March Gardening Tips from the Natural Gardener

austin wildflowers, natural gardenerSpring is on the way, and one of your New Year’s resolutions was to take better care of your lawn and garden. Not sure where to begin? Complements of the Natural Gardener, the “organic gardening headquarters” of Southwest Austin, you’ve come to just the right place. Check out the information section of their website for additional information! What To Do In March
  1. PLANT VEGETABLE SEEDS like beets, chard, collards, leaf lettuce, mustard, peas and radish. In early March, plant beans and endive. In late March, plan cantaloupe, corn, cucumber, eggplant, black-eyed peas, pumpkin, New Zealand spinach, summer squash and watermelon.
  2. PLANT VEGETABLE PLANTS like broccoli, chard, collards, endive, leaf lettuce and mustard. In late March, plant pepper and tomato.
  3. PLANT hot-weather HERB SEEDS like basil, chives, epasote and milk thistle.
  4. In late March, PLANT hot-weather HERB PLANTS like artemesia, basil, bergamot, catmint, chives, comfrey, scented geranium, lemongrass, mints, oregano, pennyroyal, rosemary, santolina, and thyme. Avoid cool-season herbs like cilantro, coriander and dill.
  5. PLANT FLOWERS AND ORNAMENTAL SEEDS like cleome, cypress vine, gomphrena, marigold, moonflower vine, morning glory, sunflower, flowering tobacco and others. In Late March, plant castor bean, gourds and luffa.
  6. PLANT FLOWERS AND ORNAMENTAL PLANTS like cockscomb, coleus, lion’s tail, and torenia.
  7. PLANT PERENNIAL PLANTS like the cigar plant, cleome, plumbago, sedum and spiderwort.
  8. March is the last reasonably mild month to PLANT TREES AND BIG SHRUBS. Any later and these plants will encounter too much stress in the summer heat!
  9. PLANT BULBS in late March, including caladium, calla, canna, daylily, and elephant ear. Too early and the roots will rot!
  10. austin natural gardenerPLANT GROUND COVERS and BORDERS.
  11. SPRAY FOLIAGE of lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, herbs, and vegetables WITH SEAWEED to give them hormones and trace minerals. Do this once every week or two to increase plants’ heat tolerance, winter hardiness and pest/disease resistance.
  12. AERATE the lawn. It is best to aerate after mid-March, when there is less chance of a freeze. Add compost before or after for greater benefits.
  13. TOPDRESS LAWNS WITH COMPOST. This can be done any time of year except mid-summer. Topdressing in spring helps save water in the summer. Some sources say this one action could cut your water use on the lawn by half! Throw no more than ½-inch of good manure compost on top of the lawn, rake it in, and water.
  14. CLEAN UP DEBRIS from winter. Remove hiding places for bugs and diseases by raking up leaves and gathering fallen limbs and fruits. Put them in your compost pile and turn regularly to keep the pile hot.
  15. TILL IN WINTER COVER CROPS. Allow two weeks for the cover drop to decompose in the soil before planting there again.
  16. CHECK FOR APHIDS on new growth. One surprising solution is to spray them with fish emulsion. One step stronger would be Safer's Insecticidal Soap spray. Sometimes a hard blast with water will dislodge them. Whatever you do, do something every 3 - 5 days, until you get them under control, as they reproduce rapidly! Note that Asclepias (Butterfly Weed) and aphids seem to always go together. Don't worry too much about them.
  17. CHECK FOR WHITEFLIES AND THRIPS (no-see-ums). Many small whiteflies will fly when a branch is bumped. Thrips are almost invisible, slender, pale tan-colored insects that attack blooms of roses especially, but also leaves and flowers of many plants. Thrips damage looks like the color has been removed out of the leaf or flower. Often rose buds and other flowers fail to open up, and petals may have a brown edge. Since insecticides cannot reach inside the flower buds, infected buds should be removed and discarded. For whiteflies or thrips, spray Organocide or All-Seasons horticultural oil once a week for two or three weeks.
  18. CHECK NEW FOLIAGE ON CRAPE MYRTLES for powdery mildew. Try spraying leaves with milk. Yes, cow's milk is known to be a control for powdery mildew. Use skim or whole milk, and spray every 5 -­ 7 days until you get control. Spray again whenever there is a new flush of growth. An alternative spray is Serenade fungicide.
  19. TAKE ACTION AGAINST PLUM CURCULIO. This is a pest of predominantly peaches, but ­it may also affect apple, apricot, grape, persimmon, plum, pear, and quince. The plum curculio is a 1/4" - 1/5" beetle with a snout that makes a crescent-shaped scar on the fruit as it lays its eggs. The eggs develop into the very damaging "worms" in our fruit. Maintain at least a three-inch mulch on the root zone around the tree, also. Avoid placing mulch up on the trunk of the tree. If it is still necessary to spray, proper timing is critical. Spray Eco-Smart at "shuck split". Shuck split happens right after flower petals drop, the fruit has just barely formed, and the fruit has just expanded enough to split open its papery covering - the shuck. Another method is to place a sheet underneath the tree, and knock the beetles out of the tree with a padded stick. This is also a good way to monitor your trees for the presence of the plum curculio before shuck split.
  20. CHECK AND REPAIR YOUR WATERING SYSTEMS now, before the heat hits!
  21. TAKE A HIKE! Enjoy one of our many beautiful trails around town. See how the Greatest Landscaper -- Mother Nature -- designs, plants, and mulches our biggest garden on earth!
Thank you, Natural Gardener! Have questions, or need supplies? Take a trip to see them. “We’re a garden shop, nursery and teaching facility dedicated to promoting organic, time-tested gardening practices,” says owner John Dromgoole. His award-winning nursery is ten-time winner of Austin Chronicle’s “Best of Austin!” Store Hours: Mon-Sat: 8 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Hours Change Seasonally) Address: 8648 Old Bee Caves Road Austin, Texas 78735 Phone Number: (512) 288-6113 Southwest Austin's Natural GardenerDirections to the Natural Gardener: From North Austin: Heading south on MoPac, take the Southwest Parkway exit. Turn right onto Southwest Parkway. Check the odometer, go 4.5 miles. You will pass Travis Country and turn left onto Travis Cook Road. Go about 1/2 mile until it dead ends into Old Bee Caves Road. The Natural Gardener is at that intersection on the right. From South Austin: Take Hwy 290/Hwy 71 into Oak Hill. When you reach the "Y", take Hwy 71 West. Go about 1 mile to the traffic light at Fletcher. Turn right onto Fletcher and go about 1/4 mile until it dead ends into Old Bee Caves Road. Turn left onto Old Bee Caves Road and go 1/2 to 3/4 mile, The Natural Gardener is on the right. Happy Gardening! Austin REALTORS® at Regent Property Group support homegrown Austin businesses like the Natural Gardener. They also help homebuyers stay on top of the latest in Austin trends, from Tarrytown to Lake Travis. If you’re on the lookout for an Austin home for sale, just check out Austin Home Search!