By Sandi Hillermann McDonald
Spring is almost here!!! What a wonderful feeling to be able to spend more time outside enjoying what Mother Nature is unfolding before our eyes. The lengthening of days is a welcome site. We “spring forward” with Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, March 12 this year. That in itself is exciting.
Once flowerbeds have been cleaned up, re-mulching can be done. Top dress or dry feed beds with a granular fertilizer, such as Osmocote, and apply a pre-emergent if you do not plan to plant any flower seeds. Divide summer and fall blooming perennials now, along with ornamental grasses if you so desire.
Plant/sow peas, lettuce, radish, kohlrabi, collards, turnips, potatoes, spinach, onion sets, beets, carrots, and parsley outside this month. Set out broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower and pansy transplants now. This month is also great for setting out strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes and fruit trees.
Start seeds indoors this month for tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. And houseplants can still be repotted. Continue to check houseplants for over wintering insect populations.
Nesting boxes for bluebirds can be set up as well as Purple Martin houses. Purple Martins return to our zone 6 region between St. Pat’s Day and the end of the month. So, now is the time to clean out those houses and be prepared.
And I mentioned last year there was a big push for saving Monarch butterflies and other pollinating insects. Well these endeavors will be even more prevalent this year as education for this important movement continues.
Lucky for monarchs, there are ways you can help. Gardening for wildlife is a great way to help provide food, water, shelter and place to raise young for all types of wildlife.
For monarchs, you can plant native flowering plants, especially milkweed, to help feed the larvae of these beautiful butterflies! This year also get involved in the www.millionpollinatorgardenchallenge.org. This is a national push for pollinator gardening involvement. Beekeeping is another way to bring pollination home.
The City of Washington, Washington in Bloom, FC Master Gardeners and the Washington Garden Club will be pushing efforts to not only make awareness for Monarchs BUT ALL pollinators in this year’s programs. Stay tuned to see what they have in store!