The Green Thumb: March begins the gardener’s madness
by Sue Davis / For the Tracy Press
Mar 08, 2012 | 1571 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I don’t know about you, but for me, those warm days we have in February each year signal the beginning of spring fever, or March madness, or just an overwhelming desire to be outside working in the soil. Although it is still too early to plant many of my favorites, there are a lot of things to be done in the garden.

Plants are beginning to sprout new growth, early bulbs are flowering, and fruit and nut trees are blooming. As you enjoy the new spring growth, you’ll find it a good time to prune out suckers from trees and shrubs.

Cool-season grasses, such as fescue, will appreciate an application of fertilizer every six weeks now through June. Also, begin fertilizing your roses and mark your calendar to continue feeding them every six weeks through October.

Weather permitting, it’s a great time to check, repair or install drip irrigation systems for your landscaping and planned vegetable garden.

As long as you’re working in your vegetable garden, take time to loosen the soil to a depth of six to 10 inches and lightly work in some compost and fertilizer for large and healthy plants as the season progresses.

If you choose to plant potatoes, as Adrian suggested on Feb. 23, you will want to buy seed potatoes from a nursery or a mail-order company that certifies the seed potatoes are disease-free. Whole potatoes can be divided to give you a bigger crop by cutting the potatoes into chunks that contain one or two eyes (the small depressions where sprouts will form).

To prevent rotting, store the freshly cut pieces at room temperature for three days before planting to allow the cut surfaces to dry and form a callus before planting.

In just a few minutes, you can eliminate mosquito breeding areas in and around your yard by emptying any rain-filled containers you might have and draining other low areas that hold standing water.

Whatever your own kind of March madness brings, I hope your garden thrives.

• The Green Thumb is a column by Tracy’s master gardeners. University of California-certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or mgsanjoaquin@ucdavis.edu.
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