Home & Garden

What to do in the garden in March

The Iowa Gardener: Time to stock up so you're ready at the starting gate

(File photo) Cedar River Garden Center staff member Cindy Sevde plants seedlings in containers in Palo on Mon. Mar. 14, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
(File photo) Cedar River Garden Center staff member Cindy Sevde plants seedlings in containers in Palo on Mon. Mar. 14, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

It’s March and there plenty of things to do on that gardening list.

  • Start seeds indoors now of perennials, onions, and slower growing annuals that need to be planted 10 to 12 weeks before the last average frost date (in Iowa, depending where you are, that’s mid-May.) These include snapdragons, annual salvias and impatiens.
  • The last week of March or first week of April, start seeds indoors of annuals that should be planted six to eight weeks before the last average frost date. These include marigolds, globe amaranth, sweet alyssum and flowering tobacco. Some vegetables, like peppers, also require eight weeks from the time you seed until moving them into the garden.
  • Once you can easily work the soil outside, plant directly in the ground seeds of fast-germinating cool-season vegetables, such as radishes, spinach and lettuce.
  • In southern Iowa, plant bare root trees, shrubs and roses at the end of the month, once you can work the soil easily.
  • Prevent diseases and insects on fruit trees by spraying with horticultural oil, also called dormant oil. Do so when temperatures are in the 40s.
  • Start to prune most deciduous trees and shrubs now, while they’re dormant.
  • Stock up. Work off spring fever to buy pots, potting soil, seeds and seed-starting supplies, tools, soil amendments, fertilizers, etc. You’ll save trips to the garden center during the spring rush. And clean up and organize your garage or shed, wash up pots, etc. so you’re ready at the starting gate.
  • How’s your mower? If you didn’t get it tuned up last fall and the blade sharpened, do it yourself now or take it in before the spring rush. Same for any shears or other sharp cutting or slicing objects, including spades and hoes.
  • If you haven’t already, invest a few bucks in a sharpening stone. It makes all the difference. It’s easy after you do it once or twice.

Veronica Lorson Fowler is co-publisher of The Iowa Gardener website at www.theiowagardener.com.

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