Monthly Garden Calendar for Midwest United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Paul Rodman

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MARCH

"A garden is a link to passing seasons"—Proverb

Start Seeds Indoors. Sterilize used containers in a 10% bleach solution to kill the bacteria that causes damping off. Read packet instructions to determine length of time for germination. Count backwards from the date you plant to transplant to calculate seed starting date.

Shrub Status. Check shrubs for winter salt or snow damage. Prune away any dead or damaged branches.

Get Ready to Plant. Plant cool season crops such as peas, lettuce, and Swiss chard as soon as the ground can be worked.

Give Grasses A Haircut. Cut back ornamental grasses that were left for winter interest.

Oil Check. Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees and deciduous shrubs and trees when temperature rises above 50 degrees F.

Prepare to Mow and Hoe. Check your lawnmower and other power tools to ensure that they are running properly. Repair shops will be very busy in a few weeks.

Give the Compost Pile a Good Turning. I like to use my mini-tiller to mix up the pile thoroughly.

Nitrogen Boost. Apply cottonseed meal to azaleas and rhododendrons this is a good source of nitrogen and will give these plants a jump-start.

Uncover Your Evergreens. Remove the burlap windbreaks from your evergreens. Keep hydrangeas and macrophyllus protected until the end of the month.

Rosy Disposition. I like to pot up new bare root roses into two-three gallon pots to give them an opportunity to develop roots before planting into the garden. Keep in a warm sunny location for 3-4 weeks.

Cut Back Butterfly Bushes. Trim back bushes (buddleia) back to six to eight inches above the ground.

Careful Where You Walk. To control soil compaction, avoid walking on wet lawns or beds.

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