Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March TO DO - Seed & Herb Planting tips

In the car this morning on the way to work, my husband and I were discussing gardens.  I am contemplating a new garden patch and he is trying to talk me out of it.  That and the weather report from WGN saying that we will be in the 50s soon put me in a gardening state of mind.  It is almost too early to do much outside, but I did come up with a list of things that can be done in March if you, like me, are in zone 5.

One of the great things to do in March is starting a few plants from seed.

I grew these Chives from seed and am so excited that after bringing them in last winter they are now getting ready to flower.  I should have a batch of chive blossom vinegar before I can even move the planter back outside!

Here is a list of good herbs to start from seed:
            Some mints
            Summer Savory

Starting seed in March means that the plants will be about 2 to 3 inches tall by the frost free day in May meaning they will be ready for transplanting directly into the garden.  I am also saying that if you procrastinate like I do there is still time to get a jump on the season with seed.       

Start calendula seeds inside now in individual peat pots for June blooms in the garden which if kept cut will continue to flower for the remainder of summer.  Calendula, known as Pot Marigold, is the preferred marigold for culinary and bath purposes.

When staring seed indoors, some herbs should not have light while germinating.  Calendula, statice, verbena, parsley should be shielded with newspaper until sprouts appear

Plant sugar snap peas close to your fences now for June picking.  In May your luffa transplants can be planted between the pea plants to climb the fence when the latter are finished.

Here are a few other March Tasks to do as well:

As soon as soil is workable (not frosty or muddy) prepare it for your new herb plants by tilling in compost, lime, peat and sand.  Herbs want a neutral pH (on the sweet side) and light friable soil for good drainage.  Friable means easily crumbled.  This is sometimes also referred to as loamy soil which means it is a mix of different sized particles so water drains easily.

I wrote a blog series on soil preparation a while ago.  Here are the links if you want more details:

Savor your first outside exclusions if you’ve been winter bound.  Take vigorous daily walks amongst your gardens, inhaling deeply.

Prune roses and cover tops of cut stems with Elmer’s glue or special paint from a nursery to keep out borers.  Gradually remove winter mulch, hills, or covers protecting the bushes.  If you hilled up organic material around the roses, gently smooth it out at the base of the plants creating a circular border that will catch rainfall.

If you like me are itching to garden, I hope these ideas keep you active in the garden this March!

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