March in the Garden

Please come visit us at The Natural Gardener for the most comprehensive advice, plants, and organic gardening supplies appropriate to our area and the current season.

SEEDS in season

Vegetables
Beans Beets Swiss Chard Corn Cucumber Mustard Greens Radish Turnips
LATE MARCH:  Black-eyed Peas Pumpkin Malabar Spinach New Zealand Spinach Summer Squash

Herbs
Chives Epazote
LATE MARCH:  Basil

Flowers
Castor Bean Cleome Coreopsis Cypress Vine Gomphrena Marigold Moonflower Morning Glory Nasturtium Nicotiana Sunflowers

things to TRANSPLANT

Vegetables
Swiss Chard Mustard Greens Tomatillos (you need at least two!) Tomatoes
LATE MARCH:  Cucumber Eggplant Peppers Pumpkins Squash

Herbs
Bay Laurel Chives Comfrey Scented Geraniums Lavender Lemongrass Marjoram Mint Oregano Rosemary Sage Santolina Savory Sorrel Stevia Thyme
LATE MARCH:  Basil

Annuals
Bluebonnets Bougainvillea Caladiums Calibrachoa Celosia Coleus Dahlias African Daisies Gerber Daisies Geraniums Marigold Pentas Petunias

Perennials
Virtually all perennials can be planted at this time.  Look for things like:
Ajuga Canna Lilies Columbine Daylilies Lamb’s Ear Lantana • Oxalis   Mealy Blue Sage Tropical Sage Silver Ponyfoot Verbena Yarrow

Trees & Shrubs
March and April are reasonably mild months for planting trees and big shrubs.  More attention is required for success as the weather continues to warm.

Soil Life

Topdress your lawn, flower beds, and gardens with compost.  You need to do this at least once a year to replace the organic matter that gets used by plants and washed away by watering.   (In vegetable gardens, add compost each growing season.)  Topdressing with compost builds and maintains a healthy, fertile soil layer.  It adds nutrients and beneficial microorganisms to your soil, it improves texture and increases soil depth, and it helps your soil hold moisture.  Some studies say topdressing with compost will cut a lawn’s water use in half — that’s huge savings!

If you haven’t aerated your lawn within the past three to five years, then do it this spring.  Topdress after to allow the compost into the holes for maximum benfit!

Till in winter cover crops.  Allow two weeks for the cover crop to decompose in the soil before planting in that area.

Tastier Fruits & Veggies

Keep your floating row cover nearby and handy in case we have a late cold snap.  You can wrap tomato cages or pea trellises, and make tents for squash or melons.  Row cover can also help protect new seedlings and little transplants from strong springtime winds.  The last average frost date is March 15th, but tomatoes and peppers need protection from the low 40s.  Once danger of frost has passed, move citrus trees and other tropical plants outside.

Spray your plants with seaweed for increased heat tolerance, winter hardiness, and pest and disease resistance.  Seaweed is a great overall de-stressor for plants.  It contains naturally-occurring plant growth regulators, hormones, micronutrients, and trace minerals that are vital to plant health.  When used as a soil drench, seaweed is a great natural root stimulator/activator.

Spray fruit trees for plum curculio.

More Birds, Bees, & Butterflies

Spring is in the air!  Consider planting native perennials, which help support our native solitary bee population.  Solitary bees are extremely docile and up to three times more effective as pollinators.  Instead of honey, your might notice your vegetable garden produce more fruit!  Our selection is most impressive during the spring — let us help you find the perfect plants for your landscape.

Conserve our Water

Healthy lawns need less water, and now is the time to fertilize!  Central Texas lawns need to be fed twice a year, once in spring, and once in fall.  There are many good, organic options on the market – look for a solid, slow-release fertilizer with an N-P-K formulation that has a higher amount of nitrogen, which is the nutrient that encourages green, leafy development in plants.  Independent studies by Texas A&M and the City of Austin have shown choosing organic methods doesn’t sacrifice results, but instead produce greener grass and healthier roots systems.

Prevent Pests & Disease

Remove hiding places for pests and diseases by raking up leaves and gather fallen limbs and fruit.  Put gathered debris into your compost pile and turn it regularly to keep the pile hot.

Check for aphids on new growth, especially on new transplants.  One surprising solution for aphids is to spray them with fish emulsion.  One step stronger would be an insecticidal soap spray.  Sometimes, even a hard blast with water will dislodge them, but be sure your plant is big enough to withstand it. Whatever method you choose, spray once every three to five days until you get control.

Keep an eye out for whiteflies and thrips.  They’re tiny but their predictable habits make them fairly easy to identify. Whiteflies are easy to spot because they always fly up in a little cloud when their host plant is disturbed.  Also, their sticky exudate often causes a sooty black mold to grow on plant leaves.  Thrips are harder to see but you might feel ‘em! If you’re in the garden and you’re getting nipped by something that isn’t a mosquito, check the plants around you for thrips.  They especially love roses, and because insecticides cannot reach inside the closed buds, all buds should be removed and discarded before any treatment is applied.  If you do find whiteflies or thrips in your garden, spray weekly with horticultural oil for three weeks.

Check new foliage on crape myrtles, squash, and roses for powdery mildew.  If you find it, spray affected and surrounding leaves with milk.  Cow’s milk is known to be a control for powdery mildew and both skim and whole milk are effective.  Spray every five to seven days, and spray again whenever there is a new flush of growth.  Other fungicides can be used if needed.