March Gardening

    March is get-rid-of-snow month; some nice days, some stormy days. But in your heart of hearts, you know that winter is at an end.  Your gardening energy returns, and you become ready for spring.

  • Don’t start your seeds too early!  Not yet!  Note the average last frost date for your area and count back according to the information on the seed package. Six to eight weeks before last frost is about right.
  • Clean and sterilize your pots to prepare for sowing. Your seeds should have arrived by now or will in the next little while.
  • Purchase good, fine seed starting soil or fine vermiculite for starting seeds.
  • When you can reach the garden shed, check your tools.  Some may need sharpening; some may need repairing or oiling.
  • Watch indoor plants for signs of spring growth.  Water them a little more and fertilize lightly.
  • Tie up ornamental grasses and cut them off to a few inches above ground level.  A serrated bread knife does this job well.
  • Prune your non-spring-flowering shrubs this month.
  • Remember to bring some branches from spring bloomers in to force for spring bloom indoors.  Of course, those pretty branches come from spring-flowering shrubs like Forsythia so don’t cut too many or you’ll spoil your spring shrub display.
  • Trim dead or damaged branches from trees, shrubs and roses.
  • Check your perennials and note those that have been raised by winter freeze/thaw cycle.  You’ll want to lift and replant them as soon as the soil dries a bit.
  • Call the tree guys to prune your larger trees.  Thin out the limbs of older trees to allow some sun to enter the crown area.
  • Visit your favourite nursery or garden centre to start the adrenalin going.
  • And buy your seeds if you haven’t already.

In March the sap flows in trees and in gardeners.  Enjoy the excitement.

Pollinator Patches

"Be the change you want to see in the world." When Mahatma Gandhi said that he must have been thinking about Pollinator Patches. You can make a difference in your world this year by creating a Pollinator Patch -- a habitat for butterflies and native bees and other insects.

Set aside a portion of your garden or maybe your boulevard to be devoted to native plants that pollinators will love. Plan your Patch in a sunny spot that will attract bees and other insects.   There is lots of information on the Web about what native plants you may want to choose. 

You might want to go beyond your personal bounds and plant a Patch on public ground.  You’ll need permission to do this but municipalities are conscious of the need for native plants for insects and may be very glad to have you head a native planting group.

Although your planting is designed to be a haven for butterflies and other insects, your focus right now should be on the Monarch Butterfly.  The butterfly has been assessed as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

To attract and save Monarchs, be sure to plant a stand of milkweed in your Pollinator Patch.  Milkweed is critical to the life cycle of Monarch Butterflies. The butterflies will hunt for milkweed and only milkweed for egg laying. They will lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. Plants of the milkweed family are also the hosts of Monarch larvae. The resulting larvae will eat only milkweed leaves. No milkweed -- no Monarchs.]

If you don't want to plant ordinary milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in your garden, consider Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) instead.

For bees and other butterflies, yellow, red and orange plants of the composite type are especially interesting.  Rudbeckias and asters are the easiest to grow.  Coreopsis is another plant loved by bees and butterflies.  Research on the web for other plants for your Pollinator Patch.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Plant a Pollinator patch this year.

The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us. --- E. O. Wilson



Jottings contains some articles I wrote for the monthly newsletter of Barrie's Garden Club and other projects. I hope you enjoy them.


It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984)


Hints & Tricks

This is a collection of neat ideas and crazy tricks that I've collected from various sources. Many are amusing, and most are useful. We gardeners just love to learn neat little ways of doing our gardening jobs more effectively. My most popular talk was just that: "Hints and Tricks."

Most of the hints I've used myself or know someone who will vouch for them. All of them are fun to read and almost as much fun to do.


We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it's forever. Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)


Gardening Info

This is a miscellaneous section of odds and sods of information I've collected and would like to share. I've found most of the information in magazines and on the internet or in the many gardening books I can't resist buying!

You'll also find some of my favourite links on the Gardening Info page.


"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.’s job." ~ Philip Angell, Monsanto's Director of Communications (October 1998)


The Blog

I guess the whole site is a sort of blog, isn't it?

But this newer section is a more conventional blog -- a space to put my thoughts and new ideas as I learn them or think them.