tofino gardening in march

Tofino Gardening in March

by Trina Mattson, Tofino


Although some plants are in full bloom, and some are even finished blooming for the season, most plants are just starting to break dormancy, and things are starting to look bright and cheery. Hurray for spring!

This is the time of year that early to mid blooming spring plants, such as rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias would appreciate a handful or two of an organic fertiliser, we use a special blend of canola meal, kelp meal, and bone meal, 3 times a year and swear by it, the results from using an organic fertiliser take a little more time to work, but the overall health of the plants are far greater, and I think better blooms are obtained.

As early spring flowering bulbs will also benefit from some form of fertilisation, a light dusting of an all purpose fertiliser will help them along. Don't cut off the foliage as it brows and dies back, these dying leaves provide the nutrients that the bulb will store and use next spring. Also lime your lawn now, and in two weeks fertilise, around mid month.

This is a good time to take a survey of your garden and see if there are any spots that could use a little pick me up. Make a simple diagram of your garden and add in where you want or plant next years crop of spring flowering bulbs, make notes on the side about colours, heights, varieties, etc. or make a lay over map with tracing paper.

For added colour now, there is the ever popular winter flowering heathers that come in white to deepest magenta. Heathers can provide colour all year round, keeping in mind you need an assortment of them to cover the different seasons. I try and purchase heather in bloom, so you can be sure of the colour. Witch Hazels are also in bloom now, and are beautifully scented, especially if you catch them on a warm day, or after the sun has been shining on them for a couple of hours. The colours are bright, ranging in various shades of yellows and oranges, and have the added bonus of great fall leaf colour as well. Don't forget flowering cherries with their translucent pink blooms in single or double blossoms, even before the leaves appear.

Seeds and bulbs are starting to arrive in garden centres. Hopefully you've done some winter planning or dreaming, as early crop plants, and cold weather plants should be started soon. Annual and perennial seeds and bulbs should be started indoors at month end to get maximum yield from your vegetables and flowers.

If you haven't already done so, it's time to start cleaning out the vegetable and flower beds. Tidying up the beds helps to discourage slugs, the ever dreaded earwigs and the ever over populated sow bugs. Cleaning up the inside of your greenhouse, turning it from winter storage shed to productive greenhouse, is always a chore, but worth the extra effort. Give the overwintering plants a bit of water to help start to rejuvenate them, and if this warm weather continues, you she be seeing some growth happening soon. This is also a good time to check your tools, do some oiling, sharpening and replacing of handles. Check the gloves for holes, empty the hanging baskets and planters of old tired things that got overlooked during the winter.

In general with the weather being so nice lately, I guess Mother Nature has forgotten about us, (maybe she went to Mexico for the winter) it's just a good time to be outside and enjoying the garden, because who knows she may be stopping by in April to catch up with some of her winter work just like the rest of us.

Trina Mattson runs the OCN Garden Center in Tofino.
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