Chores awaiting gardeners in March

Our challenge as March gardeners is that there are so many things to do in the garden and just not enough nice days to do it all. The forsythia shrubs are now unveiling their long arching branches of yellow flowers to trumpet the arrival of early spring. That is our indicator that it is now time to apply pre-emergent weed killers. Pre-emergent herbicides can be applied as a granular “weed & feed” product or as a liquid spray to control crabgrass and other summer weeds. The sooner you apply the pre-emergent the more effective they will be as they work like birth control to kill the weed seeds as they germinate.

This is the prime season to be planting your cool season vegetables. Old timers say to plant your seed potatoes by Saint Patrick’s Day, a good way to remember the planting “deadline” for Irish Potatoes. You should also be wrapping up your planting of onion sets and onion plants, bareroot strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb and most other bareroot berry crops in the next couple of weeks. You can also plant vegetable seeds for beets, carrots, swiss chard, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, radish, spinach and turnips.

More folks are adding vegetables to their yard and learning the joy and satisfaction of raising some of their own foods. Even if you live in an apartment or condo you can grow most vegetables in container gardens on your patio. 

If you carried over some seed and want to see if they are viable before planting drop a few in a cup of water. Generally “dead” or bad seeds will float and “live” seeds will sink. Another test is placing some seeds between 2 moist paper towels on a cookie sheet in a warm room. Remoisten towels daily. If most seeds start to germinate within  days you can start the rest in seed trays indoors or directly in the garden.

March is pruning season and the time to remove dead or damaged wood and to shape your trees and most shrubs. Do not prune early spring flowering shrubs like forsythia and quince as you will cut off flowers that are already formed and getting ready to dazzle you.  Wait to prune roses until mid March so you don’t stimulate new growth too early that could be damaged by late spring freezes.

Prune your trees, shrubs and roses to open up the plant by pruning to a bud or shoot pointing away from the center of the plant. The first bud below the cut will almost always be the bud to develop into a new shoot or branch. If you are pruning a grafted fruit tree, rose or other shrub always prune off all shoots from below the graft. Prune trees to avoid splits and “Y”s and to protect a central leader unless training a fruit tree for an exotic trellis system. Make clean cuts at a slight angle downward and away from your selected bud.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by rmoesel on March 11, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    -from the emails-

    I read your article “Chores awaiting gardeners in March” in the Daily Oklahoman on March 1, 2010. I did not know that there was a liquid pre-emergent out on the market and was wondering if you could tell me the brand name of the liquid pre-emergent and where to buy it locally, I live in the oklahoma city area.

    Sincerely Yours

    Cameron Smith
    *****
    Cameron, Thanks for reading the column. Double Play is a liquid pre & post emergent in the ferti-lome line by VPG. It contains glyphosate (Round-up) to kill anything green like winter weeds, up now in a dormant Bermuda grass lawn and prodiamine (Barricade) to kill crabgrass and weed seeds before they germinate. Do not use this product on a green lawn as it will kill your desired lawn in addition to the weeds. Always read the product label. I don’t know where in OKC you reside but this or similar products in other brands should be available at TLC, Precure’s, Horn Seed, Marcum’s Nursery, Eckroat seed and other good independent nurseries in our area.

    Have a great spring!
    Rodd

    Reply

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