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What to do in your garden in March: mountain checklist.

PLANTING

* BARE-ROOT PLANTS. Zones 2-3: Set out bare-root plants of berries, grapes, all kinds of fruit and shade trees, and perennial vegetables including asparagus, horseradish, and rhubarb. Zone 1: Plant bare-root stock after the snow has melted and the soil has thawed. If you can't plant immediately, wrap the bare roots in damp cloth or sawdust and keep them moist until you can get them in the ground.

* LAWNS. Overseed an old lawn or plant a new one late this month in milder zones. For overseeding, rough up the soil and sow it with the same kind of grass that is growing there. Otherwise the texture and color of the new grass will contrast with the old. For a new lawn, till 2 inches of organic matter into the top 8 inches of soil before you sow. For drought tolerance, consider planting a native like blue grama or buffalo grass (or a blend of the two). Keep newly sown areas well watered until the grass is tall enough to mow.

MAINTENANCE

* PREPARE BEDS. Dig composted manure or compost into beds to prepare them for spring planting. For bad soil, till 4 to 6 inches of organic matter into the top foot of soil. Rake amended beds, water, and let settle for a week before planting.

* FEED EVERGREENS. Sprinkle high-nitrogen fertilizer over the root zones of plants and water well.

* FEED SHRUBS. On a mild day when temperatures are well above freezing, apply high-nitrogen fertilizer to early-flowering shrubs as soon as they've finished blooming.

* FERTILIZE BERRIES. Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries benefit from feeding this month. Use high-nitrogen fertilizer or well-aged manure.

* FEED ROSES. Fertilize on a day when night temperatures are expected to remain above freezing. Water established plants, let the soil drain, apply a complete fertilizer, and water again.

* INSTALL IRRIGATION SYSTEMS. It's easier to put in drip-irrigation systems early, before root and top growth get in the way.

* MAKE COMPOST. Use last fall's rotted leaves to start a compost pile. Alternate layers of green matter with dry leaves, straw, or sawdust. Turn the pile and keep it damp; you should have finished compost in a few weeks.

PEST & WEED CONTROL

* BLAST APHIDS. Aphids show up first on tender new growth. if an infestation starts, blast them off with hose water or spray with insecticidal soap.

* HOE WEEDS. Get them now, while they're young and shallow-rooted. If you wait until they form deep taproots, they'll grow back. If weeds germinate between the time you prepare a flower bed and plant, hoe them off lightly without disturbing more than the top 1/2 inch of soil. If you hoe more deeply or till, you'll bring up a fresh batch of weed seeds.

RELATED ARTICLE: How to prune frost-damaged plants

* Inspect the upper stems for the first sign of new growth.

If you see new growth: Prune out dead wood, cutting well into live tissue. Make the cut just above a node where new growth emerges.

If you're uncertain whether the plant is still alive, carefully scratch the surface of the bark to see if the stem is still greenish. If the stem is succulent and tender, wait to prune until new growth appears.

Keep in mind that some plants may die back to the ground and reemerge from the roots. Look for new growth in the crown (center) of the plant too. - L.B.S.
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Title Annotation:includes article on how to prune frost-damaged plants; Garden Guide
Publication:Sunset
Date:Mar 1, 1999
Words:564
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