~ March 17, 2010 ~
I found my quote for this week to be so true. March is such a month of uncertainty. A few warm days,
a lot of rainy days and who knows, maybe even some snowy days. It is hard to resist the temptation
to plant when the temperature hits the 50's and 60's. There is a trigger in my mind that says, "Wow,
it is so warm, why don't I get a jump on planting". There are many things that will tolerate the
cooler temperatures and one of my favorites is the pansy. I am in such desperate need of color in
my life. Bright, yellows, purples and lavenders. It is the pansy that sustains me until it is time
to plant warm weather annuals. If you have never tried planting pansies, do so this spring. You
will be delighted!
Another thing to expect with March is the temperature roller coaster. Warm one day, freezing (literally)
cold the next. It can be quite dreadful and frustrating. Covering and uncovering of bulbs to keep them
alive. But, it is the way of the Kansas land and if you have lived here long enough you have trained
yourself to not get overly excited... right, whatever! How can you not be excited by warmer days and
days where it is lighter later? After all of these years as a Kansas native I still ask myself those
questions and the same answer always applies. I will always be excited when March arrives. Spring is
around the corner and I will be free from the confines of my house. That feeling, my dear gardening
friends, will never change for me.
Ready, Set, Wait...
This time of year it's pretty common for garden soils to be wet, wet, wet.
Unfortunately time is rapidly approaching for spring planting. Although you may be
tempted to work wet soil, remember that there are some serious consequences.
Soil structure can be destroyed, forming large clods that take weeks or
months to break up with natural weathering. Use of a rototiller is especially
damaging in soils that are too wet. A gentle spading will cause the least soil
damage but is still a risky proposition. It is better to delay planting a few
days or weeks than to try to till wet soils.
Clematis can be a confusing group of plants to prune, since
they are not all pruned the same way. In fact there are three
methods that can be applied to major groups depending on the time
of year the plant flowers. The earliest flowering clematis bloom
on old wood, while later flowering types must produce new growth
in order for flower buds to form. Prune carefully, since vines
are usually well entangled. The complete directions are a bit
long to fit in this space so we published them in our
section. Check out
Relief For The Root-Bound...
Judging when a houseplant needs a new, larger pot is mostly a matter of roots,
Kansas State University Research and Extension horticulturist Chip Miller.
Many container-grown plants need a new home every year. But some grow so slowly that
relocating every two or three years can be enough. "To check whether plants are becoming
root-bound, you need to knock them out of their pot. If you water several hours before
trying this, you'll be able to remove the plant more easily," Miller said.
He recommends two approaches to this dislocation:
For plants in pots
that are 8 inches wide or smaller, place one hand over the top
of the pot with the plant's stem passing between two fingers.
Turn pot and plant upside down, and rap the edge of the pot
against a table. The root ball should come away from the pot
and into your hand.
- For larger
combinations, place the pot on its side and rap its edge with a
rubber mallet. Roll the pot a few degrees and repeat the
rapping. Continue the procedure until the root ball "releases"
and you can slide the pot down.
"If you then see a clear network of roots, the plant needs to be moved into a larger
pot," Miller said. "The new pot should be just 1 inch wider if the plant was small enough
to remove into your hand. It can be 2 inches wider if the plant's old container was at least
10 inches wide."
Rosy Days Ahead...
Now that we are well past mid-March it's time to start thinking about roses. Actually we can
start doing something too! Now is a good time to plant bare-root roses and give existing
roses some TLC. Got roses? Read
Getting Started on the Growing Season.
Do Not Disturb...
All around Kansas City, bulbs are popping up everywhere. I'll bet yours are too! Look
closely at your bulb beds. Are there weeds popping up as well?
If so remove the weeds by gentle hand pulling. Removal with a
cultivator or other weeding tool may disturb the bulbs
Well Oiled Fruit Trees...
Savvygardeners with fruit trees will soon be applying horticultural oils to
fruit trees to reduce certain pests. These oils are not poisons. Instead, the
thin film of oil covers the target insect or mite and plugs the spiracles or
pores through which it breathes. Pine needle scale, oystershell scale, euonymus
scale, aphids, spider mites and small pine sawfly larvae are all effectively
controlled by this method.
Proper timing is critical for success when using oils. Dormant oils should be
applied in late March or April before leaves or flowers show signs of breaking
dormancy. A common mistake is to apply 'dormant' oil sprays too early (on the first
warm day in February or March) before insects are actively respiring and susceptible
to the oil's suffocating effects. Wait until as close to bud break as possible before
applying oil sprays. Also make sure temperatures will be above 40į for at least 24
Whether it's lawn seed, fertilizer, or weed killer chances are you're going to use a
spreader for the job eventually. But what kind? Drop or broadcast? Well, there's
several things to keep in mind before you pick one. Generally if both spreaders
are of equal quality, a drop spreader usually will provide better accuracy. However,
a high-quality rotary will be more accurate than a lower-quality drop spreader. There
are these differences to consider as well:
Drop spreaders meter out the fertilizer and drop it directly on the lawn. A
drop spreader is best if:
- You have a small
- Doing the job as
precisely as possible is most important to you.
- You donít mind
taking a bit longer to apply products to your lawn.
Rotary spreaders meter out the fertilizer and throw the granules in a swath up to
several feet wide. A rotary spreader is best if:
- You have a very
- You like to get
the job done as quickly as possible.
- You do not have
flower beds or gardens in the middle of your lawn.
"March is a month of considerable frustration - it is so near spring and yet across a great deal
of the country the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our
yards seems light years away."
~ Thalassa Cruso