March is the official start of spring and the garden starts to fill with colour as daffodils and other bulbs begin to bloom.
There’s plenty of job to do, but keep an eye on the weather forecast as one day can feel as warm as early summer and the next can be icy cold. There’s no need to rush as jobs can wait until conditions improve.
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Finish cutting back borders
- New growth is appearing but there’s still time to cut back any remaining perennials and deciduous ornamental grasses.
- If you have a garden shredder, feed the old stems through it before putting on the compost heap as they’ll rot down faster and your compost will be less ‘twiggy’.
Discover our Best Buy garden shredders
Control slugs and snails
- Now that spring has arrived, the temperature should be starting to creep upwards. But the lush new growth that this encourages is irresistible to slugs and snails, so be sure to take some controls now.
- We found that organic slug pellets based on ferric phosphate are just as effective as ones based on methaldehyde. We’ve also had success with biological controls, though these don’t control snails.
- Biological controls use microscopic nematodes which are natural predators of slugs. You can either buy empty packets with a voucher inside at the garden centre or buy them from specialist companies via mail order. They need a minimum soil temperature of 5C so the company will only send them out when conditions are suitable.
Learn more about how to control slugs and snails
- Broad beans, spinach, lettuce, peas for pods and shoots, onions, salad onions, early brassicas, such as cabbage, calabrese, kohl rabi and cauliflower, turnip, radish, parsley, coriander, dill and beetroot can all be sown in module trays indoors and planted outside when they’re big enough to handle.
- Alternatively, sow them direct in the ground and thin out the seedlings to the distances given on the seed packets.
Discover our Best Buy compost for sowing seeds
Plant early potatoes
- While most varieties of potato are planted in April, earlies, such as ‘Rocket’, should be put in during late March.
- Plant them about 40cm apart in rows 45cm apart in the ground.
- Alternatively, if you’re planning to grow them in pots, use one that’s at least 25cm in diameter and half fill it with one of our Best Buy composts for containers. Bury the potato just below the compost surface.
- As shoots grow, cover with more compost until the pot is full. Cover the young plants with garden fleece if frosts are forecast. Make sure you water the pot regularly so the compost is moist but not wet.
- By late June or early July, your potatoes should be OK to harvest. Check they’re ready by putting your hand into the pot and gently feeling for the tubers. If they feel big enough, tip out the contents of the pot, otherwise leave them to continue growing.
Learn how to grow potatoes
Sow half-hardy annuals
- Get set for lots of colour in your border and pots this summer by sowing half-hardy annuals indoors.
- Good plants to try include zinnias, antirrhinums, cosmos, nicotiana and marigolds.
- Sow larger seeds in modular trays and sow smaller ones in pots or seed trays for pricking out as seedlings into individual pots.
Discover the best places to buy seeds online
Read our full guide to gardening jobs for March