Verdant View – March 2023

March 4th (Forth)

My dear friend John Holley used to observe each March 4th with gusto. To him this day was a cry to continue moving forward, to never let himself get lackadaisical, to grab every bit of deliciousness from every day and strongly soldier on. John is one of my heroes. His bravura towards life and his joie de vivre were infectious and we had many an adventure together while living in Los Angeles, CA.

In many ways my garden is a testament to John Holley. Each march the garden is awakened with the promise of things to come; the promise of spring, when plants miraculously start sending out shoots that will metamorphosis into brilliant flowers or fruits or wondrous weeds that are so foreign that I dare not pick them for fear of missing what comes next. Yes, I am a weed lover, a weed observer, an admirer of how resilient and powerful weeds can be, just like John Holley. After all, a weed is just a plant that is not wanted in a specific environment, yet it can still be marvelous.

March is the month when gardeners return to their gardens with a renewed sense of warmth, joy and purpose. The mornings have been chilly up until now. Spring tempts us to return to the wonder and splendor of the garden.

What to plant in March

March is still cool at night and can be windy with no rain until mid-June. It’s beginning to get hot in the afternoons. You will find iris, lantana, daylilies, gerberas, lobelia and acanthus at the viveros, as well as many more year-round blooming plants. Those glorious purple trees that are in bloom now are Jacarandas. The seeds of flowers that do best in the hot, dry season, such as calendulas and salvias, should be planted. Start begonias, impatiens, periwinkle, rock cress and passion flower vine. Cut snapdragons back sharply after blooming and new growth will appear. Remember to water well after you fertilize. Mist fuchsias and orchids regularly.

Outdoors, sow or transplant beets, carrots, celery, chard, herbs, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuces, green onions, bulb onion seed and sets, parsley, peas, peanuts, potatoes, radishes, shallots, spinaches, strawberries, and turnips. Transplant broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi seedlings

Wildflowers can still be sown and are suitable in many areas where other plantings don’t seem to thrive. Wildflowers don’t want fertilized soil. Consider landscaping with plants that thrive under conditions of drought and neglect. Flowering annuals include alyssum, cosmos, gazania, geranium, helichrysum, marigold, morning glory, phlox, portulaca, thunbergia, verbena, vinca, and zinnia. Shrubs include ceanothus, coffee berries, pineapple guavas, rockroses, and verbenas (an especially good ground cover.)

Indoors, sow eggplant, pepper, and tomato seeds for transplanting into the garden in late April or early May.

To easily determine the texture of your soil, fill a jar two-thirds full of water and the rest with soil, shake the jar well, and place it on a windowsill where you can observe the results without moving it. After a few days, the layers will be apparent, and you can make your analysis.  The heavy sand particles will settle first to the bottom of the jar, followed by the silt and then the clay on top. Organic matter will float. Good loam contains about 45% sand, 35% silt, and 20% clay. 

It turns out that snails and slugs love citrus trees…at least they seem to love mine.  If you’re not getting any citrus fruit, the snails may have beaten you to them. Or in my case the local tlacuache (opossum) also share the wealth. To keep snail, slugs and ants from crawling up the trunks of your trees use Joker Rojo.

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Francisco Nava
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