Tips from Rohr’s Nursery & Garden Center
March is a between-seasons time for gardening in Ohio. It might be warm one day and snowing the next. Flower and vegetable lovers must exercise caution when getting outside in our gardens.
“March is really hit and miss,” said Kristen Haas, greenhouse manager at Rohr’s Nursery & Garden Center at 7211 Portage Street NW in Jackson Township. “The ground often is still frozen and hard.”
If soil thaws, vegetable gardeners might start “cold crops”—broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, onion, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and some forms of lettuce—in March and April. But, few flowers, with pansies as a possible exception, would survive most seasons if planted this early in the year.
“If you aren’t going to plant ‘cold crops,’ you’d be better off waiting until May,” said Haas.
Some might want to start seeds—vegetable or flower—inside, and March would be the time to begin that indoor “planting” of either veggies or posies, Haas said.
“By March, you should be able to find seeds at local garden stores,” she said.
Soil preparation can begin as early as the ground warms up and dries. Take a spade, hoe or garden tiller and go down four to six inches to turn your soil, getting air into it through the aeration process.
“It loosens up your soil so you can add nutrients and allow water to get down into it,” Haas explained, noting that Stark County soil, made up of a lot of clay, particularly benefits from being broken up. “It makes it better for the root system.”
Soil amendments can be added at the time of preparation, she added.
“If you have a compost pile, you can use your own compost,” she said. “If you want to buy something, we carry SweetPeet and FoxFarm (soil conditioners).”
Landscaping gardens sometimes can best be tended at a time when winter turns to spring.
“By April, a lot of perennials start peeking out, and that’s a good time to rake the leftover leaves out of your bed and turn some of the soil,” Haas advised. “If you notice you have perennials getting out of control, that would be the time to separate them. Take a spade and cut out the area you don’t want, then plant it somewhere else or give it away.”
Remember to treat perennials that have been moved as “new” and vulnerable plants, she said. Water and fertilize them with care until they adapt to their new environment.
Perhaps the most effective use of your early spring time in a garden is for clearing or cleaning, suggested Haas.
“If you have an unruly garden, that’s the best time to trim things and get it all under control before things begin to grow,” she explained. “Clean beds of debris. That will make life easier when you go back out to plant.”
The burden of such garden preparation can be made easier next year, she noted, if you take photos of your flower beds late this coming summer, then you have an image to consult next year in the spring.
“It’s hard to remember from one season to another. Six months is a long time. It’s good to be able to refer back to a picture to see what you want to take out or things that need to be added.”