What to do in your garden in March

PLANTING

Cat grass. Our March 2005 article, Dog friendlygardens, offers ways to make your garden more appealing to thefamily canine. Want to do something nice for your cat? Try growingcat grass (Avena sativa) to satisfy a feline's craving for greens.It's quick and easy, and the plants can be grown indoors. If youcan't find seeds at your local nursery, visit Botanical Interests'website (www.botanicalinterests.com)for a list of retailers.

Culinary herbs. Sow seeds of arugula, chervil, cilantro, anddill. Plant chives, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory,tarragon, and thyme.

Perennials. The weather is perfect for planting perennials,and nurseries are well stocked with them now. These newcomers areworth searching for: Gaura lindheimeri 'Passionate Rainbow', which is as tough asother gauras but with cream and green variegated leaves that turnrose in winter; Lavandula stoechas Bella, which bears the same showy flowersas other Spanish lavenders but over a much longer bloom cycle; Salvia 'Hot Lips', with showy white flowers tipped brightred; and Verbena 'De La Mina', a mound of light green leaves toppedwith sprays of purple flowers.

Vegetables. If your vegetable beds have bare spots, fillthem in by sowing seeds of beets, carrots, radishes, or turnips. Orplant chard or spinach. To get an early start on summer, you canalso sow seeds of corn or green beans.

MAINTENANCE

Fertilize roses. Every rose lover has a different feedingformula, but many rosarians are turning to alfalfa because ityields triacontanol, which is believed to encourage the growth ofnew canes. Rose grower and garden writer Rayford Reddell uses purealfalfa pellets (not the kind sold as rabbit food; they containsugar), which are available at many feed stores. He applies two2-pound coffee cans of pellets to the soil around each establishedplant. To hide the pellets, he rakes away mulch, sprinkles thepellets, then reapplies the mulch. You can also use alfalfa meal,which is available at most nurseries. Use according to packagedirections.

Thin fruit on trees. Begin thinning apples, pears, and stonefruits when they are about 1/2 inch in size. Space the fruits 4 to6 inches apart, or leave one fruit per spur. In general, theearlier the variety, the more heavily its fruits need thinning.

PEST CONTROL

Control aphids. Tender new plant growth attracts thesesucking pests. Dislodge them with a strong blast of water from ahose, or, if blossoms are delicate, mist plants with insecticidalsoap. For fastest results--if you're not squeamish--strip aphidsfrom plants by hand.

Deter rabbits. The only sure way to keep hungry rabbits outof your vegetable or flower beds is with physical barriers. Place achicken wire fence at least 18 inches tall around the area you wantto protect and bury it at least 8 inches below the soil. If youwant to protect just a few new plants, try sprinkling blood mealaround them immediately after planting and reapply every fewweeks.


Events

CLAREMONT, MAR 19?MAY 15

Spring Garden Walks at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.Docent-led. 2 p.m. Sat?Sun; free. 1500 N. College Ave.; www.rsabg.org or 909/625-8767.

DEL MAR, MAR 4?6

20th annual San Diego Spring Home/Garden Show at the Del MarFairgrounds. Includes display gardens, plant marketplace, freeseminars. 12?7 Fri, 10?7 Sat, 10?5 Sun; $12. 2260 Jimmy DuranteBlvd.; www.springhomegardenshow.comor 858/519-0855.

FULLERTON, MAR 10?13

Monster Tomato & Pepper Sale at Fullerton Arboretum. 100varieties of tomato plants; 60 types of peppers. 10?3 Thu?Fri, 10?4Sat?Sun; free. 1900 Associated Rd.; www.arboretum.fullerton.eduor 714/278-3579.

SANTA BARBARA, MAR 4?6

Santa Barbara International Orchid Show at Earl WarrenShowgrounds. 9?5; $10. 3400 Calle Real; www.sborchidshow.com or805/967-6331.


Clipping

The high rainfall from the last few months will likely make thisone of the best wildflower seasons in years. Don't miss it. To findout what's in bloom in central and Southern California, call theTheodore Payne Foundation's Wildflower Hotline (818/768-3533); itopens on March 4 and continues through May 31. Also check out thefoundation's website (www.theodorepayne.org).

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