March Gardening tips

March is the month to get growing. Longer days, and the promise of time in the evenings when the clocks change, make us feel like spring really is on its way.  

Every year the thought of being able to start the gardening season is intoxicating, but never more so than now. Having been in lockdown for months, and having lived through the pandemic for a year, we are all looking forward to the start of the gardening season and the sense of hope that brings.  

If you’re a seasoned gardener, or you’ve never grown anything before, spring beckons and with it the opportunity for gardening and the chance to connect with God through it.  

There is a lovely line in 1 Corinthians 3.9 which says, ‘you are God’s garden and vineyard, and field under cultivation’. What this says to us is that God is working in us. And that can be a real encouragement to us to make a difference in the plots of land that we are working on, whether that’s a hanging basket, a patio or a spacious garden.  

The hallmark of March for me is that my house is full of little seedlings, which I’ve invariably started too eagerly and too soon. But now is a great moment to begin. Many vegetable and flower seeds can be sown inside on a warm windowsill, or if you have it, a propagator. So, if you fancy having some tomatoes in a grow-bag, herbs on the windowsill, or want a whole array of vegetables in your back garden, choose plants that you really enjoy eating and begin sowing a few seeds. You have plenty of time to sow more if the first ones don’t do well, or you simply want more plants later in the season.  

Remember to nurture your seedlings, potting them up when they have their first proper leaves (not just the baby ones). Keep them in the light, warm and well-watered indoors until the last frosts have passed. On a deceptively mild March day you might think that’s already happened. But, where I live, this isn’t until the first week of May! So, don’t plant your seedlings out just yet.  

If you have a garden, there’s plenty that you can still do to make this summer really beautiful. By dividing border perennials such as asters, penstemon and verbena, and you’ll instantly have free plants. And there’s time to plant summer-flowering bulbs too, such as lilies or crocosmia.  

About now, you’ll start to hear the dawn chorus. It will build and build over the coming few months, as male birds sing to protect their territory and attract a mate. Whether or not you have a garden, there are things that you can do to support the birds in your area. You could put up a nesting box (avoiding warm south-facing walls), hang up bird feeders to help adult birds feed their young, and even ensure there’s a bowl of water out for them.  

We’ve all become more aware of the wonderful natural world around us over the last year, and this spring, wherever we live, we can ensure that we’re supporting wildlife, enhancing our gardens into the bargain.  

‘What about slugs?’ you may ask. It is deeply tempting to put slug pellets down, but think of the effect that they will have on the hedgehogs and birds eating the dead slugs. I adopted a no-slug-pellet policy in my back garden 25 years ago, opting instead to feed, water and house the birds and the hedgehogs. As a consequence, I never see a slug. And, following the arrival of a thrush into the garden a few years ago, there are no snails either. So, give it a try and may the wildlife and your seedlings flourish this month. 

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