Sunday, March 1, 2009

To Do List for March

This month marks the real start of gardening season for us here in Middle Tennessee. Lots of plants blooming now and I couldn't decide which picture to post, so I thought I'd post a bit of sunny flowers, the crocus and 'Diane' witch hazel. I simply love 'Diane', and again wish to thank my daughter in Louisville for taking me to a wonderful nursery where I purchased Diane. Witch hazels are hard to find!

Here are some things that keep me busy this month:

1. Finish cutting back ALL perennials and ornamental grasses. By now most of your perennials have been cut back, but like me, you may have left one or two up (coneflowers). Now is the time to cut them back. Mums need only be snapped off at the stem base to make room for new growth.

2. Finish pruning and shaping deciduous trees and shrubs. Do NOT cut back spring blooming shrubs such as forsythia, quince, deutzia, ninebark, mockoranges and the like, unless you are prepared to sacrifice some of the bloom.

3. Prune out dead areas on Japanese maples and Crepe Myrtles if you notice any. These trees may still be recovering from the deep freeze and drought of 2007.

4. Mow your liriope if you haven't already done so. Check for new growth before mowing so you'll know how low to set your lawn mower or to weedwhack.

5. Finish planting cool season crops in the vegetable garden. Some cool season crops to plant now are: potatoes, onions, peas, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower transplants, radishes, spinach, and beets.

6. Some cool season flowering plants you should get into the ground are: sweet peas, calendulas, and bachelor buttons. You can also plant pansies at this time, keeping in mind they will peter out in the heat of the summer. I prefer to plant pansies in the fall as pansies winter over very well here. Give them a slow release fertilizer to help them reach their full potential now that spring is close.

7. Continue starting seeds. You can stagger your plant dates depending on the type of seeds you grow. Vegetable seeds should also have been started by now. They include: tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. The average last date of frost in my upper Middle Tennessee area is 15 April. I try to plan to plant all seed starts and warm weather crops two weeks after that date. That means 1 May is my target date for planting out plants. I will still be planting starts through June too though.

8. Start mowing your lawn. You should start mowing your lawn once you see it has begun growing, and has reached three inches. I cut my fescue to about two inches this time of year. Some people fertilize cool season grasses in the spring. If you are one of them, now is the time. I DO NOT fertilize mine in the spring. Fall is the best time to fertilize cool season grasses. Warm season grasses may not have begun growing at this time so they need no unusual maintenance. You may want to pull the onions and wild garlic and other weeds as they pop up.

9. Apply pre-emergent weed killer. Normally a good rule of thumb is to apply pre-emergent weedkillers like Crabgrass Preventer when you see the forsythia beginning to bloom. I apply a pre-emergent fertilizer to my lawn in May. The reason is because the majority of my weeds are warm weather weeds like goosegrass. If you have a big problem with cool season weeds like henbit, you may want to apply your pre-emergent this month.

10. After your bulbs have all bloomed, dig, divide and replant as necessary. Be sure to add a bulb fertilizer like bone meal or bulb booster. I prefer the bulb booster to bone meal, but both work. Caution: dogs like to dig up the bone meal.

11. Begin preparing your houseplants for the move outdoors. I always groom mine by removing dead leaves and repotting if necessary. I also begin fertilizing and watering more consistently in preparation for the growing season.

12. Fluff up the mulch you applied last fall. If you have some bare areas in the garden, remulch, make sure to place newspapers under the mulch you apply. While tending to your mulch, make sure emerging perennials are not covered by the mulch and pull back all mulch at least 6 inches from all growing plants, both woody and herbaceaous.

13. Check for vole damage. If you find some, be sure to stomp the ground down and clear the area of all debris by the plant. This will discourage the varmits, though not completely stop them from nibbling. I found two peonies that have been attacked by the voles in my garden. I pulled back the mulch, patted down the ground, and applied vole repellent. I hope it works well.

14. Note bare areas in the spring garden by either making a garden plan with gaps noted, or by marking the area with some type of marker so you can come back to it in the fall and add bulbs. In my garden markers always get lost, so I try to plant some kind of marker plant where I want to add materials. For instance: in the fall when I plant tulip bulbs, I plant a monkey grass over the bulbs. This gives me a good idea where the bulbs are located. To find empty areas in the spring. I might divide emerging daylillies and plant them over the bare spots, noting that in the fall I will underplant with spring blooming bulbs.

15. Check on your potted plants you put under the house last fall. They should be moist. If not, add some water. Don't pull them out too early. It will not hurt them to remain in the crawl space another few weeks. But if you see new growth, you may want to bring them out now. I always do. I move these plants to either the coldframe or greenhouse, or even the porch will work for hardening off.

16. If you overwintered cuttings and shrubs in the house or garage. Begin hardening them off in the coldframe, greenhouse or covered porch. Anywhere that is sheltered from strong winds and all day direct sun will work fine.

in the garden....


  1. Hi Tina, so glad you had fun today and were outside:) Beautiful weather for sure! I thank you for such a great list --this one I have to cut and paste so I don't forget something important. I already did the mums when you told me to and they are coming up nicely. They do snap off real easy --the dead part that is and now the pretty green is taking over and coming on up:) We did spend a good part of today outside and YES -we did get our new furniture can't wait to show you ----:0)

  2. hey there anonymous! good job on your furniture! i hope it is all you expected and more. can't wait to see it! i am sure i will love it too-green is my favorite color after all...:)

  3. dawn with peachesMarch 1, 2008 at 6:56 PM

    Hi Tina, I was beginning to think you couldn't post. My to do is about another month. Exciting for you anonymous to get new furniture, I like my stove a fridge 'cept can't clean it with paper towel! and you have to polish with car polish! Oay Vey. Won't be long for you to have 4 little behind prints in your couch, have fun. Off to watch a movie. Later

  4. Glad you had a good time today Tina. Talk to you tomorrow. Have a good one all.

  5. hey dawn with peaches,
    hard keeping the stainless steel clean? not sure if i like that finish on appliances though it is all the rage. it should be easy.

    mom, goodnight. get some rest. me too. it was an easy overnighter, but traveling is traveling. i felt like i was back in the army going tdy! it was fun but i too want to rest. hope you are not feeling badly. maybe a goodnight's rest will help.

  6. Glad you are back & had a great day. I've got a fairly new garden that I did the lasagna method & am anxious to see how it does with all the flowers I plan to put in it. Got a bed cleaned out today. I will need the list so I don't forget anything.

    Glad you got your new furniture Anonymous. I know you are tickled.

    Is stainless that hard to keep clean. It's looks like it would be so easy.

    Have a good night all.

  7. Tina, good morning! Again thanks for the list, there are a few things that I will need to do. Sometime I would like for you to explain the "lasagna Method" to me.

    Found some lovely lenten rose yesterday, so plan to spend some time in yard today!

    Dawn several years ago I updated my kitchen and bought stainless appliances. I don't know what is on the market today, so hesitate in recommending the product I use, as it may not work for you, but it's worth a look anyway. I get it at wal-mart (weiman - stainless steel cleaner and polish)- it's in a spray can.

    Oh to have new furniture!! Anonymous hope you have your room all arranged and decorated. Enjoy!

  8. good morning all! i will have to do a post on the lasagne method for sure nina. lola, does it work for you? i have never done it but i do have the book.

  9. Stainless steal does seem to be all the range in kitchens these days. I have a magnet collection that goes on the refrigerator so with Stainless, where would my magnets go? I have collected them from everywhere we go instead of tee shirts! I see people reading our magnets all the time when they visit us. We had a stainless steal sink and the Saint bought us a new one a few months ago. I hate the new one, it spots like crazy and the old one did not! I want my smaller old one back!

  10. dawn with peachesMarch 2, 2008 at 10:40 AM

    Stainless is horried, it does show ALL the fingerprints and my fridge got a scratch the 3rd day. Jack of all trade buffed it out-it scratch because we moved it towards the counter and the door hit the wall corner when opened! It's moved back so the plastic hinge cover will meet with the mop board, we were afraid the kids would be hard on opening the door and breaking the plastic piece. Oh well. Thanks for the recommendation Nina, I was astonished to find it couldn'd be wiped with paper towel. Skeeter, ask my Mom, I now have to find a new place for all my magnets and I have ALOT. My stove top is black and it to needs polishing with a soft cloth as it shows every streak! Wow that is so different from the lighter colored appliances. Who knew. I do like the looks of it though, it really sharpens the kitchen.
    I would like to know about the lasagne method too. It sounds like layering, would that help keep the weeds out? Thats the never ending battle we all look for, wouldn't that be nice!

  11. If you do it right it helps keep the weeds out. Makes it easier to pull them. I haven't actually planted anything in it yet but I'm hoping that what I plant in it this yr. will do fine. I just started it last yr. so it's new. It should be fine due to where I have it. My flag pole is in this garden. Will send pic. when all is doing well.

    That has cured me of wanting stainless steel. My almond color looks just fine in my new redone kitchen.

  12. Holy cow not again. anonymous aka Lola

  13. Good morning Tina, what a list! good for you to compile this list. I still have a few things to prune and some mulch to spread. We have warm season grass and am trying to time spraying Roundup on the winter weeds...especially the poa annua!

  14. Hi, Tina--Great list as always. I've been dividing and moving my Brazilian (black and blue) salvia, too--it spread into some rosemary bushes so I had to get it out--one 6" pot had developed into a 2 1/2 foot mass of roots. Anyway, I remember one garden blogger saying a nursery was asking an exorbitant price for the stuff--if you hear about anyone needing some, let me know!

    By the way, I use this stuff called Permatill for voles. It's crumbled slate and it's a great amendment for clay soils. Anyway, the stone scratches moles and voles so they stay away. It's easy to dig into new beds, but you can also dig in around established plants when you dig in other amendments.

    Happy March. Did you get snow? We may get as much as 8" tomorrow!

  15. Hi Tina, there is something reassuring about your to do lists, whether I have done the things or not. It gives order to the universe and makes sense of our day to day living.

  16. Tina, I always enjoy reading your to do list at the beginning of each month and making a note to myself what I need to be doing, too. I thought I was way behind until I noticed your last frost date is almost a month before ours--whew! I've still got lots of time to get all this started:)

    Interestingly, our weekly garden column by the local Extension advisor listed all the chores for March yesterday, too. Between the two of you, I have no excuse for not doing things at the proper time:)

  17. Dear Tina, I am thinking about the Vole Dance...and the fun of stamping them out of the garden...oh if only that would work! My list keeps growing, on top of garden chores there is a mosaic project I want to much more fun then house cleaning and laundry~~Btw, an excellent have reminded me of a few chores that need to get done! Have a good day...gail

  18. Tina,
    Great list! I was just wondering what to do with my mums. The foliage is still nice and green, but they are in pots on my porch. Can I move those into the garden or wait until after frost in April?

    I haven't cut back my salvias, yet. I want to wait until the end of March for those up here in my zone.


  19. That is some todo list you have for this month Tina. Thanks for all the great tips, I will be adding some of these to my list. :)

  20. We still have a few feet of snow, sigh...but my veggie garden is in the "planning" stage. Getting spring cleaning of the garage done so I can have the good weather!

  21. Oh my goodness, I need a nap just reading this but I am safe for a while with the ground mostly covered with snow and with the snow coming it will all be covered within the next few days. Have a good one to all.

  22. As always, your list is very comprehensive Tina. I should look at these one month later as we are behind you by about that much! Although I have cut my grasses back because I saw new green starting to show. I hope the weather cooperates for you to get all these chores done. I'm happy it's March too!!

  23. I shall have to plant monkey grass or something over my bulbs so next year I will not be wandering the yard wondering where on earth I planted my bulbs! What a great idea. My azaleas are ready to bloom. But it has been freezing at night for several days. My pansies are not long for blooming, as it will get hot fairly fast here.

  24. Great post Tina, I will have to save so I don't forget anything. I did my mums. This crazy weather sure isn't helping with some of the chores.
    Got another blast coming.

  25. Good morning all!

    Janet, Yup-garden season is getting busy.

    Cosmo, I am surely going to look for Permatill. Those voles are so awful in my garden. I think they must love my leaf mulch. Wish you lived close by, I'd love some black and blue salvia. You all hear that in Virginia? Cosmo has some extras so if interested drop me a line with your email or comment on Cosmo's blog.

    Frances, Must be my military training with all the order in my life:)

    Rose, To do lists are VERY popular. I know many of my readers find them helpful. Interestingly enough the stats don't show that they are particularly more popular than other posts on here, however blogs are hard to read and stats are all over the place. I guess it depends on the day of the week, which way the wind blows and so on. So many may read the to do lists on different days so I don't notice a big change, but it is okay since I do them purely for reference for anyone who needs some ideas. These things work for me in my garden. Stats are just not working for me with cracking the code. Our last frost date is usually 15 April. So with you being a month behind, just postpone all by a month. The lists should still work but regional differences even in Tennessee affect chores for the gardener. Extension agents are good sources too. I'd love to do that job!

    Gail, The voles are a real issue for me. My poor peonies were not chewed up, however tunnels went everywhere so there was no ground contact with the roots and much of the tuber. A dance I will do if it will work!

    Cameron, I think the mums will be fine if you plant them in the garden now. They've been in pots all along which is actually harder on the root ball since pots usually freeze first. Mums are pretty hardy.

    Racquel, Feel free to add all you want. Your climate is very similar to ours here, though a bit warmer. I can't remember all things but try to each year and add to it. Feedback from others sure helps.

    Dawn, You will love growing your own veggies! I finally cleaned all my gourds yesterday. Now to decorating them. You must try them!

    Mom, A big list yes, but done step by step over the month it works out. Hang in there. Your bulbs should be breaking the ground by now. You'll have a good show soon.

    Kathleen, I hate cutting back grasses but yes, a necessary chore. Looking forward to seeing the outcome of your new project.

    Brenda, Yes the monkey grass or any marker plant helps me to remember where bulbs are located. The trick is finding the right combination. I am so not ready for the heat!

    Lola, We got about 1" of snow last night! I know crazy weather. Hang tough.

  26. This is quite a list, Tina! You are such a thoughtful planner & gardener. It does help to see you lay out some of this info. where I can think more clearly about things I might need to do. I went out the other day and bought a whole bunch of things to put in the ground...too much, really...and now we have ice and snow! Very unusual, and, it has really put a damper in my spring plans!!! Mother Nature is a bit confused:) Have a great Sunday!

  27. Love to go through your comprehensive lists...there's a great deal to be done this month.

  28. thanks for posting tina.
    i'm watching the snow melt today with much water pouring off the roof.

  29. I can't tell you how excited I was just to turn the page on the calender and see March! I know this is when I can really start getting some things planted here too. I've been getting pea trellis's up and have several things started inside. Looks like you have a great to do list. Our to do list is pretty similar, our frost date is just a little earlier, April 9th.

  30. Hi, Tina--I think I could probably send you a couple of little pots, especially while they're still dormant (I mean, places like Spring Hill do it all the time, right?) If you'd really like some, I'll try sending them to you (I have your address) and see how it works.

    I think everyone in Virgina who wants them, has them--probably some people who DON'T want them, too--they're a little thuggish here.

  31. Like Jean, I am tired just from reading your To Do list today Tina! lol. None of it can be done in our yard any time soon as Mother Nature is dumping so much rain we are just a soggy mess right now! I cannot complain as the lake is finally getting some water and I am sure with the 3 inches and counting in our rain gauge, this will get us out of drought for 2009. So more indoor projects today!

  32. So Skeeter, you are getting rain instead of snow. That's great. Sunny, cool & very windy here. We had tornado warnings for south Ga. & most of NC Fl. till 3 A.M. The kids were out {all of them} so I was worried till they came home {after midnight}
    1" of snow Tina. That could put a damper on things. It sure would slow me down. But it does provide some moisture in your garden.
    Sure hope it warms up by the first week in April.

  33. Hi all, Thanks for the nice comments. If you are new to these postings and missed last month's to do list where I explained it, I will reiterate. I have decided to repost the monthly to do lists rather than creating an entire new post. As such, I decided to leave all comments intact. If this is a problem with anyone please email me or don't comment. I suspect it is not a problem though as why would we comment if it were? Each year all will be intact, providing the blog doesn't malfunction-heaven forbid! Anyhow, that explains all the comments from last year. I think it helps us to jog our memories and I just can't see deleting the comments. Plus, each person brings their own tasks that I may not have thought of that may help others. Plus, it is just nice to be reminded of what we talk about on here. On my way to a birthday party-yum-what fun on a cold blustery day! Everyone do stay warm.

  34. hi, it's a long list, lot to dow ! I#m also wrote my to do list and I hope at last all things are ready, your pictures are very beautyful !
    herzliche Grüße von Kathrin aus Bremen

  35. Tina, we start these tasks in earnest next month! I think you should add this:

    17. Take a break in a comfy chair with your favorite garden magazine and beverage of choice!

    Also, I've been meaning to ask, who are the other contributors to this blog? I'm assuming Skeeter is your daughter, but who are Lola and Dawn? I'm sure you've explained this, but I seem to have missed it. Thanks!

  36. My to-do list this month is much shorter than yours. In addition to the tree & shrub pruning and cutting back the dead perennial growth that are on your list, I'll be pruning the Clematis, which I am eagerly anticipating.

  37. So many good suggestions for spring here. But I'm north of you a zone or two, so it's too early for much of it. Darn! We're about to start our indoor seeds, we've got all our supplies ready. Hope they grow!

  38. Kathrin, Yup, lots to do this month. Garden season is upon us. The good thing, at least for me, is that when it gets really hot, I don't garden so much at all. I can then relax!

    Monica, For sure! Relaxing is a must for us gardeners. I'll add it in right away. Thanks! Our blog is kind of neat with a diverse group of bloggers. I posted about them way back when under the commenter post in the archives. Skeeter (Georgia) and Lola (Florida) are two folks I met on this blog. Dawn is my sister in Maine. We all work so well together and the team aspect gives us all an outlet AND a break.

    MMD, Clematis, you are one brave soul with cutting back the clematis. I am always so afraid to cut mine, even when I know the group and that they need to be cut back. This is something I also need to add to the list as it is necessary. I even need to bite the bullet and cut mine back. I haven't done it in many years.

    Msrobin, Won't be long and you'll catch up with us here in zone 6/7. Seed starting is a good way to get the garden going though. Can't wait for spring!

  39. I am so glad you mentioned deutzia, I just bought one although I have never heard of it. What can I expect?

  40. First, some think I am your sister Tina and now your daughter! lol, I will take that as I must be the young one right. lol.... Too funny.

    4 inches of rain fall in the gauge Lola and still falling! Snow is spitting but not sure it will amount to anything. Ground is way to wet and warm. Thank goodness as they sure don’t know how to drive in snow down here! lol Was woke up by a thunder storm at 5 this am. We have not seen the local weather since noon as we have been busy on a inside project and missed our 6:00pm news but should be on in a few minutes. I will catch it as I crawl into bed...

  41. Wow, its a long to do list! :) I wish you a beautiful successful March, enjoy this month - it's springtime! Kessi :)

  42. If you are planning to home-grow tomatoes this year, I highly recommend The Tomato Stake.

    Its easier to use than metal cages or towers, stronger than bamboo sticks, and wont rot or splinter like wood stakes.

    Happy Gardening!