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Gardening Tips for the Northeast Region for March

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Re-pot houseplants so they will grow well during spring and summer.

Plant deciduous trees and shrubs as soon as the ground is workable.

Prune fruit trees until spring buds swell. Maple and birch should not be pruned until they leaf out. Choose a day above freezing if possible, as it is easier on you as well as on the tree.

Dormant spraying for fruit trees should be done before spring growth begins. Choose a calm day when temperatures are above 40 degrees F, and be sure to cover all sides of the branches.

Resist the temptation to uncover spring-flowering plants such as daffodils and tulips. Mulch may be loosened, but the shoots will still benefit from protection against cold, drying winds.

Be sure that flats and pots used for starting seed are perfectly clean. You can sterilize with a solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water.

Water newly started seedlings carefully. A pitcher may let the water out too forcefully. A mist sprayer is gentle but can take a long time. Try using a meat basting syringe, which will dispense the water effectively without causing too much soil disruption.

Sow peas outdoors, even if it's snowy! The earlier they mature, the sweeter they'll be. Sow them as soon as the soil can be worked, but save some for a later planting as well. Choose a location that gets maximum sun.

Spread dark plastic intended for mulch out over the garden site to hasten the warming of the soil. This will provide for earlier and better germination.

Keep plastic milk jugs or other coverings on hand to protect the flowers of pansies, crocuses, and other early bloomers against the return of severe weather.

Start seedlings of annuals in flats -- aster, larkspur, alyssum, snapdragons, and petunias should be started now (or 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date in your area). If summer season is short, zinnias should be started now. They will need to be potted up in individual pots after 4 to 5 weeks.

Start some vegetables in flats inside under lights: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and lettuce are good choices. Use moistened seed-starting mix. Fertilize when two sets of leaves have grown.

A peck of March dust and a shower in May, Makes the corn green and the fields gay.

Start seeds of some herbs in flats indoors, such as basil, parsley, sage, and thyme. Once the seeds germinate, place the plants under grow lights for 14 hours a day (timers make this easy) and keep soil moist.

Knowing when to start seeds in time for outdoor planting can be confusing. See packet instructions and also consult our Best Dates to Seed chart at www.Almanac.com/PlantingTable.

Ideally, seeds need 70 to 75 degrees F temperatures to germinate, and 60 to 65 degrees F temperatures to grow.

Plant seeds in a soil-less growing mix. Soil can cause disease.

Prune evergreen and summer-flowering trees and shrubs. Prune spring-flowering shrubs only after they finish blooming.

Remove any leaves and debris from your lawn.

Remove suckers from fruiting trees.

If you have roses, slowly unwrap and remove protective mulch to awaken them.

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