March 2013 Gardening Tips for the Backyard Gardener

Yes, spring is knocking on our door and I can’t wait to be back in the garden tilling, fertilizing, planting and weeding.  A garden is becoming a necessity, especially with the price of food and fuel.  March is when most of the Gulf Coast area begins planting corn, beans squash, cucumbers and peas.  Eggplant, pepper, and tomato plants can be put out now also.  Though is quite unlikely, keep an eye open for an unexpected frost and cover to protect your new transplants.

As April kicks the growing season into high gear.  All kinds of melons can be planted now.  Pumpkins, zucchini, black eyes, limas can all be put in.  In late April, okra and sweet potatoes can be planted.  If you would like your okra seeds to germinate faster, pour hot water over the seeds and let them sit overnight in the water.  The next day, they will be ready to plant.

March is the time to plant some color.  Before the heat sets in, lobelia, petunias, coreopsis, cosmos, zinnias and many more plants can be put in beds, containers and hanging baskets.  A few weeks after you have put in your flowering plants, give them a little boost with a 3-1-2 or a 4-1-2 ratio fertilizer.  With the warmer temperatures of April, you can plant vinca, caladiums, pentas, impatiens, and celosia.  Be sure to mulch your beds about 4 or 5 inches deep.  This will make weeding a lot less time consuming and it will save you money on your water bill.  If you find that you have extra seed, place in an envelope, then put the envelope in a glass jar with lid and store in the freezer.

March will bring on a beautiful array of color if you have azaleas, spirea, camellias, redbud, dogwood, mock orange or spring blooming roses.  Sometime in April though, the blooms will be fading and when they are finished with their performance, it will be time to trim any unsightly shoots or branches.  Try not to cut them back hard, just what is necessary, then you can fertilize them. Container grown roses can be planted and enjoyed now too.  

When March approaches, the fruit trees will begin to bloom and what a wonderful scent they have.  Mulching them out to the drip line will help keep more water for the trees and less for the weeds.  I hope your garden and beds are a great success this spring.  Until next time.  Happy Gardening!

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