Prune twigs once flower buds are swollen, place in vase of water and put in sunny warm location. Branches cut at this time of the year respond very quickly. Check tip sheet
     
  • Plant trees and shrubs in March, while they are still dormant. No nitrogen fertilizer is needed at planting time.
     
  • Eastern tent caterpillars will hatch from eggs on tree branches at about the time when red maples and forsythias are blooming. Organic sprays of B.t. variety kurstaki, or conventional pesticides such as Sevin, Diazinon, Orthene or Malathion will easily kill young larvae infesting ornamental cherry, crabapple, hawthorn, or other trees
     
  • Summer-flowering trees (mimosa, smoketree, goldenraintree, Japanese pagodatree) and summer-flowering shrubs (butterflybush, beautyberry, summersweet Clethra, Rose-of-Sharon, Annabelle Hydrangea, Hills-of-Snow Hydrangea, PeeGee Hydrangea, Pink-flowering spireas and crapemyrtle) can all be pruned in early March, since they will set flowers on their new spring growth.
     
  • By the end of the month we might have enough warm days to make many plants begin to show green shoots that will be tender if hit by frost. Don’t wrap your shrubs up if a cold wave warning is predicted. It just makes them more susceptible to damage.

Lawn Care:

  • Don't fertilize established lawns now, since that would encourage weed growth. However, fertilizer should be mixed into the soil before seeding new lawns, to get them off to a good start. If established lawns start out with a yellow-green color this spring, apply half the normal rate of nitrogen in late May. That would be equal to 1/2 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn.
     
  • Have lawn mowers serviced before the start of the growing season.
     
  • If a preemergence herbicide is justified on your lawn to control crabgrass now, most of those are available combined with fertilizer and you are forced to apply a fertilizer now. Look for a product with low nitrogen and be sure the majority of the nitrogen is a slow release N as listed earlier. Apply pre-emergent herbicide for crab grass control between March 15 - April 15
     
  • New lawns and old lawns need mowed just as soon as they reach normal mowing height. Never, remove more than 1/3 the length of the grass blade at one time. Mow to a height of 2 - 2˝ inches for Kentucky Bluegrass, or 2 - 3 inches for tall fescue
     

House Plants:

  • House plants will react to longer days and brighter light at this time by putting out new growth. The end of the month is a good time to pinch them back to generate new growth and to thicken them. You can begin fertilizing again with a dilute solution of soluble house plant food like Miracle Grow.
     
  • Turn your house plants a quarter turn each week to make sure all side of the plant receive adequate light and also keeps the shape of the plant balanced. Mist or spray your house plant to clean away the winter dust, prevent spider mites and add a little humidity. Remain vigilant in watching for insects and pests. It is much easier to win a 'bug war' if you are aware of the infestation in it's ealy stages.
     
  • A very dilute fertilizer solution at each watering keeps African Violet growth constant and reduces chances of over fertilization. Pale green leaf color may indicate too much sunlight or low fertility. Avoid water "softened" by a system using salt in the process.
     
  • When buying house plants avoid plant with roots coming out of drainage holes; as well as large plants in small pots, or small plants in large pots
     

Spring Pond Care:

  • Remove leaves and debris from ponds.
     

  • Inspect The Pond Take a careful look around your pond. Make sure there has been no winter damage to the pond or any of the components. Repair or replace as necessary.

  • Start Pump If your pump has been off for the winter, spring is the time to start it back up. Most people do this when the water temperature increases to around 50 degrees.
     

  • Test Water Begin testing the pond water again. Of particular importance are ammonia and nitrite levels. Both of these should be zero. Perform partial water changes if either test gives a reading other than zero.
     

  • Warm weather means your fish are now or soon will be ready to start eating again. Until the water temperature is consistently above 50 degrees, continue to not feed the fish. Once the water temperature is into the 50s you will want to feed a food designed for spring and fall. As the water temperature reaches into the 60s it will be time to feed your regular summertime fish food.
     

  • Also as the water temperature reaches into the 50s it will be time to get the hardy plants that survived the winter ready for a great year ahead. This is the time we begin fertilizing the plants. Also, for maximum performance, it may be necessary to divide some of these plants. If the plants are too crowded in their pots, they will suffer and their growth and flowering potential limited.
     

  • If you have a backyard garden pool, now is the time to clean it and refill it with fresh water. You can plant hardy water lilies from now until May.
     


 

Birds in the Garden

  • In March bluebirds return to the region and start searching for suitable nesting sites.  You can help their efforts by constructing a bluebird house in your backyard.  Bluebirds are very fussy about where they live and the type of box they select for their nest, so you should buy a bluebird house at your local garden center or make your own. 
     

  • Birds will be ready to start nesting this month so if you want them in your yard you will need to have your bird houses cleaned of last year’s nests and placed out in the yard. Check your dryer vents as it is a tempting place to put a nest. Cover your chimney to prevent birds, bats, squirrels and even raccoons from nesting in your house.

     

  • Place birdhouses built this winter outdoors this month. Birds will begin looking for nesting sites soon

 


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