March has come in like a lamb, a welcome reprieve from the rain that pummeled us at the end of February. The ground is thawing, I have seen signs of perennials trying to poke their way through the soil, and I think we’re going to have an early spring! It will be so nice to open the windows and let some fresh air into the house on warmer days, to drive the cold winter away. Houseplants should be fertilized and repotted if needed, since spring is a good growing time for them too. Seeds can be planted for the veggie garden towards the end of the month. Cold crops like lettuce, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are sure bets, and will result in an earlier harvest.
Outside, first things first, before we start digging into the very soggy ground, the yard should be cleaned up. Hurricane-force winds and multiple inches of rain can certainly make a mess of things. Keep thin straight sticks for plant supports this summer. Larger, straighter fallen limbs can even be used as natural edging for a raised bed. Prune any limbs that broke leaving jagged edges, and now is the perfect time to take care of any pruning that couldn’t be reached due to snow (though it’s been a weird winter for that, for sure).
Spring can come even earlier if there are forsythia and pussy willow on your property. Cut stems of forsythia and put them inside the house in a vase of water, and you will be rewarded with beautiful yellow blossoms in just a few days. Cherry, crabapple, and redbud stems are also relatively easy to force into bloom inside. As the stems are warming to the indoor temperatures, it is a good idea to mist them occasionally, so the buds do not dry out, and change the water in the vase every couple of days.
Lawn care can start this month, first by raking up any leaves that are still on the lawn from last fall. Rake gently, as the ground is no longer frozen in a lot of areas, and a rough rake can tear up grass plants. Any bare or thin spots can be over-seeded later this month; the seed will root during the warm days and cool nights, and fill in nice and strong for the coming summer.
One thing to remember is to not do any digging or plowing of the earth until it has dried out. Working the soil too early will cause it to pack down and harden, which will make it very difficult to work later in the season. Though it is tempting to get out there and start diving into the garden, wait just a few weeks. Mulches and boughs can be pulled back away from the crowns of plants, but don’t remove them entirely, since we could still get some cold nights, and any new growth brave enough to poke above ground should stay protected.
You should, however, turn your compost pile. Parts of it may still be frozen, but getting some air into the pile will help re-start the composting process after winter. If the top layers are dry, turning will mix them to the center and bottom, combining them with the hopefully moist materials there. If the pile is not moist, add water. Not so much that it over saturates and runs out, but enough to keep the good bacteria and worms happy and doing what they need to do.
Spring is on the way, I’m ready for it! Let’s get out there and enjoy the early season gift that’s been given us! I am very much looking forward to crocus and daffodils and tulips dotting the landscape any time now.