Monday, February 27, 2012

March (Early March) Garden Talks

Hello again,

February is leaving us with little snow in Skillin's Country. Contrast that with last year when we were buried deep. Who knows what turns our weather will take in March?

Here is a pretty good list of practical gardening tips for all of us:

*If you have ornamental grasses in your yard and you left them uncut in the fall for winter interest, then the "thrill" is probably gone. In other words, Mr. Winter has probably left your grasses bleached out and matted from earlier snow. When you can get the shears out and prune those grasses hard--to within an inch or two of the soil line. As I like to say to wary gardeners: "show them (the plants) who is boss"! This type of pruning will ensure a nice compact, thick and balanced growth habit going into the Spring and summer.

If Your Ornamental Grasses are Looking a Little Worn Like These Then Early March can be a Great Time to  Trim Them Back!

*March is the ideal time to prune your fruit trees while they are still dormant ( before the buds show any green). Take out any dead and winter-damaged wood, suckers at the base and branches that rub against one another. Then, thin out the interior so it's not crowded or twiggy. Finally, shape the tree overall to maintain a healthy, pleasant stature. Good fruit tree production starts in March with good pruning! Click HERE for more pruning details and pics!

*Terry Skillin also wants to remind you that the end of March or beginning of April is a good time to start your dormant oil program. Regular spraying is necessary for a quality yield of fruit. We sell some very safe sprays for your fruit trees that will help combat insect and disease. Combine your spraying with good pruning like we discussed above means you will be well on your way to a great yield of fruit. You know Terry and I love fresh apples, pears, peaches and more so if you grow some good "stuff" bring a piece or two for us!

*When you are able to get outdoors for some garden chores, be careful of your wet lawn and garden soil. Trodding too often on very wet soil can tear at your lawn but even more depressing compress the top part of your soil. Hey ground was made for "walkin'" on but just be sparing in making your tracks!

Our Garden Soil Should be a Little Dryer Than This Before We "Trod" On It!

*Get your Garden Journal ready to record what works and what doesn't, sketches, bloom times and to do's for later in the month. Got a Journal? Check out last year's journal or notes. Now is a great time to do that!

*Okay, we are all pumped about Spring and starting seeds. But it is better to start seeds later rather than sooner in most cases. As our friend Margaret of A Way to Garden reminds us: "Small, compact seedlings are better than older, leggy ones for transplanting. Only leeks and onions should be started indoors before mid-month. After that, the pace quickens: Sow cool-season crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts mid-March, to set out six weeks later." Jeff Skillin is adamant that tomatoes do not get started until April 15 or after. Warm weather loving vine crops like squashes and cukes do not get started until well into May!

*March is a GREAT time to start tuberous begonias early. I recommend starting them in peat pots during this month. You get a huge head start on the growth of the begonia and that means they will be almost ready to flower when you set them out doors in the ground or in a larger container in late May. And because they are in peat pots they can just be placed into the ground OR in the larger pots without disturbing the roots of the begonia! The same principle holds true for dahlias--our begonias are available now; our dahlias will be available before the end of March.

Tuberous Begonias are just a Wonderful Plant to Grow. March is a Great Month to Start Them Early!

*The birds are still feeding heavily from our feeders. Make sure you provide them quality seeds (we can show you here at Skillin's). And keep the food dry in their feeders. Should we get any torrential rains, make sure any exposed seed is cleaned out of the feeder!

*Come see Skillin's and many other good displays at the Portland Flower Show. The show runs from March 7 through March 11.

*This time of year is still a great time of year to cut some flowering branches (like forsythia) early and force them to flower inside the house, to read more about seed starting, to get an understanding of how many of our houseplants and to do some vegetable garden planting. All of this and more is covered in our mid February Garden Talks!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
February 27, 2012

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