March to-do list for your garden

By Rebecca Jepsen
for the Mercury News
March 6, 2009

Starting your own seeds gives you the flexibility to choose the varieties of vegetable and herbs you would like to grow vs. just what's available at your local nursery.

You can directly sow peas, corn, beans and squash into the garden. It is best to start tomatoes, eggplants and peppers indoors and then transplant seedlings when they are developed and sturdy. Check the information provided on the seed pack for how to plant and when.

Control weeds now while they are small and before they have gone to seed. It's also easier to remove the entire root by hoeing or hand pulling while the soil is moist.

Control slugs and snails by removing their hiding places (damp leaf piles, under boards, dense plants that touch the ground). Then handpick them early in the day or late in the evening. You can squish them or drop them in soapy water. You can provide them a "one way" watering hole by filling a small container with beer, or apply an iron phosphate product. Baits that contain metaldehyde are unsafe for children and pets.

Apply fixed copper spray to apples, pears and loquats if fire blight has been a problem in the past.

Control aphids by removing them from infected trees and shrubs with a strong water blast from the hose. Ladybird beetles (ladybugs) do an excellent job of controlling aphid populations. Plant white alyssum to invite ladybugs into your garden.

Apply dormant spray to deciduous trees and shrubs to control aphids, scale or whiteflies.

Apply tribasic copper sulfate
or lime sulfur to your peach trees if they have been affected by peach leaf curl.

Clean up fallen leaves and debris
, and add them to your compost pile if they are not diseased.

For a complete list of March Gardening Tips, click on: www.mastergardeners.org/tips/march.html

What to plant now

Bare root: asparagus, roses, berries, artichokes, onions, fruit trees such as apple, apricot, cherry, fig, nectarine and pear.

Transplants:
arugula, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, mustard greens, Asian greens, lettuce, peas and spinach. Local nurseries should have a good supply of most of these.

— Rebecca Jepsen, Santa Clara County Master Gardener