March in the garden

Spring usually arrives by mid-March and the frequent sunny days provide the opportunity for an increasing range of gardening tasks.

It's time to get busy preparing seed beds, sowing seed, cutting back winter shrubs and generally tidying up around the garden.

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Pick off any developing seedheads on daffodils and other spring bulbs, but leave the foliage to die back naturally
Finish pruning roses early in the month
Cut dogwoods, willows, cotinus and paulownia right down to the base to promote vigorous new growth
Start sowing hardy annuals outdoors, including California poppies, nasturtiums and opium poppies
Tidy up alpines as they start to flower, removing dead foliage, then mulch with grit to keep the foliage off damp soil
Plant faded forced bulbs out in the garden for blooms next year
Plant lilies and other summer-flowering bulbs in pots and borders
Feed ericaceous shrubs, such as rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and pieris, with an ericaceous fertiliser
Tidy up borders, removing established and newly-germinating weeds, then mulch generously with garden compost
Plant new roses and other shrubs and climbers
Sow native wildflower seeds in trays or modules, to produce plants for your own mini-meadow
Check tender new shoots for aphids, and remove before infestations get out of hand
Continue deadheading spring flowers and any remaining winter bedding so they don't set seed
Scatter general-purpose fertiliser over flowerbeds and around roses, shrubs and hedges


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Fruit and veg

Avoid carrot root fly by sowing an early crop of carrots under cloches or fleece
Sow tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers and aubergines in pots indoors
Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, at a depth of 10-15cm, spaced about 30cm apart
Buy young herbs to plant in containers near your back door, for handy pickings
Plant onion and shallot sets, spacing them 10-15cm apart, and keep the bed free of weeds
Make the first outdoor sowings of hardy veg, such as spinach, covering with cloches or fleece
Plant early potatoes in trenches on the veg plot, or in large tubs if space is limited
Sow parsnips as soon as the soil starts to warm up, as they're slow to germinate and need a long growing season
Plant a fig tree in a large container to restrict its roots, which encourages fruiting and limits its overall size
Feed cabbages and other brassicas with nitrogen-rich fertiliser, such as pelleted chicken manure
Plant bare-root asparagus crowns in well-drained soil or raised beds, in an open, sunny spot
Start hoeing veg beds as soon as the weather starts to warm up, as weeds will germinate quickly
Plant strawberries in a hanging basket to keep the fruits away from slugs

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Get crops off to a good start indoors to transplant into the garden later, such as celeriac, celery, lettuces and parsley
Take down bubble insulation in the greenhouse once temperatures start to rise, to let in more light
Sow a selection of vibrant annual climbers, such as Spanish flag (Ipomoea lobata) and black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata)
Buy good value young bedding plants for growing on to a larger size under glass, or sow your own in a heated propagator
Sow dwarf French beans in a large pot for an early indoor crop in June
Plant prepared freesia bulbs in pots of rich, loam-based compost, for fragrant flowers indoors this summer
Pot up overwintering cannas into fresh compost, water in, then place in a warm spot to spur them into growth
Sow sweet peas in deep pots and keep them frost-free in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill
Take cuttings from dahlia tubers planted last month to raise new plants
Protect greenhouse sowings of beans, peas, mangetouts and sweet peas from hungry mice
Be vigilant for greenhouse and houseplant pests, such as mealy bugs, and treat straight away
Open greenhouse vents on sunny days to prevent humidity building up
Sow coleus on a warm windowsill to enjoy their vibrant foliage indoors or in tropical-style displays outside
Take basal cuttings from perennials, such as delphiniums and lupins, to root in a pot indoors

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Garden maintenance

Mow lawns once they start back into growth, and re-cut the edges with a half-moon edging tool
Build or buy a new compost bin, ready to recycle the coming season's garden waste
Dig out a new pond, or install a water feature, to attract more wildlife
Put slug barrier products around the new shoots of hostas and other susceptible perennials
Replant pots of bulbs from indoors into borders, once the display is over, then water in well and apply liquid feed
Check that tree ties aren't too tight and that stakes are still firmly anchored in the ground
Prune out any wind-damaged branches on trees and shrubs
Fork up emerging shoots of perennial weeds, such as ground elder, removing every bit of root
Place bug boxes or bundles of hollow stems in sheltered corners, where insects can lay their eggs
Keep putting out food for garden birds, as the breeding season gets underway
Chop down winter-grown green manure and dig into the soil, to get the veg plot ready for sowing
Cut back winter-flowering jasmine to keep it within bounds and encourage flowers next year
Give blackcurrant bushes a high-nitrogen feed


Source: BBC Gardeners' World