Gardening in March
March heralds the arrival of spring, and even if there are still winter snows in some areas, the garden is still in the starting blocks.
March is a favourable time to cut roses and figs before the new shoots appear. Roses, for example, should be pruned by a third, leaving the top bud eye facing outwards, so that the shoots can spread and expand nicely. For figs, you should prune a third of the side and main shoots to obtain branched growth. Also remove all branches that rub against each other.
Clean out perennials thoroughly now, it is late enough in the year that you will not disturb wintering insects too much. For potted plants such as geraniums, remove the dry leaves and herbs and cut back perennials a little. It is often advisable to repot and replace the soil. If you cannot change the soil, add some liquid fertiliser or home-made nettle liquid manure.
In the field, the first early vegetables can be sown in the prepared beds at the end of March, when daytime temperatures can reach 15°C. These include radishes, carrots, onions, black salsify, spinach, chard, rocket salad, Asian salads, broad beans, swedes and parsnips. Seed potatoes are now also being planted in the earth. Among herbs you can now sow parsley, Good King Henry and orach. Among the flowers you can already sow marigolds, cornflowers, phacelia and poppies. Lucerne, lupines and red clover (alfalfa) are also very useful as a quick preparatory green manure. The insects will also be pleased. Freshly sown beds must be kept moist throughout. When the first leaves appear, the soil may also dry out superficially. What often spreads quickly in the beds from the end of February onwards, especially in other beds, is chickweed. Do not weed all of it, but use it fresh in salads, because it has a very tasty, slightly nutty salad taste.
Remember that a well-planned mixed cultivation is good for your vegetable plants: celery harmonises with parsnips, early carrots and garlic or onions and leek in alternating rows chase away the pests. Cabbages like broccoli do well between tomato plants.
In the house on the windowsill, you can grow later varieties of kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, savoy cabbage, white and red cabbage, as well as tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, physalis and kitchen herbs.
At the latest now is also the time to install nesting holes and tit boxes, because soon the bird brood begins. Insect hotels and shelters for insects should also be placed now, so that the little helpers such as earwigs and ladybird larvae help you to keep the aphid population in check.