March is a busy month for preparing your garden for summer. It’s a time to accomplish as many of your gardening goals as possible. Here are some gardening notes to check or add to your regular to-do list to ensure your garden is at its best for summer:
For tired perennial beds
- Remove tired and worn-out plants and cut back grasses and sages. Dig up and divide clumping masses of perennials. Dividing and cutting back hard promotes new growth.
- Turn soil eight to ten inches deep and add gypsum, compost, and worm castings.
- Replant divided plants and add new favorites to make the best use of your space.
- March is the last month to plant California natives so that the summer heat won’t scorch them.
- This article lists some popular natives to consider that are unique to this region.
- Per Greg Ruben most of the California natives we use in Southern Calif, are native to coastal central Calif. where they naturally get more rain and fog. So it may be better to water more frequent for a shorter duration. The key is drainage. You must have good drainage, unless you are looking at meadow or stream side plants.
- Known for their casual feeling and low water use, natives can be finicky to care for so be sure to check plant-specific micro climate needs.
- As the weather gets warmer, soil fungus grows fast in warm wet soil causing root rot. Over watering and root rotting kill plants faster than under watering. The key is to monitor your plants weekly.
Sub & tropical plants
- Plan ahead – April is a prime time for pruning your sub-tropical and tropical plants.
- Prune overgrown plants to stimulate new growth and more flowers.
- Remove crowded and inward growing branches and limbs to create a more open plant and to control plant size.
- Plan on feeding your palms in April with good palm food. (Follow manufacturer’s instructions on amount of fertilizer to use, but never apply fertilizer on plants when the soil is bone dry.)
- For Kentia and king palms, scrub the trunks and crowns once a quarter with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water to protect them from insects and fungus.
- Avoid over or under watering your palms. Most palm trees need moist and well drained soil down to the roots.
- Prep your vegetable planters. This article gives a great list on how to prepare your planters.
- For summer favorites plant vegetable seeds and or started plants in April and May.
- Think worm castings! They are a rich natural fertilizer and plants love them. You can also try seaweed extract for strong insect resistant plant cells.
- The best veggie gardens are the ones that are attended to at least 3 times a week, for as long as it takes to sip a cocktail.
- Look for failing plants needing replacing, water system adjustments, plants growing so fast they need a stake, and watch for big green horned tomato worms.
- If you are frustrated trying to grow veggies due to battling voles, gophers, rabbits and poor soil, stop fighting – you cannot win. Try container gardening or even hanging veggie gardens. The results can be unbelievable.