The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Month of Jonquils, Daffodils, Hyacinths – The amber color of daffodils and jonquils and the perfume of hyacinths sets the tone and atmosphere for the upcoming season of spring. The most beautiful display of jonquils is in the woodlands at Reynolda Gardens in Winston-Salem. They have been there many years and get prettier every year.

Planting a row or bed of lettuce – On cold nights of March, a lettuce row or bed will thrive because lettuce is a cold weather vegetable. You can choose from green iceberg, black seeded simpson, buttercrunch, oak leaf and these are just a few of other varieties. Packets of lettuce cost about two dollars each and there are many seeds in a packet because they are tiny. A good way to sow them is in a bed. Prep the soil and reserve a bucket of soil to cover the seed. Sow seeds in prepared beds. Apply a layer of sprinkled peat moss and then soil in the bucket. Tamp down the soil with a hoe blade for contact with the seed. Use the watering can to supply a drink of water.

Jeepers, Creepers: The song of the peepers – Down by the creek bank by an old rustic log sings Dottie Rambo. The creekbank is the scene of croaking frogs this time of the year as we hear their serenade from the front porch. They sing because the creek has thawed out a little bit and they know spring is very close. It will soon be tadpole time for the frogs!

Starting a simple row or bed of spring greens – A row or bed of green produces a huge harvest in a small amount of space. Greens grown in early spring are much sweeter than those grown in the autumn garden. One ounce of seed cost around $2.50 and will sow a 30 foot row or a 4×8 foot bed. You can sow a mixed green bed containing curly mustard, kale, tendergreen, broadleaf, rape, spinach, and leafy turnip. The seed store or hardware will mix the ratio of seed you would like because all of them are the same price. To plant them, prepare the soil and use the handle of the hoe to form a small, narrow furrow about two inches deep. Sow the seed, sprinkle peat moss over the seed and the soil by hand can be pulled to both sides the furrow. Use the hoe blade to tamp down the soil for contact with the seed.

March is the month for cabbage and broccoli plants – As the month of March moves along, the plants of cabbage and broccoli can be set out in the garden plot. They are cold weather tolerant and can be started in the cold March soil. By planting now, you will still have plenty of time to succeed them with a warm weather vegetable and then perhaps an autumn vegetable. Broccoli and cabbage plants can be purchased in six or nine packs. Make sure the leaves are dark green and have blue-green stems. If the stems are hard and tan, this is a sure sign the plants are damped off and may not survive in your garden. Allow about two feet or more between plants to allow for good production.

Snows are a good possibility during March – Don’t let a few pre-spring days during the month of March fool you. The month has been known to produce some hefty snow falls with some with more than ten inches. It is still winter, so snow can be expected. Even if you plant lettuce, potatoes, onion sets radish, cabbage, broccoli, and greens, they will definitely survive and make a harvest. A snow in mid-March is not a bad thing because it will continue to kill of wintering insects, build up the water table, and usually not hang around waiting for another one. Remember that March can have its share of lamb and lion days mixed.

Trimming the panda and asparagus ferns – The panda and asparagus ferns are wintering over in the sunny living room and developing long runners which we keep trimmed back to promote healthy growth. They have survived several winters in the living room. All they need is a drink of water each week and a shot of liquid fertilizer once a month. It is good to have green plants inside during the cold winter.

The tulips will soon be in full bloom – The tulips are slower than most spring bulbs but they are now poking out there green spikes and will grow quickly as we move past mid- March. We love the short varieties because the wind of early spring doesn’t affect them as much. We cover them all winter with crush leaves to give them a great start in early spring.

A quickie crop of spring red radish – A packet will go a long way because almost every seed will sprout and you will enjoy a harvest in around 50 days.

Ray Baird