One day it feels like spring, the next it's back to winter. March is certainly a two-sided month. But it's ideal for getting out into the garden on days when you can feel spring in the air.
It's the perfect time to get salad greens going, either by seed or transplants purchased at a nursery. There are dozens of choices these days. Your salad can be a cornucopia of interesting, colorful, delicious and nutritious greens. A raised bed planted with purple, red, chartreuse and green lettuce is a beautiful sight.
Arugula tops my list. It adds a peppery taste to salads, sandwiches, tacos and more. Buy a packet of seeds, sprinkle them directly in the vegetable garden (rough up the soil a bit first), water and watch it grow. Harvest the young leaves. Pinch off the flowers so the plants put energy into producing leaves, not going to seed.
Chances are some of the plants will flower and go to seed before you can stop them, and you'll always have arugula growing in the garden. When plants come up in places I don't want them, I harvest the whole plant.
Most seed companies and nurseries offer a "mesclun mix," which is simply several species of greens in one container or seed packet. It typically contains several kinds of leafy lettuces and perhaps arugula, radicchio and endive. Check out heritage and heirloom seed companies like Seed Savers, Rene's Garden, Nichols Garden Nursery and Seeds of Change, and you'll find amazing varieties of the most common greens as well as ones you've never tried.
Take time to sit outside in the garden and enjoy the day.
Resist the temptation to buy those beautiful tomato plants at the nursery. It's too early to plant them outdoors without protection. Let the nurseries protect them and take care of them until the weather is kinder.
Spring is a great time to plant trees, perennials, vines and shrubs. Get newly purchased plants in to the ground as soon as possible, but remember: Never work the soil when it is very wet. Mornings and evenings are the best times to plant. Water the plant and the ground around it. Keep an eye out for slugs and snails. They love new plants, too.
Weeds are the No. 1 enemy this time of year. Stay on top of them. A 4- to 5-inch layer of mulch suppresses weeds.
Those foamy masses on stems of plants are spittlebugs. Gently wash away the foam, and you'll see the small brown spittlebug inside. Too many can damage a plant, but they're easily controlled. Washing them away discourages them in just a few days.
If you have aphids, chances are you have ants. Get rid of the ants and chances are you'll have fewer aphids. Try sticky traps around the trees to keep them from climbing up.
Hang yellow jacket traps to catch newly emerged queens.
Remove spent flowers from daffodils to prevent them from setting seed, but keep watering the foliage until it dies back completely. The foliage will feed the bulb for next year's blooms.
Prune away suckers growing from fruit trees.