Monthly Garden Calendar for Pacific Coast South United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Anita Noone

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MARCH

Iris, azaleas, ranunculus, and many types of wild flowers are in bloom as spring takes hold. Water needs will increase with warmer weather and longer day length. It is likely that we will still get some significant rainfall this month, so check before you water, and don't water if the top few inches are wet. Extra time spent mulching now will insulate your plants from unseasonable temperatures, whether hot or cold.

Veggie Delight. Beet, carrot, leafy greens, radish, and turnip are cool-season plants that are almost guaranteed to do well if you plant them at the beginning of the month. By mid-month it may be too late to plant these crops from seed.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot. These heat lovers may languish if you put them in now: basil, beans, corn, eggplant, tomato, squash, and melon. Warm-season plants can be put in the ground as soon as temperatures rise; by next month they are a sure bet.

Still Time For Roses. It's not too late to plant bare root roses, if you can find them. You are more likely to find bushes bursting with new growth, at a slightly higher price. Roses are hardy plants for the most part and a little drought won't bother an established plant. However, for best bloom and pest-resistance, water deeply at least once a week, twice if your soil is sandy.

Watch For Aphids. These small sucking insects that are the same color as the plant they are damaging. Aphids can be effectively controlled with a strong blast of water from the hose. Ladybug beetles are the aphid's predator; it's a good sign when you see them in the garden.

Bedding Buddies. Many beautiful bedding plants can be found in the nursery now: marigolds, ageratum, lobelia, petunia, and flax. When you purchase annuals at the nursery, look for small plants that are not in flower. Chances are the small plants are not too root bound and will establish and grow more rapidly. Small plants are also less expensive.

Landscaping Ideas. Assess damage from winter storms now that the weather has turned mild. If rain eroded a slope, consider planting a mix of annuals, perennials, bushes, and trees. California native plants do a great job of holding soil and they attract wildlife. Lemonade berry, scrub oak, matilija poppy, yarrow, California lilac, and buckwheat are all good choices. Non-natives that will do the job well include rockrose, rosemary, and acacia.

Lovely Lawns. Lawns usually look great this time of year — both warm and cool season grasses are growing. This is a good time to start a lawn from either sod or seed, but be vigilant about watering until your turf is established.

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