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March gardening 101

According to the Becker County Masters Gardeners, now is the time to…

  • Inspect your apple or crabapple trees for fire blight so you can prune out all traces of the disease this month. You might also find the blackened, dead branch tips on pear trees or mountain ash. Check also for black knot swellings on chokecherries and other members of the cherry family. Prune at least six inches back in to healthy wood when you remove diseased tissue. If possible, dip your pruners into bleach solution between cuts.
  • Start seeds that need eight to ten weeks growth indoors under fluorescent lights by mid-month. Sweet alyssum, blue salvia, and dianthus pinks are just a few such seeds. Peppers, eggplants, and leeks are among others. Tomatoes may be started at the same time, but plants will be rather large when you put them outdoors. It’s better to wait until the end of the month to plant tomato seeds indoors.
  • Check produce you’ve kept in cool storage to make sure nothing is turning soft or rotting. Remove anything suspect, as problems can readily spread. Winter squash, onions, apples, and potatoes all have finite storage life, particularly if temperatures are warmer than ideal. Non hardy summer bulbs, roots, and corms such as dahlias, tuberous begonias, canna or calla lillies may also soften or shrivel if temps are too high or conditions too dry.
  • Heavy spring snowfall often weighs down evergreen boughs and flattens newly emerging bulbs. It’s probably best to just let the snow melt off on its own. If you prefer to remove it from evergreens, scoop it off gently rather than hitting the branches. They’re still brittle this time of year and prone to breakage. Snow won’t permanently harm bulbs, though they might not straighten up completely this year.
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