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Gardening in March

The sun is starting to peak through the clouds, the days are getting longer and early spring bulbs are in bloom. Despite the continual chill in the air and damp conditions, March is a great time to get back out in the garden!

Here is a list of chores you can begin now, some indoors and some outdoors.

* Add manure or compost to your garden. These amendments provide necessary nutrients for your plants, retains moisture, and helps suppress insects and diseases. Beneficial bacteria and fungi are fed by compost, which help break down organic material for plant intake.

* Plant trees and shrubs while the weather is cool and rain is in abundance.

* Plant berries in March, though strawberries should not be planted until late March, early April.

* Plant asparagus and rhubarb.

* Plant cool weather plants, including beets, carrots, chard, lettuce, peas, radishes and potatoes (potatoes when temperatures average 50 degrees F).

* Keep slugs away from your tender new plants. Slugs thrive in moisture, so avoid watering at night, though watering this time of year is generally not necessary!

* Divide your hostas, daylilies and chrysanthemums. Never plant these where water pools in your garden.

* Cut back ornamental grasses to a couple of inches above ground.

* Treat your lawn by aerating (creating small holes for air movement), plant seeds, either on new lawns or to add seeds to already existing lawns, and add a 1 inch layer of compost to your lawn as a natural fertilizer. If you haven't already completed general maintenance on your lawn mower, clean filters, check oil (if applicable), check the tires, sharpen blades and give it a thorough cleaning. Mow your lawn to around 2" to deter weed growth.

* Start seeds indoors, such as cucumbers, eggplants, herbs, melons, sunflowers, and tomatoes.

* On a non-rainy day fertilize your trees and shrubs, and spray for pests and diseases.

* Fertilize and prune your houseplants after they are done flowering (if applicable).

* Check the weather for hard frosts. Cover shrubs and fruit trees on nights when freezing weather is predicted.

Spring is in the air! Time to turn off that television and computer and get back outside!

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