The Gardener's Journal is a free monthly gardening guide delivered direct to your inbox.

Each month, receive tips on the top jobs needed in your garden as well as a wealth of information on a range of gardening topics. From sowing seeds to picking fruit, each month get access to information on the care and maintenance of your flowerbeds, vegetable plot and lawn. As with your own gardening diary, the journal is split into separate sections, each covering a different area of garden care.

Friday 1 March 2013

How to prune - March

Prune large flowered clematis and start pruning roses, removing any dead, damaged or diseased stems. 

Autumn fruiting raspberries can be cut back to ground level and fruit trees can be pruned, removing dead, damaged and diseased branches. 

It’s a good time to cut back hedges before birds start building their nests. Tidy up creepers taking out old, worn and leggy growth. Trim box edging. Bays, laurels, hollies, conifers and rhododendrons can be trimmed. Cut back buddleias, dogwood and willow to bring on new growth.

This Month in your Garden - March

Your hard work in the autumn and winter months, digging and preparing borders, working in compost and tidying up is coming into its own. 

Frosts will have had a beneficial effect on the soil, breaking it down to a good tilth – that’s ideally a loamy, nutrient rich soil, a mix of sand, clay and organic matter will give you a friable soil that is not prone to compacting. 

Finish preparing borders, ready for planting biennials and perennials in April, by forking them over. 

Time to give the lawn some attention by feeding it and seeding bare patches. If the weather is dry and reasonably mild you can sow some hardy annuals such as Sweet Peas and Clarkia. Sweet Pea seedlings started in the autumn or in January under glass should be ready to plant out about now. 

The Lawn Care Guide – March

March is when you start your lawn care in earnest, clearing up and repairing bare patches.

If it’s mild and dry and the lawn has grown it may be time for the first cut. This needs to be just a topping, not too short, to keep the grass protected until the frost have passed. Raise the cutting height of the deck on your garden tractor or mower, gradually lowering with successive cuts. 

Repair edges by cutting out a section of turf and turning it around to face the cut edge and make repairs with a mix of seed and fine soil. 

If you have lumps and bumps in the lawn don’t try rolling them out, they will appear again. Make a top dressing (if you didn’t do this last month) with sieved soil, garden compost and sharp sand in a 3:2:3 ratio. Spread and level this in the depressions. 

How to... Plant Sweet Peas

Image courtesy
You need to train tall varieties of sweet peas against canes. Space bamboo canes 30cm (12”) apart in straight rows, or in a circle to form a wigwam tightly secured at the top. 

If you don’t want to train each plant individually you can drape and attach pea and bean netting to the canes and the plants will climb up.

The Vegetable Plot – March

Remove any over wintered greens and have a hoe ready for weeding between rows of vegetables. 

Now is the time to make new asparagus beds and order crowns of all-male varieties for the heaviest yields. 

Lift mint and replant in containers sunk below ground to stop it spreading everywhere. 

Sow the first vegetable seeds in a warm, sheltered place. 

You can put potatoes in now. In well prepared ground you can use a trowel or if you need to, dig out trenches about a spade deep 60cm (2ft) apart and put manure or compost in the bottom (don’t use spent mushroom compost). Plant the tubers on top, add fertiliser such as Growmore to the dug out soil as you mound it up over the rows.

The Big Glut Recipe – March

Pan fried venison with Parmesan butternut squash and sweet potato

March is the last month for seasonal leeks, celeriac, rabbit, parsnips and in come spring onions, radishes and wild salmon. How about something for two that feels a little indulgent and is perfectly complemented with a good red wine?

Lawn Care Questions and Answers - March

Q.  Help! I treated my lawn with Evergreen weed and feed mix and whole areas have gone black, what did I do wrong and what can I do to get it back? Mr. P. Bonner