VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

March Growing Tips

by Vancouver Island Master Gardeners Association

Welcome to Milner Gardens' 2022 Monthly Growing Tips: Some short-cuts and tricks to help make lighter work of your gardening chores.

Starting by Seed

When you take seeds to Seedy Saturday, keep them in their commercial packet. It has the correct data and folks will know it is quality seed.

Spring Clean-up

Make less work while pruning by laying 2 pieces of twine 18 inches – 2 feet apart on the ground in lengths a little longer than your outstretched arms, finger to finger. Stack the cut prunings across the twine. For the spring yard waste pick-up most municipalities restrict the bundle dimensions to 36 inches long by 36 inches diameter. All is correct if there is enough twine to tie the ends easily around the twigs. Lay a tarp underneath if it will sit for awhile. The half-dry leaves make good compost or mulch, and the tarp saves you having to rake them up.

Phenology

The science of phenology studies bioclimatic marker plants, and these can signal best planting times. It works because plants care less about air than soil temperature. A soil thermometer works very well when you know what soil temperatures are optimal, or you can do what our grandparents did:
- When crocus bloom plant radishes, parsnips, and spinach.
- When wild current blooms hang extra hummingbird feeders for the returning rufus species.
- When forsythia bloom prune the roses and plant peas, onion sets, and lettuce.
- When narcissus bloom plant beets, carrots, and half-hardy vegetables.
- When dandelions bloom, plant potatoes.
- When maple trees begin to leaf out plant perennial flowers.

In the Perennial Beds

It is time to divide! A few Dos and Don’ts:
1. Don’t wait too long. If a perennial is at its height, it will soon go downhill.
2. Don’t cut directly into a root ball. Each root type needs different methods, so carefully tease out the root ball then separate clumps by hand and trowel. The key is to make sure there is minimal damage with some healthy growing tips and a few good roots on each new clump.
3. Do put the same volume of fresh soil and compost back into the hole. The remaining mother plant will be smaller but this extra growth medium will give it years of good health while removing hibernating weed seeds waiting to sprout in the disturbed soil. Mix old soil into compost for spreading elsewhere. Any weed seeds will sprout from the compost and be easy to pull out.

Green Groaners

'Retired Hippies’ Ode to Spring'
By Karma Lovage ☮️

When the moon shines on the greenhouse
We hang the garden netting because
Soon the peas will rule the planet,
And our pole beans reach the stars!

This is the dawning of the Age of Asparagus
Age of Asparagus
Asparagus!!!

Wild ginger for underplanting
Self seeded flowers all abounding
Perennials needing division
As summer gardens we envision
Compost’s no mystic revelation

And our gardens are true liberation,
So we plant asparagus,
Asparagus!!!