BLESSINGS IN BLOOM: Marching into Spring
By Kerry Peetz
Traditionally, March is our snowiest month, and the weather can certainly be temperamental.
Snow, wind, rain and hail — anything is possible in our diocese. By the grace of God, we also have some gloriously sunny, warm days mixed in to help us transition into spring and to remind us of promise of summer.
In the yard, the garden is slowly coming back to life. Who doesn’t like the thrill of spotting the first sign of green? Johnny Jump Ups, crocus, grape hyacinth, daffodils and primrose are usually among the first to let us know spring is here!
There’s a lot to do in the garden.
Time to Prune: Prune clematis jackmanii in early March before the plant comes out of dormancy. This cultivar of clematis blooms on new wood every year and, if left alone, it will become spindly with decreased blooms. Cut stems back to 9” to 12” above ground with a clean straight cut. Prune to just above two strong buds. In the following weeks as new growth appears, apply a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer and train the new stems around a support.
Next, prune out dead wood in trees and shrubs. However, do not prune living branches on spring flowering shrubs like lilac, mock orange or forsythia. Prune these plants after they bloom.
Prepare: As soon as ground can be worked, till in 1” to 2” of compost or aged manure into vegetable garden soil.
When starting a new perennial garden, dig out any sod or weeds and work in the same amount of compost and/or aged manure.
Plant: Mid-March plant peas and sweet peas, soaking the seeds overnight.
Fall-bearing raspberries can be planted now. Some varieties are Heritage, Fall Gold, Fall Red, September, Pathfinder or Trailblazer.
Small bare root trees and shrubs as well as bare root roses can be planted as we move into March. Try to choose a time when we have predictions of three or four mild and pleasant days. I suggest soaking the roots overnight to give the plants a good start.
Cool season vegetables, radishes, spinach, arugula, lettuce and onions can go into the prepared garden bed toward the end of the month.
Indoors, start seeds of cold tolerant annuals like stock, godetia and slow growing impatiens, ageratum and lobelia.
Lawn: Core aerate the lawn or have it done by a qualified lawn service. Make sure the soil is moist before aerating to get 3” plugs. Leave plugs on the lawn.
Tools: sharpen the mower blade and replace motor oil. If tools weren’t cleaned last fall, do it now.
Other maintenance includes raking and cleaning up the yard and gardens.
What to do on a snowy day: Say your Lenten prayers then sit down with paper and pen and make a list of what you want to accomplish in the coming growing season, whether it be new plants, a water feature or steps to a rock garden. It’s time to get creative and plan the wonderful gardening season ahead.
Where to get more information:
Attend spring garden classes. Phelan Gardens has a “Successful Tomatoes” class on March 26. On April 16, Colorado State University Extension is offering “Soils: The Foundation of a Great Garden.” These and others are listed on Eventbrite.
When researching a garden question on the internet, remember to make sure the extension is “.edu” Colorado State University provides research-based information for our area.
As we prepare our gardens, we are also preparing for Easter. During this time of cold and snow, we can recall the 40 days when Jesus was in the desert resisting temptation.
“It’s impossible to find any other who could suffer, die, and be resurrected, to give an eternal gift to humankind. That’s Jesus. That’s Easter.” — Joanna Fuchs