To-Do List - March

by Karen Bodner, MG

Since I have the pleasure of working in a garden in Zone 8 (Southern Oregon), I've already potted up tomatoes and peppers in four-inch pots. I'm aiming for a transplant date of March 15-30 under Gro-therm protection. I'm using lights high in the blue wavelength of the spectrum to encourage leafy growth and discourage flowering (red wavelengths).

Transplant the greens or cole crops that you started five or six weeks ago outside under cloches (after hardening off, of course).

Sow Indoors: Continue sowing inside the veggies mentioned last month if your beds aren't ready. In addition, start celery, early cabbage, Chinese cabbage, early cauliflower, corn salad, cress, kohlrabi, purslane, shallots, and Swiss chard. Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers can be started later this month if you have the proper lighting environment.

Sow outdoors: Add to last month's list: leeks, parsley, rhubarb, and spinach (under cloches is best since weather will probably still be erratic).

Flowers, herbs, and bulbs

Continue sowing hardy flowers and herbs inside if outside beds aren't ready (transplant after danger of frost). Also, nurseries have a nice selection of bulbs by now and plenty of potted hardy herbs all ready for you to plant. If your sage is overgrown or leggy, this is the time to cut back to old wood to renovate.

Side dress your perennial beds with a complete (organic) fertilizer. Overgrown lavender and thyme plants are better replaced (keeping these correctly trimmed back will prevent legginess). Liz Lair recommends thinning delphinium and phlox crowns by removing every other stem to improve flower size, air circulation and minimize disease. I've tried this before and it made a huge difference. Once your Fuchsia magellanica begins basal growth, prune back to ground for a beautiful bush and your Buddleia davidiii can be cut back to six to eighteen inches (for a short bush) or three to four feet (for a tall one). FYI: Buddleia davidii and alternifolia are both on the Native Plant Society of Oregon's "Introduced, Invasive Vegetation of the Willamette Valley" list, and they are listed as noxious plants by the Emerald Chapter of NPSO. I'm going to make available to MGs complete lists of these potentially harmful plants, a surprising many of which grace our gardens.

If you have Diarama plants, pull out (don't cut) dead blades; Roger Gossler says they won't bloom if you cut them back. Tritoma/Kniphofia blades also pull out easily and look much better than when cut back. Pot up rooted cuttings of tender perennials in three-inch pots with a peat-based compost and give a light feeding. Set in an unheated greenhouse or in coldframes.

Summer/autumn sown perennials and alpines should be potted up individually in three and a half-inch pots using standard loam or peat-based compost. Put in a cool place with lights until they start to grow (two to three weeks).

Propagation: Stratify Calendula, Iberis, Lamium, Linaria, Meconopsis, Nigella, and Penstemon seeds (among others) to start now. Alliums Antirrihinum, Campanula, Centaurea, Heuchera, Hosta, and Monarda are a few that require heat to germinate.

Fruits and nuts

Continue planting fruit trees, berries, rhubarb, strawberries, and shrub fruits. Grapes should be pruned asap to avoid bleeding after active growth starts. Cut fall-bearing (aka everbearing) raspberries to the ground by mid-month (apparently these produce better when managed this way). Prune grapes, blueberries, figs, peaches (at bud swell) and gooseberries/currants. Continue structural pruning of young fruit trees and check the spray schedule that I know you have by now for winter applications.

Mulch with well-rotted manure and fertilize your blackberries and raspberries with nitrogen. Gooseberries and currants need only some finished compost around the base. All fruits would benefit from compost tea sprays at this time.

Trees and shrubs

Continue to plant trees and shrubs. It's not too late to prune your roses and hydrangeas as well as summer-blooming shrubs. Remove dead, diseased or damaged branches from spring-flowering shrubs. Fertilize your evergreen trees and shrubs this month. Rooted cuttings of silver-leafed aromatic and semi-tender shrubs should be potted in three-inch square plastic pots using a peat-based compost. Set on unheated bench in the greenhouse.

General gardening chores

Clean and disinfect your bird feeders and baths. Finish mulching all beds with compost. This is a good month to get some straw bales decomposing for straw bale gardening, also to develop some vermicomposting beds. The neat thing about these is, you can start them in the middle of your lawn if you want; just lay down eight to ten sheets of newspaper to get started; don't bother to remove vegetation underneath; it will decompose nicely; however, mow it as low as possible.


Well, since we had such a relatively mild winter, this will be a big year for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Slugs begin to be active, cuke beetles are active during mild winter periods, and aphids should start appearing soon. We're trying to build up our Lane County Insect Reference Collection, so please make an effort to harvest some of your critters. Preserve them in alcohol or freeze and bring them to the MG office. Your contributions are appreciated and much needed. We'd like to create a special collection for presentation at some of our regional or statewide events. Anyway, here's our March line-up of critters:

A =Adult, E =Egg, P =Pupa, L =Larva, N =Nymph. Beneficials are italicized.
rove beetles-AE
western damsel bug-A
big-eyed bug-A
butterfly caterpillars-P
minute pirate bug-A
green lacewing-P
syrphid fly-P
tachinid parasite-P
wasp parasite-P
predator mite-A
cinnabar moth-P
honey bees-A
alfalfa leafcutting bee-L

onion thrips-A
carrot rust fly-P
green peach aphid-E
wireworm beetle-A/L
cucumber beetle-A
asparagus beetle-A
western potato flea beetle-A
variegated cutworm-L
western cherry fruit fly-P
apple maggot-P
peach twig borer-L
peachtree borer-L
apple aphids-E
codling moth-LP
corn earworm-P
imported cabbageworm-P
cabbage looper -P
cabbage maggot-P
cabbage aphid-E
cabbage flea beetle-A
pear sawflies-P
pear psylla-N/E
root weevil-L
spider mites-A
pea weevil-A
greenhouse whiteflies-N
elm leaf beetle-A
bark beetle-A
white grub beetles-A/L
bean and currant aphids-E
beet leafhopper-A
stink bugs-A
pea aphid-E
western flower thrips-A
onion maggots-P
filbert leafroller-E/L
raspberry crown borer-L
strawberry aphid-A
holly and soft scale-N
rose leafhopper-E
strawberry crown moth-L
western raspberry fruitworm-A
San Jose scale-EN
oyster shell scale-E/N
slugs-AE & young
walnut husk fly-P
sod webworms-L
box elder bug-A
plant bugs-E
spinach leafminer-P


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