What to do in your garden in March

PLANTING

• Aloes. Sunset climate zones 10-13: For interesting form and asuccession of seasonal color, add hardy aloes to courtyards andother protected parts of the garden. Blue-green 2-foot-tall Aloe aculeata produces red and yellow flowers in winter.Treelike A. marlothii, a South African native, grows 12 feet tall andsends up 3-foot-tall orange-red flower spikes in spring. Compact6-inch-tall by 12-inch-wide A. brevifolia has gray-green leaves edged with small whitespines, which contrast dramatically with clusters of scarletflowers during warm weather.
More on aloesand their succulent cousins

• Arbor Day. More than a million trees were planted onthe first Arbor Day in 1872. This year, it's officially observed onMarch 10 in New Mexico and April 28 in Arizona, Nevada, and Texas (www.arborday.org). Join the celebration by planting anative tree in your own garden. Choose desert willow, Palo brea,sweet acacia, or another species suited to your climate, and enjoyit for years to come.

• Bare-root fruit trees. Zones 2b and 3a (Taos,Prescott): Plant bare-root 'Lodi', 'Parkland', or 'Westland'apples; 'Chinese', 'Goldcot', or 'Harglow' apricots; 'Mericrest','Nectar Babe', or 'Necta Zee' nectarines; 'Halehaven', 'Harken', or'Polly' peaches; or 'Harrow Delight', 'Summer Crisp', or 'Warren'pears.

• Herbs. Midmonth, direct-sow seeds of basil, Germanchamomile, chives, epazote, marjoram, Greek oregano, and sage. Alsoset out transplants of basil, bay laurel, chamomile, chives, lemonbalm, lemon grass, lemon verbena, marjoram, oregano, and sage.

• Organic seedlings. Consider planting one of thecertified organic seedling collections from Santa Fe's Seeds of Change (888/762-7333). Choices include butterfly-attracting plants,chile peppers, culinary herbs, herbs for tea, lavenders, sweetpeppers, and tomatoes. The company also offers individual seedpackets.
Tip onplanting seedlings

• Summer color. Zones 10-13: Sow seeds or set outseedlings of bee balm, coreopsis, cosmos, gaillardia, scentedgeranium, hollyhock, marigold, portulaca, salvia, sunflower,verbena, yarrow, and zinnia.

• Vegetables. Zones 1a-3b (Flagstaff, Taos, and SantaFe): Outdoors, plant garlic sets in beds. Indoors, start seeds ofcelery and onions for transplanting outdoors in six weeks. Zone 10:Outdoors, plant onion sets and sow seeds of broccoli, cabbages,carrots, cauliflower, kohlrabi, radishes, and spinach. Indoors,start seeds of eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes for transplantingin six to eight weeks. Zones 11-13: Outdoors, sow seeds ofblack-eyed peas, bush and lima beans, cucumbers, jicama, melons,okra, and summer and winter squash. At month's end, set outtransplants of artichokes, eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. NewMexico's Roswell Seed Company (505/622-7701) sells vegetable varieties suited to theregion.

MAINTENANCE

• Fertilize. Give non-native permanent plants anddeciduous fruit trees a boost by applying a granular high-nitrogenfertilizer. Water deeply first, then broadcast the fertilizer belowthe tree's canopy; water again. Feed roses now, then fertilizeagain according to package directions. Container plants, flowers,lawns, and vegetables may also be fed now.

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