Sunday, March 20, 2011

What should I plant in March?

Hi Peter
I love sweet peas are they ready to buy & are they at any of the garden centres near Kilsyth.
what flower seedlings & veggie seedlings would you recommend to plant at the moment.
Because of the humid weather I have had a lot of mildew & sap sucking insects, any hints to control them?
My tomatoes are terrible this year except for the small varieties.
I read in one of your news letters that you used, the winter version of sudden impact for roses what was it called as I want to buy some.

Wow, that's a month's worth of newsletters in one query.

Unfortunately having sown our Sweet Peas in the early hours of St Patrick's Day, 17th March (Cath emailed to say it's also traditional to sow your seeds naked!  Can you imagine how cold it is in Ireland at this time of year? Sorry, but we'll only go so far for our art) they will not be ready for another week yet.

What are we planting now?  Primulas! I think March is the ideal month for Prims.  Anything earlier won't produce flowers any quicker and planting after the end of April generally encourages flowers too quickly before the plant has had a chance to develop properly. Without a big strong plant to support the flowers the display suffers. Same is actually true for Cinerarias, Stocks and Ornamental Kale is great for colour in the cold of winter.  Planting now produces flowers late in the winter (starting July) and peaking in the early part of spring.  If you can't wait that long the palette of flowering varieties is diminishing, Pansy and Viola will still flower 6-8 weeks from planting and give good colour through Melbourne's winter. Although it eventually frustrates many gardeners we're nearly exclusively Violaceae from now until September.

Vegies are interesting. Ideal time for Brassicas; Cauli, Broccoli, Cabbage and depending on the gardener Brussels Sprouts. Oh, don't forget the Oriental Brassicas: Chinese Cabbage, Chinese Broccoli (Kailaan) and Broccolini which despite its Italian sounding name is a Kailaan/Broccoli, sweet & a little nutty. crossPlanting in March and April is ideal for a burst of vigorous growth before cold weather helps ripen the vegies in winter and early spring. Of course in our mild climate there's still time for a Lettuce crop, especially the open headed picking types: Salad mix, Baby Combo, Red & Green Oak Leaf. And we can plant beets, spring onions, leeks an carrots pretty much year round. Herbs like Thyme and Oregano can be planted now but be aware they will die back somewhat over winter before they flush again in spring.

I think Sucking insects deserve a whole newsletter to themselves, but I have previously written about controlling aphids on Broccoli. Sadly there is little we can do about Tomatoes in a season like this, they started so promisingly with warm, moist conditions but all that January rain was just too much. Kerry is still picking some at home but the real flush has passed. No doubt the cherry types are the most reliable for cropping but I think we had the best return from Pricipe Borgese this season, sort of a cross between a Roma and a large cherry. Sweet, tangy fruit and lots of them.

Unfortunately for Maureen, I have never written about Sudden Impact for roses. Sounds a little odd to have a rose fertilizer for their dormant period but I don't know the product so I'd best not make smart comments. If you do know anything about Sudden Impact, let me know and Ill pass it on.

PS. Last week I posted a list of Professional Gardeners willing, even enthusiastic about gardening as distinct from lawn mowing or paving. The response has been great and I've added 3 or 4 new names since.  Let me know if this suits your business.

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