Nasty Pests and Diseases can start to rear their ugly heads in March and it is a wise gardener who is vigilant at this time of year and builds this into her garden maintenance schedule. You need to keep the garden tidy and start removing all the rubbish that has accumulated over the winter to stop diseases developing unseen. Dead leaves should be removed from perennials as part of your regular maintenance. When you are inspecting your plants and seedlings watch out for any symptoms of damping off as well. The temperature variations at this time of year can have a dramatic effect on how things develop.
This is the time of year when those dratted slugs and snails start to appear as well. I am plagued by slugs in my garden and I have to keep a constant watch. One of the most successful ways I have found of protecting my Hostas, which are particularly susceptible, is to put a mulch of Pistachio Nut Shells around them. Believe me, slugs and snails don’t get past that! You should also be watching out for aphids, which start to make their appearance with the Spring sunshine.
If you grow stoned fruits, such as Peaches and Nectarines make sure you keep them protected from March winds to prevent Peach Leaf Curl. Whilst in the fruit garden you should also be spraying for Gooseberry mildew and pear scab.
On a more pleasant front this is a good time to sow a wildflower ‘meadow’ even if only a small one, for all the butterflies and other beneficial insects it will attract. You should see a hungry Ladybird making a meal of aphids! As I said before it’s also the time to think about Nest Boxes for the birds and do make sure you keep your Bird Bath and ponds topped up. I had a wonderful ‘Tea Break’ this morning watching two Blackbirds having a bath in my pond. We have an area where the birds can easily get down to the water on some flat stones and these two were having such fun – it was a joy to watch and they pirouetted and preened. Maybe if I’m lucky they will nest in the garden and that will put paid to a few slugs as well! Watching things like that makes all the effort of garden maintenance well worth it!