Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March Chores

The Renton area is blessed with a rather warm microclimate in the middle of the maritime Pacific Northwest. If you live in Renton or nearby your garden area will likely be rated as either 8a or 8b by the USDA zoning guide. Keep in mind that these chores are for that zone and some of them are specific to a maritime climate. Always keep your garden soil in mind before tramping all around. If you have an especially boggy garden area maybe you should wait a few extra weeks before compacting everything with your activities.

Keep the phrase WHENEVER THE SOIL CAN BE WORKED  in mind. Given that simple activities don't muddify your garden, a serious concern considering how much rain we've already gotten this month, now is the time to prep your beds for planting. If you are not using a heavy mulch that contributes nutrients to your soil make sure to AMEND YOUR BEDS with a good compost. If the soil is too sandy consider also adding vermiculite for water retention. If your bed is sticky and dense consider peat for loft and oxygen penetration. Yet another plug for heavy mulching: with heavy mulching you should have minimal to no weeding to do from over winter. You also will not need to amend your soil. My favorite benefit is that eliminates the need to till and mix up the naturally occurring layers in the soil!

Again, if not using heavy mulch, use CARDBOARD or NEWSPAPER to protect the prepped beds from weeds until they actually have seeds/plants in them.

Hopefully you have already REMOVED THE EXTRA MULCHING from around your garlic sprouts. If the bulbs are too deep because you protected them from freezing temps with mulch then they will be very susceptible to rot. In another month or two, don't forget to keep an eye out for the flower scapes that form from the center stalk. Trim them out as close to the leaves as possible without damaging the leaves once it starts to bend or curl. I haven't made anything special from my scapes yet other than sauteeing them up with other veggies but there are tons of interesting recipes online that I'm excited to try this year.

Mid month begin planting COLD HARDY SEEDS outside. These include most leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, beets, onion sets, parsnips, peas, kohlrabi, radishes, and spinach. The last week of the month will be time for transplanting similar sprouts from indoors or your favorite nursery.

TRANSPLANTING: Don't forget to HARDEN OFF your sprouts from indoors before planting them in the ground. Otherwise they will be shocked with the sudden change in conditions and will either be stunted or die. :(

FEED SPRING BULBS with an appropriate organic fertilizer once the greens pop through. Typically this falls under Early March but we also had some early warm weather that set the bulbs into motion in February. If you haven't already fed your bulbs it's not too late.

BLUEBERRIES love a dose of acidic compost/coffee grounds/ground bark/fertilizer this time of the year.

RASPBERRIES should be trimmed to remove canes that produced fruit the previous year as well as canes that are smaller than a pencil to allow the healthiest plants plenty of room.

I know this chore list is late. Hopefully it will be better timed next month! Happy gardening!

Note: author should be 'kronk', not 'burndive'

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