For Gardeners, March spells spring. This is the beginning of our growing season in Ohio: the trees bud, the bulbs begin blooming, the ground becomes open, the warmer winds struggle with the cold ones. It is time to take our garden tasks seriously, if we had left off during winter’s hibernation.

March comes in like a Lion? It leaves like a Lamb.

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sign of spring

sign of spring

This spring is forecast to be warmer and wetter than usual, so says the Farmer’s Almanac for the Ohio valley. And it looks as though the month is arriving like a lion. Maybe a baby lion, with its confectioner’s dusting of snow!

I like March with its blustery winds and warming earth. And there is always lots to do in the garden.

Zone 5 Gardening

Perennial Flowers

This is a good month to begin dividing and planting perennials, if the weather permits.

Many plants can be divided, but not iris or peonies, which should really wait until mid to late summer.

crocus

snow crocus

It is important to clear out old debris from the perennial beds, and this chore gives one time to inspect the emerging signs of plantings along with the eruption of spring bulbs, which many have teased us all through the winter thaws. Go ahead and heel in any heaved perennials like Heucheras. Will they or won’t they? Bloom, that is. In March they definitely will! It is time for the Snow Crocus and the Eranthis, as well as Iris reticulata to make their appearances.

Annual Flowers

If you have ground prepared, this is time to plant the hardy and half hardy annual seeds, which can take a little frost. March 17th, St. Patricks Day, is th emarker for Sweet pea planting. More cool season choices for annuals can be found on my blog.

March Sights

March reminds the gardener why preparation is so important, and if one did not start in the fall for this season, there is no sooner than now! It is a good month to gather all ones supplies, ready the machinery, and find opportunity to prepare the ground with cultivation.

The farmers hereabouts try to open the ground in February through March with a method called “harrowing”. The purpose of harrowing is to make a fine seed bed of the surface soil. The earth is still too wet and cold to dig deeply with a plow. Harrowing produces “good tilth”, which is always wanted in the garden. Ancient harrows look like the progenitors of instruments of torture with their spikes arrayed in a board. When I first moved to this place, a neighboring farmer harrowed the back field for me. I sowed it to red clover.

Install some birdhouses.

It is time for mating birds and baby animals. And time for the gardener to decided where to create haven for the wildlife that visits their yard. Fence verges, a patch of “prairie” ground, some sheltering shrubs, preferably with nutritious berries, are all considerations to make. These are also good spaces for sowing some annual flower seeds.

March Garden Chore: Pruning

Pruning is best accomplished before the sap rises and the buds emerge, but any time that a shrub or tree is somewhat dormant is still good time to prune. It is always a good idea to remove dead or diseased branches any time you find them.

Warnings To Keep In Mind

Don’t plant out your tender things too early, neither in this month or the next.

There are plenty of chores to line up so that the season isn’t rushed with disappointing results. Tomatoes don’t grow so well in cold soils, and you could actually start some indoors now if you haven’t already.

General March Chores

Dividing shrubs can be done now. If you prune or disturb spring flowering shrubs, you will lose this year’s bloom, but you can determine if it is necessary or not.

Put plant teepees and trellises in place.

Need more raised beds? Mulling over whether to begin gardening with some raised beds? This is a good month for constructing or installing those plans. I use them in my vegetable garden, and two raised beds fill with the minor bulbs were one of the first garden projects around here.

magnolia

magnolia stellata buds in spring

Marching On

March is a good time to plant shrubs and trees.

March Resource Links

More gardening tips

March Plants

Veggies

Plant spinach, peas, radishes, and salad greens. Perennial asparagus roots should be given a permanent place (although it will take 2-3 years to garner a harvest).

Vegetable Garden Tips