Sunday, February 28, 2010

Margaret's March to-do List (if and when...)

Margaret Roach, currently the most popular garden blogger in the universe (and former editorial director of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia), has greeted snow-laden March with an 'if-and-when' to-do list of garden chores: outdoor tasks to dutifully perform this month to ensure splendid results on your lot as spring unfurls. You know, if and when the snow melts...if and when it's dry enough...if and when green buds start sprouting.

Margaret holds Jack, a wayward farm cat who now calls her garden in the Catskills home. Margaret is currently working on a new book and updating her website.

You can read the full list of Margaret's March chores at her blog, A Way To Garden, which is currently being redesigned. (I'm excited to see the results!) I've plucked some of her wisdom from her newletter to share here with you:

HOARD CARDBOARD AND NEWSPAPER while you wait, to smother areas for new beds, or thwart weeds under fresh mulch in existing ones.

WHILE INDOOR CHORES such as seed-sowing commence on schedule regardless of weather, outdoor chores sometimes have to wait until April. Caveat emptor: Be sensible and don't muck around in too-wet soil or walk unnecessarily on sodden lawns. Love your soil, and protect it.

YOUR PLANT ORDERS should be in the mail, or headed that way. When things arrive, bare-root woody plants will take priority in planting, so think ahead.

GET YOUR JOURNAL, calendar or notebook ready to record bloom times, timing of tasks, successes and failures, and valuable information from catalogs or seed packets.

TAKE A WALKABOUT (IF AND WHEN): Check to see if mulches are in place or if they've heaved, or if burlap and other protectors have come loose, exposing vulnerable plants. Once soil drains, pull and dig up perennial weeds now, before they get a foothold. After some sunny, dry days, rake snow mold off the lawns.

EMPTY bird boxes of old nests.

MUCK OUT WATER GARDENS of fallen leaves and other debris at the earliest opportunity, using a net. Keep an eye out for any tadpoles, newts and salamanders in every heap; return them to their watery hideouts.

CUT DOWN ORNAMENTAL GRASSES before they begin to sprout anew. Cut back old foliage of earliest bloomers like epimediums, or things that emerge fast and would then prevent easy cutback, like tall sedums. Cut back evergreen groundcovers whose leaves will fade when new crop pushes, including epimedium, hellebores, and European ginger (Asarum europaeum).

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