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Gardening in Tofino in March 2011

by Trina Mattson, Tofino

the letter 'K'Knock, Knock… who’s there?… Spring… Spring who? Don’t ya mean, Spring when? Okay so it’s not a very good joke, but February wasn’t exactly a spring month, so the joke was on us. Remember the week of sun we had, cold wind but no rain, I was standing out in the yard, in the only 3 foot square section that was sunny, warming my face, nary a cloud in the sky, and wap!!! I got hit, and no, not with bird s***, but with snow, yes snow. Not a lot of it, no big flakes, but snow none the less. And it continued to swirl around the yard in the sunny, mostly cloudless sky for an hour. Go figure. Then it snowed for a few days on and off, the town was buzzing. And that was February.
March is the time of year to start any project in the garden that you want. The lawn can be fertilized or limed, and reseeded. Don’t forget to give your lilac a handful or so as well. Gardens can be fertilized to give them a jump. Crop covers that were sown in the fall are about ready to be turned under. New beds can be built or just general maintenance can be performed. Group “C” clematis should be pruned as soon as possible, down to the two strongest buds, closest to the soil level. This group is the one that blooms on current season’s growth. At the same time apply a high potassium fertilizer, whether or not you chose a synthetic fertilizer or organic fertilizer is your choice, either way we can make a recommendation on what will work best, just stop by the garden center.

Start to sow your seeds now, indoors try your hand at: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, fennel, leeks, lettuce, parsley, peppers and tomatoes, and almost all herbs and flowers. Direct seed: arugula, broad beans, corn salad, kales, collards, oriental greens, peas and radishes, cilantro, lavender and crop covers. Under cover try spinach. If this is not quite your thing, how about sprouting seeds, wheat grass, adzuki, sunflowers sprouts to name a few. These are easily grown indoors in something as small as a jar.
Bulbs should be well on their way by now, and again a handful of fertilizer would be much appreciated. I know I do go on about fertilizers, but in this country we need it. We have very poor, nutrient lacking soil, and with all the rain we get, most nutrients are leached out of the soil every year.

While you are cleaning around the garden, watch for any perennials that may be popping up, stake those early that may need it, so that if you get busy, and can’t get at them when they really need it, they don’t just lay on the ground, or get blown over and broken.Spray any trees that will need it with a dormant oil spray before they break bud, and as roses come into leaf use neem oil to help fight black spot. Remember to cut roses when forsythias bloom. And leave any foliage on early Spring blooming bulbs alone until it has withered and died back to brown, then cut back, and add to your compost.

There are many new or not so new products to hit the shelves this year. A lot of them are trending towards the organic movement that seems to be growing (no pun intended). Bokashi, for instance is not a new way of composting, but is showing many consumers another way to compost, especially in a small environment like a condo or apartment. This form of composting can be done inside with no smell, under your cupboard or in the laundry room. This is a layering process of bokashi, food scraps and microorganisms. Layered like lasagna until your airtight container is full, then to finalize the breakdown of the food scraps, the bokashi mix is buried in the garden. It takes less time and physical energy to compost in this manner than traditional composting, and works faster.

Watch out for the dreaded slugs, baiting early will help to keep them under control, rather than waiting until you see the damage, and there are many ways to combat them, this time of year I suggest using a bait, but later in the season both bait and scissors (ewwww!!!!!) work well. Aphids will also have started to make an appearance, and again there a several choices to combat them, I prefer ladybugs personally.

Watch for bareroot fruit plants and potatoes coming in soon. So get your gardens beds ready, planting season is upon us.

Happy Gardening!

Trina Mattson runs the Ordinary Corner Nursery in Tofino.

Tofino Time March 2011

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Gardening in Tofino in March 2011: Tofino gardening tips by Tofino gardener Trina Mattson for Tofino Time Magazine.

tofino time march 2011