by Leslie Cox; Sunday; March 5, 2017

Well…after I stated “we were on a roll” heading into February’s garden chore list because of those few nice days in January, we have been pretty much at a dead stop through most of last month. Pretty hard to tackle many outdoor chores with so much white stuff on the ground. In light of the weather, and being so far behind on the chores now, I will relent and not add any more to the already long list.

Here is an amended list for March:

In the garden:

  • Finish pruning your fruit trees, grape vines, and cane fruits…raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and currants.
  • Once the fruits are pruned, spray with horticultural oil (dormant oil) when there is a dry window of at least 24 hours and temperatures are above freezing. But only treat those fruit plants which had pest or disease problems last year…like forest tent caterpillars or pear trellis rust. (Info about forest tent caterpillars – click here. Info about pear trellis rust – click here.)
  • Prune your summer-flowering shrubs…spirea, weigela, choisya, etc.
  • Cut Miscanthus spp. grasses back to 6 – 12 inches (15 – 30 cm)…depending on species. Smaller ones can be cut down lower than ‘Cosmopolitan’ and M. x giganteus.
  • Be forewarned…some grasses are cut back and others are left alone. Some examples are: cut back Carex elata ‘Aurea’ (Bowles’ golden sedge) but leave Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ alone. As there are quite a few sedges, look yours up to see if it should be pruned…or not.
  • Time to prune some of those clematis vines…and this is another genus where it really helps to know which one you have as all clematis are assigned to one of three groups and each group has a different pruning criteria. (More info about clematis groups and their pruning needs here.)
  • Keep up with the weeding.

In the vegetable garden:

  • Check out Seeds to start in March in Garden Info & Tips under In the Garden on the menu bar (or click here) to see what varieties you can sow this month and when.

In the greenhouse:

  • Keep checking for possible insect infestations or diseases on your over-wintered plants.
  • As soon as the weather starts to warm up…and stay reasonably warm…you can start bringing your plants out of their winter storage.
  • Once the greenhouse is emptied, give it a good clean from top to bottom. You want to get rid of any mold, etc before you start moving your young seedlings into the greenhouse.

In the compost pile:

  • Keep turning the pile. If you have some rich humousy compost, you can screen it into a spare bin until you are ready to spread it around your plants and top dress your beds.
  • Be sure to cover the pile so rain will not leach out precious nutrients.

In the tool shed:

  • Be sure to clean your tools at the end of the day…especially your pruning tools. These should be disinfected with a 10% bleach solution to prevent any chance of spreading diseases from plant to plant. I have a small spray bottle of diluted bleach which I keep in my tool basket so I can spray the blades of my secateurs regularly while I am pruning.


  • Keep checking your over-wintered tender perennials. Remove any leaves that are decaying and inspect plants carefully for aphids or other pests or disease.
  • Check the soil moisture in the pots. Only water when the soil has started to dry out for a few days.
  • If you use wood heat, watch your houseplants do not suffer from too much dry heat. Stick them in the shower for a brief wash-down once a month, or mist them regularly with a spray bottle filled with water.


Posted on March 5, 2017